The stylish South American capital with an epic history stakes its claim as an international center of cuisine, culture and design
Author JON MARCUS
DAY THREE | Following breakfast in the Alvear’s winter garden, you take a short walk to the Cementerío de La Recoleta (1), a necropolis crammed with 6,400 tombs and mausoleums. The Jim Morrison of the cemetery is Eva Perón, buried with her sister among, ironically, the moneyed aristocracy for whom she had such disdain. If you have trouble finding her in the labyrinthine cemetery, follow the crowds.
You make your way down picturesque Avenida Presidente Figueroa Alcorta to another of the city’s jewels, the 10-year-old Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (2), or MALBA, which showcases what is arguably the continent’s finest modern Latin American art collection in galleries clustered around a light-filled atrium. The menu at the museum’s standout café was designed by Jean-Paul Bondoux, the French chef at the elegant La Bourgogne in Recoleta, so you decide to grab an outdoor table and order a lunch of braised squid paired with a nice Argentine white.
Next, it’s time to shop your way through Recoleta and Palermo — a vibrant, rapidly changing section of the city — starting at El Ateneo Grand Splendid (3), a former theater that is now one of the grandest bookstores you’ll ever see. You then follow your nose to Fueguia (4), a shop selling candles, perfumes and room scents made from South American flora; customers can even create their own fragrances in a “lab” featuring tiny sample drawers.
You cap off the culinary portion of your visit with the nine-course tasting menu at Hernan Gipponi (5). Named for its chef, who trained in Spain and cooked in Valencia and at the Guggenheim Bilbao, this year-old avant-garde restaurant offers top-flight local ingredients in adventurous combinations: rabbit confit with dried olives and edible flowers, for instance, and a dessert made out of Tic Tacs. There’s a garden in the back, Argentine jazz on the speakers and a hip, young clientele everywhere you look.
After dinner, you hit Ocho7ocho (6) in Palermo Hollywood, a neighborhood named for the film and TV studios and Argentine celebrities who live there. There’s no sign outside — as with many bars in Buenos Aires, there’s just a door and a doorman, who lets you into a lively room with dark lighting and inventive cocktails.
Here, immersed in the after-hours scene of Palermo, you find a line from Borges is running through your head. “Nothing is built on stone,” he wrote. “All is built on sand. But we must build as if the sand were stone.” Despite its turbulent past, Buenos Aires is built as if on stone, you think — a confident and eclectic mix of influences and history worthy of a drama on the stage of the Teatro Colón.
Hemispheres contributor JON MARCUS admits that “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” was running through his head the whole time he was in Buenos Aires.