Buenos Aires Specialty
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.
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.
Gorriti 4738, Palermo Soho
A modern (by Buenos Aires standards) café and bakery serving up extravagant cakes in a minimalist setting, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking you’ve stepped into a Stockholm fika spot. Ninina's décor is decidedly Scandinavian, with walls, floors, and tables all made of polished blonde wood. The bar, in contrast, is a sheet of white marble showcasing traditional cakes covered in clouds of whipped cream, stiff meringue, and fresh berries. A mellow spot for an afternoon coffee and slice of cake, they also serve breakfast and lunch with an American slant—avocado toast, eggs, smoked salmon, waffles, and refreshing smoothies.
Próspero Velazco Patisserie
Superí 1278, Colegiales
Housed in the picturesque Casa Cavia, and the work of acclaimed patissier Próspero Velazco (who trained under Francis Mallmann, no less), this is no ordinary bakery. The bread, croissants, tarts, and cakes are all baked fresh daily and resemble miniature sweet sculptures. The space is charm personified, with all the confectionary displayed in glass cases, stacks of porcelain cups and saucers lining the shelves, and pretty blue tables and chairs scattered throughout for those wanting to sit in and enjoy a decadent éclair or tart slice of lemon pie.
Arroyo 900, Recoleta
Farinelli has the feel of a traditional French bakery and the appearance of a thoroughly modern operation. Small but mighty, the menu is loaded with healthy options, and given that Farinelli is a determinedly seasonal café—everything is homemade. Choose from sandwiches, salads, cakes, juices, and signature desserts (anything Dulce de Leche). Portions are small but the flavors are assertive, leaving you feeling satisfied. Inarguably chic, the interior is covered in white tiles and walls with red trim, which feels clean, pared-back, and contemporary. The few seats out front are made for sitting back with a strong coffee (or juice) and watching the locals go by.
Av. Del Libertador 1902, Palermo
In a city that has a picturesque café on every corner, Croque Madame has the distinguishing factor of being part of the very beautiful Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. The outdoor terrace is a buzzy, cozy situation surrounded by lush greenery, the ideal spot for a continental breakfast (flaky croissants, OJ, endless jam), or a quick coffee. While admittedly there are a few Croque Madame Café’s dotted around the city, this one is all about the location—surrounded by museums, it's perfect for a caffeine-centric pick-me-up between exhibits (with some stellar people-watching on the side).
Av. de Mayo 825, Microcentro
Tortoni is more akin to a ballroom than a café, yet it’s imposing size does not deter from the grand, turn-of-the-century continental café décor. The towering ceilings, colonnaded walkways, and white-collared waiters delivering strong cortados and cake to packed tables feels a lot like stepping back in time. Settle into this long-standing institution for a few solo hours with a good book and work your way through several coffees for some of the best people-watching in the city.