Anthony Dias Blue visits the Paris of the Americas
Sidewalk tango is a common sight in Buenos Aires.
If you love Paris, you’ll adore Buenos Aires; in fact, this huge friendly place looks a lot like Paris. The city is moviestar beautiful, with extra-wide tree-lined avenues, many lovely parks, striking public sculptures and a lively and picturesque waterfront.
The Argentine people are extremely attractive and warm. And you’ll immediately notice there is something that is completely absent in this great city—attitude. Add to this list the fact that the restaurants are amazing and the shopping extraordinary. And the prices . . . Well, let me say you can eat very well for $50 for two. The wine—among the best in the world—is also very reasonable; we rarely spent more than $30 a bottle for the best available.
So let’s say you’ve decided to skip Paris this year and, instead, head south. Here’s where you should stay:
The terrace of the Palacio Duhau–Park Hyatt Buenos Aires.
Palacio Duhau–Park Hyatt Buenos Aires
This is one of the most beautiful properties in the world-wide luxury Park Hyatt portfolio—a stunning combination of sleek 21st-century modernity with classic early-20th-entury classicism. The entrance to the hotel is the French-designed 1934 Duhau Palace. In this majestic building there are glorious public rooms and a few guest rooms. Across a lush garden is the modern high-rise addition, accessible through the garden or, underground, through an art-filled tunnel. The rooms have all conceivable modern amenities, as well as handsome modern design. Located in Buenos Aires best neighborhood, Recoleta. Avenida Alvear 1661
Sofitel Buenos Aires
Accor, a French company, wanted to make a good impression in Buenos Aires, and it has succeeded with this jewel of a hotel, fashioned from three existing buildings and decorated by Pierre-Yves Rochon, who has skillfully combined French elegance with Art Déco. The entrance lobby is dramatic and breathtaking, and the rooms are cozy, colorful and feature delightful bathrooms. The lobby bar is the perfect meeting place. Located on one of the chicest shopping streets in town. The ideal place for a long stay.
Other first-rate hotels include: The Faena, a conversion in the port with interior design by Philippe Starck, with the most popular tango show in town; and the lovely Alvear Palace, a grand hotel in the European tradition, a national landmark and one of the world’s best-known hotels. You’ll really think you’re in Paris.
Located in a wine shop/delicatessen, Miramar offers real home cooking.
Once you’ve checked in, it’s time to think about where to eat. All of the hotels above have excellent restaurants, but you will need to venture out into this delicious city.
Here’s where to eat:
A raffish, energetic parilla (grill) in the Palermo section; a shrine to the Argentine national passion, beef. Have the steak. Duh.
Cabrera 5099; phone: 4831-7002
Cabaña Las Lilas
Touristy but a must see: huge, grills everywhere, great meat, sausages and people watching. At the port.
Alicia Moreau de Justo 516; phone: 4313-1336
Spanish seafood. Charming, elegant; one of the best kitchens in town.
Beruti 2602; phone: 4821-3741/4822-5415
Terrific Italian food in a handsome ambiance in Recoleta.
Av. del Libertador 1098; phone: 4807-6691
Ultra-chic dinner scene in Palermo Soho; creative, trendy, interesting modern food in a dramatic setting.
Uriarte 1658; phone: 4833-1112
Hippy-dippy Scandinavian-influenced food; a change of pace from steak. Good brunch.
Gorriti 5870; phone: 4776-7677
A family-run Italian place in the slightly dicey La Boca area. The lasagna is mind-blowing.
Martín Rodríguez 517; phone: 4307-0529
In a funny part of town (kinda like the Bronx) but a real find. Located in a wine shop/delicatessen, this is real home cooking. Expect to spend about $20 a person. Don’t miss it.
Av. San Juan 1999; phone: 4304-4261
Sifones & Dragones
There are only 17 seats in this tiny place, and the cooking is inventive and delicious. Since you’re practically sitting in the kitchen, it’s all fascinating and entertaining.
Ciudad de la Paz 174; phone: 4413-9871
This coffee and churros place is world famous and it does have a fabulous look. Unfortunately, my churros were tough and stale. The coffee was good.
Av. de Mayo 825; phone: 4342-4328
How to get there: American Airlines flies daily from Chicago, New York, Dallas and twice each day from Miami. The flights all depart in the evening, so you get a good night’s sleep and arrive fresh and ready to shop and eat as soon as you get to Buenos Aires.