When my friend N told me she was coming to Argentina but only had 3 full days to spend in Buenos Aires, I went into full planning mode. I had scenario 1, options 2 and 3, plans B and C. What I couldn’t plan, the Universe provided. We were blessed with the most unbelievable weather and everything turned out better than I could have hoped for. But with N being one of the most positive and beautiful people I know, we were going to have a great time no matter what. By now she’s back in NYC after enjoying a few days in Mendoza and I’ve had a few days of rest, and getting back to feeling like a normal human being again. I am really feeling my age!
I promised N I would give her a list of all the places we went to and I definitely want to jot down everything we did. So below is N and my three days in Buenos Aires. It may not be worthy of New York Times’ “36 Hours in xxx” articles and the “Three Perfect Days” series in the Hemispheres magazine, but our 72 hours were F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.
Thursday, March 15- “Wine as Cheap as Water”
11:30 Successfully reunited!: I pick up N at Manuel Tienda León, our meeting point where she had safely arrived via a comfy shuttle from Ezeiza to the city. N’s unexpected early arrival catch me by surprise and I’m shocked to see her beaming at me as I approach the office; she’s gorgeous as ever and looking fab after a long overnight flight! We make our way over to Palermo together… and I direct the taxi driver when he’s a bit lost and starts thumbing through the maps. Feeling a bit like a local…
13:00 Lunch: We have our first steak meal at MIRANDA, a modern parrilla in Palermo Hollywood. N can’t believe a meal for two (steak + side + glass of wine + coffee + tip) is ~$33USD. Wine is as cheap as water here! Stroll through the neighborhood for cool boutiques, peek into gardens, bars, restaurants, and hotels. Fun!
Helado: N’s first dulce de leche ice cream at CHUNGO in Palermo Hollywood. Locals say CHUNGO has the best dulce de leche ice cream in the city. 1/4kg, three flavors: chcolate amargo, pistachio, dulce de leche granizado
Back across the train tracks to Palermo Soho, where trendy boutiques line the cobblestone streets and chic porteños hang out on the sidewalk drinking coffee…
Later we head up to Villa Crespo, to Aguirre street where we find great outlet shopping and N makes a purchase at PRUNE. Very cute leather bag…
18:00 Snack (merienda): We do as the locals do and sit down for snack instead of dinner. An adorable little spot in Villa Crespo called MALVON for afternoon coffee and pastries for two.
20:00 Drinks I: BAR Ocho7Ocho, a cool little bar/lounge on Thames in Villa Crespo where we take advantage of their happy hour and have two glasses of Torrontés, each (4 glasses = full bottle for 48 pesos ~$11USD) N loves it when we calculate Pesos to USD and compare the prices to Manhattan.
23:00 Drinks II: We walk confidently into FRANK’S, a speakeasy (a la PDT in NYC) on Arévalo in Palermo Hollywood. With the correct password (pre-planning pays off! last week’s password was Alfred Eisenstadt) and a trip through a phone booth, the dark and cool lounge comes into full view. Perfectly made cocktails and a decidedly hip crowd (a mix of locals and foreigners) mingle and buzz about. Happy with the most delectable fruit punch on a large velvet couch for some people watching. On the way out, we make a quick stop through the sex toy shop they have inside the speakeasy.
01:30 Dinner: We end up at CAMPOBRAVO after being told that LAS CABRAS stopped serving dinner. Parrilla completa will have to wait until next time. Another bottle of Malbec, two more steaks, a large salad complete our late night meal.
03:00 Home: Totally impressed by N – unbelievable show of spirit, energy, love of life, and of her first solo trip to South America. A full day of fun after an overnight flight from Manhattan without a siesta. Wow.
04:00 ¡Lights Out!
Friday, March 16- “The Best Food Day of My Life!”
10:00 Breakfast at home: Thanks N for bringing some coffee from NYC! Pears, nectarines, and organic yogurt from El Galpón in Chacarita. A big glass of warm water with lemon and ginger to get the day started.
13:00 Lunch at CAFE SAN JUAN where we fall in love with chef Leandro Cristóbal and his food. Rabbit pate, smoked salmon, grilled pulpo over amazing potatoes. A bottle of wine (a yummy Torrontés) gets ordered after making sure there is enough cash (no credit card accepted!) Lunch lingers on, and everyone else has come and gone by the time we get our cortados. We keep our eyes on the hot chef; he’s better looking in person than on his TV show. Favorite line from N “just call me and say it’s done.” A little inside joke between the two of us.
Up and down the narrow streets of San Telmo stopping at antique shops and galleries along the way.
Helado at DYLAN. Their chocolate patagónico is ridiculously good.
A quick tour around Casa Rosada, Catedral, Cabildo, then walk up Florida street to peak inside Galerías Pacifico, a Beaux Arts building from 1889 modeled after Le Bon Marché in Paris. The walk continues up Florida to Plaza San Martín, we get on bus 152 for the ride back to Palermo. We get off at Bulnes to walk through a small neighborhood and see one of my favorite churches, Basilica Espíritu Santo, in Plaza Güeme.
21:30 Dinner: LA CABRERA, voted the best parrilla in Buenos Aires by locals (guía oleo) and insanely popular with tourists, N has three days here and I think we have to do it. We show up without reservations, put our names down, drink lots of complementary champagne, nibble on several rounds of picadas, make friends outside as we wait for our table. Once seated inside Marcelo, our waiter makes our dinner thoroughly memorable and fun. We order a big ojo de bife (rib eye) to share and a plate of provoleta (a chunk of provolone cheese grilled with sprinkling of herbs). With a bottle of Ruca Malen Malbec and countless small side dishes Marcelo keeps bringing over we are full and happy. Photos are taken, other waiters along with Marcelo come around and laugh with us, Marcelo gives us his e-mail address and asks that we send him the photo we took together. At the end of the meal Marce brings out two more glasses of champagne and a lollipop tree for us. N tells Marce “¡estoy muy feliz!” with a twinkle in her eyes and I think the man has probably never smiled so big in his life. We practically close the restaurant down and Marce is waiting at the door to see us out. N says “this is the best food day of my life!” Yay!
Saturday, March 17- “This is Just the Beginning!”
10:30 Another unbelievably gorgeous day in Buenos Aires. Bus 110 comes straightaway to take us to the Recoleta cemetery. Before heading to brunch I share my recent discovery with N- the second floor McDonald’s inside the Recoleta Mall provides a great aerial view of the cemetery.
Shadows & reflections at Cementerio de la Recoleta
12:30 Brunch at SIROP FOLIE in Recoleta. Delicious bread, cheese, pate, ham, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, crazy good potatoes, salad, pear and apple tart, WITH champagne. Cafe con leche at the end of the meal perks up and revives us for the afternoon walk. I know I love a long walk but this was a looooong walk.
The route I take is a mash-up of a quiet day I spent walking around one day a few weeks ago and a free tour of BA I did (with L, hi!) the day after I arrived in the city. We start at El Ateneo, the most beautiful bookstore in Buenos Aires on Santa Fe, then onto Arenales and Montevideo up to Quintana for the Italian gelato shop Arkakao. Sadly we’re too full for ice cream yet. Quintana up to Libertad to arrive on Alvear street where a large statue of the former president and Banco de la Nacion founder Carlos Pellegrini is found. We gawk at the beautiful mansions that are now the Brazilian and French embassies, Four Seasons hotel, Vatican embassy, and Palacio Hume, the last privately owned mansion mansion from the 19th century in Buenos Aires. It’s crumbling and more than a little bit creepy, especially standing next to the stunning Palacio Duhau (the Park Hyatt). We visit the unbelievable house where Ralph Lauren’s flagship store is located and also stop by the Alvear Palace hotel. Full loop back to the Recoleta cemetery for the outdoor market, Basilica Nuestra Señora de Pilar, walk through the Recoleta Cultural Center, across the street and over the bridge to Alcorta to see Floralis Genética. A long walk via Libertador to El Rosedal, a rose garden in Bosques de Palermo. Oh my!
19:30 back home for a break and pre-dinner bottle of Malbec on my balcony.
22:50 we realize our dinner reservation is in 10 minutes
23:05 Dinner: DON JULIO, another famous parrilla in Palermo. Tonight our wait is less than 10 minutes but we are greeted with more fantastic service and glasses of champagne. The wine list is so extensive here that we are handed an iPad to read through (just like NYC’s SD26 where N and I had dinner before I left in Nov 2010). We order a bottle of De Angeles Malbec (yummy), N tries the bife de chorizo (sirloin), and I order the entraña (skirt steak); we also decide on a side of steamed vegetables (hey, we did get some veggies in). Next table is a group of guys on a “bachelor’s” outing, with the groom-to-be donning a long black wig. We take photos for them and congratulate the happy groom. Before we leave the restaurant, we’re asked to sign the empty wine bottle and we walk over with our waiter to see him put our bottle on the shelf over the open kitchen.
01:30 Helado at TUFIC (my third visit!) A fab way to finish our last day together in Buenos Aires. N has to be up and ready for the airport in 6 hours…
Three days, four steak meals, a barrel of wine & champagne, 3/4kg of ice cream, 10+ miles/ two pairs of very dirty feet, endless laughter, and a promise to see each other again soon. I know there is so much more we’ll share in the future- this is just the beginning!