Enjoy a churro where Jorge Luis Borges once sat at this Argentine cultural hub, complete with twice daily tango shows.
The oldest café in Buenos Aires, Café Tortoni, is also one of the city’s most prized cultural institutions. This old haunt of literary figures, tango dancers and artists now doubles as a busy restaurant and a museum to the famous names on its age-old guest list. Delight in some of the best Argentine pastries in town, admire the art and stick around for a tango performance.
Café Tortoni was opened in 1858 by a French immigrant, who named it after a café on the Boulevard des Italiens in Paris. Today, the café is filled with antique charm. Enter through the brass-handled doors, sit at a marble table under chandeliers and admire the stained-glass ceiling. Legendary Argentine personalities like writer Jorge Luis Borges and tango singer Carlos Gardel once gazed at the same ceiling when they were regular patrons of the café. You can see a life-size bust of Borges amongst the café’s large art collection.
Order a cortado (espresso with warm milk) and sample from the café’s cheese and pastry selection. While you may notice the food at Café Tortoni is pricier than it is at other restaurants in the area, enjoying a treat in the café’s atmosphere is an experience worth paying for. Try one of the most delectable Argentine sweets, the churro con chocolate. The fried pastry comes with a cup of bittersweet hot chocolate, where you can dip it for a chocolate-soaked treat.
Check the café’s website for a schedule of tango performances hosted in its two venues. Downstairs, you will find a cosy theatre that features tango twice a day on weekdays. The Sala Alfonsina Storni hosts the weekend tango shows. Notice the series of tango-themed paintings on its walls, which is called the Homenaje al Tango (Tribute to Tango).
Located only a few blocks from the centrally located Plaza de Mayo, Café Tortino is an easy walk from most of Buenos Aires’ main attractions. Reach it by bus or metro. Open daily, the café is best to visit in the morning or late in the evening, as it can get very crowded during the middle of the day.