You cannot come to Buenos Aires and not visit this important Porteño institution. I mention this cafe in the dining chapter, but at the risk of being repetitive, it is a must-see no matter if you plan to dine there or not. This historic cafe has served as the artistic and intellectual heart of Buenos Aires since 1858, with guests such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio de Caro, Cátulo Castillo, and José Gobello. Wonderfully appointed in woods, stained glass, yellowing marble, and bronzes, the place tells more about its history by simply existing than any of the photos on its walls. This is the perfect place for a coffee or a small snack when wandering along Avenida de Mayo. Twice-nightly tango shows in a cramped side gallery, where the performers often walk through the crowd, are worth seeing. What makes the Tortoni all the more special is that locals and tourists seem to exist side-by-side here, one never overwhelming the other. Do not expect great service, however: Sometimes only jumping up and down will get the staff's attention, even when they are just a few feet from you. I've recently found that when the cafe is overwhelmed with visitors, they no longer allow tourists to come in for a quick peek. If that happens, make a plan to come back either very early in the day, or very late at night.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010