Sunday, June 14, 2009

Buenos Aires Hits and Misses

I've lived in Buenos Aires for nearly 5 months now and though my orbit is still somewhat constrained to greater Palermo and parts of Puerto Madero near my work, I've found a few places and experiences that I love and endorse.

So, without further ado, I bring you the hit list:

1. For a trago: Le Bar

This beautiful French expat-owned bar and restaurant has three floors, each with a distinct interior that has been painstakingly curated. The second-floor lounge is definitely the most desirable seating area: saturated color, sunken, Japanese-style seating, decent pedestrian bar martinis and a tiny picada of a grilled calamari appetizer that was delish. (I had two orders:)).

2. For a second trago, Bar Uriate

I go exclusively for a cocktail with muddled berries, vodka and Tabasco. Nice outdoor space for brunch.

3. Club Eros

Steak: $4.50
Half a grilled squash: $.75
Half bottle of decent Malbec: $1.50

Men's locker room ambience, florescent overhead lighting, raucous fútbol crowd and adjoining indoor soccer court: free!

4. Neighborhood jaunts: Chinatown in Belgrano

My people are prolific colonizers of urban real estate, bringing their identical Chinese tschotskies, cuisine of questionable authenticity and encyclopedia supermarkets EVERYWHERE. And thank god for that. After many months of grilled everything, I was sorely in want of spices, nuanced flavors, sauces and curries. Arribeño street is an American expat's dream. Every spice, sauce, grain, dried mushroom, paste and powder you can dream up is available in one of the multiple, bustling Asian markets.

Mythes debunked:

Argentina is not impossibly cheap:

For a spend-happy vacationer, sure. And don't be fooled with the rare culinary score at Club Eros--this is an international city with an unofficial 20% inflation rate. It's not cheap. Electronics and clothing are easily two times the price as in the states. Whenever anyone at my work catches wind of someone making a trip back to the states, ears perk up and people start competetively hustling to get goods trafficked back.

Buenos Aires is not a style capital:

Lovely, laid back and wholeheartedly friendly, yes, but this isn't a city with inspiring street style, or one that is even close to the avant-garde of fashion. Buenos Aires, is, however, a city of beautifully and carefully designed eating, drinking and social spaces. People like to go out and enjoy life, and they like to do so in thoughtfully designed and well-appointed spaces. Even the run-of-the mill cafès and pizzerias will boast sultry lighting, soaring ceilings and well-plotted decor.

And now I leave you with a trailer for Francis Ford Coppola's newest flick, Tetro, set in Buenos Aires, for a closer look at my newest adopted home:

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