The perfect day in Buenos Aires by Anthony Bourdain

Back in the days when Buenos Aires was the capital of one of the world’s 10 wealthiest countries.

The city was known for its sumptuous mélange of Old-World charm, South American soul, European affluence, and tango dancing under purple jacaranda trees.

It does, but mostly in little corner shops and quiet neighborhoods far from most tourist haunts. It’s remarkable that a modern city like Buenos Aires still has the ability to take you back in time for a day—starting with breakfast.

A bar, store, and all-around Argentine experience, this unique spot features two sprawling patios, plenty of tasty snacks—try the picada, a little starter plate of meats and cheeses, or another Argentine classic: the empanada, a palm-sized savory pie—and a secret jazz club. Pulpería Quilapán is a good time pretty much any hour, day or night.

The pulpería itself is a remnant of the past. When I asked one of my Argentine friends what a pulpería was, he actually didn’t know. Pulpería Quilapán manager Grégoire Fabre told me pulperías might be one of the first businesses to have started up in Argentina.

It’s a mix between a bar, a general store, and a social club,” he said, leading me through the restaurant—passing what can best be described as the picada assembly point, where a young man beamed as he sprinkled thyme leaves over cheese slices—to the shop, where you can buy tote bags, condiments, specialty beers and wine, all made in Argentina.

An institution critical to the early development of Buenos Aires in the 18th century, pulperías historically offered a number of social services—more than a bar and marketplace, they also functioned as banks, hiring halls, collection points and, often, illicit trading posts for gauchos.

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