Travels with a Gourmet

a food lover's travels, memorable meals, culinary trials and gastronomic experiences

Every year, we spend about two weeks in Buenos Aires to visit family and friends and each time we do, we rent an apartment in Recoleta which is our favorite area. This year, we managed to try some new places that we chanced upon while exploring the neighborhood while still not forsaking our regular haunts.

First on the list and quite close to where we were staying is Che Buenos Aires on the corner of Avenida Montevideo and Libertador and a block away from the chic shopping center, Patio Bullrich. This café used to have a dark, wooden interior until it recently got a face lift and is now following the on-trend modern design of most cafes in the area – bright lights, designer plastic chairs and of course, Wi-Fi for the tech-savvy. Decent coffees and the usual selection of pastries and toasted sandwiches are available.

Next up is the tiny café Nucha in the foyer of Patio Bullrich, which serves real Italian espresso (Segafredo) and yummy desserts – the cheesecake I had was delicious. It doesn’t have the natural light and fashion and football crowd of Patio Bullrich’s other indoor café, Francesca, on the lower ground floor, but at Nucha the coffee, cakes and service are infinitely better.

Just around the corner from the boutiques on Montevideo and Guido streets is Buenos Aires’ equivalent to Starbuck’s, Café Martinez (a.k.a. Café M) where one can buy coffee beans, whole or freshly-ground plus order a cappuccino to-go in a cardboard cup which is uncommon here as most people get their espressos and pastries delivered on a covered tray by a waiter from a nearby cafe. This local chain has many outlets (in shopping malls and scattered all over the city), and have clean, bright interiors serving cakes, pastries and simple toasted sandwiches. Although lacking in atmosphere, the coffees are good, the medialunas (croissants) and the other facturas (pastries) are surprisingly yummy and best of all, it’s packed with locals.

More upmarket then the others listed above is Croque Madame which opens daily and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to fashionable locals. This chic little café has a few locations in town, one of them within the gates of the lovely mansion housing the Museum of Decorative Arts on Avenida Libertador. We went to the Recoleta branch on Avenida Callao close to the Alvear hotel. It’s a WiFi hot spot as well so you can have lunch or a coffee and check your emails while you’re at it.

A bit further off from us is iFresh Market. Located in the up and coming docklands area of Puerto Madero, it’s a a deli/home boutique café concept that has remained popular since it opened about five years ago. It’s become a regular brunch hangout for homesick expats hankering for a taste of home and egg breakfasts and for locals wishing for a bit of Continental flavour. Aside from the all-day menu, there’s a fruit and vegetable counter, a deli counter with cheeses, among them a local goat’s cheese, and cold cuts on display. Chocolates, cakes, petits-fours and other sweets are also available along with jams, spreads, cooking utensils, cutlery, crockery and all sorts of fun home stuff.

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