Like any well visited city, it can be difficult to break away from the crowd of tourists that seem to go to all the same places as you. It’s the irony of traveling, you go to a new place to experience the culture but end up hanging around everyone but the locals. Buenos Aires is no exception and it can be all too easy to end up in a place that seems full of other travelers. This is by no means a bad thing because you will still meet a wide range of other interesting people from all over the world. However, if you are trying to experience a more authentic Buenos Aires night it can be difficult to find the right places to go. Below is a list of place that I have gone that were recommended to me from locals and other travelers; in general they offer a good mix of local culture but still attract foreigners. These are bars that are off of the beaten path and offer a glimpse into what it is like to go out like a porteño.
Café San Bernardo (Av. Corrientes 5436, Villa Crespo)
This is more or less a dive bar. It is known for its ping-pong and pool. Be warned, the pool tables here have the smallest pockets in the world. Basically, in order to make a shot you have to revert back to the ‘hit the ball as hard as you can and pray for something good’ approach from when you were younger (or maybe this is still your style and this is the place for you!). In the back are a series of ping-pong tables and some serious competition. On Tuesday nights the ping-pong is free but it can be hard to get a table because of the crowds. Wear anything you like but preferably articles that are torn, covered in paint, or display your favorite band (as long as they are edgy or old-school). The beers are cheap and large communal tables facilitate many random interactions between many random people. Good if you want to experience something different, save some money, meet some very interesting people, and of course display your exceptional ping-pong abilities.
El Refuerzo (Chacabuco 872, San Telmo)
This is a very small place located in San Telmo. It is not in a well visited part of San Telmo so less tourists unassumingly end up here. The ambiance is small town Italian bar with good food and well priced drinks. Good if you want to get a drink with a friend or two and have a casual bar experience.
Bar GueBara (Humberto Primo 463, San Telmo)
Another San Telmo bar. This place embodies the bohemian aura of San Telmo and will have different events on any given night. Anything can happen from poetry sessions (this will test your Spanish vocabulary), plays, themed parties, rock bands, etc. It is a small and divey environment with limited seating. Good if you want to expand your knowledge of the local culture, see something unique, drink beer with porteño hipsters.
You Know My Name (Marcelo T. Alvear 1540, Recoleta)
Centrally located in Recoleta, this bar draws in an eclectic crowd ranging from wealthier older folks to students from the area. They play funky jams from the 80’s – 90’s and have good cheap food. It usually gets going around 1 a.m. and offers a nice alternative to the mega-boliches that everyone else goes to. Good if you want to listen to good music, watch classic music videos, and take a break from the main boliches and cumbia.
La Casa de Sr. Duncan (Rivadavia 3832, Almagro)
Located in Almagro, this is a very unique and charming place. It conveys an emotion of nostalgia for an era from the past. Expect the unexpected and a great time. Cheap prices, intimate environment, and a culturally rich experience. Good if you want to see a random show, dance tango or swing, and listen to good music with friends.
El Boliche de Roberto (Bulnes 331, Almagro)
Located in Almagro, this is a classic joint that looks like an antiquated remnant from the foundation of the city. It is a step back in time when everything was less vibrant, flashy, and stimulating. These reasons are exactly why the place is so intriguing and enjoyable and the best history lesson you will ever receive. Be prepared for the owner to bust out in song and tango to ensue at random times. Good if you want to experience something authentic, unostentatious, and from the past.
Esquina Libertad (Uriarte 1501, Palermo)
Cheap, cool, and unpretentious bar in Palermo (maybe the only one…). Strange art on the walls, middle eastern food and funky music make this place a nice breath of fresh air from the more stuck-up bars that are usually found in Palermo. Cheap two-liter jarras (pitchers) are a big draw and the place is usually full of locals with a few well-informed travelers scattered in the mix. Good if you are looking for a great terraza (terrace), nonchalant atmosphere, and a place to get a casual drink, or five, with a group of friends.
La Puerta Roja (Chacabuco 733, San Telmo)
Another San Telmo bar, this place is only noticeable by the red door. It has retro-vibes and looks like a relaxed speakeasy bar. Complete with cheap drinks and a good happy hour from 6-10pm. It can attract a more international crowd but there are definitely more locals on any given night. They play good rock-n-roll and have a more lively atmosphere than other bars in the area. There is a pool table with a good amount of room and normal sized pockets! Good if you want to have a lively bar night, meet some other travelers and locals, and stay longer than you initially intended.
These are suggestions based off of my experiences, they are definitely open to interpretation. There are a lot of hidden gems out there and we’ll keep exploring!