With its bustling street scene, mod­ern art mu­se­ums, hid­den base­ment restau­rants, and fast-evolv­ing food scene, Ar­gentina’s cap­i­tal is the most so­phis­ti­cated city in Latin America. By Sor­rel Mose­ley-Wil­liams

Friday - - Editor’s Letter -

Hip nightlife, a mod­ern art scene and trendy bistros… here’s Buenos Aires, be­yond the beef.

One of Latin America’s most en­er­getic me­trop­o­lises, Buenos Aires to­day is a city for good times, and late nights. Just bear in mind that 1am is an early kick-off when it comes to Ar­gen­tinian nightlife, and head for Palermo. Di­vided into numer­ous sub-dis­tricts, this is the city’s pump­ing pulse. Palermo Soho is the place for speakeasies and clubs and Palermo Hol­ly­wood for burger joints. Re­tiro has spawned a hip club scene, Al­ma­gro re­mains the pre­ferred haunt for tango afi­ciona­dos, and San Telmo’s Av­enue Caseros is a short yet sweet foodie hub. And with the city des­ig­nated Ibero-Amer­i­can Cap­i­tal of Gas­tron­omy 2017, the food scene is ex­tend­ing its palate – it’s not all steak.

Buenos Aires has also cleaned up its act in re­cent years. The Metrobus and ex­tended Subte, its sub­way net­work, means get­ting around is rel­a­tively painless, while 180km of cy­cle lanes and free bike hire hint at a greener fu­ture. Ban­daged by scaf­fold­ing for years, facelifted fa­cades such as that be­long­ing to the cul­tural cen­tre Centro Cul­tural Kirchner have fi­nally been un­veiled: a bonus is that many mu­se­ums and cul­tural spa­ces charge low, or no, en­try fees.


After a lengthy makeover, the Correo Cen­tral post of­fice re­opened in 2015 as the Centro Cul­tural Kirchner. At this neo­clas­si­cal Beaux Arts beauty all ac­tiv­i­ties are free, from ex­hibits by renowned lo­cal names such as con­cep­tual artist Le­an­dro Er­lich, to opera recitals and tango dance classes on the ter­race.

Free en­try, Sarmiento 151, San Nicolas,


An acute re­minder of Ar­gentina’s most re­cent dic­ta­tor­ship – Gen­eral Galtieri’s ended in 1983 – the for­mer Esma, or navy pet­ty­of­fi­cers school of me­chan­ics, was one

of the most ac­tive se­cret de­ten­tion cen­tres dur­ing the Guerra Su­cia (‘Dirty War’) waged by the mil­i­tary junta against sus­pected left-wing dis­si­dents from 1976-83. To­day it’s known as the Re­mem­brance and Hu­man Rights Cen­tre, a trib­ute to the thou­sands of vic­tims of state ter­ror­ism. The Casino de Ofi­ciales is es­pe­cially poignant, given that an es­ti­mated 5,000 peo­ple were held and tor­tured in this build­ing.

Free en­try, Av­enue Lib­er­ta­dor 8151, Nu-ez, es­pa­ciomemo­


In 2010, after five decades of fer­ry­ing works to tem­po­rary homes around Buenos Aires, Mamba’s 7,000-strong col­lec­tion fi­nally found a per­ma­nent home at this for­mer to­bacco fac­tory. Rack­ing up its 60th an­niver­sary this year, the mod­ern art mu­seum ded­i­cates two floors to paint­ings and in­stal­la­tions by con­tem­po­rary Ar­gen­tinian artists like Marta Min­u­jin (right top) and Julio Le Parc. An ad­di­tional sa­lon and lit­er­ary café are due to open this year.

Av­enue San Juan 350, San Telmo, bueno­­mod­erno


In the morn­ing she works at her fam­ily’s se­cu­rity firm, but come the af­ter­noon, Sol Cer­nadas shows off her beloved city on a free walk­ing tour. One of a group of guides – who of­fer tours that show off the cap­i­tal’s eclec­tic ar­chi­tec­ture, and in­clude in­trigu­ing cul­tural in­sights – her goal is for ‘vis­i­tors to un­der­stand us: who we are, what we’re like and how we think. And, yes, there are con­tra­dic­tions ev­ery­where!’ The Aris­to­cratic tour in­cludes a ‘sa­fari’, fea­tur­ing stat­ues of li­ons sport­ing fixed smiles – her cheeky nod to the na­tives’ pen­chant for plas­tic surgery.



A trendy yet well-priced bistro from the culi­nary mind be­hind fine-din­ing es­tab­lish­ment Aramburu, Bis (far right) has lifted this cor­ner of Con­sti­tu­cion. Thought­ful dishes such as steak tartare with mustard ice-cream, or cheese souf­flé, are the main­stay. Slip down­stairs to Bis’s hid­den base­ment club, Un­der.

Hum­berto Primo 1207, aram­bu­ru­

In 2010, after five DECADES of fer­ry­ing works to tem­po­rary HOMES around Buenos Aires, Mamba’s 7,000-strong COL­LEC­TION fi­nally found a per­ma­nent HOME at a for­mer TO­BACCO FAC­TORY


Veg­e­tar­i­ans, avert your eyes… An on­go­ing pop-up, Nerca – Ar­gen­tine slang for meat – in­vites prom­i­nent chefs to pre­pare a pro­tein­loaded, seven-course ban­quet at cu­ri­ous venues (how about a metal work­shop?), with lamb among other meats in the spot­light re­cently. Pre­pare for a meat sweat.

On Face­book


While Proper’s CV screams ‘hip­ster’ – it has a me­chanic’s work­shop lo­ca­tion (above), and a self-built wood-burn­ing oven – the of­fer­ing by dy­namic culi­nary duo Leo Lanus­sol and pas­try chef Au­gusto Mayer is solid. The mar­ket-to-ta­ble ap­proach is or­ganic where pos­si­ble; fail-safe picks in­clude oven-charred oc­to­pus with pick­led beans and gar­lic cream, or oven-roasted ar­ti­chokes with cashew nut cream and charred le­mon. Build­ing on the Ar­gen­tinian pen­chant for play­ing with fire, Proper gives most in­gre­di­ents the flame treat­ment, while mov­ing flavours and plat­ing straight into the 21st cen­tury. No reser­va­tions.

Araoz 1676, Palermo, 011 4831 0027, properb­


Built in 1714 and hav­ing sur­vived four yel­low fever epi­demics in the 1800s, this casa chorizo – long, thin Ar­gentina houses, named for their sausage shape – was re­cently saved from de­mo­li­tion. Tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from a ru­ral pulperia – gro­cery store – to sell or­ganic pro­duce, Quilapan spe­cialises in hearty fare like buf­falo milk cheese pro­v­o­leta. The decor fea­tures foot­ball flags and dis­used street signs.

De­fensa 1344, San Telmo, 0054 11 4307 6288, pulpe­ri­aquila­


On a res­i­den­tial cor­ner close to Ar­gentina’s big­gest ceme­tery, in Chacarita, Rita is some­where be­tween lo-fi res­tau­rant and up­mar­ket café. Op­er­at­ing dur­ing day­light hours, its din­ers can kick-start the day with creamy scram­bled eggs and bread baked in-house; re­fuel at lunch with a pearl bar­ley, pump­kin and beet­root salad; or drop by for a slice of car­rot cake come teatime. Sim­plic­ity rules, and the am­bi­ence is equally un­fussy, at­tract­ing low-pro­file dig­i­tal no­mads keen for de­cent cof­fee, Wi-Fi and a well-priced three-course lunch menu.

Olleros 3891, Chacarita, 0054 11 4554 4555, on Face­book


For a no-frills parrilla (bar­be­cue) ex­pe­ri­ence, head to this clan­des­tine

joint. Mir­ror-fronted doors used to de­tract un­wanted at­ten­tion un­til word got out that Secretito was grilling top-qual­ity cuts at rock-bot­tom prices. Now, the sparsely dec­o­rated tav­ern, or bode­gon, crams in din­ers hun­gry to share juicy en­trana (skirt) and bife de chorizo (sir­loin) steaks. Fans of the Rac­ing foot­ball club will ap­pre­ci­ate the mem­o­ra­bilia, too.

Dor­rego 2720, Las Ca-itas, 0054 11 4777 8351


This cheer­ful seven-room town­house in Villa Cre­spo goes above and be­yond the av­er­age B&B’s duty, with 300-cot­ton thread counts and a 24-hour front desk. Fus­ing res­cued wooden floor­boards with con­tem­po­rary fur­nish­ings, en-suite rooms are airy, each in­di­vid­u­ally de­signed. An abun­dant break­fast is served in the stylish din­ing room. Querido’s con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion means Palermo Soho is a short stroll away, though far enough to avoid the late-night hubbub.



De­sign and com­fort are key at this 20-room ho­tel in hip Palermo Hol­ly­wood. From Florence Knoll fur­ni­ture to Wil­liam Mor­ris wall­pa­per, ev­ery de­tail has been hand-picked by the Bri­tish-Ar­gen­tinian own­ers. There’s an out­door swim­ming pool, lush, ur­ban gar­den lined with silk floss and cherry trees, and a com­pact spa. Walk­ing dis­tance from the nightlife in Hol­ly­wood, week­end brunch in-house is a great op­tion the morn­ing after.



A huge makeover con­verted this art nou­veau for­mer sewing ma­chine fac­tory in Mon­ser­rat into a 59-room ho­tel – Pala­cio Barolo is two doors down. And while tango is at its heart, it isn’t oblig­a­tory. Carlos Gardel will, how­ever, be­come a fa­mil­iar face and afi­ciona­dos can prac­tise the ocho on the dance steps rug in the pri­vacy of your room. De­spite the busy lo­ca­tion, traf­fic is rel­a­tively un­ob­tru­sive. Head to the ter­race for a cityscape of domes and spires. Wed­nes­day’s in-house spec­ta­cle is an easy din­ner-tango show op­tion.



Close to edgy Con­sti­tu­cion, this cosy, four-room B&B in San Telmo is run by a French ex­pat, Yann. He has faith­fully ren­o­vated much of the house – a casa chorizo, built in 1900 – but orig­i­nal el­e­ments re­main, such as a mu­ral and en­caus­tic floor tiles. Decor is sim­ple but the place is spot­less. Guests can make use of the com­pact kitchen where Yann pre­pares break­fast – en­joy it in the din­ing room or on the pa­tio.

Dou­bles from $55 B&B, la­que­ren­ci­ade­bueno­

Emi­rates has reg­u­lar flights to Buenos Aires. Fares start from Dh7,030. Eti­had fares to Buenos Aires start at Dh8,410.

De­sign and COM­FORT are key at the hip Home Ho­tel. From Florence Knoll FUR­NI­TURE to Wil­liam Mor­ris wall­pa­per, ev­ery DE­TAIL has been HAND-PICKED by the Bri­tish-Ar­gen­tinian OWN­ERS

A work by Marta Min­u­jin (above). Espacio Memoria and Museo de Arte Moderno are sure to cap­ti­vate cul­ture lovers. Be­low right: Aramburu Bis is a well-priced bistro.

Clock­wise from top left: San Telmo mar­ket’s stalls, Rita, Quilapan, the Nerca pop-up and Proper make for mem­o­rable food ex­pe­ri­ences

Tango de Mayo (above) Home Ho­tel (mid­dle) and La Querencia of­fer ex­cel­lent op­tions to re­lax in the city

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