The word takes on so many different meanings depending on who you are. You could be into clubbing, bar hopping, live music, tango, eating, ping pong, karaoke, talking, or my personal favorite – just sleeping, and Buenos Aires has it at an unparalleled quality (except for the sleeping of course).
I know there are thousands of nightlife guides out there, but as promised for Vivan, here’s my stab at a killer (almost literally), all-encompassing week in Capital Federal.
I’ll start with Sunday, because it’s logical and also because it’s my favorite night in Buenos Aires.
Wait a second. Sunday night?
Yes for one reason only – Makena Cantina Club (Palermo). This place on Sunday nights specifically is by far the most fun I have ever had out anywhere. Trust me, as I mentioned I love sleeping and would not stay out till 6 am when I have work Monday morning at 9 am if I didn’t think it’s worth it.
For the first half of the night (morning if we’re being technical) awesome live bands alternate with DJs every thirty minutes or so, playing old school hip hop and R&B classics. Think MJ, D’Angelo, and Gnarls Barkley. Then, at approximately 4 am, DJ Afromama goes on and you’ll be transported back to the era of Usher and Nelly in their prime. For me, that meant reliving middle school dances, but being way way cooler this time around.
Free before 11:30 pm, 10 pesos for girls and 20 for boys any time after. The line is around the corner by 1:30 or 2 am so plan accordingly. Drinks are pretty reasonable (80 pesos for a bottle of Quilmes) but not even necessary as this place is so fun.
Moving on to Monday
I know you’re exhausted but Buenos Aires is the definition of music Monday. You have a couple options:
1) La Bomba Del Tiempo (Konex Cultural Center, Sarmiento 3131)
Take a bus/uber/taxi to this grungy Villa Crespo/Palermo hybrid neighborhood for this awesome live drum performance. There’s drums, there’s alcohol, and there’s other banned substances which begin with w and end with d. It’s been an ongoing tradition for many years and definitely something you don’t want to miss.
8pm – 10pm. Tickets can sell out so for once, getting there a couple minutes early is recommended.
Price is about 80-90 pesos. They sell hefty amounts of beer and other drinks there as well.
2) La Biblioteca Cafe (Recoleta)
If Bomba left you feeling kinda hippy, it’s time to get classy. Waltz over (pun intended) to this awesome Recoleta bookstore during the day, jazz bar at night, for some top-quality live jazz and open-mic style performances. It’s intimate and usually filled with regulars who are there every week.
50 peso table cover before 11pm, free afterwards and goes until 2 am usually. You can still get a table after 11, but it’s usually packed. The table isn’t necessary as you can stand off to the side, but highly recommended so you can order some Benjamin Syrah (100 peso bottle) to compliment your evening of crooning to some vintage Etta James and Tony Bennett.
3) Folk You Monday (Recoleta) – live everything music.
I’ve only been once so I can’t say too much, but I did have a great time. It’s an adorable restaurant with artists that play anything from indie to mariachi.
Starts at 9pm and runs till 2am or so.
30 peso cover
You have to do it, you’re in Argentina. And if that sounds terrible and ping pong is more your thing, read below. While I am nowhere near an authority figure on tango, my recommendation is La Catedral (Almagro). You can go almost any night, but I heard Tuesday is typically the best, so that’s what I did. Watching the dancing is great, the interior design is worth checking out, and the live musicians are really unique.
There are classes starting at 8:30 and then milongas and live music performances later in the night. If you’re not taking a class, no need to be there before 12 or 1 am.
60 pesos cover
2) Cafe San Bernardo (Villa Crespo) is a lively bar with pool tables, ping pong, and great vibes. Tuesday nights are the most popular. You can play, eat, drink, watch – whatever you want as long as you order the fries.
Get there anytime in the evening, probably peaks around 11.
Free to play!
Take it easy (easier) on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s are pretty mellow so I’d recommend using this night to check out any of the bars/restaurants you’ve been meaning to go to and have a nice meal with good company. If you don’t know where to go, here are a few options:
1) Floreria Atlantico (Microcentro) – it’s rated the best in South America, how can you not?
2) Victoria Brown Bar (Palermo): The unassuming brick wall at this charming café opens up at night for those who have the password to this swanky bar full of Buenos Aires’ well-heeled porteños and in-the-know tourists (you awesome blog readers). The cocktails are some of the best in town, and if you’re in the mood for something different, order the smoking cocktail. As you open the bag, the deliciously decadent smoke is sure to make you go delirious. Nuff said.
While these aren’t to be missed, 878 (Palermo) and Gran Bar Danzon (Recoleta) are great places to get some good-quality mixology.
There’s also Mundo Lingo if you’re feeling like making some new friends at Soria Bar (Palermo). It’s free, and you can go there to practice different languages.
Thursday’s are known for Club 69 at Niceto Club (Palermo/Villa Crespo).
It’s a drag queen, deep house spectacular that you just have to witness for yourself. Otherwise, I also had a great time at Asia de Cuba (Puerto Madero) on a Thursday. It’s your typical club, but located right on the water with some good music.
Logistics for both:
Ideal time to get there is probably after 1 am and both places have covers, probably around 80-100 pesos, but free before a certain point, if you can get on a list, or have useful friends.
Thursday’s are also known for BEER PONG.
Yup, you read that right. Americans, head over to Chupitos “where happiness begins” in Palermo (multiple locations) for Beer Pong on Thursday night. Despite being about 7,000 miles away, it felt like I was back at college.
If you’re not into the whole back-to-college vibe, Chupitos also makes some killer shot combinations. Try one of their kitkat or gummy bear-infused shots, and regret them the next morning. Whether you go with friends or go alone, you’ll 110% have a great time.
Yay. You could have a chiller night and check out El Patio Del Liceo (Recoleta) or go all out and commit to a Buenos Aires Pub Crawl (usually Palermo).
You could also opt for any of the classic Buenos Aires clubs (Rose Bar, etc.) if you’re feeling like reggae-tone until the a.m.
*Seasonal: check out Fuerza Bruta if it’s going on while you’re there
Hope you survived till Saturday. Depending on how you want your Sunday to go, you could go rage at Kika (Palermo), hang out with friends at Sheldon’s (Palermo), check Facebook for a house party style event, stay in and rest up for Makena, and so much more. Bars I’ve had good times at include Anatares, Bangalore Pub and Curry House, Temple Bar, El Boliche De Roberto, Soria, Shanghai Dragon, La Cava de Jufre, NoLa, and El Alamo. I’d recommend strolling through Palermo and walking into anywhere that catches your eye – I’ve found some great places, like Sheldon’s, this way.
Hopefully, this helps guide your Buenos Aires adventures. Make the most of it, trust me I’d give anything to be back there.