Places We Tried
The famous place is Avenida Cabaña de las Lilas. Solid, but seems to be going downhill a bit. Wasn't the best steak place we ate at, but very good.
La Brigada: another GREAT meat place, and reservations a must. In San Telmo. Much less fancy than La Cabaña, but almost as tasty. Estados Unidos 465 (see Fodor's pp. 166-67; closed Mondays)
La Cabrera (see Fodor's p. 178; no credit card; reservations essential; no lunch on Mondays). Cabrera 5099 in Palermo Viejo - phone number there is 4831-7002.
Bar Uriarte, Palermo
Pippo's for pasta and beef: Corrientes y Montevideo or Callao and Santa Fe (cheap but yummy and very pueblo, aka average Argentine citizen).
Café Giralda for churros and chocolate: Corrientes, at the corner of Uruguay… a GREAT example of the old style café and WONDERFUL CHURROS filled with dulce de leche (delicious caramel). (Fodors p. 165: "a favorite gathering spot for intellectuals since the 1970s and is famous throughout the city for its churros")
Guerrin (I think it is spelled this way!) for FANTASTIC chicken pizza: Corrientes and Uruguay
Tandoor. Sunita's cousin's restaurant.
La Estancia for GREAT beef: 9 de Julio y Lavalle
La Americana for GREAT empanadas: Callao and Bartolome Mitre
Cafe Tortoni for coffee: Avenida de Mayo and Piedras -- after the Plaza, walk down Avenida de Mayo and stop there for snacks! Also a decent tango show... we always took people there! Too touristy and overpriced now, but still a great cafe with lots of history.
Los Immortales for good pizza: lots of locations (on Corrientes near Guerrin)
Millón: Paraná near Santa Fe, one of the coolest bars you will ever see!
El Federal: Now my favorite bar because Tortoni has become way too touristy; on Carlos Calvo and Peru in San Telmo.
Bar 6: In Palermo, a GREAT café for any time (breakfast, lunch, dinner). Armenia 1676, Palermo (Fodors p. 149 -- rude waitstaff, decent restaurant, DJ often plays good music in the evenings)
La Farmacia: also in San Telmo, and just a really cool café/ shop/ restó (see Fodor's p. 181)
Nectarine: quiet, lovely, and delicious! A must! 1661 Vicente López, Recoleta (see Fodor's pp. 185-86; $$$$ French food)
Olsen: My favorite! 5870 Gorriti, Palermo Hollywood, great for lunch, dinner, brunch, everything! A Swedith miracle in Buenos Aires!
Tomo I: elegant, expensive, excellent food, and really exciting. Right in the center of town, on the Avenida 9 de Julio. 521 Carlos Pellegrini, Crowne Plaza Panamericano Hotel El Centro
Casa Cruz: Could not be more hip, fabulous, or hot! Great, GREAT food, amazing wine list, and gorgeous people. Be dressed for a fun and hot night. Models are everywhere! Reservations a must. Uriarte 1658, Palermo
Tegui. Owned by the guy from Olsen, and friends say it is OUT OF THIS WORLD!
La Pena del Colorado (from Fodor's p. 152, 171): "There's nothing pretentious about this place: laid-back groups gather to enjoy traditional Argentine folk music and hand-held foods like empanadas and tamales. The exposed-brick walls are adorned with rustic memorabilia, including guitars that you're welcome to play if so inspired." (Also offers tea on the menu (Guemes 3657)).
There is the cemetery where Eva Peron is buried which is pretty cool (Recoleta). The cemetery itself is quite grand and a lovely way to spend an afternoon on a sunny day. Cats apparently rule this place. Do the fairs on Sat. and Sun., and DEFINITELY see the cemetery with Evita's grave site!
Evita Museum : propaganda, but so interesting!
There's a cultural center in the mall on Calle Florida - I can't find the name. But they have about 6-8 tango classes daily with excellent instructors. It's about $8/class. A fun way to pass the time.
Watch tango. The two most popular places are Confiteria Ideal, which will have a milonga (not a performance, but rather a place where people go to dance tango. You go w/o a partner and wait to be invited to dance. The whole thing is super cool.) Cafe Tortoni is a famous place to watch a tango performance. It's excellent!
Sit in cafes and have excellent coffee. Cafe Tortoni is a great place to sit; it's the old haunt of Borges.
The street fair in the San Telmo neighborhood on Sundays. Nice atmosphere, impromptu FREE tango performances. Moliere in San Telmo is great, kind-of U.S. type of bar (and if you eat there, you get to dance for free).
La Boca and San Telmo (good for any day but Sat. and Sun. because there are simply too many people!).
There's the Palermo neighborhood which is very hip and fun. Great cafe culture, nice design stores. Palermo, Palermo Soho, Palermo Hollywood, y el parque de Palermo: for shopping, food, and fun. And a BUNCH of bars in Palermo Viejo (like Mundo Bizarro), so check those out, too.
Remember that things don't open on weekend morning until 11 am or noon (more like noon). People don't eat dinner until about 10 pm. Go to dinner at 8, and the restaurant will be deserted.
I would totally recommend a daytrip to Mendoza, the wine country of Argentina.
The other thing that I didn't do but would've love to have done is visit a ranch outside of Buenos Aires. It's supposed to be a very different vibe -- relaxed, outdoors, etc. Tour companies will arrange daytours out to a ranch.
Also, for some reason, Argentinans love the Simpsons. If you like the Simpsons, you can get all sorts of awesome t-shirts there.
You should go to the PLAZA DE MAYO at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday to see the Madres march around the Plaza, if you can. Plaza de Mayo and Plaza de Congreso (nice walk after seeing the Madres, as I said).
Puerto Madero (really expensive and ritzy, but fun to walk around).
And just walk around Corrientes... the street that never sleeps!
Oh, places to go out (some of these may not still be around, so check first)! Museum (Club Museo? see p. 149) is a bit snobby, but can be fun! I know that there are TONS of places on the Costanera as well, some really fun.
Also, there is a museum of Latin American Art, MALBA -- I am sure that is in the guide books. Great cafe, wonderful building. And as to towns outside B.A.: Tigre on the delta (you can take a boat), Adrogue (guacho stuff), Lujan (a famous church area), and Colonia -- a great day!
Purchased some nice crafts made of paper (boxes, letter holders) from Gabi Ratti at the Recoleta Saturday Fair.
Argentina is supposedly a great place to get leather anything (boots, jackets, etc.). My sense was that the prices weren't that much cheaper (maybe 20%) but the plus was that it was all made to order/fit. I don't buy leather, so I didn't really explore that.
Las Pepas, Santa Fe 1631 for LEATHER JACKETS (more for women)!!!
Casa Lopez on calle Santa Fe and near Calle Florida is FANTASTIC for leather goods as well. It is expensive, but now with the change of currency, worth it.
H Stern is right near there in the Marriott hotel -- awesome jewelry (also in the airport).
HUMAWACA. Their bags are creative, fantastically made, and just the best! Not cheap, but ladies love them!
Also important please make sure you ask the taxi driver how much it will cost to travel from the airport to the hotel, before you take the cab (cost should be around 120 pesos). Also make sure they drop you off at the hotel, do not let them leave you anywhere else. One of our travelers already was already conned out of a lot of money because they did not negotiate the price, the cab driver then bulled them into paying a much larger sum. This is not like using a taxi in San Francisco, corruption is likely and you have little recourse once you have been taken advantage of.