Ña Serapia

May 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Legendary Locro for the May Revolution

Ña Serapia Pulperia in Alto Palermo

In the heart of Alto Palermo, just in front of where the 41 & 59 buses let off behind the sprawling Parque Las Heras, you will find a curious little hole-in-the-wall with a BIG reputation for serving up authentic regional Northern Argentine cuisine.

A pulperia as its fading, weather-worn storefront sign proudly displays, is the name given to a restaurant that serves the “food of the gauchos” – a classification that is strongly reinforced by the many framed images of this classic Argentine cowboy hanging slightly askew from its walls.

Clearly, this place isn’t going for any interior design awards, but that hasn’t stopped its famed owner Hector from winning the awards that count: the culinary kind.  One look at his front window emblazoned with effusive praise from Guía Oleo (Buenos Aires’ version of Yelp) and TripAdvisor says it all.

Sign outside of Ña Serapia

The May Revolution / Locro Connection

The BuenosTours team came here in search of a piping hot bowl of Hector’s lavishly lauded locro – Argentina’s national dish – to celebrate the Día de la Patria, or the anniversary of the May Revolution.  What we found was the faithful reproduction of an indigenous dish that warmed our bellies and spirits on what turned out to be a cold and rainy day in Buenos Aires.  Apropos, since the weather on that fateful day back in 1810 was similarly sopping, but saw a sudden break to sunshine the moment Argentina’s independence was declared from the balcony of the Cabildo.  Legend says that this is why the sun appears on the Argentine flag to this day!

Crowd waiting in line for locro at Ña Serapia

After waiting for 2 hrs+ in a line that spilled out 30 people deep in two directions on the sidewalk (one for eat-in and one for take-out), our crew enjoyed an assortment of not only the luscious locro, but a pile of crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside empanadas, topped off with the traditional May Revolution dessert of membrillo (quince paste) over a slab of soft white cheese (our sources tell us membrillo was served in little pockets of fried dough by street vendors shortly after independence was declared, which seems as dubious as the sun/flag story, but equally as fun).

Locro at Ña Serapia, with homemade chimichurri on the side Delicious empanadas at Ña Serapia in Palermo, Buenos Aires

In case you’re wondering how locro came to be forever associated with this national holiday, remember that the transition from Spanish colonial power to the first Argentine self-government (the so-called Primera Junta) was desirous of a symbol of something distinctly local and Latin in origin.  And what better symbol than a tasty dish from the indigenous Cuyo tribe of the Northern Andes?  There are few things more appreciated here than food, and few things more “local” than honoring our South American mainland ancestors.

Membrillo with soft white cheese, a typical Argentine dessert, at Ña Serapia

In Hector’s Words

Hector was kind enough to step away from his duties as both primary server and Man of the Hour to grant us a quick interview so we could find out what all the fuss was about.

BT: What province does your menu represent?

Hector: All of the food comes from Salta, in the North.

BT: How did you learn how to cook this regional cuisine?

Hector: I learned from my father in Salta, who always had regional food in the house.  It was nothing more than wanting to continue the culinary traditions that existed in my house when I was growing up.

BT: And what are the typical foods of that region?

Hector: Locro, tamales, and guisos, among others

BT: What is your favorite flavor of empanada that you offer?

Hector: I like the Salteña, which contains spicy beef and potatoes.

BT: How was this restaurant born?

Hector: This restuarant was founded in the year 1963, when I was still just a boy.  I came to work here in 1973, and in the year 2000, the owner of this place didn’t want to keep going, so I took it over with 3 others.  We have continued all the same traditions; we haven’t changed a thing.

BT: And one more… what is the origin of the name “Ña Serapia“?

Hector: The word Ña is short for doña, which means woman in the local dialect, and Serapia was my mother’s first name.

Hector, the owner of Ña Serapia, and something of a local cult hero

So there you have it, folks.  A hearty thank you to Hector for keeping the delicious culinary traditions of Salta alive, and for gracing us with an unforgettable bowl of chorizo and hominy stew to celebrate this momentous occasion in Argentine history. Best locro in the city?  It’s hard to say without sampling them all, but we’ll let the local patrons – one of whom told us that he has been coming here for over 30 years every May 25th for the locro alone – be the judge!

For more information, check out the Inside Buenos Aires and My Beautiful Air blogs, which both mention our main man above.

Address: 3357 Avenida La Heras

Barrio: Palermo

Phone Number: +54 11 4801-5307

Take part in the Argentine asado tradition

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Argentine Asado Grilled Steak

To read more please, click here

Anuva Wine Tasting in Buenos Aires

April 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

*PLEASE NOTE: Anuva Wines unexpectedly closed down permanently on January 12th 2017. We are currently looking into alternative wine tasting options in the city to be able to update the below article – feel free to contact us in the meantime to ask for a wine tasting recommendation in Buenos Aires*

A lovely wine tasting in Palermo, Buenos Aires

Anuva Wines offers wine tastings in Buenos Aires, for those who wish to sample some great boutique wines, but can’t necessarily make it to the wine producing regions of the country. Located in a luminous loft in the chic neighborhood of Palermo Soho, this wine club opened in 2007, and offers tastings with English speaking experts that are both educational and fun. All of their wines are boutique, which means you won’t find them in the grocery store, here or at home.

Anuva wines

I recently attended a Friday afternoon tasting (lucky me!). Upon arrival, a delightful English woman named Cara showed me to my seat, and our table quickly filled up with a lively set of international travelers. I made small talk with the other guests and the staff of Anuva, who graciously answered questions about Buenos Aires and offered suggestions for dining and activities.

And then came the moment we’d all been anxiously awaiting: the tasting!

Surprising white wines

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First came a sparkling wine from Hom Espumante. Poppy, who lead our wine tasting, gave us some general tasting advice and then explained the different processes by which wine makers convert whites into sparkling wines. This light and refreshing blend was deliciously drinkable. Once we’d sipped, everyone at the table agreed that Poppy’s explanations deepened our appreciation of the bubbly! Each wine was paired with an Argentine tapa specifically selected to accentuate certain flavors in each of the wines, and I found our blue cheese and pear hors d’oeuvre went perfectly with the espumante (sparkling in Spanish).

Next came a marvelous Las Perdices Torrontés. This white was floral on the nose but when paired with two yummy gelatos, the wine’s different fruit notes really stood out.  Poppy spoke about the Torrontés grape, one of Argentina’s most important and lovingly nicknamed “la uva mentirosa” (the liar grape; can you guess why?). She also explained the wine growing regions of Argentina and how the characteristics of each influence the taste, acidity, and alcohol content.  Tasting the Torrontés, I could tell that the terroir of Salta province has a direct effect on its flavor!

Red, red wine!

Our table discussed the wines we’d tasted so far and raved about Argentina’s ice creams as the Anuva staff filled our remaining glasses with three reds.  We were all eager to begin and grateful when Poppy presented the first wine: one of Argentina’s famous Malbecs from Carinae vineyards, which was paired with an Argentine picada of cheeses and salamis.

wine1

The spectacular hostesses answered questions about wine production in Argentina as we enjoyed the malbec; each of these women is highly knowledgeable of the industry, and I recommend asking any question that occurs to you about the vino (wine in Spanish).  Indeed, the tasting was professional but not at all pretentious, and unlike in other tastings I’ve been to that give you two drops of each varietal, Anuva gives generous servings and offers refills.

We moved on to what I found to be the stand-out wine of the afternoon: a San Gimignano Syrah! Wonderfully light and minerally, Poppy joked that this wine is a woman’s wine, because it’s so delicate on the palate.  Here we sampled a traditional meat empanada, yum!

By the time we arrived at the last wine, a robust and velvety Bonarda from Mairena, our table had become best of friends. Anuva’s team (and their wines) creates a welcoming, convivial atmosphere, and I learned from my fellow wine tasters! For example, the Australian at the table was impressed that Argentine wines weren’t as heady as the Aussies are used to, and Poppy explained how growing conditions affect alcohol content; the pair from San Francisco compared Argentina’s dry, high altitude conditions with the more wet Napa Valley and Sonoma county, and considered how that affects sulfide content.

And oh yeah, the Bonarda was to die for, a perfect way to end a delightful tasting!

Anuva wines tasting

Here I am with my tasting buddies, happily smiling for the group photo! Once the tasting was through, the staff offered refills and let us know that all the wines sampled (and more) are available for purchase. Best of all, they even deliver to the US with free shipping!

To reserve, click here to book a tasting with Anuva Wines

The price is US$52 per person. Exact location details are revealed by Anuva upon booking, but as mentioned, the wine tasting is held in a specialist tasting room in the Palermo Soho neighborhood. The tastings last for about 90 minutes to 2 hours, and are usually scheduled at 3pm or 6pm Mon-Thu, or 2pm or 5pm Fri-Sat (although other times may be available upon request).

 

Las Cabras Parrilla

March 15, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Lively, open-air steakhouse in Buenos Aires

Las Cabras

Walking through Palermo Hollywood for the first time in September, I saw several chic restaurants . Then I got to the corner of El Salvador and Fitz Roy, where a crowd hummed outside a bustling restaurant, and something immediately appeared different.

Las Cabras had me at hello.

This parrilla offers big plates, wonderful ambiance and a price tag that will satisfy any patron. Simplicity distinguishes Las Cabras from other restaurants in the area. Red, wooden tables dot a pebble-covered, shady patio on the Fitz Roy corner. White, crayon-ready paper serves as your tablecloth. The warm lighting from inside helps illuminate the patio, which encompasses both sides of the corner. The place beams with energy and smiles from one table to the next.

Las Cabras

Las Cabras is great for a couple’s dinner or a reunion with friends. I often see people on dates inside and groups of ten or more outside. It’s the kind of place where dinner can last for hours and you can sit, enjoy your company and indulge in Argentina’s prized commodities for as long as you like. You’re bound to see other travelers or expats at Las Cabras, but porteños dine here nightly as well.

Delicious Argentine foods

My go-to for steak is entraña (skirt steak), which comes with two healthy strips of meat and a Caesar salad. Asado de tira (braised short-cut ribs) is another popular choice among my expat friends. Typical Argentine cuts – ojo de bife (rib-eye steak), bife de chorizo (sirloin) – are on the menu as well.  However, despite being very much a parrilla, the diverse menu at Cabras also reaches out to vegetarians.

The pastel de calabaza y miel (Squash and honey and pie) may be the most delicious, filling and affordable dish in Buenos Aires. It comes in a heavy clay bowl, topped with a layer of melted cheese. The pastel is mashed squash filled with veggies, a really tasty creation that will end any of your hunger pains. The honey adds a light, sweet finish to the taste buds. The salads and antipasto plates at Cabras are also big hits given their ample size and tasty ingredients.

But if you’re a carnivore and you only have one night for Las Cabras, you must challenge yourself to the Gran Bife de Las Cabras.  This huge plate includes a sirloin steak, cooked to your preference, and a plethora of sides: fried veggies, a slab of grilled provolone cheese, French fries with a fried egg on top, rice and mashed squash. You may not need to eat breakfast the next day.

Las Cabras

The only precaution with Las Cabras is the wait. If you arrive after 9pm, especially on the weekend, expect to wait at least 30 minutes. An 8pm or 8:30pm arrival time should help you avoid rush hour.

Despite any delay to your meal, the fun atmosphere, quality of food and affordability will keep you coming back to Las Cabras for more.

Where is Las Cabras?

Getting there: Unless you know the bus system or take a taxi, bring your walking shoes. The nearest subte stop on the D line is the Palermo station. From there walk two blocks up Santa Fe, go left on Fitz Roy and walk seven blocks to the corner of Fitz Roy and El Salvador.

On the B line, get off at Dorrego, walk twelve blocks along Bonpland, turn right on El Salvador and go one block to Fitz Roy.

The 108 bus line stops within a block of Las Cabras, and it also goes through Recoleta on Av. Santa Fe, plus through Palermo at Plaza Italia.

 

Top It Frozen Yogurt

February 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Buenos Aires: Is Fro Yo the new gelato?

Top-it-frozen-yoghurt
[Photo credit: from the Top It Facebook page]

At its hottest and most humid Buenos Aires can feel like a sauna and even a gentle stroll can leave you in serious need of a cooling pit-stop. But another ice cream? Really? Sometimes it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and if all those steaks and empanadas are making your waistband feel tight you might want to consider opting for a frozen yogurt from Top It in Palermo Soho. It’s fat and additive free and contains only 100 calories per portion.

top-it-cute-dog-buenos-aires
[Photo credit: from the Top It Facebook page]

You can’t top this

But a trip to Top It is not just for the pious. Not only is the frozen yogurt guilt free, it’s also delicious. There are only two flavors – original and a seasonal fruit flavor (e.g. peach or passion fruit) – but, as the name Top It suggests, the variety comes from the choice of toppings. Choose three or four revelations or the yogurt churning machine and then decide what you want on top. There are more than 20 different options, including fresh mango, kiwi, strawberry and chopped nuts.

Top-it-Palermo-Buenos-Aires
[Photo credit: from the Top It Facebook page]

Frozen Yoghurt delivery

You can order your frozen yogurt to take-away, enjoy the air conditioned coolness and eat inside the air conditioned shop in Palermo Soho with its bright seating area and shiny perspex covered walls, or bask in the sun on one of the pavement deckchairs. For those days when leaving the house is unappealing, there is also a delivery service. Top It has proved so popular since it opened in October 2010 that it is now available in two branches of sandwich joint Open Kitchen on Reconquista 620 and 1054 in the city center and there is talk of further branches. It seems like frozen yogurt is fast becoming the city’s newest (and fairly virtuous) addiction.

For more about Top It take a look at this post on the BSAS ARGENTINA blog.

Location of Top It in Palermo Soho

Top It Frozen Yogurt, Gorriti 4721 (near corner with Malabia), Palermo Soho

Telephone: 4833 2260,  Website: http://topit.com.ar/

Buenos Aires Zoo

November 22, 2007 by · 10 Comments 

It’s all happening at the zoo…

Elephants at Buenos Aires Zoo

The Buenos Aires Zoo is spectacularly charming for anyone with an afternoon to spare. Located in the heart of Palermo off the Plaza Italia subway stop, the zoo spans the distance between Avenidas Las Heras and Libertador. Home to over 350 species and known for some of its exotic breeding, the zoo is the perfect place for families, a romantic date or an afternoon alone.

On sunny weekends this attraction is packed full of children, which isn’t always entirely different from the weekdays, when many school field trips attend. Nevertheless, the best time to visit the zoo is on a sunny weekday afternoon, when you can lounge in front of the white tiger enclosure or elephant house with few others peering over your shoulder.
Feeding time at the Buenos Aires Zoo

Buenos Aires Zoo details

The zoo’s entrance is located on the corner of Avenida Las Heras and Avenida Sarmiento. Cost varies depending on what you want to see and how much you want to spend. General Admission (Entrada General) gives you access to most of the zoo. However, there are several exhibits requiring the more advanced pass (Pasaporte), which gives you access to exhibits such as the Aquarium, Reptiles and Rainforest, as well as the ‘Dragon House’ and a boat ride on the lagoon.

The General pass shouldn’t be overlooked however, as the majority of the zoo is indeed found within the General layout. Meanwhile, the Aquarium has penguins with both fresh and saltwater fish (including piranhas) in large tanks and the reptile area is eerily captivating (especially for the boys). However, if after purchasing the general pass and you find yourself thinking that the Rainforest exhibit looks too good to pass up, a few pesos extra at the entrance to each additional exhibit will grant you entry.

Nice views in the Buenos Aires Zoo, Palermo

Don’t feed the animals (or do!)

OK, so you have your pass… now, where do you begin? Upon admittance you’ll see a large entrance where you can purchase disposable cameras, snacks and also rent lockers. They also have professional photographers if you want to capture the moment without any blurs or overexposures, which is ideal considering the entrance is next to a picturesque lagoon where flamingos lounge on the far side of the fountains. (Look closely and you’ll also see snapping turtles!)

The entrance area is also an excellent chance to buy some animal food (Comidas Animales) – throughout your journey you’re welcome to feed elephants, alpacas, monkeys, camels, deer, zebras and other feed friendly animals. The food bags are affordable, as are the larger bins. While you’ll find yourself wondering how it’s possible that all of these different animals eat the same food (maybe save yourself some cash and try it out on the kids… just kidding!), it’s a wonderful way to interact and gain the attention of the more commonly aloof critters. Some of the animals will even play up to the food, with elephants raising their trunks and monkeys motioning for you to throw more.

Some of the enclosures are so close to the animals themselves that sneaking in some petting (while you’re feeding the camel, for instance) isn’t difficult. Naturally, it’s important to be socially conscious of the safety of the animals and yourself, so be mindful when you’re petting the zebra. If the kids are complaining that you’ve run out of food, then there are stations located throughout the Zoo where more can be purchased.

Also, if the Comidas Animales didn’t go over so well as the kids’ snack, then there are stands where popsicles and other treats can be found. However, like most zoos, these are extremely overpriced… so, if you go over to the sides of the zoo (by the fence) you will often find street vendors that will sell you a larger variety at half the price, right through the gaps in the fence! In Buenos Aires, where there’s a will, there’s a way .

A Camel has the hump at Buenos Aires Zoo

You are HERE

The layout of the zoo is simple so you don’t have to worry about missing anything. Posted maps along the way indicate your position, but by following the main path you’ll surely see it all. If you’ve taken this zoo-pert’s advice and headed RIGHT upon entry, your first stop will be the polar bears with their large swimming pool and the Aquarium, should you choose to view it.

The elephant house is enormous and the elephants seem to spend most of their time near the perimeters in hopes of catching some snacks purchased by zoo goers. Again the intimacy of the Buenos Aires zoo is spectacular and it’s breathtaking to see these amazing animals up so close.

The zoo is also known for its success in breeding white tigers and these, along with the other large cats (pumas, cheetahs, jaguars and lions) are all in well built enclosures where they’re easy to spot. Each enclosure lists the animal with some basic information for those wishing to educate themselves on the wildlife. Information such as where you can find them in the wild, the types of food they eat (interestingly enough, none mention the Comidas Animales!) and other key characteristics about each inhabitant is listed.

If the white tigers aren’t impressing the kids and they’re getting rambunctious, not to worry. The middle of the zoo houses a playground fully equipped with swings and slides for them to exert all that extra energy. The zoo also has two carousels located at the back and far left. The one in the rear is always running and is nearby a rest area with food. It’s a great halfway point and the perfect load off.

Zoo and more

The region dedicated to Africa is located on the left side of the zoo which again bodes spectacularly intimate views of anything you’d hope to see. This gives way to a petting zoo where at the end of your journey (you’re actually allowed to here!) to pet a family of goats, donkeys and Shetland ponies.

If you haven’t had your fill by this time, take another loop. Or, if you have, you’re back at the lagoon and ready for home… Once you’re home and realize that house cat of yours isn’t exactly living up to those white tiger cubs, visit the zoo website to see what other activities and adventures the zoo has to offer. This includes information on birthdays, guided tours and other specialized events: www.zoobuenosaires.com.ar (one such specialized event at the moment is night time zoo opening, as reported on here in Buenos Aires Weekly).

Giraffe at Buenos Aires Zoo

Location of Buenos Aires Zoo

Corner of Avenida Las Heras and Avenida Sarmiento, Palermo

Website: http://www.zoobuenosaires.com.ar/

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

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

Antares Pub, Palermo

March 26, 2007 by · 4 Comments 

Antares Pub in Palermo, Buenos Aires

It’s all about the beer at Antares

In the search for a true beer drinkers’ pub in the city of Buenos Aires, it can be difficult to come across something truly original and refreshing. A long time staple for home grown taste, Buller Brewing Company bar in Recoleta now has some competition from Antares Pub in the stylish neighborhood of Palermo. The limited selection of cerveza artesanal (handcrafted beer) in Buenos Aires makes Antares a must-visit for all beer lovers.

If you are interested in checking out some of the more interesting brews at Antares, they offer a 7 beer sampler which is as tasty as it is cute to look at (Bueller offers its own 6 beer taste-test as described here by BA blogger Ken in his review).

Pictured below, a quick look at the hopeful competitors, the seven different beers at Antares:

Beer Sampler in Antares Bar

Please note that the 7th and final beer, pictured on the right, is a GREEN concoction made specifically to celebrate St. Patrick’s day, holding the place for the Imperial Stout, which normally finishes off the set.

Buenos Aires’ Best Beer?

In searching for the perfect brew in Buenos Aires, it must be stated that the Scotch Ale at Antares is simply fantastic. It has a sweet aroma somewhat reminiscent of butterscotch, accompanied by an appropriately pleasing caramel color. The flavor is initially so smooth on the palette that you will be lulled into a false sense of security, but it soon moves about the mouth in a complex fashion that leads to an oh-so-welcome pleasantly hoppy finish. After you finish one pint, almost certainly quickly, you’ll want another. Antares Scotch Ale, although in a league of it’s own, can be likened to the Oktoberfest at Buller, as both have tones of caramel and finish more tartly.

Antares vs. Buller

So, specific beers aside, which place is better for a lover of beer, Antares or Buller? Both places are great if you stick to their strengths – at Buller try the refreshing Light Lager, or their strong and flavorsome Honey Beer. At Antares you have a quite remarkable Scotch Ale, alongside the almost as enjoyable and equally drinkable Porter. Overall, Buller may have a more consistent level of quality, but Antares has two surefire winners up its sleeve. 

Antares Bar – The Place

Antares, as a venue for drinking, is a very nicely done, brand spanking new bar that fits in very well with the other stylish locations found around it in Palermo Soho. From the large shiny beer dispensers to the several pieces of beer related memorabilia, and especially the extremely long bar, there is something for every serious ale drinker. And for those more interested in the ambiance and design of the place, it is beautifully done in a very modern way, and the place does get buzzing fairly early, so Antares does not disappoint in this way either.

Finally, in terms of prices, it’s a good deal. Pints are cheap enough, but with a daily 7pm-9pm happy hour, when pints are two for the price of one, you’re getting high quality for top value. Let’s just hope they can keep the prices and happy hour this way, and not cave in to the spiraling prices we are seeing across the rest of the city.

Location of Antares Pub

Armenia 1447, between Gorriti and Jose A. Cabrera, Palermo Soho

Tel: 4833-9611, Website: http://www.cervezaantares.com

Acabar Buenos Aires

January 24, 2007 by · 5 Comments 

***UPDATE: Acabar has sadly now closed for business. We’ll leave the below review online for posterity***

A Resto-Bar with a twist

Acabar in Palermo Hollywood, where neon rules OK!

Acabar is a very nice bar and restaurant – with a twist to make it interesting. The menu itself is far more interesting than the actual food, a colorful distraction to take your attention away from the sub-par dishes:

Acabar - cool menu, not so cool food

In the end, it is the “bar” part of “resto-bar” which is worth visiting.

So, what’s the twist?

Games. To spice up your weeknight, Acabar offers a selection of board games to help loosen the mood and keep the atmosphere relaxed. You and your friends can choose from old favorites like Jenga, Pictionary and Battleship – and don’t be shy to invite neighboring tables of people to play along with you (or against you). The games not only help to enjoyably pass the time, they can function simultaneously with your cocktail as a social lubricant.

Acabar: Nice name

Great name, in fact. Multi-faceted. Firstly, it has all kinds of comedy potential. In English, acabar basically means “to finish”, and those who are clever enough in Spanish can manipulate the name of this place into all sorts of sexual innuendos. Secondly, if you break the name down, it separates into two Spanish words: “Aca Bar” translating into “here-bar,” letting you know that you have indeed arrived where you wanted.

But the bar itself is great too. Besides the many wonderful board games, the wait staff are extremely nice and friendly, and there are usually enough of them around to be able to grab one quickly for drink orders even when it’s busy. And it does get busy, producing a happy, buzzing atmosphere full of mildly inebriated board-gamers.

Acabar is also HUGE, which is helpful for seating large groups of gamers. You’ll have no problem getting a table as the place opens up round the corner to the left and backwards, and just keeps on going, and going. At one point it feels like you may even have to traipse through their neighbors’ back-patios to reach the end of the bar. But don’t let that put you off your drinks.

Inside the Acabar Bar

And all of that space is filled with character… interesting old chandeliers, pop-art on the walls, lots of funny ornaments and bits & bobs, a hundred different types of wooden tables that have definitely seen better days but still add to the rag-tag look. All very pleasant in a hip kind of way, as you would expect from somewhere located in Palermo Hollywood.

Location of Acabar

Honduras 5733, between Bonpland & A.J. Carranza, Palermo Hollywood

Tel: 4772-0845 / 4776-3634

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