BA’s Top 10 Can’t-Miss Cafés – for Expats and Locals Alike!
Article by Rachael Leonie.
As one of the cities many freelancing expatriates, I’ve spent my fair share of time shuffling through Buenos Aires’ coffee shops: tasting the bland, paying for the disappointing, and gulping down the bitter. After many failed café outings, I made it my mission to find the city’s best: those serving up sufficient amounts of caffeine and those where patrons go to stay and work for a while. Looking for your personal Central Perk? A café to adopt as your own? A barista who will remember your name and “usual” as you walk through the door? From the bottom of my coffee-stained heart, I offer you my list of most-beloved Buenos Aires cafés.
I love art, especially when I can eat it. Drinkable art? Even better. At Full City Coffee House, every café con leche comes with a teddy bear, elaborate leaf, or flower etched in the espuma. But this beauty isn’t just on the surface: the delectability of each cup runs deep. Full City brings Colombian coffee to porteño café dwellers. And true to their website, stating their shop is “un lugar simplemente diferente,” you won’t find coffee quite like it anywhere else in Buenos Aires. As if the generous caffeine dosages aren’t a good enough reason to visit, check out the food offerings as well: build-your-own burgers, fluffy omelettes, and cookies the size of small craters ensure you’ll leave satiated.
Nutella medialunas. Need I say more? Well, actually, yes I do, because their cappuccinos are pretty damn delicious as well. I can not imagine a better morning than one that includes getting wired on Lattente’s coffee and munching on their hot-off-the-horno medialunas. On my visit, the waitress apologized that my order may take a bit longer because the nutella-packed medialunas were still getting crispy. Would that be a problem? Not at all, amiga! On first bite, the nutella oozed out from the warm, flakey crust and my cappuccino satisfied any deprivation I had for real caffeine.
**Insider’s tip: For the best experience, show up on Saturday early afternoons to catch the Cannoli of Palermo bike outside, before heading in and ordering a café to accompany your Italian pastry.**
It’s like an expanded museum café: the furniture is sleek, the food encased like delicate paintings, and the kitchen exposed by a giant window so you can watch what goes on BTS. Ninina is the perfect place to brunch with friends on a weekend, or to bring your laptop during the week. Albeit high prices, you do get what you pay for: including soup-bowl-sized lattes and some of BA’s most delectable pastries. Ninina Bakery isn’t your abuela’s milanesas, facturas, or choripán: come here if you want fresh food with a modern twist.
It’s French-owned, French-themed, with French waitresses scurrying about. Do you really need anything more? I love to come here for a post-work café con leche with amigas. If you want to buy a loaf for the week, this is your shop (but, be warned, the baguette may not last the whole week’s time due to its tempting warmth and olor). The croissant de almendras y chocolate is to DIE for, along with French staples like their quiche de jamón cocido y cebolla and sopa de cebolla. Feeling thirsty? Rumor has it there’s a new coffee machine behind the counter as of August 4th. We’ll be stopping by soon to see what these Frenchies have to offer.
This one goes without saying, but I’ll add it to the list regardless. Coffee Town is *mwah* (Italian gesture of bringing cusped hand to lips, then pulling them away while simultaneously smacking a kiss). Find it huddled between the fruit, antique, and empanada stands at San Telmo market. Just don’t bank on trying it out on San Telmo Sundays –the trellis will be surrounded like a post-5pm Subte stop. Instead, go any weekday afternoon post-work or during lunch for that pick-me-up we could all use before venturing back out into the chaos that is Buenos Aires.
It’s the pink café next to Plaza Serrano with the line out the door. Quaint, cute, and oh-so-charming, I first frequented La Panera Rosa when the decor lured me in. The coffee is pretty standard for Argentina, but I always leave with more energy than I came with (I still haven’t figured out if that’s attributed to the caffeine in the coffee or the amount of sugar in each plate). Order the dulce de leche crepe with banana to accompany your coffee at breakfast, or the barbacoa sandwich if you’re around for lunchtime. Service can be slow even for just a café con leche and bread basket (a couple I know often blames them for their tardiness to church service), but worth the wait. I swear their banana, nutella, strawberry crepes make me cry. Don’t judge: one bite into their waffle with sirloin, and you’ll tear up too.
Yes, it’s a theatre-turned-bookstore rife with tourists snapping photos of the grand interior. But El Ateneo also boasts a fun, scrumptious café located on the theatre’s main stage. Although on weekends it can be crowded, take advantage of its regal splendor on a weekday and enjoy your café with a view of the audience of books below (…and above…and all around, basically).
I love this Colegiales café. Right when you walk through the door, you’re taunted with rows and rows of facturas and breads lining the right wall. If you can contain your excitement long enough to order a coffee and medialuna before swiping all the goodies off the shelf, you won’t regret it. I don’t recommend working in this local (it’s often crowded and the noise levels run high), but it’s the perfect place to grab a coffee with friends, lovers, amigovios, etc. Order the Café Le Ble con leche (it’s beautifully ginormous) and the Danesa to accompany.
I’m reluctant to include this hidden gem in fear the next time I visit, they’ll be imploding from all the customers and out of ingredients for my beloved ensalada Muamor. Previously “Casa Mua,” the location has undergone a few changes, but nothing to lower the quality of the menu items. The coffee is rich, and just feels like it has been made with love. From morning (start your day with a medialuna con jamón y queso) to night (chocolate brownie, anyone?), there’s a delicious dish for any type of tastebud. Also take note: Casa Muamor is a great place to come with your kids (there’s a room to dump them in while you dine) or your porteño amigos (my Argie boyfriend raves about the pasta dishes and large portions)!
Surprise, surprise, another Palermo café making the list, but I just couldn’t help myself. If you want the best Sunday brunch with gal pals, look no further. Picture pink with colorful chalkboards, mismatched tables + chairs, and boundless amounts of pastries decorating the counter: completing the most picturesque backdrop to compliment your perfect plate of Eggs Benedict and that café con leche. I love coming here when I want to treat myself, and get a break from my routine caffeine injection. Unfortunately, Oui Oui is not a hidden secret however, and the place is often crowded, regardless of the day. But if you don’t mind a bit of hustle and bustle, it’s worth the wait for a table. And don’t even think of leaving Buenos Aires until you’ve tried their Eggs Benedict.