Just picture all five of us sitting at a table, pounding with both fists, and yelling over one another about the one thing you simply must do in Buenos Aires! Unless you’re just jetting through for the day, you’ll probably have time for a sandwich, a museum, a night out, a street art tour, and some tango, so read about them below, in our words and in the words of our dear friends Natalie, Jessica, and Faryn, pictured above.
MacKenzie’s pick: the chorizo sandwich at Freddy’s
The best thing that happened to me in Buenos Aires was that my three girlfriends joined us for a week. The second best thing that happened to me in Buenos Aires was a chorizo sandwich. I was fully prepared for the steak in Argentina to leave a meaty impression, but the chorizo sandwich at Freddy’s in San Telmo was far superior, in my opinion, to the steak option. The roll is crusty, the chimichurri piquant, and the meat itself everything that a porky sausage should be. For lunch, the five of us split a steak sandwich and a chorizo sandwich, then moved on to El Banco Rojo around the corner for falafel and lamb kofta pitas. Our hunger sated, we said fuck it, returned to Freddy’s, and polished off two more chorizo sandwiches for dessert.
Blake’s pick: MALBA (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires)
Just yesterday, MacKenzie and I were waiting to enter a museum when I glanced at my phone to check the time and said, “I really think that going to a museum 45 minutes before it closes is ideal for me.” Cause I very much enjoy (some) museums (sometimes), but unless I really dig you, random museum, you’re like that friend that I can only handle in small doses. But MALBA? I could’ve hung out with you all day, MALBA. Hell, maybe we should go away for the weekend together. You’re just so diverse and alive and smart and entertaining. And also small, which is good. I feel like I’ve accomplished something if I see (and especially if I like!) an entire museum.
Here’s the truth of it: my taste in museums depends in large part on whether I would want the objects in the museum in my living room. Pre-Columbian Peruvian ceramics? Yup, I’m there. Tate Modern? Alllllllll day. But the Rubens room at the Prado or saint portraits at the National Gallery? Get me the fuck outta there. So when I want to take home 90% of what I see, as I did at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, it’s love. Gimme all the 20th century everything, all of the work of the female photographers with female objects (OBVIOUSLY), and definitely throw in the performance art guy who popped up throughout the museum wearing what was essentially a chicer, sleeker Lite-Brite as a mask.
Faryn’s pick: Club 69
At home, I’m fast asleep on the couch by 10:30 pm with my contacts still in and an episode of Parks & Rec blaring in the background. But on holiday, I don’t even dare throw on my “nighttime look” until 9:30. At least that was the case for our one week in Buenos Aires.
So I fully embraced my Vacation Night Owl persona and took advantage of Buenos Aires’ vibrant nightlife. Since apparently no one has to work in the morning, the city was bustling more at 3 am than 3 pm, as evidenced by my one night/morning spent clubbing at Niceto. Insiders told us to definitely go Thursday night since that is when it becomes Club 69. Now, it’s not a club in the traditional New York sense. Think less “bottle service and judgy bouncers,” more “tons of glitter and dozens of drag queens in sexy Japanese outfits and fabulous makeup ‘Bienvenidos’-ing you through the door.”
The only way I can think to accurately describe it is through the lens of an SNL character. (Just imagine my best Stefan voice): “Club 69 has everything. From stripper pole platforms that get wheeled around the dance floor, to DJs bumping remixed electronic Nirvana, to fabulously dated lava lamps on the bar.” Point is, by the end of the night my ears were ringing, I’d been offered drugs in Spanish by a lovely young Argentinean couple, and I’d seen an impressively choreographed anime-inspired sexy stage show.
Niceto Club is not to be missed. Your couch and Netflix will still be there for you when you get home.
Jessica’s pick: Buenos Aires Street Art Tour
So, you’re at that point in your trip when you’ve eaten the meat, danced the tango, and trained your body to stay awake until 3 am like normal Porteños. You’re done, right?! Nope, nope, nope. In order to complete your Buenos-Aires-essence-in-a-nutshell experience, you must book a tour with BA Street Art. Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those group tours where the overly cheerful guide has a hands-free mic and makes you buddy-up while crossing the street. This is about graffiti and street art and that community is nothing but cool badasses. You see, even though it’s only about a decade old, the street art scene in Buenos Aires is so compelling and so alive that it’s already known as the street art capital of the world. Way to march to the head of the line, Buenos Aires.
This (sing it with me) three hour tour took us around two neighborhoods we never would have explored otherwise and exposed us to some truly magnificent public murals. Our tour guide, Ollie, a graffiti artist himself, talked to us about the dynamics of artistic expression throughout Argentina’s tempestuous political history, what specific techniques were used to create each piece, and the unspoken rules of respect that the artists in the community adhere to. It took me about five seconds to become completely enthralled by this world—I looked like this at the sight of every new mural. I wanted to be invited to a backyard asado with all these artists and watch them paint all day. *fingers crossed* Next trip.
Did I mention that Ollie lets you stop for ice cream halfway through the tour?
Natalie’s pick: tango at La Catedral
“For those with two left feet, keep your eyes trained to the ground” was the advice we were given upon entering La Catedral, a classic tango saloon in Buenos Aires. But that’s actually a tall order—not because women’s skirts are whipping around tight butts or because the men actually know how to dance, but because once you round the corner into the space, the ceiling shoots straight up and suddenly you’re in what looks like an old ramshackle church that Everyone’s Hippest Grandmas commandeered long ago.
In the center of the room, a full band played live tango music and couples took the stage. This was not your average wedding reception dance floor; no old married couples slow dancing to Rod Stewart here. These are strangers meeting to create all sorts of wonderful and unlikely combinations. Their chemistry has nothing to do with history. It is sensuality with a short life span and a specific time signature. In that candle lit room, with feet gliding, heels flicking, and accordion music floating through the air like a thick cologne, there’s no way you’ll be left staring at your shoes—two left feet or not.