Thanks to its European heritage, Buenos Aires has a serious cafe culture. Porteños will spend hours dawdling over a single café cortado (coffee with milk) and a couple of medialunas (croissants), discussing the economy, politics and the latest soccer results. Indeed, everything from marriage proposals to revolutions have started at the local corner cafe.
Some of BA’s cafes have been around for over 100 years, and many retain much of their original furniture, architectural details and rich atmosphere. They’ve always been the haunts of Argentina’s politicians, activists, intellectuals, artists and literary greats, including Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar.
Most cafes have adapted to modern times by serving alcohol as well as coffee, and many offer a surprisingly wide range of food and snacks; you can often order a steak as easily as a cortado. A few even double as bookstores or host live music, poetry readings and other cultural events. Serious coffee drinkers might be disappointed by the quality of the brew at BA's most historic cafes (go there for the atmosphere, not the quality java). Luckily there are new coffee shops opening all the time serving flat whites to please even the most discerning; try LAB, Lattente or Coffee Town.
Cafes have long hours and are usually open from early morning to late at night, making them easy places to visit. And visit you should; sipping coffee and hanging out at an atmospheric cafe, perhaps on some lazy afternoon, is part of the Buenos Aires experience. At the very least, they’re great for a late tea or a welcome break from all that walking you’ll be doing.