Establishment neighborhood
Barrio Cafetero
Florida 833, Retiro
This tiny, hole-in-the-wall café brews up all the caffeinated classics—macchiato, ristretto, cortado, and so on—with a souped-up cappuccino menu on the side (spike the frothy milk and espresso mix with caramel, vanilla, or chocolate to satisfy a mid-afternoon sugar craving). The space is bright, cheerful, and feels a little rebellious thanks in large part to the loud red shelving, stark against the white subway tile walls and black finish. Stand by the bar, down a few espressos, and grab a tasty cookie or toasted sandwich to go.
Humboldt 1542, Palermo
LAB is about as hipster as they come in Buenos Aires, a hyper-contemporary space aptly named given they treat the roasting and brewing process much like a precise science. A café for the true coffee connoisseur, every accouterment is available here from Chemex and V60, to an Aeropress for the perfect custom brew. Décor-wise, the space is a mix of white walls and blonde wood with low-hanging modern lamps and plenty of natural light. Aside from the incredible coffee, we recommend the grilled cheese or a sweet-savory slice of banana bread if you're feeling peckish.
La Biela
Av. Pres. Manuel Quintana 596, Recoleta
While the service at this long-standing café can sometimes be a little lax, sitting outside on an elegant Recoleta street with a coffee in hand is the quintessential Buenos Aires experience. La Biela has occupied this leafy, shady corner for decades and is much-loved by the neighborhood's occupants. The people watching—both inside and out—is pure gold and the old-world interior filled with bustling, white-shirted waiters and automobile paraphernalia doesn't hurt. Stick to beverages and pastries here, save a full meal for one of Recoleta's incredible steakhouses—like Fervor, for example—instead.
Posadas 1519, Recoleta
Fervor is one of those goldmine restaurants that serves excellent food matched by exceptional service. An old-world steakhouse that exudes all the charm of a time gone by—with its floor-to-ceiling velvet drapes, checkerboard floors, red leather booths, and soft lighting—the interior feels classic and clubby yet nostalgic. The chefs dry-age all the meat, allowing the enzymes to break down, which results in melt-in-the-mouth tenderness and a more concentrated flavor. The steaks are then charcoal-grilled for smokiness and a thick crust that pairs so well with a robust glass of Malbec. Start off with a pisco sour and prepare to stay late.
Murillo 725, Villa Crespo
When you've had your fill of steak, get a reservation at the seafood-centric iLatina. The seven-course tasting menu served by chef Santiago Macías feels like a tasting journey from Mexico to Patagonia. These are the flavors that reflect the chef's own trajectory—Macías grew up in Cartagena and has lived and worked throughout Latin America. Housed in a renovated Villa Crespo townhouse, the Colombian-inflected interior—hardwood floors, predominantly white walls accented with pops of color—feels fresh and cosmopolitan. Be sure to go with the wine pairing to get a true taste of the many varietals found in the country’s wine regions, with each glass chosen specifically to compliment the dish. While seafood is the primary focus here, the beef cheek marinated in sugarcane reduction and Colombian coffee is some of the best you'll ever have.
La Brigada
Estados Unidos 465, San Telmo
Located on old-time San Telmo, this spot has been serving carnivorous Porteños their steak for two decades. La Brigada provides the nostalgia of old-school restaurants of yesteryear that any traditionalist will love—small tables are packed closely together, the walls are covered in paintings, references to home team the Boca Juniors, and images of notable Argentinians. Beneath the dining room is a cavernous brick wine cellar, home to thousands of bottles with a long wood table set up for subterranean tastings. In case there's any question as to the restaurant’s food focus, the menus are encased in cowhide and contain pages of nose-to-tail options from lamb tongue to every cut of steak imaginable—expertly seared for a dark crust and meat so tender the waiters actually slice it with a spoon. The deserts don’t disappoint either and in keeping with the overall vibe, you’ll find decidedly old-fashioned (but no less delicious) comforting treats like bread pudding, chocolate mousse, and baked apples to finish.
La Cabrera
José Antonio Cabrera 5099, Palermo
Steak and all its many accompaniments are what this Buenos Aires institution is best known for. While we do recommend booking ahead, the inconvenience of standing in line outside is definitely tempered by the flutes of sparkling wine the waiters often disperse to the waiting crowd. The steak options are endless, with every possible cut finished with various sauces and butters. La Cabrera has a comforting, dimly lit, slightly kooky interior that encourages you to settle in for the evening—the walls are covered in plates and clocks while the tables are of the white-tablecloth variety.
Lafinur 3368, Palermo
Translating from Yiddish as ‘crazy or eccentric’, Mishiguene serves up what they self-describe as ‘immigrant cuisine’—essentially dishes sprung from the food memories of immigrant Jews around the world. Friday is the night to try and snag a booking, especially as on the Sabbath, the meal is accompanied by live Klezmer music. Argentinian chef Tomás Kalika honed his culinary craft in Jerusalem, helped along by his grandmother’s recipes. Kalika’s menu takes the diner on a journey through Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Israeli, and Middle Eastern food traditions. The space itself is cozy and convivial, filled with tables of varying sizes, walls lined with photographs and, more often than not, a super fun crowd. Order whole roasted cauliflower dressed up with labneh, matbucha, and silky tahini to enjoy alongside the sensational homemade breads (sesame bagels, Israeli pitta, raisin challah). The pastrami comes in salty slabs, the latkes are crispy, and the tangy hummus should be drizzled liberally on every plate.
Patagonia Sur
Rocha 801, La Boca
A reservation is essential for what always turns out to be a truly special evening. This is Francis Mallman’s restaurant in the heart of one of Buenos Aires’ oldest (and on occasion dicey) neighborhoods, La Boca. Press the buzzer and be welcomed into what feels like dining at the chef’s home. The dinnerware is a little mismatched, the walls are covered in assorted paintings and prints, plush red velvet drapes dress each window, and low hanging lamps create that ambient moody light that makes you want to linger for an extra glass of wine. Steaks are the order of the day here (be sure to specify that rare means rare, as oftentimes Argentinians err on the side of well-done). Yes, it's an extravagance, but the atmospheric intimacy of the surroundings, and of course, the food itself, more than justify a trip to La Boca. Image courtesy of @annstreetstudio