9 (+2) Best Historic Bars and Cafes in Buenos Aires

La Brigada Parilla Buenos Aires

There are dozens of historic bars and cafes in Buenos Aires that have been awarded the title of “bar notable”. In them, great musicians and writers have gathered, famous people have spoken, actors and politicians have met, and important social events have taken place. Awarded the honor of being “notable” for their long history, original architecture, or contribution to public life, they are part of the city’s cultural heritage and the history of Argentina. These iconic bars and historic cafes are like time machines. The cafés notables have stood the test of time and still retain the atmosphere of a glorious past. Below are some of the historic bars and cafes in Buenos Aires. And as a bonus, a few more that are not “bares notables”, but that I found compelling and worth a visit.

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CAFÉ TORTONI

The image shows a bustling scene in front of a building with significant cultural heritage. There's a crowd of people who are waiting in line. The entrance to the building is adorned with an arch and decorative iron gates, and above, signs indicate the presence of both the "Academia Nacional del Tango" and the "Museo Mundial del Tango." Adjacent to this is a sign for the "Café Tortoni," a historically significant café known for its association with the tango. The café's façade features a traditional green awning. It seems to be a sunny day, and the crowd includes people of various ages, some looking at their phones, others engaged in conversation and all of them waiting to enter Cafe Tortoni.
Cafe Tortoni Buenos Aires

Café Tortoni is the most famous among the historic bars and cafes of Buenos Aires. It was founded in 1858. Its first owner was an immigrant from France. He named the café after another famous café in Paris, Tortoni.

The facade we see today from Avenida de Mayo dates from 1898.

Among Cafe Tortoni’s most famous regulars were writers Jorge Luis Borges, Federico García Lorca, and Julio Cortázar, and the legendary tango singer Carlos Gardel always had a reserved table.

Address: Avenida de Mayo 825

Cafe Las Violetas Buenos Aires
Cafe Las Violetas Buenos Aires

LAS VIOLETAS

Café Las Violetas is located in the Amargo neighborhood. The historic café opened in 1884 and no expense was spared in its lavish interior: Italian marble, sumptuous bronze chandeliers, magnificent stained glass windows, and furniture brought from Paris. The cafe closed in 1998 and reopened in 2001.

Las Violetas is best known for its homemade pastries, elegantly presented, delicate and irresistible.

Cafe Las Violetas has been voted by Buenos Aires residents as the best one among the notable cafés in the city.

Address: Avenida Rivadavia 3899

BAR EL FEDERAL

The El Federal bar is located in San Telmo. Before it became a bar, it was a warehouse with an attached beverage shop. Such establishments were very common in the era.

The interior of the bar has traditional furniture. Advertising posters and photographs from the 1920s and 1930s hang on the walls. Old bottles and objects related to the history of the bar and Buenos Aires are preserved.

In the coziness of bar El Federal you can enjoy homemade specialties.

Address: Carlos Calvo 599

La Biela Bar Buenos Aires
La Biela Bar Buenos Aires

LA BIELA 

The oldest of the bares notables is La Biela. It opened in 1848 as a grocery store and changed names several times over the years. In 1950, a group of friends were driving through the area. One of them had a broken engine rod right in front of the bar. They became regulars and named the bar La Biela. The bar has witnessed the development and the changes in Recoleta district. The writers Julio Cortázar, Ernesto Sabato, Adolfo Bioi Casares, and Jorge Luis Borges often visited the bar. The bar was a popular spot and a meeting place for racers and motorsports champions.

On its walls, there are many photos dedicated to cars and motorsports. Statues of the brothers Juan and Oscar Galvez, race champions, greet visitors at the entrance. Inside, there are two other sculptures: Adolfo Bioy Casares and Jorge Luis Borges sit at their reserved table.

La Biela Buenos Aires
La Biela Buenos Aires

​ET GATO NEGRO

El Gato Negro (The Black Cat) has been a coffee, tea, and spice shop since the early 20th century. It opened in 1927 and the original oak shelves and counters have been preserved ever since. Spices from all over the world are sold, as well as many types of coffee and tea. The symbol of El Gato Negro is a black cat with a bow. Victoriano, the founder of the store, often traveled on the Orient Express. In the restaurant of the famous train, a cat was painted on the menu. Hence the inspiration for the El Gato Negro logo.

Address: Av. Corrientes 1669

El Gato Negro Buenos Aires
El Gato Negro Buenos Aires

​LA POESÍA 

In 1982, the poet Rubén Derlis opened the Café La Poesía and quickly made it a favorite of the 60’s generation, the artistic bohemians of San Telmo. It was in this café that the poet Horacio Ferrer met his future wife, Lulú Michelli, to whom he dedicated a poem that later became a waltz. On the first table by the window, there is a plaque dedicated to the couple.

After several years of unsuccessful business, the café La Poesia was closed and reopened in 2008. The new owners have preserved in the interior the piano from 1915, the collection of antiques, the old bottles, and the numerous dedications from poets and writers.

La Poesia Bar Buenos Aires
La Poesia Bar Buenos Aires

Address: Chile 502

EL HIPOPOTAMO

The El Hipopotamo bar is located in San Telmo. In 1909, a warehouse and liquor store called La Estrella del Sur opened in this location.

On the walls of the bar, there are many advertising signs from bygone eras.

The bar is a meeting place for actors and directors. Many movies have been shot here.

Address: Brasil 401

El Hipopotamo Buenos Aires
El Hipopotamo Buenos Aires

LOS GALGOS

At the end of the 19th century, it was a residential building. Later, the building housed a Singer sewing machine shop and then a pharmacy. In 1930, a Spanish immigrant opened a warehouse and liquor store. He was a fan of dog racing, hence the name of the bar.

Los Galgos is a meeting place for Argentinean political figures and many musicians.

The bar offers a wide range of beverages from classic cocktails to local craft beers. Los Galgos Bar is also known for its extensive whiskey collection of both well-known and rare brands. 

Address: Av. Callao 501

Cafe Los Galgos Buenos Aires
Cafe Los Galgos Buenos Aires

​BAR OVIEDO

The neighborhood of Mataderos (Slaughterhouses), where Bar Oviedo is located, has long been on the border between the city and the countryside. Cattle from the countryside were brought there for slaughter, hence the name of the neighborhood.

The bar was opened in 1900. The interior is made of wood and there is also a pool table between the tables.

Every Sunday (except in the summer season) the Mataderos Fair is held in Mataderos. You can buy traditional food and handicrafts from the numerous stalls. Folkloric groups perform on the stage and people dance traditional dances in front of it.

Address: Av. Lisandro de la Torre 2407

​AND TWO MORE, WHICH ARE NOT HISTORIC BARS AND CAFES IN BUENOS AIRES, BUT ARE WORTH VISITING

LA BRIGADA

La Brigada is considered one of the best grills in the city, with a huge wine cellar.

Its walls are filled with photos and items related to the sport, as well as autographs from famous people who have visited the bar, such as Novak Djokovic and Steven Tyler.

Address: Estados Unidos 465

La Brigada Buenos Aires
La Brigada Buenos Aires

LA OPERA

Bar Opera is nearly 100 years old. It was opened in 1928. Legend has it that Eva Peron used to drink her tea here. The bar was restored in 2022 but retains the bohemian atmosphere of the early 20th century.

The menu is gourmet for connoisseurs.

Address: Av. Corrientes 1799

Finally, there are many historic bars and cafes in Buenos Aires. They are of great cultural significance and have contributed to the political and social life of the city. These old cafes offer a unique glimpse into the past, preserving interiors, artifacts and memories of bygone eras. With their charming architecture and nostalgic atmosphere, they continue to attract locals and tourists alike. Whether you want to grab a cup of coffee or enjoy dinner with a tango show, the historic bars and cafes in Buenos Aires are a great place to immerse yourself in the bohemian and glamorous past of the city.

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