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Buenos Aires Fall 2008

Buenos Aires Fall 2008

By
Trip Plan Tags: 
arts + culture,
city,
design + architecture,
food,
romantic,
shopping,
wine
Destinations: 
Argentina,
Buenos Aires,
Buenos Aires Province,
Central + South America

Just returned from Buenos Aires in November 2008, with suitcases bulging with nifty shopping finds, and a belly bulging with great food and wine. We stayed in a one-bedroom apartment in Las Canitas, a lovely, leafy neighborhood to retreat to after a day spent exploring the city. (And the apartment was a great deal too: We used a rental service called Buenos Aires Habitat, and the folks there were friendly and helpful.)

ITEMS

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See + Do

San Telmo, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

With its faded Italianate tenements (once the mansions of the Buenos Aires upper-crust) and cobbled calles, San Telmo is one of the most atmospheric of B.A.'s 48 barrios. Every Sunday, Plaza Dorrego hosts the Feria de San Pedro Telmo, a lively urban bazaar full of antique stalls and impromptu tango. (The neighborhood is known for its abundant antique dealers.) During the week, the plaza, with its outdoor cafés, becomes an ideal oasis for a coffee or an ice-cold Quilmes, the Budweiser of Argentina.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
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Hotel

Hotel Home Buenos Aires, Argentina

5860 Honduras, Palermo Hollywood
Buenos Aires C1414BNJ, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4778 1008
Email: info@homebuenosaires.com
Website: www.homebuenosaires.com

Aimed at the hip, partying crowd increasingly drawn to Buenos Aires' late-night pleasures, Home was the first hotel to open in fashionable Palermo Hollywood. Brainchild of British music producer Tom Rixton and his Argentinean wife, Patricia O'Shea, the 20-bed property is within stumbling distance of fashion stores, film studios, and a bunch of modish bars and restaurants that never seem to close. Guests can fire up the fiesta at Home's bar, where maestro barmen mix signature cocktails like the rosemary and sorrel vodka martini. The rooms, enlivened with strips of vintage French wallpaper, have Eliel Saarinen-designed queen beds, while suites have king beds, sofas, hot tubs, and balconies. Two aptly named palo borracho ("drunk trunk") trees stand guard over a jasmine-draped deck, a parrilla (grill), and lush gardens. A basement spa offers Ayurvedic, Shiatsu, and Esalen treatments.

Nightlife

Milión, Argentina

1048 Paraná, Barrio Norte
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4815 9925
Website: www.milionargentina.com.ar

Housed in a three-story mansion built in 1903 by the wealthy Allemand family, Milión encompasses three high-ceilinged dining rooms, two exterior terraces, and a warren of candlelit nooks. Beautiful porteños of all ages come to preen and flirt on the sweeping marble steps, or wander idly with a cocktail through a creeper-draped garden dominated by a towering loquat tree. The Allemands' piano, family portraits, marble fireplaces, and wall ornamentation remain intact, yet Milión is far from stuffy: Waiters are wont to wear T-shirts and dreadlocks, yet they display impeccable manners. An impressive cocktail list includes hard-to-find single malts Caol Ila and Glen Ord, making the first-floor bar popular with louche night owls, but the real attraction is the standout cuisine: sweetbreads with salad and quail eggs, tuna steak dripping with lime, and a lamb tenderloin roasted with onions and wild rice.

See + Do

Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, Argentina

1550 Tristán Archával Rodríguez
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Website: www.buenosaires.gov.ar/areas/med_ambiente/reserva/

Accessible from calles Viamonte or Brasil, on the riverward side of Puerto Madero, the expansive Costanera Sur ecological reserve—built over a landfill—feels worlds away from the urban hubbub of Buenos Aires. A sprawling expanse of wetlands filled with foxtail pampas grass, the reserve is the kind of place where you're likely to encounter some of its 200 bird species and a handful of lizards sharing their habitat with joggers, bikers, and picnicking weekenders. The monthly "Walking Under the Full Moon" tours are a special treat.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 8 am to 6 pm (April through October), Tuesdays through Sundays 8 am to 7 pm (November through March).

See + Do

Recoleta, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The tony enclave of Recoleta feels like the 16th arrondissement of Paris or Manhattan's Upper East Side. Its leafy streets are lined with ornate townhouses, Polo and Cartier outposts, the occasional embassy and, at its heart, the posh fortress of the Alvear Palace Hotel. Recoleta's most famous resident remains Evita Perón, who, oblivious to her daily cavalcade of visitors, rests in peace at the must-see Cementerio de la Recoleta, a 13-acre necropolis founded in 1822. Avenida del Libertador, a wide parkway, leads to B.A.'s own museum mile, featuring the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo, a former Belle Époque palace.

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See + Do

Puerto Madero, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

It's still shocking to many porteños that Puerto Madero—once a run-down dock area—has now surpassed Recoleta as B.A.'s highest-rent district. It's a barrio that didn't even officially exist until 1994, when massive renewal transformed a jumble of derelict brick warehouses and deserted streets into the TriBeCa of South America. These days, the four diques (locks) that define the old port are home to Cabaña Las Lilas, the best steakhouse in Argentina; Santiago Calatrava's lyrelike suspension bridge, Puente de la Mujer; and Faena Hotel + Universe, the mind-bogglingly over-the-top hotel that design superstar Philippe Starck carved out of a 1902 industrial grain warehouse.

See + Do

Palermo, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Palermo is B.A.'s largest barrio, and, with its numerous sub-barrios and 350 acres of parkland, it feels like a city unto itself. There's the wonderful Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays with its frisky population of feral cats; the century-old Palermo polo grounds; and the palatial Hipódromo Argentino (4101 Libertador), a thoroughbred racecourse that makes Churchill Downs look like a shotgun shack. But the real action goes down in Palermo Viejo, the hipster hangout centered around Plazoleta Cortázar and subdivided into Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood, an area of tipa-lined streets, designer-soap emporiums, cocktail bars, and cutting-edge bistros like the Scandinavian-themed Ølsen. The outlying Las Cañitas is a throbbing nightlife zone popular with pub-crawling yuppies and out-past-curfew teens.

See + Do

Malba, Argentina

3415 Figueroa Alcorta, Palermo
Buenos Aires 1425, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4808 6500
Website: www.malba.org.ar

This sleek modernist slab on the edge of Palermo Chico—the choice address of B.A.'s television personalities and diplomats—was designed by a triumvirate of young Argentinean architects and opened to deserved fanfare in September 2001. It houses the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires/Colección Costantini, better known as MALBA, a museum and performance space devoted to Latin American art from the exalted likes of Fernando Botero, Miguel Covarrubias, Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera. Homegrown faves are also represented here, including Clorindo Testa, the artist-turned-architect who created B.A.'s provocative Biblioteca Nacional (National Library).

Open Mondays noon to 8 pm, Wednesdays noon to 9 pm, Thursdays to Sundays noon to 8 pm.

See + Do

Jardín Japonés, Argentina

Avenida Casares at Avenida Figueroa Alcorta, Palermo
Buenos Aires 1425, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4804 4922
Website: www.jardinjapones.org.ar

Buenos Aires is one of the greenest of world metropolises, with avenidas, calles, and plazas generously planted with grand, locustlike tipas (the branches look like antlers), lavender-blossomed jacarandas, elephantine ombúes, and majestic London planes. The Parque Tres de Febrero, designed by Carlos Thays and nicknamed the "Palermo Woods," is a sylvan retreat whose most inviting corner is the Jardín Japonés, a whimsical preserve of Japanese flora, from black pines to ginkgos, set amid pagodas, ornamental bridges, and lakes brimming with well-fed golden koi. Be sure to take some green tea in the traditional teahouse overlooking the Zen garden.

Open daily 10 am to 6 pm.

See + Do

Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays, Argentina

3951 Santa Fe, Palermo
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4831 4527
Website: www.jardinbotanico.gov.ar

This welcoming green haven, built by the prolific French-Argentine landscape architect Carlos Thays in 1898, is an ideal place for a Sunday-afternoon ramble. With its meandering lanes, Romulus and Remus statue, assorted fountains, and greenhouse brought back from the 1900 Paris Exhibition, the Botanical Garden mixes charming Beaux Arts–built elements with 8,000 varieties of global flora (and a robust smattering of feral cats), ranging from the flowering angiospermae (magnolias, et al) to orchids to the park's conversation piece, an ultrarare Chinese Tree of Gold. The garden's recently restored brick mansion, in which Thays's family once lived, now houses an art gallery. Bilingual experts lead guided visits (Fridays 10:30 am, Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm) and, once a month, an atmospheric night tour (last Friday of each month, 9 pm).

Eating

Ølsen, Argentina

5870 Gorriti, Palermo Hollywood
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4776 7677

Germán Martitegui, the bald, goateed visionary behind this mod Nordic bistro (who's also exec chef at Casa Cruz and Tegui), has become the city's chef of the moment. It's housed in an artfully converted garage that channels the ghost of Finnish designer Alvar Aalto with its high ceilings, retro ski-chalet fireplace, and teak-and white-plastic appointments. But trendy trappings aside, the place has serious legs, and it's likely to be a favorite even after the hype has died down . It's probably the only place in town where you can order delicious tandoori-smoked salmon, cheese piroshkis (like little Russian ravioli), and deer meatballs, and toss it all back—skoal!—with aquavit and chili-infused vodka.

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays noon to 1 am, Fridays and Saturdays noon to 2 am, Sundays 10:30 am to 1 am.

Eating

Sucre, Argentina

676 Sucre, Belgrano
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4782 9082
Website: www.sucrerestaurant.com.ar

You know Sucre is hot the moment you step through the door. There's its sleek industrial ambience of exposed girders and pipes, the perfectly exfoliated international schmoozers and boozers quaffing colorful infusions at the bar, and the open kitchen with its flame-spewing wood-fire grill. Chef, owner, and impresario Fernando Trocca has a flair for drama, and Sucre, the centerpiece of his fiefdom (which includes the equally fashion-friendly Bar Uriarte and Gran Bar Danzón) is pure theater. Thankfully, this is a people-watcher's paradise where the food comes very close to living up to the surroundings. Langostinos (king prawns) perfumed with Lapsang Souchong harmonize with the heady aroma of smoke that suffuses the establishment; savory-sweet "Bloody Mary" ceviche is a cool treat. But it's impossible to avoid those shooting flames (fueled by quebracho, an Argentinean hardwood), which lick at an impressive matambrito de cerdo (pork flank), bring the mollejas de chivito (goat sweetbreads) to a perfect crisp, and just plain look great reflecting off an evening-ending glass of port.

Open daily noon to 4 pm and 8 pm to 1 am.

Bar Uriarte

Shop

Tramando, Argentina

1973 Rodríguez Peña, Barrio Norte
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4816 9422
Website: www.tramando.com

Once partnered with designer Jessica Trosman, Martín Churba went on to make his name manufacturing iconoclastic plastic- and paint-splattered textile weaves, which he uses to create award-winning women's clothes, accessories, and housewares.

Open Mondays through Fridays 10:30 am to 8:30 pm.

See + Do

Estancias, Argentina

, Argentina

The pillars of rural Argentinean life are its estancias, ranches built by the owners of sprawling properties on the fabled pampa. Many were established by 19th-century European immigrants, who mimicked the idiosyncratic country houses of their fatherlands by decking them out in the style of French châteaux, English Tudor piles, or Italianate villas. Some still remain in the hands of their founding families, who offset high maintenance costs by accepting paying guests. Standards vary greatly, but a handful do get it right, providing an unparalleled view of gaucho culture, authentic country cuisine, and the chance to gallop across the pampa into the sunset.

The following properties lie within a three-hour drive of the capital:

Estancia El Rocío
San Miguel del Monte
Tel: 54 2271 420 488
www.estanciaelrocio.com

Stables and polo attract a horse-loving crowd to El Rocío, an exclusive, pastel-washed ranchito with a level of service rarely found in Argentinean country homes. Nonriders can also enjoy its 400-acre parkland, swimming pool, and French-influenced gourmet cuisine.

El Ombú de Areco
San Antonio de Areco
Tel: 54 23 2649 2080
www.estanciaelombu.com

Gauchos have been hitching their mounts to this estancia's namesake—a giant ombú tree (Phytolacca dioica) that presides over the lush 750-acre grounds (including two swimming pools)—for over a century. El Ombú's main attraction is the chance to observe (or participate in) the workaday life of managing the estancia's stock of Hereford and Aberdeen Angus cattle.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.