Being someone who used to do tours of Chinatown, Victoria....I have a deep appreciation for the preservation of history. And certainly have a deep respect for a city that recognizes historic value! When visiting Buenos Aires, in my rush to explore the sites I would often miss the small orange sticker in front of select bars and cafés indicating that it is a "bares notable". A "bares notable" is a café that the goverment has deemed to be of historic value and therefore the interior of it cannot be altered or renovated. Currently in Buenos Aires there are about 60 select bars and cafés that have this special recognition.
Unbeknownst to me, I had actually eaten at many of these places without knowing it. My first meal that I ever ate within hours of landing on Argentine soil was at Confiteria Ideal. And of course, by default everyone has to pop by Café Tortoni at least once during their stay in Buenos Aires. But after trying out these two places that are the obvious, the explorer in you may have urgings to explore the less obvious spots.
On a street just off of Defensa called Alsina, there is a spot called La Puerto Rico. The big secret to this café is that there is actually fresh ground coffee available, something that is very difficult to find in the city and to date, this is the only café that I know has it. In Buenos Aires, medialunas (croissants) can go all the way from mediocre to magnificent. And I would have to say that the medialunas at the café are definitely tipping towards the magnificent side.
Taking a break from the busy microcentro, a stroll through San Telmo's streets may bring you to El Federal. On my first trip, this café was a frequent favorite for me because it was in walking distance to where I had to teach. The charm of El Federal almost wants to make you order something traditionally Argentine like café con leche or a picada (a plate with an assortments of meats and cheeses). And they certainly don't fail at delivering traditional Argentine fare for locals or tourists alike.
On my 2nd trip, a new café got added to the list....Café Margot in Boedo. As a writer, I am drawn to cafés with historic value but yet have a trendy upbeat atmosphere a unique twist on Argentine fare. Café Margot is just that for me. On the outside, it looks like any other of the historic cafés but the twist is in the food. At café Margot, my cravings for things like turkey come to an end.....something that is almost unheard of here in this country.
All the places I've mentioned are just a tip of the iceberg. There is a whole list of places that have been given that special recognition by the government. One day I'm sure I'll get them all. It would definitely be "bar- hopping" of a different kind. Places like La Poesia keep calling my name over and over again....