Buenos Aires is a city with history–and nowhere is its grandeur on fuller display than in its classic cafes.
From the touristy can’t-miss Cafe Tortoni (Avenida de Mayo 825) to the slick modernism of Florida Garden (Florida 899) and the intricate stained glass of Las Violetas (Rivadavia 3899), Buenos Aires’ best cafes are as much about ambiance as great coffee. But it’s hard to enjoy your visit if you don’t know how to order what you want. So here’s Once in Montion’s simple guide to making the most of Buenos Aires’ coolest cafes!
Have it Your Way.
Sure, the word for coffee in Spanish is “café,” but if you just ask for “un café,” you may be surprised to find yourself with a bitter black espresso shot and no room for milk. (Of course, if this is what you like, order ahead!). If you want a small espresso shot mixed with milk, ask for “un cortado,” and if you want a bigger one, say “un cortado en jarrito.” But a cortado is still pretty strong; if you’d like a weaker coffee, go with a “café con leche”–half coffee and half milk. And if you want just a hint of coffee and lots of milk, order “una lágrima.”
Cancel the Caffeine.
BA’s cafes aren’t just for coffee lovers. If you’re in the mood for tea (té), they’ve got you covered. Another specialty is called a “submarino”–a bar of chocolate submerged in warm milk. Stir it up to make something like hot chocolate. Finally, most cafes offer “licuados”–fruit shakes with a base of water or milk.
Take Advantage of Desayunos and Meriendas.
Most of BA’s classic cafes charge an awful lot for real food, so approach the steak or pasta with caution. But they’re the perfect place for a snack–especially if you take advantage of “desayuno” (breakfast) and “merienda” (snack) specials. Most cafes offer café con leche served with “medialunas de manteca” (sweet, sticky croissants) or “medialunas de grasa” (denser, savory ones). Many others will serve café con leche with “tostadas,” small pieces of toast accompanied by jam and cream cheese. These specials shouldn’t put you out more than 20 pesos or so, making them the most affordable way to dabble in BA’s café culture.