After weeks of back-and-forth, Spring is here to stay in BA. Yipee! I mean, it’s only November … It was about time. Higher temperatures have got all of us itching to dine alfresco so we can multitask: eat and tan simultaneously.
Luckily Buenos Aires understands the need to breathe in fresh (or semi-fresh, poisoned with colectivo smoke) air when the weather turns warmer. There are tons of little cafés and restaurants that offer outdoor seating all over town. For those who are stuck in an office all day, it provides respite from fluorescent lighting and coworkers who chew gum with their mouths open. On the weekends it’s a means for us to feel productive without actually doing anything, as if eating outside were a physical activity worthy of recognition.
So let’s get this show on the road. Where to eat if you want to bask in the sun? Here are my Top 5 favorite spots to enjoy a leisurely coffee or lunch alfresco.
Situated on the Costanera Norte, across from the metropolitan airport, Gardiner serves up comida porteña – a mix of grilled goodies and study pasta and seafood dishes. On nights and weekends it fills up quickly and the hostesses act as bouncers would at a nightclub – the beautiful people manage to find tables while those looking less than fabulous are often told it’s a full house. Wake up on a sunny Saturday and snag a table outside facing the river – get there early to avoid crowds and enjoy a little peace and quiet. In spite of the planes that might zoom overhead from time to time, it’s a great spot to relax with a nice cold bottle of torrontés and friendly conversation. Order some grilled salmon or split a risotto with your date and be sure to leave room for the dulce de leche volcano with banana ice cream for dessert. If you’re lucky you’ll be seated near TV bigwig Marcelo Tinelli.
Gardiner – Costanera Norte & La Pampa – 4788-0437
Overlooking Plaza Armenia in the heart of Palermo Soho sits Quimbombó, a natural food restaurant with Indian influences sure to make everyone happy. Enter on the ground floor and walk up into a warm, brightly-lit space with floor to ceiling windows and friendly staff. The terrace has plenty of room and there’s even a little bar space out back for smaller groups or solo diners. Order a large Ginger Pomelo (refreshing non-alcoholic drink that would be excellent with vodka) and peruse the menu while you take in the chaos of a typical Palermo Saturday unfurling below you. You can’t go wrong with any of the sandwiches or salads on the menu, but if you’re feeling bold (and hungry) be sure to order the mixed thali of Indian dishes (meant to share but I’ve been known to eat it all. Woops). You’ll be pleasantly surprised and leave wanting to come back for more time and time again.
Quimbombo – Costa Rica 4562 – 4831-5556
Situated far enough away from the insanity of Soho without being off the radar, Baraká offers delicious homemade goodies from pastries to salads to main dishes and desserts. The terrace is quiet and leafy, ideal for a break from shopping or the daily grind. I like to cool down with a massive iced chai smoothie – it’s like a spicy milkshake from heaven – while I decide on what to order. The dishes are all excellently prepared and made with super fresh ingredients. Even the bread is homemade! Downstairs fills up quickly as well – with both locals and expats – so be sure to stake out your spot or you might get stuck waiting. Service can be slow, but as long as there aren’t any clouds blocking your sun, who cares?
Baraká – Gurruchaga 1450 – 4834-6427
I’ve mentioned Croque Madame before, because it’s just the perfect spot for a sunny lunch, no matter what day of the week. Located on the grounds of the Museo de Arte Decorativo, Croque is this charming little place with a quiet patio situated around a bubbling fountain and nestled among the trees. Popular across the board, it’s a no-fail breakfast, lunch or quick drink spot. The pastas are delicious and the sandwiches come with homemade potato chips that are insanely addictive. Oven baked pizzas have thin crusts and the dessert menu will make you drool into oblivion. Be prepared to wait – they don’t take reservations past a certain point on nice days. Call ahead or show up early. Even if you’re on the wait list, you’ll enjoy a lovely garden view and a cool breeze.
Croque Madame – Av. del Libertador 1902 – 4806-8639
Como en Casa
With another location hogging all the glory over on Cinco Esquinas, this cafe enjoys tranquil bliss right around the corner. Como en Casa is the perfect place for an early morning coffee during the week or a lazy tea time on the weekends. Homemade sweets will tempt the golosos, and the patio/courtyard pass by almost unannounced. Only those in the know are privy to its existence. Just a block from crazy Av. Callao, this Como en Casa will help you recharge as you continue on to your next adventure.
Como en Casa – Riobamba 1239 – 4816-5507