Avenida Corrientes Bookstores

July 24, 2007 by · 11 Comments 

The famous bookstores of Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires bookstores on Avenida Corrientes

Buenos Aires is no doubt one of the most literary cities on the planet. The people here know the value of a good book, whether it’s poetry, fiction, art, anthropology, self-help, or psychology (not only can you bet that most porteños have read some Freud, but there is even an area of Palermo – Villa Freud – named after him).

If you wish to properly observe this social fact, you absolutely must visit the bookstores of Corrientes, the famous avenue that bristles with the action of theaters, cinemas, cafes, shops, and people with their noses stuck in used copies of anthologies of Argentine history or poetry.

Buenos Aires’ bookstore hotspot

Every bookstore has its own history and character, but all of them proudly display extensive collections of works by Argentine and Latin American authors and artists, as well as North American and classical European works, calendars, and CDs. Very few of them have any English language sections, although if you dig around you should find a few English offerings.

Most of the bookstores deal primarily in new books, but you’ll find some used books as well. With books scattered here, there and everywhere, presentation is not a priority – very different to more upscale bookstore chains in Buenos Aires like Boutique del Libro or El Ateneo.

If you don’t read Spanish, it is still enjoyable to peruse the stores simply because they are unique in their atmosphere and awesome in their vast quantity of texts. You could always get a children’s book or calendar as a souvenir. Or maybe it’s about time you learned to read Spanish… after all, it’s a language that is truly rich in expressions and has hundreds of years of literary heritage.

A typical Avenida Corrientes bookstore

Here are some excellent spots for book-hunting on Corrientes. The best way to visit them is to start at the Obelisco (subway station Carlos Pellegrini, on Av. 9 de Julio) and walk up Corrientes going westward (towards Av. Callao). The places listed below go in order from east to west so you can follow them like a walking tour. You could spend thirty minutes briefly poking your head into them, or an entire afternoon going through the immense selections.

Obel Libros

This modest bookstore has been in operation for about a decade and is run by a friendly middle-aged man who will be excited to practice his English with you. The special items you will find here are encyclopedias for students, books focusing on Latin American social and economic matters, and used novels.

Cuspide Libros

If you want professional guides for things such as computers, culinary arts, tourism, and hostelry (in Spanish, of course), Cuspide offers a wide range of these books. It also has the usual offerings of cheaply produced novels and non-fiction books.

Libreria Lucas

Liberia Lucas bookstore on Avenida Corrientes

At Lucas you will find a good selection of well-kept used books, which might interest collectors or book sellers. Also here are plenty of children’s books.

Libreria Hernandez

There are two Hernandez locations on Corrientes, within a few blocks of each other. A very extensive selection of books is offered, with topics such as Latin American revolutions, Che Guevara, economics, politics, Peronism, Argentine history, religion (you may notice that there are a lot of books about Judaism, a subject Argentines are fascinated by, due to the large Jewish population here), self-help, and psychology.

Are you looking for a gift?  Pick up one of the colorful cookbooks with recipes for traditional porteño favorites. You may even find a few cookbooks in English, or even one that explains methods for the traditional Argentine asado (barbeque). Also at Hernandez is a great collection of art books, with a focus on artists from Argentina and Buenos Aires.

Liberia Hernandez bookstore on Av Corrientes

Libreria Libertador

Don’t miss this classic Corrientes bookstore, with its unbelievably cheap classics by Spanish and Latin American authors, poetry collections, children’s books, and offerings by Shakespeare, Kahlil Gibran, Henry James, and more. The prices are low enough that you might buy books even if you can’t read Spanish.

If you are traveling around Argentina, you might also look for the nicely done travel guides published by the newspaper El Clarin. They can come in handy and are much lighter than the Lonely Planet you are probably lugging around.

Also at Libreria Libertador there are random items such as dollhouse parts and furniture, calendars with themes of Argentina and Buenos Aires, old magazines that will delight collectors, heaps of crossword puzzle books, CDs by composers such as Beethoven and Vivaldi with booklets providing information about the music, and, if you dare, a backroom full of dirty magazines and videos.

Magazines and Puzzle books also abound

Posada Libros

This enormous bookstore stretches back into a building big enough for two businesses. You’ll find the usual suspects here: cheap novels, books on the humanities (philosophy, anthropology, religion), CDs (Latin and classical music), and so on. Mainly it’s worth visiting Posada Libros just to see so many books in one place.

Between the Bookstores

Once you’ve tired of the Corrientes book-walk in the Buenos Aires City Center,  you most definitely deserve a break. If you get hungry, head to Pizzeria Guerrin (touted as one of the best pizza restaurants in Buenos Aires), or for a mid-day coffee break, to El Gato Negro (a beautiful old cafe and spice shop).

While you are bookstore-hopping, watch out for the plenty of artisans who set up their displays on the sidewalks of Corrientes. Also you’ll walk by some of Buenos Aires’ famous theaters – inquire there about the latest spectacles.

Location of Avenida Corrientes Bookstores

Various stops along Avenida Corrientes, between Avenida 9 de Julio & Avenida Callao, City Center

I hate Buenos Aires when…

July 18, 2007 by · 19 Comments 

Sometimes Buenos Aires can be a bitch

Diva specifically requested that this photo wasn't rotated

With great honor, Diva, of Buenos Aires Through My Eyes (AKA Bitchtours) fame, is welcomed to the blog as a guest poster. She loves Buenos Aires, but sometimes, like all cities, it has its annoyances…

1. I order a dish from a menu and they don’t have it

This is not something unusual here, even in fancy restaurants. You spent 10 minutes deciding what you’re gonna have and when you order the waiter gives you this look like you’ve pronounced a forbidden word and then says: “I’ll check if we have that”.

How come? It’s on the menu, the only thing I would eat right now is that damn dish and you don’t have it? Give me a break.

2. I buy something in a kiosk and they give me candy instead of change because they don’t have coins

Mr. or Mrs. kiosk: I’m buying a pack of Lucky Strikes and a diet coke, do you think I really want candy? Maybe we should do what a friend suggested the other day: Keep all the candy in a jar and then try to buy my cigarettes with them.

3. The taxi driver tells me that he doesn’t know the street I’m trying to get

Taxi driver: Corrientes and Anchorena? Hmmm… I’m not sure where that is.

Me: That’s the Abasto.

Taxi driver: Abasto? Is that the place where there are horse races? Excuse me, but I’ve been driving this taxi cab just for 3 days and I don’t know the city very well…

That’s the oldest trick in the world, dude, at least in Buenos Aires. I know what you are doing. You are testing if I know where I’m going. I do know, and I also know the fastest way to get there so cut the crap and drive.

And then you are going to tell me that you’ve just started your shift so you don’t have any change. Don’t worry, I have lots of candy…

4. The TV in the subways

Oh my god, that’s annoying. Maybe you are visiting and you don’t have to take the subway like most of the locals do (anyway you won’t escape from the taxi drivers). They have these TVs all over the place repeating the same crap every 5 minutes. From stupid music videos to political propaganda, from fashion shows to a coach teaching people how they should dress in order to get a job. All kinds of uninteresting programs that last 30 seconds.

I would get a taxi cab if it wasn’t that they probably won’t know the address I’m going to.

5. Bad graffiti

Hey you, the guy that paints the walls in such a messy and ugly way: If you are going to damage private property, at least do it with some class. Haven’t you seen all those wonderful stencils around Buenos Aires? Those guys try to add something to the world, they carefully design what they are going to paint. What you do is just stupid. I hope the police caught you while you are damaging another wall. If you have things to say, go get a therapist, because nobody wants to know what you have to say.

And that’s it. I could go on and on, but this is not my blog so…

About me: Buenos Aires Through My Eyes

Dear readers, what do you hate about Buenos Aires?

Un Altra Volta Ice Cream

July 16, 2007 by · 11 Comments 

The best Helado / Gelato / Ice Cream in Buenos Aires?

Cuarto Kilo of Gelato from Un Altra Volta in Recoleta

Out of all the ice cream parlors in Buenos Aires, Un Altra Volta in Recoleta is certainly up there in the cream of the crop. And this is in a city where the ice cream is some of the best in the world, due to the heavy Italian influence here. If the picture above does not convince you, read on for more information on Buenos Aires’ grand ice cream tradition.

Buenos Aires and the Italian Connection

The entrance to Un Altra Volta, RecoletaIn related articles reviewing Banchero Pizzeria and Caminito street, both in the ‘Italian’ barrio of La Boca, you can read more in depth history regarding the huge amounts of Italian immigration into Argentina around the turn of the 20th century. Of course, they brought with them Pizza and Pasta, two staples of both the diets of Italy and Buenos Aires, but also Ice Cream, or gelato (the version more common in Italy), the third prong of the proud Italian food triumvirate.

It has been dared to say that Un Altra Volta (known by most simply as Volta) boasts better ice cream than anywhere in Italy… though that is a bold statement. At this point, it must be clarified that Volta serves gelato, and there is a slight difference between this Italian concoction and your common ice cream or helado.

Ice Cream v. Gelato

So what is gelato anyway? Here, Buenos Aires foodie Saltshaker clears things up in his own review of Un Altra Volta:

“…the nutshell difference between gelato and ice cream…? Gelato has no air whipped into it, even top of the line premium ice creams have some, and lower quality ones have lots. Gelato does not generally contain cream, it uses whole milk, and contains more eggs. This results in a treat that is lower in fat (generally 3-6% versus ice cream’s 11-15%) but denser in texture, more intensity of flavor, and it’s served at a slightly warmer temperature to make it soft enough to scoop, yet, because of the egg versus cream thing, it doesn’t tend to drip all over as quickly.”

For the ice cream fanatic, Saltshaker also has an excellent page dedicated to an overview of Ice Cream Parlors in Buenos Aires.

Counter at Un Altra Volta, Recoleta

Another well-known Buenos Aires foodie, La Otra Dimension, adds the following about the difference of gelato

“…gelato flavours are often wonderfully intense thanks two factors. First of all, gelato has a lower fat content than ice cream; and fat, by nature, coats our tastebuds and dulls our perception of flavour. More importantly, gelato is made with a much higher proportion of fresh and natural flavouring agents such as ripe fruits or nuts.”

Note that the lower fat content in gelato makes it less filling, so you can eat a lot more, and make up for the fact that it is less fattening than regular ice cream.

Gelato from the gods

Dulce de Leche flavors at Un Altra VoltaWhatever your choice of flavors, Volta does not disappoint. If you’re looking for a real taste of Buenos Aires, try the extreme sweetness of dulce de leche flavored gelato. Mix in contrasting strong flavor like chocolate amargo (dark chocolate) to balance the flavors. Both of these choices are just heavenly at Un Altra Volta.

Futuristic ice cream at Un Altra Volta

The ice cream parlor is also a fantastic place to slowly enjoy your gelato, with a very white, futuristic, clean-looking interior that makes you feel like you have been transported into the future where the secret of 100% perfect ice cream has finally been cracked.

It is also a great place for a coffee with friends, especially on a nice spring or summer day when you can sit out in the lovely shaded patio at the back. There is always a nice mix of people there, always quite busy, with a chatty atmosphere, typical of the cafes in Recoleta. Plus, the staff are extremely courteous and attentive. And if you don’t feel like ice cream, then a nice alternative is coffee with a few of their finely crafted chocolates, which although they don’t quite reach the heights of the gelato, are certainly very tasty.

Coffee and chocolates in the outdoor patio at Un Altra Volta

Location of Un Altra Volta

Avenida Santa Fe 1826, between Av. Callao & Riobamba, Recoleta
[see website for other locations]

Delivery Tel: 0810-88-VOLTA,  Website: http://www.unaltravolta.com.ar/

Tour del Gelato

Tour del Gelato – discovering the world’s best gelato.

Cafe El Gato Negro

July 15, 2007 by · 4 Comments 

This black cat in Buenos Aires might not be so unlucky…

El Gato Negro Cafe and Spice shop

On a chilly fall or winter day in Buenos Aires, there is nothing more likely to give you warmth and a big smile than having a delicious spiced tea or coffee in El Gato Negro, one of the city’s most historical establishments. The cafe was originally a spice store founded by a Spanish settler in 1929 who spent years traveling in Asia and Siberia, collecting exotic spices and flavors. He brought them to Buenos Aires and named this cafe El Gato Negro after another famous cafe back in Madrid.

Now El Gato Negro is a reminder of the city’s European roots, and a wonderful place to read a newspaper or the book you recently bought at one of Avenida Corrientes’ many bookstores, or even to enjoy a gourmet dinner in its elegant upstairs dining room.

Teas and spices on the shelves of El Gato Negro

Heady aromas of teas, coffees and spices

As you walk into the cafe, you are instantly overcome by the mixtures of aromas. Freshly ground coffee, cardamom, black and green teas, and ginger swirl together in the air, hovering over the people sitting at tables or buying bags of spices at the counter. You almost have the sensation of being in an Arab market in the middle of Buenos Aires. Grab a seat and be prepared to relax for an hour or two in the company of a hot drink.

The truth is that El Gato Negro does have rather daunting prices for its offerings, partly due to the fact that it is a fairly touristy environment these days (as with most historical locations), but also because its coffees and teas are mostly imported and of high quality. A delicious delight like the cafe al jengibre, with freshly ground coffee, cream, ginger, honey and cinnamon, may cost more than a cafe con leche across the street, however,  El Gato Negro is worth a visit if only to experience its lovely old world atmosphere.

El Gato Negro, Buenos Aires City Center
[Photo Credit: adapar]

Try delicious treats like Irish coffees or vanilla-cinnamon infused teas

Other treats to try here are their Irish coffees, which offer a bit of alcohol to warm you up on a chilly day, and their loose leaf teas and infusions, such as vanilla-cinnamon, green tea-orange, green tea-ginger, and mint. Don’t miss specialties such as the cafe cardamomo with fresh cardamom seeds or their delightful cappucino. To accompany your bevarage, El Gato Negro has some tempting desserts and pastries, such as brownies, medialunas, and alfajores.

If you come to El Gato Negro for a light lunch, you could order a sandwich with ham and cheese,  some picadas (ham and cheese platters), or one of their gourmet sandwiches with steak, chicken, or cheese .

El Gato Negro is an acclaimed cafe notable, recognized for its historical importance in Buenos Aires. Most of the original wooden furniture has been preserved, and its a fabulous place to sit and watch people come in to relax after an afternoon of dizzying shopping on bustling Avenida Corrientes in the city center of Buenos Aires.

Inside El Gato Negro Cafe

An interesting range of food, but at a price

El Gato Negro also has a restaurant area upstairs that serves full-course dinners at rather lofty prices, not pleasing to travelers on a budget. Here you will find unique bistro-style dishes and a full wine-list that should please any palate. Among their starters, El Gato Negro has caesar salads with shrimp, regular salads, and a spiced mushroom tart. Main dishes range from the scalloped pork with curried corn pudding, to fish in almond sauce over herbed couscous.

For desserts, try the parfait de Cassis or the chocolate mousse with walnuts. All in all, El Gato Negro is a place for fine-dining in a unique setting, and it’s worth the prices if you really need to eat something besides bife de chorizo con pure de papas for a change. The wine list has good Argentine favorites like Benjamin Nieto and Santa Julia, or opt for a more economical glass of house wine.

Take a little of El Gato Negro away with you

If you are souvenir-shopping, El Gato Negro has lovely little spice tins and boxes with their signature black cat over a lush red background. Or, if you are staying long-term in Buenos Aires, this is a good spot to find things that can be difficult to obtain elsewhere in the city, such as exotic spices, soy sauces, couscous, dried mushrooms, fresh and dried spices from all over the world, spice mix for making asado, or dried candied fruits such as kiwis, pears, and pineapples.

Spices for sale at El Gato Negro
[Photo Credit: aardvark]

Location of El Gato Negro

Avenida Corrientes 1669, between Rodriguez Pena & Montevideo, City Center

Tel: 4374-1730

Argentina’s talent to wane against Brazil?

July 15, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

A little South American football rivalry

Later today (Sunday July 15th, 2007), Argentina will take on Brazil in the final of the Copa America – the most important national football (that’s soccer, to all you Yanquis) team tournament in the Americas (team news here). As you might have guessed, there is something of a futbol rivalry between Argentina and Brazil. In fact, in the past things have got so heated that the two countries have even resorted to humorous advert warfare

Back in 2004, Brazil beat Argentina 3 – 1 in a World Cup qualifier, and shortly after, Tulipan, an Argentine condom manufacturer that puts out consistently funny and clever ad campaigns, came out with this provocative billboard of typographical genius:

Watch out, Argentina are coming for you, Brazil!
“WE’RE ALREADY PLANNING THE REVENGE”
(Ya estamos pensando en la revancha)

I don’t think I need to spell out exactly what Tulipan claimed Argentina would do to Brazil in their next match!

Not to be outdone, neither on the pitch nor in creative use of typography, the Brazilian football organization responded with the following ad:

Or maybe Argentina will get stage fright once more against Brazil?
“IT WASN’T THE FIRST TIME. AND IT WON’T BE THE LAST”
(No fue la primera vez. Tampoco la ultima)

Wow. Great comeback!

Vamos, Vamos, Argentina…

Anyway, Argentina have been playing great football pretty much throughout the Copa America (check out Messi’s fantastic goal against Mexico in the video below), so let’s just hope they can keep it up (ahem) this time against Brazil in the final.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdinFoS3cH8

Thelonious Jazz Club

July 11, 2007 by · 2 Comments 

Jazz in Buenos Aires

Thelonious Club Jazz Cocktails - Keyword stuffers are alive and well in Buenos Aires!

If you are looking to spend a night in a setting of utmost Buenos Aires cool, check out the famed Palermo jazz club, Thelonious. This bar features live jazz bands Wednesday through Sunday nights, starting at 9:30 pm. On Friday and Saturday nights there are two bands in the line-up. Thelonious, named after the legendary American jazz pianist, is not a place to hear second-rate jazz. The performance on any given night will enrapture you with the energy, talent, and improvisational skills of the musicians.

Cover fees vary depending on the night: you can check their website, call for more information about that night’s particular show (see below for contact info), or stop by Thelonious to pick up the current month’s schedule.

Jazz performance at Thelonious Club

Reserve a table for a night of elegance and spectacular jazz

In order to make sure you have a space to sit and view the musicians, you should call ahead and reserve a table. They will hold it for you until 9:30pm, when the music is supposed to start (but remember, this is Argentina and nothing starts exactly on time).

If you come with a date, you’ll get a cozy table for two; bigger groups get couches and coffee tables; otherwise you can pull up a stool at the bar or even hang out on the stairs leading to the upper level. The place is small, so get there early if you don’t have a reservation. Your experience will be much more enjoyable if you have a seat, as the jazz sets are often quite long (an hour and a half on average).

Sip on a cool cocktail in the color of your choice

Located in a fairly posh part of Palermo, near Plaza Guemes and its lovely Our Lady of Guadalupe church, Thelonious club is usually packed with smartly-dressed Buenos Aires hipsters, old-school jazz fans, and foreigners visiting the city. It’s okay to be casual, but if you are looking for somewhere to show off your trendy new Palermo boutique finds, this is the place.

Everybody checks each other out, wondering who is going to be having drinks with the band after the show. So make sure you order a fashionable drink, like the local-standard Fernet and coke, or one of Thelonious’ colorful cocktails, such as a daquiri, or a frozen mojito.

Daquiri cocktails at Thelonious Jazz club

Thelonious offers a very complete list of cocktails, and some creative ones, like the Keith Richards: vodka, lemon, and sugar. Of course, if you are on a budget, be glad that you are in Argentina and you can share a bottle of Malbec with some friends for a reasonable price. And if you’re just a regular beer guy, grab a bottle of Heineken or Guinness.

Thelonious, a recycled building decorated with a special touch

The atmosphere alone at Thelonious is reason enough to stop by. As with many modern restaurants and bars in Buenos Aires, Thelonious is a “recycled” rendition of an old house. One special feature of Palermo architecture that you will see at this club is the bare brick ceilings. Above the stage hangs a light fixture consisting of subdued yellow light bulbs twisted every which way like an unruly nest of wires.

The place is designed to be a live music venue, with low-wattage spot lighting placed strategically around the premises. The sturdy bar seems to be made of adobe, and it has built-in lights that cast a glow on the face of your date as he or she absorbs the frenetic bleeps and bloops of the trumpet or the whirring drum rhythms.

Enjoying Jazz from the bar of Club Thelonius

Whatever act is on at Thelonious, you can be assured that it’s a respected, nationally or even internationally acclaimed group of artists who dedicate themselves to their instruments. Depending on the artist, the songs may be original compositions with influences from classical jazz, modern rock, and Latin American musical genres, or they might be renditions of standards from the likes of John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie. The late-night bands on Fridays and Saturdays are more the dance-and-groove types, while the weekday night bands are better for listening and watching attentively.

Worth an after-dinner visit, for an evening of musical bliss

Even if you aren’t a jazz aficionado, Thelonious Club is pretty much sure to guarantee a unique and interesting evening. The service is not especially warm but it is certainly professional and efficient. It’s best to eat before the show (or after, at the café on the corner of Salguero, which is open late), but if you come hungry, you can order simple pizzeta (personal pizza) or a tabla de quesos (cheese plate).

Thelonious also offers desserts, making it a great place to bring your date after an early dinner. Try their gooey chocolate brownie with walnuts and vanilla ice cream, or simply a coffee or tea. Possibly one of the best after-dinner drink choices on the menu is the Irish coffee, which is deliciously sweet with a kick of liquor. Or for an even more elegant dessert, cozy up to a bottle of Chandon champagne to enjoy the jazz in true style.

Jazz in Palermo, Buenos Aires at the Thelonious Club

A place like Club Thelonious could exist in any fashionable international city: New York, London, or Paris. But in the tastefully decorated upstairs space of Thelonious, surrounded by eclectic people from all over the world, sipping Malbec with good company, you will be glad you are watching a jazz show in Buenos Aires.

Location of Thelonious Jazz Club

Jeronimo Salguero 1884, corner Guemes, Palermo

Tel: 4829-1562   Website: www.thelonious.com.ar

Club Boutique (ex Club Museum)

July 8, 2007 by · 5 Comments 

Buenos Aires After-Office

All the shiny disco balls you could ever need - Club Museum, Buenos Aires

(Note: Museum has now been renamed “Club Boutique”)

(But most people still refer to it as Club Museum, so it’ll stay that way for most of this article!)

[Article written by Alan Epstein]

In a late-night city like Buenos Aires it isn’t hard to find a club that stays open until the crack of dawn, or an “after hours” party that will keep you dancing until 10am the next day. This is what makes Club Museum / Boutique in San Telmo so special: on Wednesdays, the people come pouring into this massive three-story club early, at around 7pm, for their “After Office” party.

Wednesday has traditionally been the midweek choice for “After-Office” parties, when the businessmen of downtown Buenos Aires loosen their ties and down a few cocktails. You don’t have to have a suit, tie and briefcase to attend Museum’s Wednesday night affair, but do come dressed the part. Shorts and sandals are frowned upon at the door.

Party revellers having a good time at Club Museum

Club Museum – Two-for-one happy “hour”

Happy hour begins at 7pm, and then until 10pm selected drinks are 2-for-1, with the food reasonably priced as well. Unusual for Buenos Aires nightclubs, there is no charge for entry at Museum until happy hour is over.

A wide variety of dining options… and sushi!

The variety of food is decent – you can have picadas, pizzas, capresse salad, or of course sushi, as this is Buenos Aires’ trendiest option. The sushi here is about as good as it is anywhere else in Buenos Aires. It’s the same-old-same with sushi in Argentina, everything is salmon and cream cheese, salmon and cream cheese… or you might get their version of a tuna roll, where they actually stick tuna from a can inside the sushi rice. It’s actually not that bad, but it’s a shocker to see if you are a real sushi connoisseur.

For a more typically Argentine choice, there is the Tabla de Quesos y Fiambres, which is a platter of meats and cheeses, including jamon crudo (cured ham) – unbelievably tasty and large enough for two to pick on, and a good amount to eat to not get bogged down for dancing.

Eating and drinking at Club Museum's after office party

What do Club Museum and the Eiffel Tower have in common?

The building is quite striking, and it really stands out from the rest in this part of San Telmo. The sheer size of Club Museum is  nothing short of overwhelming, having been designed by Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame! This old style French influence is apparent outside and in.

There is a huge cluster of giant disco balls hanging from the ceiling and large projection screens playing a mixture of liquor and fashion commercials, and also street scenes from across Europe. The floor is wide open in the middle with tables in the front and in the back. There are also tables to sit on at the perimeters of the second and third floors, which you need reservations to get.

Club Museum's big projection screen

Live Bands – first sit down and enjoy the show…

Club Museum puts on live bands most Wednesdays from around 9pm to 10pm. During this time it is probably more comfortatble to sit either on the second or third floor balconies so you can enjoy your food and the music simultaneously without losing your voice attempting to talk to your friends over the speakers. To ensure that you have a decent seat you can reserve a table in advance (see below for details), though to do so you should have at least 6 or 7 people in your party.

…then get on the dance floor

Once 10pm rolls around make your way down to the dance floor where the DJ will surely play every song Madonna has ever recorded. It may be true that Madonna sings about 15% of the songs played in Buenos Aires nightclubs, and Museum is no different. The mix at Museum is mostly 80s music and electronic, with some latin favorites thrown in.

When you are downstairs, remember that the Argentines require less personal space in general than in the United States (and perhaps in Europe too). Everybody is bumping into each other and amazingly nobody gets upset about it. It’s just the way it is in Buenos Aires. Restrain from getting angry and pushing back – this is just a cultural difference to get used to.

Museum is definitely the place to be on a Wednesday. Start at 7pm, leave before 3am (closing time), and still get up for work the next morning!

Dancing through the evening in Buenos Aires

Club Museum: Reservations

For advance reservations, you can contact Club Museum using the following details:

Online contact: Click here to inquire about the club online
Phone: 4611-5657 or 4632-9381 (between 10am and 6pm, Mondays to Fridays)

Location of Club Museum

Peru 535, between Venezuela & Mexico, San Telmo

Boutique del Libro – Bookstore and Cafe

July 7, 2007 by · 4 Comments 

Buenos Aires, a city of book lovers

Boutique del Libro Bookshop - Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires

As one of the most literate cities on the planet, Buenos Aires will not disappoint a book lover. You can spend hours just browsing through the stacks and shelves of novels, academic theses, art and photography collections, and poetry anthologies in shops across the city here. Of course Buenos Aires is best for book-shopping if you read Spanish, or don’t mind captions in Spanish, but most places do also have an English-language selection.

One very attractive and alluring bookstore in Buenos Aires is the Boutique del Libro, a combined bookshop and café tucked away in the streets of Palermo Soho.

Boutique del Libro: Unsurprisingly, full of books

Indulge the bookworm inside you at Boutique del Libro

Boutique del Libro is the kind of bookstore that makes you hold your breath in awe as you walk past the shelves full of enough books to satisfy any intellectual thirst. If you want to find art, photography, or design collections, especially ones that are specific to Argentina, this is a great place to look. Boutique del Libro also boasts a pretty decent collection of English-language classics and new novels, which are located by the front window. They also have a small collection of CDs by Argentine and international musicians.

The bookstore staff are friendly and happy to point you in the right direction to help you find a book. Everything is well-labeled by section, so you can always just go straight to a specific category and peruse. The bookstore is usually filled with foreigners and locals alike, enjoying the atmosphere and lounging around in the café.

Look smart with a novel by Borges or Isabel Allende

The café is an ideal spot for quiet reflection with a recently-purchased book, or if you need to get some studying done. There is free wireless internet so you can read your emails in this high-ceilinged, spacious area. The décor is tasteful: large white-and-beige modern style paintings adorn the muted walls, and the furniture is a mix of antique low-slung patio chairs and sturdy wooden seats. Each table is creatively topped by a miniature cactus plant. You’ll find yourself among people happily lost in a novel, or in thought, or in their studies.

Lounging around in the Boutique del Libro cafe / bookshop

Maybe just a coffee or tea in the café: it’s better for mood than food

If you’re on a budget, it’s probably best not to come to Palermo Soho hungry, because by Argentine standards places like Boutique del Libro are overcharging for their food and drinks. The Boutique offers standard fare such as steak sandwiches, salads, baked chicken, hamburgers, and tostadas, which are grilled-cheese sandwiches (usually jamon y queso – ham and cheese). It’s got an espresso bar and alcoholic drinks.

Boutique del Libro is actually a chain in Argentina, but the Palermo location has a special air of sophistication that is worth checking out. If you are a book lover you will understand the aura that radiates from a really good bookstore. Come here just to see the place and admire the simple decoration in the café, or to get some reading material in either Spanish or English. And while you’re in the area, across the way you’ll also find a very cool store called Objetos Encontrados, full of interesting antiques, toys and other random stuff.

So, in an afternoon of strolling or shopping in Palermo Soho, it’s definitely worth your time to visit Boutique del Libro, even if just for a look or a quick coffee with some cookies. And if you are actually in the market for books, you’ll almost certainly enjoy the variety of their selection.

Cafe and bookstore life come together

Location of Boutique del Libro Bookstore and Cafe

Thames 1762, between Costa Rica & El Salvador, Palermo Soho

Buenos Aires – The City that Fades Away

July 3, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

Abandoned buildings in Buenos Aires, and the past stories they hold

Jeff Barry, over at  Buenos Aires, City of Faded Elegance, has started what should be a very interesting series of posts about deteriorating and abandoned buildings in Buenos Aires.

He started the series with a post about an abandoned building on calle Bolivar in the barrio of Barracas, and tells an interesting story about the lives that would have once been led in crumbling buildings like these. It really is this type of deteriorating building and the stories within that gives a city like Buenos Aires authenticity and an interesting edge – we would be far worse off without these reminders of days gone by.

Jeff then invited other bloggers to join in the series by posting their own pictures of abandoned or deteriorating buildings in Buenos Aires, or indeed anywhere else. Tango Cherie has posted her own thoughts on run-down buildings in Havana, Cuba, that are in fact still very much lived in, despite their state of disrepair.

Joining in with the series, so here is a new photo entry:

Abandoned building on calle Alsina, Monserrat

Abandoned building on calle Alsina in Monserrat, Buenos Aires

This building is found on the 400 block of Alsina, just across the street from a favorite old cafes in Buenos Aires, La Puerto Rico (great coffee and pastries). It is also just a block away from Plaza de Mayo, so you would imagine it would be a prime location. However, despite that, it has been in more or less the same horrible condition over the past few years, the only changes being the extra foliage growing on its walls, the changing state of its crumbling old facade, and the different fly posters that adorn its boardings each week.

Some similar buildings further down the block (on the corner opposite the lovely old Farmacia de La Estrella and above that the Buenos Aires city museum) have a sign on them indicating that the Buenos Aires city government is planning to renovate them and create shop space on the ground floors – however it seems that the separate building shown in my photo might be ignored for a while yet. We’ll see…

***As of November 2009, this building’s facade HAS IN FACT BEEN RENOVATED by the Buenos Aires city goverment!***

[mappress]

Bar El Federal

July 3, 2007 by · 7 Comments 

El Federal: People watch, relax, socialize, or dine

Bar El Federal filete sign
[Photo Credit: Villamota]

Grab a buddy and head to El Federal, one of Buenos Aires’ most beautiful and classic cafes (in operation since 1864), for a relaxing afternoon coffee, lunch, or dinner. It’s a pleasure to sit in this café and admire the vintage ads decorating the walls, under a glow of soft lights. Bar El Federal is a perfect example of how the city has made an effort to preserve its cultural patrimony by maintaining old establishments in good condition.

El Federal also has a beautiful lowered bar (giving you the strange perspective of looking down on the bar staff) with an amazing carved wood and stained glass arching mantel above (see photos later in this post), an open kitchen which you can sneak a glance into if you sit in the back, two rooms full of sturdy wooden tables, and even a quaint little bookstore hidden within. The crowd is a mix of porteños relaxing with friends and family, tourists with their heads buried in Lonely Planet guide books, and eclectic San Telmo ‘locals’ from all over the world.

A classic café with cuisine that suits all tastes

Sit down at one of the tables and eventually a waiter in a crisp white shirt and black pants will bring you a menu longer and denser than a Borges novel. Whatever your appetite is calling for, Bar El Federal has it, and it will be prepared with fresh, simple ingredients. In general, their offerings fall into the category of cocina porteña: Italian favorites such as fresh homemade agnolottis, spaghettis and raviolis topped with tomato, pesto, or cream sauces; pizzetas with any imaginable toppings, milanesas, hamburgers, omelettes, and sandwiches.

Beautiful bar at El Federal
[Photo Credit: Paula Moya]

Elaborating on the topic of sandwiches, this cafe tops the charts in the vast quantity and variety of sandwiches you can choose from. There’s even an entire half-page in the menu dedicated to turkey sandwiches, which is not really common in Buenos Aires, as it is rare and very expensive. Then there are the medialunas rellenas, which are croissant sandwiches filled with cheese, ham, and other ingredients. They have traviatas, a sandwich made with crackers instead of bread, for a lighter option. You can choose from classic sandwich ingredients such as ham, cheese, salami, steak, sausage, hearts of palm, and more.

Worth mentioning are the picadas, large plates of finger foods that are served with bread baskets and make a wonderful light but satisfying dinner with some wine. El Federal offers some especially creative selections, such as sautéed eggplant, fried raviolis, peanuts, walnuts, olives, ham, cheese cubes, and goat cheese. The picadas are a great choice if you aren’t in the mood for a hot meal, and they are ideal for eating slowly during great conversation or romantic whispers with your date.

El Federal serves fresh homemade Spanish tortillas, and their salads are also notable, which range from specialties such as apples, carrots, walnuts and cheeses to traditional favorites with a lettuce and tomato foundation. The main theme here is fresh and simple, so don’t expect fancy bistro salads, but you will not be disappointed with the quality.

Food at Bar El Federal

Have a coffee, bottle of wine, cocktail, or milkshake

As for quenching your thirst, El Federal is like a bottomless well. You can sip on unique cocktails like a pisco sour, caipirinha, or the classic Negroni – a mix of gin, Campari and vermouth, with a slice of lemon – guzzle handcrafted Argentine beers by the bottle, partake in pitchers of draught beer or cider, or just linger over carafes of Argentine wine. Order like a local by asking for a chopp de sidra (a mug of traditional Argentine cider, on draught). Or you could even go all out and order a bottle of champagne, which is surprisingly affordable at El Federal.

Most of the alcoholic beverages are modestly priced, and as always in Argentina, wine is the best deal you can get if you don’t want to spend a lot. El Federal offers trusty, economic wines such as Traful, Lopez, and Concha y Toro.

Busy Bar El Federal in Buenos Aires

If you are looking for something that won’t get you tipsy, try a classic espresso-based drink such as café con crema, or a tea. And El Federal features licuados, the Argentine version of smoothies and milkshakes, which are made with either water or milk, according to your taste, and consist of any combination of fruits.

If you want a real dessert, Bar El Federal will not disappoint: it also has an extensive list of sweet concoctions, including strudels, pastries, and European-inspired creations of chocolate and fruits. Especially mouth-watering is the apple, pear, and cinnamon strudel, which is baked nearby and brought in fresh daily.

The service at El Federal is relatively slow, but it’s not the kind of place where you’ll want to rush through a meal or drinks. Enjoy the old-fashioned setting and the background noise of the kitchen sizzling meats and forks clinking on plates, while you experience the laid back lifestyle that Buenos Aires is so famous for.

Bar El Federal, San Telmo
[Photo Credit: Paula Moya]

Location of El Federal

Peru, corner of Carlos Calvo, San Telmo

Tel: 4300-4313

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