The Notable Bars and Cafés of Buenos Aires

Explore the city's thriving and historic café culture

By Google Arts & Culture

Allie Lazar

Café Margot (2020-10-26) by Los Notables and Allie Lazar

Café Culture

People-watching, reading, writing, or getting together with friends to chat, all at a beautiful and historic Buenos Aires café, has been a major part of Argentina’s identity for over a century. Many of these cafés or bars are called café notables, or “notable cafés”, and have been deemed of cultural importance by the city government.

Bar de Cao (2020-10-26) by Los Notables and Allie Lazar

Most Culturally Significant Places

The city has declared over 80 historic bars and cafés as "notables". According to the law,  ley N° 35, these cafés are the most culturally significant places in the city and are recognized by the government for their history, tradition, architectural value, local relevance, and overall cultural impact.

Café Margot (2020-10-26) by Los Notables and Allie Lazar

Step Back in Time

Walk into many of these cafés and you feel like you instantly step back in time. Most of these corner cafés still give a look into Buenos Aires’ past: They have been carefully preserved, walls filled with nostalgic memorabilia and original architecture intact, and still act as a refuge from the bustle of the big city. 

El Federal

Located in historic San Telmo, El Federal first opened in 1864 and has had many lives since then. It was once a brothel, pulpería (general store), and a dive bar frequented by gauchos. There were even excavations that found cadavers of yellow fever victims from 1871. 

Varela Varelita Old School Café (2020-10-26) by Allie Lazar

Varela Varelita

The 1950s style Palermo café has been a haven for artists and writers for decades. The café rarely closes, staying open from 6 am to around 3 am, seeing many different crowds throughout the day. 

Varela Varelita serving drinks (2020-10-26) by Allie Lazar

They serve everything from cortado coffee to aperitivos, like Fernet and coke and Cinzano with soda water. They are also known for their milanesas and tostados, a simple toasted ham and cheese sandwich typically consumed for breakfast or during merienda tea time.

Celta Bar (2020) by Los Notables and Allie Lazar

Celta Bar

El Bar Celta first opened its doors in 1941, but it wasn’t until the mid-90s when it became known for its incredible jazz concerts and jam sessions. 

Celta Bar (2020-10-26) by Los Notables and Allie Lazar

Celta Bar, like many bares notables, are open all day long for breakfast, lunch, merienda (a late afternoon snack), and dinner or after dinner drinks. Want to wake up like a true Porteño? Order a cortado con medialunas for breakfast, coffee with a croissant-like pastry.

LOS GALGOS Collage (2020-10-26) by Laura Macías, Macías Crudelli, and Allie Lazar

Los Galgos

Los Galgos, which means greyhounds, revives the city’s nostalgic café culture for the modern age. The bar dates back to the 1930s, but it was renovated in 2016 to focus on quality food and drinks. 

Los Galgos Collage (2020-10-26) by Laura Macías, Maciás Crudelli, and Allie Lazar

Like many Buenos Aires bars, Los Galgos pays homage to the hora de vermut, or vermouth hour, when cocktail lovers come for pre-dinner aperitivos and charcuterie picada platters. 

Café Margot

This iconic café in the bohemian Boedo neighborhood originally opened in 1904 and is one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood that has still preserved its original structure.

Café Margot (2020-10-26) by Los Notables and Allie Lazar

It’s famous for its pickled turkey sandwich, which was said to be invented there in the 1940s. 

Café Margot (2020-10-26) by Los Notables and Allie Lazar

A neighborhood known for its artists, cultural events like exhibitions and book launches are held in Café Margot. Fileteado, a type of lettering characteristic to Buenos Aires, used to adorn signs, taxis, and buses, can be seen throughout the bar. The café also has a wall that pays tribute to the barriologos, historians of the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.

Café La Poesía (2020-10-26) by Los Notable and Allie Lazar

La Poesía

Many of these cafés, like Café Poesía in the heart of San Telmo, were known as hangouts for important literary, political, musical figures, especially the great poets of the 1960s. 

Café La Poesía (2020-10-26) by Los Notables and Allie Lazar

Books, artifacts, and portraits of this city’s literary greats line the walls, along with vintage bottles of classic Argentine aperitivo drinks. 

Café La Poesía (2020-10-26) by Los Notables and Allie Lazar

Unlike cafés in other parts of the world, in Buenos Aires it is customary for regulars to sit for hours reading a book or use the space as a meeting point to catch up with friends or chat up strangers.

Credits: Story

Thanks to Los Notables

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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