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Eat, Drink and Be Merry at Buenos Aires' 10 Best Cafes



Whether by yourself or with a group, Buenos Aires’ cafes are good places to just relax and soak up some of the local culture. Try ordering some medialunas in the morning or a glass of red wine at night.

Cafes in Buenos Aires most often resemble those found in Southern European countries. They are open non-stop throughout the day, serving pastries and coffee in the morning, light lunches in the early afternoon, snacks and sweet things in the late afternoon, and (unlike the Starbucks locations now popping up everywhere) dinner and drinks in the evening.

For a journey back in time, discover historic Buenos Aires cafés like Las Violetas, a grand teatime favorite; Cafe Tortoni, the city’s oldest cafe; and Cafe La Poesia, a slice of San Telmo’s more bohemian culture.

If good coffee in Buenos Aires is what you’re after, try the small and modern Birkin Coffee Bar, but if tea is more your cup of well, you know, head to the bright Tea Connection chain. Then if you like your cafe experience on the sweeter side of things, check out the flaky French pastries at Cocu or the decadent cakes at Decata. Or read on to discover more recommendations for the best cafes in Buenos Aires.   


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Casual but upmarket, Tiendas Naturales is an organic cafe and restaurant located in the Palermo neighborhood. Tiendas Naturales is open throughout the day (in fact, every day from 8 am to midnight) and serves baked goods, sandwiches, salads, wraps, hamburgers and pastas, in addition to teas, juices, smoothies and cocktails. Bring your smartphone or laptop to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. You have your choice of different types of tables inside, or the cafe tables for two outside. Otherwise, you can order fresh bread and pastries to go, or have them delivered, and go explore one of the nearby parks.

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Located in Palermo adjacent Villa Crespo, Malvon is a great cafe and coffee house with a New York meets Buenos Aires vibe. The large bakery case inevitably holds your attention as you walk in the door with its mix of fresh croissants, scones, rolls and other fresh pastries and breads. Once past that temptation, you will find two dining room areas and a pleasant garden patio. The decor is highly eclectic but welcoming. Malvon's breakfast and brunch items are the stars of the menu, but the cafe is open all day for savory lunch and dinner fare and cocktails as well.

Recommended for Cafés because: Malvon makes tempting bakery items for any time of the day.

Sarah's expert tip: Besides the Malvon in Villa Crespo, there is a second Malvon location on Lafinur street in Palermo. This is very close to the Evita Museum.

Read more about Malvon →


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Palermo


This bakery and cafe serves exquisite French-style pastries and breads as well as sandwiches, salads and quiches in a casual dining environment. Prices are in the mid-range for the neighborhood. Cocu's menu is written in white on a large black chalkboard that rises high above the counter and the tempting vision of freshly baked breads and desserts. Here self-service is the word. You order and pay at the counter, and then you can seat yourself where you like. The furniture in the main dining room is simple, almost rustic, but still chic. When the weather is nice, try to snag one of the few tables outside. Free WiFi.

Recommended for Cafés because: Cocu has delicious pastries and a casual atmosphere throughout the day.

Sarah's expert tip: You are bound to hear French speakers here. Brunch is available every day, but Cocu accepts cash only.

Read more about Cocu →


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Located on the corner across the street from Buenos Aires' Botanical Gardens, the traditional Argentine style Cafe del Botanico makes for a great breakfast stop before or after visiting the gardens. While the cafe-restaurant is open all day, breakfast is where it shines. Order a cup of coffee and a couple medialunas for a classic Buenos Aires breakfast. The take away counter with a separate entrance also does a brisk business in Argentine pastries. There you'll grab a basket with tongs, choose your pastries, hand them to one of the shop assistants to count and wrap, and then pay at the cashier.

Recommended for Cafés because: Cafe del Botanico is a classic choice for breakfast in the area.

Sarah's expert tip: For a beautiful breakfast picnic, order coffee and medialunas from Cafe del Botanico's take away counter and then settle in on one of the Botanical Garden's benches.

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Birkin Coffee Bar is a good place to get your caffeine fix in Palermo Botanico. While how you like your coffee can be highly personal, many rate Birkin's coffee as among the neighborhood's best. (Their lattes also often sport frothy hearts on top.) For breakfast, the fresh pastries are a natural accompaniment, and then on Sundays, the hearty brunch is available all day. Birkin's decor leans toward simple but stylish with wooden chairs and white-topped tables. The small glass case holds an assortment of mouth-watering cakes, which arrive as generous slices if you can't resist the temptation. The set lunch is a good deal and includes a main dish, drink and dessert or coffee.

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This might be on every tourist's "must see" list, but that's no reason to take it off yours. This grande dame of the BA café scene is as splendid as ever and a great reason to stroll up the city's most prestigious street, Avenida de Mayo. Argentina's oldest café, the Tortoni opened in 1858 (though the current location dates from 1880) when the city was busy transforming itself into the "Paris of South America." It feels like a journey back in time with stained glass, marble-topped tables, wood paneling and columns. (The ambience is the star here, not the food.) Tango performances take place downstairs in the evenings.

Recommended for Cafés because: Cafe Tortoni is Buenos Aires' oldest and most famous cafe.

Sarah's expert tip: Here you can pay homage to famous patrons such as Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar, tango icon Carlos Gardel and Spanish writer Federico García Lorca.

Read more about Café Tortoni →


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Palermo


Temptation lives on at Decata. The wide selection of cakes, pies and cheesecakes in the deli case is a sight to behold, and when you succumb, the slices are generous. Otherwise, this is a cool cafe located across the street from the Dorrego fairgrounds. Savory options include pastries, sandwiches, salads, pastas and Sunday brunch. If you have a large group, you can ask to use the pretty private room upstairs. Note that Decata is more of a day place than a night place; though officially open until 2am, they close earlier if there aren't enough patrons to make it worth their while.

Recommended for Cafés because: Decata is an attractive Palermo cafe with good cake.

Sarah's expert tip: When the weather is nice, the rooftop terrace is arguably the best place in the city to lounge and eat cake. For extra naughtiness, add the two-for-one happy hour cocktails into the mix.

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If you enjoy tea, you will feel right at home at Tea Connection. The emphasis is on tea and relatively natural foods served in a pretty, relaxed setting. Choose from a variety of tea types and blends. Pots of loose-leaf tea come with a small hour glass to keep track of steeping time. The food selection includes pastries, omelettes, sandwiches, salads, smoothies and desserts like cheesecake and carrot cake. Tea Connection is open all day and has Wi-Fi. In addition to the pleasant Sinclair shop, Tea Connection has other locations throughout Buenos Aires – all of which have a slightly different vibe.

Recommended for Cafés because: Good cafes aren't always about the coffee. This shop successfully caters to tea lovers.

Sarah's expert tip: Tea Connection is relaxed and accommodating. It is as good for enjoying your own company (or that of your laptop's) as it is for impromptu group meetups.

Read more about Tea Connection →




Cafe La Poesia is not fancy, but it is seriously charming and has lots of personality. This place pays homage to its predecessor – a gathering place for local Argentine writers and musicians after the military dictatorship – with a decor that combines culture and history. The meat and cheese platters get high marks. Otherwise choose from pastries, sandwiches, steaks, pastas, hamburgers and salads, as well as coffee, beer, wine and cocktails. The cafe is open all day and late into the night. Patrons are usually a mix of locals and foreign visitors. You can sit downstairs, upstairs, in the back room or at one of the few tables outside.

Recommended for Cafés because: Cafe La Poesia is fun, casual and historic. Not to be missed.

Sarah's expert tip: Any day of the week Cafe La Poesia makes a great spot for breakfast or for drinking with friends and fellow co-conspirators in the evening.

Read more about Cafe La Poesia →




A grand slice of old Buenos Aires, Las Violetas is a beautiful and historic place to have breakfast or tea and cake. Opened in 1884 and remodeled a couple of times since then, the cafe and confiteria is a vision of Italian marble, stained glass windows, columns, high ceilings and other classic details. In 1998, Las Violetas was named a Heritage Site. All of the tea specials involve hot drinks and platters abundantly filled with sandwiches, cakes and pastries, and are great for groups. Otherwise, opt for an a la carte slice of cake or pastry, such as the Leguisamo, named after the Argentine jockey who loved dulce de leche. This cake has a sponge cake base with dulce de leche, candied chestnuts, almond cream, meringue and flaky pastry covered in chocolate and fondant.

Recommended for Cafés because: Las Violetas is an historic, elegant place in Buenos Aires.

Sarah's expert tip: If you are looking for a gift or simply want something for later, pop into Las Violetas' adjoining pastry shop. There you can order whole cakes, gift baskets and other sweet treats to go.

Read more about Las Violetas →


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Meet Sarah Rogers

Born and raised in northern California, Sarah grew up to become an expat, traveler and wordsmith. She spent seven years in Madrid, Spain and now calls Buenos Aires, Argentina home. She has had...  More About Sarah

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