Buenos Aires: San Telmo & La Boca
B.A.'s most old-fashioned and touristy neighborhoods. Artists, intellectuals and antique vendors still flock to San Telmo. Nestled by the city's southern port, La Boca was founded by Italian immigrants.
Docks from Avenida Don Pedro de Mendoza to Calle Olavarría
Evoking bygone days in La Boca, this alleyway lined with rickety primary-colored houses, artists selling canvases, and tango performers is the stuff of postcards. It's best to visit in the daytime only; the street's after-dark reputation is dicey.
Calle Carlos Calvo 599, 011-54-11/4300-4313
Fabulous porteño bistro with loads of old-world features, such as a recessed floor behind the bar-the bartender peers up at you as he pours. A great place to sample a traditional B.A. grill menu, or to sip gancia con limón (a popular lemony Italian aperitif). Alcoholic drinks come with free munchies, like olives, and palitos-salty chip-like snacks made from wheat and corn.
Blocks between Calle Defensa and Avenida Paseo Colón
On summer evenings especially, locals and tourists alike cram the many sidewalk patios along this street. Its simple cafés and restaurants are known for their generous pitchers of beer. Ignore the slow service and soak up the scene.
Calle Perú 895, 011-54-11/4362-5310
A hip pub with excellent beers on tap, which are two for one 6 p.m.-10 p.m. And while you will always find a Brit somewhere on the premises, Argentines also enjoy this small slice of England. Great pub grub such as fish-and-chips, too.
Prices at the cafés lining this historic square are marked up thanks to tourism. But as you sip your drink, watch tango, or listen to buskers, it's not hard to see why. European-style apartment buildings with wrought-iron balconies overlook the dramatic public space, and on summer nights the plaza erupts into one giant party.
Paseo del 900 Calle Defensa 834
An indoor market that's a clutter of antique and jewelry vendors. Old Argentine posters and photos of icons like Che Guevara and Brigitte Bardot fill this veritable museum of memorabilia.
San Telmo Sunday Fair
The antiques fair crowds Plaza Dorrego with nostalgia and romance. People come in search of old plates, costume jewelry, and knickknack collectibles. Strains of live tango provide the perfect soundtrack. Merchandise is almost always marked up at this tourist hub on Sundays; bartering recommended.
Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso
Calle Defensa 1575, 011-54-11/4307-6506
A good bet for cheaper, less touristy tango performances. The cultural center has a varied schedule of music and dance performances. It also hosts milongas, or social events open to the public where tangueros of all levels come to practice their moves. Closed Mon.-Wed. $1.75-$6.25.
Calle Perú 535, 011-54-11/4618-1670
A large, popular nightclub in a national historical monument. Finished in 1916, the former factory was constructed under the direction of Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame. The metal beams and balconies will remind you of his most well-known work. $7 for women, $8.70 for men, dinner included for $10 more.
Michelangelo Catedral del Tango
Calle Balcarce 433, 011-54-11/4342-7007, michelangelotango.com
Fine Argentine cuisine and elaborate tango shows performed by top-notch dancers. The renovated stone warehouse evokes a pseudo-illicit theme. Step into the large cellar-like basement and you enter a romanticized version of tango's history in the bordellos, slums, and streets of B.A. Slightly touristy, but good fun. Thurs.-Sun., 8 p.m.-12 a.m. Dinner and show from $63/person.
This trendy walkway of restaurants in Buenos Aires's port is the place to be for porteños with thick wallets and fine palettes. The once rough-and-tumble dock has achieved full gentrification; it's now modernized, and brick buildings have been converted into restaurants and apartments. But there's still a budget find:
Siga La Vaca
Puerto Madero, Alicia Moreau de Justo 1714, 011-54-11/4315-6801
(Also in Recoleta: Avenida Costanera Rafael Obligado 6340, 011-54-11/4781-4704)
This chainlet has become an institution in Buenos Aires, and it's no wonder, with such plentiful quantities of good food and drink for next to nothing. Stuff yourself silly on all the salad and grilled meat you can eat (beef, pork, chicken), plus get a dessert and your choice of a bottle of wine or a pitcher of soda or beer for $8.30.