Argentina’s Oldest Cafe: Café Tortoni

In Culture & Food by Gareth1 Comment

The oldest Cafe in Argentina, Cafe Tortoni in Buenos Aires

Simply put, Cafes in Buenos Aires are a way of life. They’re around every corner and in every neighborhood throughout the city. Monday, I had the opportunity to check out Café Tortoni for coffee with Alan from Buenostours.com. Founded in 1858, Café Tortoni is the oldest coffee shop in the whole country. With a very rich history, it is visited at all times by intellectuals, politicians and artists.

We chatted about our Argentine lifestyles over some great churros and submarinos (hot chocolate). It’s the only cafe i’ve been to yet that has a line out the door (popular tourist spot). The walls are filled with portraits of famous Argentines and important events from the past and present. It has a very traditional ambiance and when you arrive it feels like you’ve stepped into a high class hangout from years past. Throughout the week they also have tango shows in a small back theatre and in the basement. From what Alan tells me, they are some of the best value tango shows in Buenos Aires.

Three of the Cafe’s most popular patrons were covered in wax one day and are forever immortalized in the back corner of the main dining room.

Famous wax figures at Cafe Tortoni in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Jorge Luis Borges, the famous Argentine writer, “The King of Tango”, singer/songwriter Carlos Gardel and poet Alfonsina Storni spend their days hanging out in Café Tortoni getting their pictures taken and ease-dropping on conversations from surrounding tables

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Comments

  1. Analie Julie

    Thanks Gareth for this article, very complete. I visited The Tortoni too ! I would like to add the Historic cafes Tour me and my husband took this February. We visited 6 historic cafes of Buenos Aires. We loved the fileteado artwork, the vaulted ceilings, the gloriously beat-up furniture, the waiters in bowties, the checkerboard floors. Everything made for a perfect café environment. Some of the cafés were breathing and living museums.
    We fell in love with Tortoni Cafe and especially with the sculpted trio in the corner. Over the years such talented and famous people sat right there in this same chair comfortably in literary discussion over their coffee.
    The tour company is Kangoo Tours: http://www.kangootours.wix.com/tours .I highly recommend this tour

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