Maria Esperanza Coarasa Alvear Palace Hotel, Buenos Aires
When in Buenos Aires, you have to try… meat cooked on a parrilla [traditional Argentine grill]. My favourite place is Río Alba in Palermo (Avenida Cerviño 4499; +54 11 4773-9508). The steak is excellent, the space is simple and they know how to attend to you. Not all restaurants have that high level of service. This place is always busy because locals just love it. The restaurant that best shows off the city is… Tegui (tegui.com.ar), which is ranked No. 49 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and proves Buenos Aires isn’t just about steak but high cuisine, too. It’s a seven-step menu and every dish is a pleasure. It is art. When my friends are in town, I take them for a drink at… Florería Atlántico (floreria atlantico.com.ar). It’s a secret bar hidden beneath a florist so not everyone knows about it. I love the atmosphere there. If you want an authentic tango experience,
visit a… milonga, a tango bar where you can learn and practise a few moves – that’s what porteños [Buenos Aires locals] do. My favourite is La Catedral (lacatedralclub.com).
Tango shows are generally touristy but I still like the one at… El Viejo Almacén (viejoalmacen. com.ar), which is housed in an 18th-century building and nails the traditional feeling and atmosphere. This is an intimate space – only 50 or 60 in a room, with four couples dancing and seven musicians. It’s amazing.
For a business meeting, I prefer… Chila (chila web.com.ar). It has well-spaced tables and very good service. They know when you’re having an important meeting so they don’t bother you. The food is high-end steak. Buenos Aires is famous for closed-door
restaurants… private residences that chefs open for you to show their art. I love I Latina (ilatinabuenosaires.com). At $1600 pesos [about $140] per person, it’s not cheap but it’s an excellent dining experience.
The best breakfast is… the buffet at the Alvear Palace Hotel [a Leading Hotels of the World property; lhw.com]. The pastries are amazing and I like how they prepare the eggs.
And for quality coffee, go to… La Biela (labiela. com), a café in Recoleta. You feel like you’re in 1930s or ’40s Paris when you’re there.
If you want a market experience, visit… San Telmo on Sunday mornings, when the entire neighbourhood becomes a flea market. You can find antique rings and watches, Art Deco pieces and vintage lamps. Be sure to bargain.
For designer fashion, head to… Palermo Soho. It’s excellent for local labels, particularly on Honduras, Armenia, Gurruchaga and Malabia streets. For international labels, visit Patio Bullrich (shoppingbullrich.com. ar), a small, high-end mall in Recoleta.
If it’s raining… spend the day at El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a historic theatre in Recoleta that has been transformed into a stunning bookstore. And they have a lovely caféteria.
Theatrical Buenos Aires bookstore El Ateneo Grand Splendid