In the Neighborhood: MALBA

In the Neighborhood: MALBA

So you've got a date with the Latin American masters. You'll take in a deconstructivist icon, pay your respects to Botero and Berni, check out the snappy design shop... Without an afternoon at MALBA, what would a trip to Buenos Aires be? And as long as you're headed to this urbane corner of greater Palermo, why not make an outing of it? BA's keynote contemporary art museum anchors a seriously prepossessing barrio (think quiet, jacaranda-lined streets, gracious turn-of-the-century architecture, and landscaped gardens perfect for a post-exhibition ramble). Besides, our favorite Patagonian sugar rush is only a few well-manicured blocks away.

 Often nicknamed "Palermo Chico" or "Barrio Parque", the museum's stylish 'hood was designed in 1912 by French-Argentine landscape architect, Carlos Thays. 

Often nicknamed "Palermo Chico" or "Barrio Parque", the museum's stylish 'hood was designed in 1912 by French-Argentine landscape architect, Carlos Thays. 

1. For a café con onda:

When it comes to café culture, few cities in the Americas contend with Buenos Aires. It's just that usually, you're choosing between those delectable old-world vibes and a brilliantly executed espresso. Birkin is one of the rare cafés where you can have your cake (passion fruit cheesecake, in our case) and eat it, too. Beans come courtesy of next-gen precision roaster LAB Tostadores, but the wood-paneled bar looks plucked from one of the city's belle-époque bares notables, and the glass display full of whole tortas and tartas wouldn't be out of place in a '50s-era diner. In short, there aren't many local establishments where you can order an iced cappuccino "para llevar" (these are baristas of enlightened ilk!), but you're probably going to want to hang out. Good thing there's reading material aplenty—indie culture mags like Monocle and Wallpaper in addition to all the local diarios.

Birkin Coffee Bar; República Árabe Siria 3061

 

2. For a wearable souvenir:

Porteña tastemaker María Lee opened Panorama with a mission to showcase the best of her hometown's sartorial talent: a new generation of craftsmen and women bringing millennial imagination to legacy trades that once earned BA its reputation as South America's ground zero for handmade and well-made (see Jessica Kessel's luxe metallic mules, Made in Chola's wool felt sombreros, and Le Bas's collection of totes and satchels in clean, urban silhouettes). Lee gamely mixes ruffled blouses, beaded bombers, and whimsical prints, uniting a lot of color and texture in a small space. Somehow, the overall effect is harmonious; her canny edit is hecho-en-Argentina eclecticism at its most compelling.

Panorama; República de la India 2905

 Rainbow-colored racks show off locally designed threads at Maria Lee's sunny boutique.

Rainbow-colored racks show off locally designed threads at Maria Lee's sunny boutique.

3. For a festive lunch break:

Buenos Aires may be home to the largest Jewish community in Latin America, but it hasn't always been easy to find latkes or burekas in these parts, let alone an entire head of roasted cauliflower, served intact with labneh and tahini for anointing its blackened florets. Dubbed "flor para un mishiguene" or "flower for a crazy person" (mishiguene being Yiddish for "loco"), the dish has become a fan favorite at a pioneering Palermo restaurant whose menu draws inspiration from Jewish culinary traditions the world over. Before digging into the house-smoked brisket, visit the lunchtime miznón ("snack counter"), a parade of red-trimmed casserole dishes offering the likes of tabbouleh, baba ganoush, fennel salad, fried eggplant, and hummus. You'll want to pile your plate foolishly high—then mop it clean with pillowy pita.

Mishiguene; Lafinur 3368

 

4. For Patagonia-inspired scoops:

It can be easier to find an ice cream counter in Buenos Aires than an ATM (priorities!), but Jauja's rich connection to place makes for a standout scoop. At the Palermo outpost of the Patagonia-based heladería, the menu reflects the character of the valley its husband-and-wife proprietors call home. Hence the lineup of offbeat flavors starring native botanicals like wild hops, rosehips, and elderberry. Traditionalists will find all the usual suspects here, too, but before you commit to your classic dulce de leche, it's worth sampling "choco-cassis" (chocolate swirled with homemade cassis preserves) and "calafate con leche de oveja" (calafate berry with sheep's milk).

Helados Jauja; Cerviño 3901

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