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How to talk about Buenos Aires when you’ve never been

How to talk about Buenos Aires when you’ve never been

An armchair traveller’s guide to the city of meat and malbec

An armchair traveller’s guide to the city of meat and malbec

Jason Goodwin | August/September 2019

GO You love it best in spring, when the jacaranda is in bloom and the polo tournaments get under way. Or anytime. It’s a lost European city, after all.

STAY The typically eclectic Palacio Duhau, in chic Recoleta, was built by a government minister in the 1930s to resemble a French chateau. You stay in the mansion, not the sleek modern tower – though that has better views of the palace of the Papal Nuncio, who lives next door. Nice pool, too. And then there’s Faena, in an old granary down in Puerto Madero, the regenerated docklands barrio.

DRINK Of the city’s bares notables you’ve always liked the panelled La Biela, a café for car nuts (tuerca, in the patois) on a street corner in Recoleta. It’s a favourite of locals and big with visiting movie stars and racing drivers.

EAT Meat and malbec, what else? Only Uruguayans eat more beef. You love a parrilla, where they grill achuras for starters – kidneys, sweetbreads – then a slab of grass-fed bife de chorizo, seasoned with no more than thick salt and chimichurri. Don Julio Parrilla is the king of bife ancho (ribeye). You can find interesting vegetables (pickled cabbage – repollo – on the grill) at the more hipster La Carnicería, both in Palermo Soho. Soho is named after NYC’s district, but it could be Palermo Hoxton after London’s hipster hangout – food, drink, cool cafés and startups, where you enjoy a cortado, a book and fast Wi-Fi alongside design students at Boutique del Libro.

 

 

SEE The speed and dexterity on show at the Argentine Open, at the polo field in Palermo, are intoxicating. Ditto the after-match parties. You love the Teatro Colón, which is newly restored and simply one of the world’s greatest opera houses: Pavarotti said so. And Retiro railway station, which was built by the British. And Tango at Hoy Milonga – you join their lessons first – which is not touristy. Last word to Eva Peron, of course, first lady of Argentina, born 100 years ago: Museo Evita, housed in a refuge she set up for women.