Buenos Aires: Palermo & Chacarita
Palermo is the 'it' neighborhood. In recent years it transformed from a family-oriented barrio to the hive of bohemian and fashion activity in B.A. To the west lies the residential area of Chacarita.
Bosques de Palermo
One of the many parks in the northeast section of the neighborhood. In one swath of greenery you'll find botanical and Japanese gardens, a zoo, and a hippodrome. A terrific place to spend an afternoon.
A favorite weekend hangout that's unknowingly skipped by tourists but packed with young professionals who fill the artsy cafés and restaurants that border it. Sidewalk terraces are crammed with people and with vendors selling their wares (mainly cheap, trendy jewelry).
Lelé de Troya
Calle Costa Rica 4901, 011-54-11/4832-2726
There's a room to suit your every mood in this fun, super-inexpensive Argentine/Mediterranean restaurant-red, green, yellow, and blue to be exact. Feeling amorous? Sit on couches in the boudoir-style red room and savor the house specialty, lomo croquante-crispy tenderloin wrapped in phyllo with mushroom mousse and spinach.
Calle Charcas 4037, 011-54-11/4833-3165
Rich, stone oven-baked pizzas. Rough wooden tables and candlelight add to the bohemian ambience. Perfect on a cold night; grab a beer with your pie and stay into the wee hours.
Calle Jorge Luis Borges 1757, 011-54-11/4831-3071
Sophisticated Argentine-Mediterranean food that's earned a local following. The chef's specialties are a rich lobster-asparagus risotto and an unusually delicious lomo cabernet, medallions of beef wrapped in cured ham with a mushroom and wine reduction. Sit on the stone-paved patio amid lush greenery in summer, or in wood-paneled elegance next to a fireplace in the colder months. A fine four-course meal with wine, coffee, and impeccable service runs $35 per person.
Calle Niceto Vega 5511, 011-54-11/4772-7582
Go early (10 p.m.) to get a table, otherwise you'll stand the whole night. There's a stellar rooftop patio, with rattan recliners. Afterward, head across the street to continue the party at Club 69 (see Niceto Vega, below).
Officially named Plaza Julio Cortazar, the square is lined with some of the city's best bars, cafés, and cocktail lounges. In good weather, the patio chairs come out and the party sprawls onto the street.
Between Calle Costa Rica and Calle Honduras
Over a dozen funky menswear boutiques line this strip, with everything from vintage garb to edgy designer suits. There are also some excellent women's stores along the way, as well as stores selling stylish Argentine brands like Airborn and Felix.
Between Calle Malabia and Calle Acevedo
A street outside of the city center that's the best place to get a leather jacket made to measure. The easiest way to get there is to take a cab. Just say "Calle Murillo," and they'll know what you mean. The best deals are at Murillo 666 (Calle Murillo 666, 011-54-11/4855-2024).
Calle Jorge Luis Borges 2180, 011-54-11/4777-1112
At this traditional open mic (peña), the clientele is likely to burst into song or dance as the night goes on. Listen to live folk music while you dine on regional treats like tamales or humitas (cornhusks filled with spicy ground beef or mashed corn). Good food, wine, and entertainment for around $7. The more the merrier! Reservations recommended.
Calle Niceto Vega 5510, 011-54-11/4779-9396
Hip-hop dancers and a burlesque cabaret troupe (together called Club 69) get the party revved up at this hot club on Thursday nights. It oozes coolness and is loads of fun. Don't get there before 1 a.m., and plan to stay all night. $7-$9.
Maté refers to the cup in which an herbal brew called yerba is shared. The yerba leaves come from a shrub and when covered with hot water, they produce a bitter, earthy-tasting drink. In a group, the cebador is the person who serves the maté to everyone else. Drink it plain (amargo) or with sugar (dulce) any time of day.