Buenos Aires, Argentina: Café Tortoni

February 11, 2013

One of the best things in the world is marrying someone from another country, especially a country you are in love with.  For the rest of your life you are guaranteed to return to your partner’s homeland over and over again.  Having said that, this blessing is also a curse in disguise, because now when you visit your time there is spent catching up with your partner’s friends and family.  The days of playing tourist are done.

This was a huge struggle for me on our last trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Instead of going to a museum, my husband, Lucas, wanted to go play fútbol with his amigos.  Instead of going on a romantic date to a tango show, Lucas wanted to cook dinner in our apartment for his parents.  I realized that if I did not want to ruin our precious time there I somehow had to make peace with my new situation.  I eventually learned how to adapt and to Lucas’ credit he also tried his best to find some time here and there to take me to my favorite places in the city, one of which was Café Tortoni.

Café Tortoni is the oldest coffeehouse in Argentina and is located on Avenida de Mayo.  Its doors opened in 1858 by a French immigrant who named it Tortoni after the aristocratic Parisian café of the same name.  Its history is rich with stories of famous visitors and has made many lists which claim that it is one of the most beautiful cafés in the world.

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Even though Café Tortoni is now considered by many to be a tourist attraction, a lot of Porteños still stop by every once in a while for a caffeine fix.  Expect a line to get in, since most things in life that are special require a wait.

I recommend giving yourself at least an hour at Café Tortoni in order to truly appreciate your surroundings.  A guest of the coffeehouse once said the following and it really resonated with me, “Tradition is not the past.  Tradition is the offering of the best of the past to the men and women of the present and future.  It is not only the walls of the Tortoni, which in themselves are worthy of a museum, but mainly in the spirtual climate that its management has wisely created, that the best of our Porteño past can be found.”

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Before we were even presented with a menu we both knew what we wanted: churros con chocolate.  I have had them all over the world and my favorite are from Café Tortoni.  As luck would have it though, they were out of them that day.  We were both sad, but were more than happy to indulge in some alfajores instead.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

What I love the most about Café Tortoni is that you can experience the best of what Argentina has to offer all in one place.  We will definitely be returning on our next trip, hopefully this time we can get some churros!

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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65 thoughts on “Buenos Aires, Argentina: Café Tortoni

  1. Dani | Globetrottergirls

    Aaah, Cafe Tortoni – love it! 🙂 We love old-fashioned cafes like Cafe Tortoni and visit them everywhere we go – Cafe La Opera in Mexico City, Cafe Greco in Rome, Conteria Torres in Santiago and so on… Cafe Tortoni was one of our favorites! Your photos truly capture the essence of Cafe Tortoni – fantastic!!

  2. Heather

    Y-U-M. This place looks gorgeous, and I love the photo with the drink spilling down the side of the cup. I’ve been drinking NibMor hot chocolate lately and I think I’ll have to have one after dinner tonight O:-)

  3. Alexa

    It really does feel like you’re stepping into the past when you go through Tortoni’s doors. Thank goodness you fit a trip in! Next time: CHURROS!

  4. Katie @ Domestiphobia

    Oh, no. Now I’m craving the churros con chocolate I had in Spain! Or maybe I’m just missing Spain. Or maybe just travel. 😉

    I can’t believe you were able to dine at a place that’s been open for over 150 years. How incredible!!

  5. Janna

    This makes me wish I had married a foreigner… Good news! He’s of Scottish decent and wants to visit Scotland. This looks like an amazing cafe!

  6. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

    I can completely agree with the bilingual, bi-familia, bi-continental deal. Add in the factor that my partner sometimes travels over the holidays for work, and we’ve spent just two Christmases together, one with his family and one with mine. I was so looking forward to our families finally meeting this year, only to have him go abroad again!

    And come to Seville for churros, our Sunday morning tradition in my household!

  7. Karla

    What a beautiful Café!

    Love the chandelier & ceiling! They’re spectacular.

    Can you believe I’ve never tried alfajores? I’m missing out big time am I not?

    I love churros though, with a hot chocolate ever better. YUM & YUM 😉

  8. Megan

    i completely agree that one of the best things is marrying/being with someone from a different country. despite all of the pain of visas and stuff, it is so much fun!!! and i love finding ways to integrate american culture with norwegian culture.

    this cafe looks great! i think cafes are a really good way to know any society and i always check them out when im traveling <3

    1. Andi Perullo Post author

      I agree, I feel so blessed to have married outside my culture. I kinda had a feeling I always wood! International men are very sexy haha! 😉 Cafes are the best!!!

    1. Andi Perullo Post author

      I agree! But the problem is that I love his friends and family so much too and since I only get to see them but once a year or so, I also want to spend my time with them. They just don’t want that time to be at some tourist attraction haha.

  9. Krista

    I am so glad you were able to find a bit of balance on your recent trip, dear Andi. I DO know how it is to visit family in a foreign country and end up sitting around the house because it’s their home and it doesn’t feel necessary to gallivant. 🙂 What a beautiful place this is. 🙂 It reminds me of my favorite cafe in Portugal with that marvelous old world feel. 🙂

  10. decoybetty

    I feel awful every time IC and I go home, he wants to travel and see new places in the US and I want to never ever leave my parents farm.

    That being said, when we go back to the country town that IC grew up in Victoria I never see him because he’s off playing golf. 🙂

    Also, I’m drooling a bit just at the thought of churros!

  11. Vinnie

    I don’t think, there would be many places in all of Americas with such rich gastronomical history as Tortoni, infact the original French, if exists today, would be extremely proud of it. This appears to be more of a museum than an eatery.

  12. Analie Julie

    Thank you Andi for this colorful review. I visited Tortoni cafe too as a part of 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. At the end of the tour we visited the biggest book shop in Latin America which has a Cafe inside and you can take a book and read it, taking a sweet coffe, and then return the book, for free !
    This book shop used to be a huge theatre, really amazing.


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