Calle Thames, Buenos Aires
Written by Hunter Holcombe Illustration by Marion Vitus
Running through the heart of Buenos Aires’ relaxed and leafy Palermo Viejo neighbourhood, Thames serves up an eclectic ensemble of some of the best and most interesting shops, restaurants, and sights sited along a single street.
While Thames is a far cry from some of the main tourist drags, like tacky Calle Florida or the small cobblestoned alleyways of San Telmo, it ties together more than
a day’s worth of distractions, particularly for those looking to spend their pesos. Thames sprouts from the well-known Plaza Italia, combining a major bus and subway stop with an entrance into the beautiful Palermo park system, the city zoo, and the botanical garden. Cat-lovers in particular should reserve a half-hour to peruse the botanical garden – more than 100 stray (but remarkably well-fed and healthy) cats lounge about as if they owned the place.
Walking up Thames, away from the plaza, you enter Palermo Soho, so dubbed for its numerous clothing boutiques, dining scene, and sidewalk bars and cafés. Puro Bistro is home to an impressive collection of cigars – from fine Cuban Cohibas to new Dominican blends – and is also a trendy spot for a mid-afternoon espresso or glass of Malbec. While you enjoy your vice of choice, consider striking up an intellectual conversation in preparation for your next stop: the former home of famed Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges.
While the house itself isn’t found
on Thames, it’s only a block over
(on a street called Borges, of course). Look closely for a small metal plaque attached to the side of the humble brick building – most visitors walk right by without even knowing.
If anyone has ever bought a gift from Buenos Aires, it was likely
a mate gourd, a bottle of Malbec,
or something brimming with dulce de leche (Argentina’s omnipresent milk-based caramel). All of these make fine gifts, of course, but if something a bit more memorable and unique is desired, Santos Bazar is one of your best bets. With an eclectic collection of serving-ware forged from high-grade silver and hand-carved wood, the style could be best described as luxury ‘gaucho’ gear – a unique marriage of the rough Argentine cowboy and Buenos Aires upper class.
Now laden with heavy bags, you’ll want to unload before venturing out for that perfect Argentine steak, and the Vain Boutique Hotel
is as smartly styled as it is ideally located. Each room is individually designed, the bilingual staff point out all the best spots in the neighbourhood, and the in-house wine bar serves as a solid primer
to the considerable bounty of Argentine wine out there waiting
to be tasted.
If it’s your first night in Buenos Aires, allow yourself to become as hungry as possible before making your way over to La Cabrera. You should have reservations for this incredibly popular parilla (steak house), though waiting is not too painful with complimentary champagne on-hand. The steak you finally
sink your teeth into will very likely be the best you’ve ever had, and it could also be one of the largest. Each steak also comes with nearly
a dozen miniature side dishes.
If you haven’t fallen comatose after this near-perfect experience, the plethora of Palermo late-night haunts will just be beginning to wake up. Argentines are notorious for their late-night revelry, so don’t be surprised to find everything fairly vacant until past midnight. One spot that fills up at a decent hour
is Ocho7Ocho, equally popular with expats and locals.
One last stop before you leave Thames: drop into Tonno cafe
for a lagrima or a Quilmes beer. Even if you don’t like your drink, the Colombian identical twin waitresses Juliana and Jobana will always put
a smile on your face. And tell them
I said “hola!”
Hunter Holcombe lived on Thames for over a year. With its combination of parks, tree-lined streets, sidewalk cafés, and comparatively relaxed way of life, the Palermo neighbourhood was a welcome respite from the more manic pace of downtown Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Distance: 13,319 km
Flight Time: 18 hours, 50 minutes
Frequency: Daily via São Paulo