The past few years have seen the bar scene of Buenos Aires turn into somewhat of a hotbed of activity aimed to occupy even those who consider themselves difficult-to-please. From your standard bars with pool tables and darts to the extreme of beer pong with strangers, it’s quite a challenge to get bored in this city.
It is true, though, that the specific activity associated with the bar really sets up the vibe of the night – if you are looking for a chilled evening with a drink or two, then you probably won’t be interested in the competitive drinking associated with beer pong. But if you’re planning a night of shenanigans, then we can’t imagine that settling down at a table with a game of Jenga tickles your fancy either.
We reckon there are three major categories to classify the vibe of your night out on the town and as such, have found some of the best places to visit in order to achieve the onda you are looking for.
The Chilled Night
Let’s start with the easy one. For some reason, even after centuries of existence, board games are still a hugely popular way to pass the time with friends. Whether you think that they belong at the back of Gran’s cupboard along with the VCR and dial-up internet router, or if you have a top-five list of favorite games and a Monopoly strategy that works every time, it is possible to please pretty much everyone when you have the right combination of atmosphere, people, and a decent level of competition.
However, it’s not just board games that are on offer to keep your brain ticking over while you are winding down; there are a multitude of places that offer things like quizzes and access to all sorts of content to provide you with a totally different vibe for the evening.
If you have been struggling to think of a way to make your Mondays a little more exciting, La Cigale hosts the perfect thing to help you warm your brain up and start the week at a decent pace. On the second Monday of each month, this beautiful pub in Microcentro hosts the Buenos Aires Pub Quiz (one of, if not the only, pub quiz in the city). Including six rounds of general knowledge questions, you had better do your homework for this one. So, get studying, grab a few friends (up to groups of six) and start competing. The quiz is given in English, but answers are accepted in English or Spanish.
La Cigale | Av. 25 de Mayo 597
Café San Bernardo
A bit of a change of scene, but still keeping in line with the chilled-out evening you are looking for, we take you the heart of Villa Crespo, where Café San Bernardo has been entertaining porteños and extranjeros alike since 1957. Still boasting its classic décor and an array of food and drink, music, and games, it is easy to see how this place is still so popular. Until recently, it kept its doors open 24 hours a day and while it now closes at 5 AM, it provides a night of entertainment for anyone who happens to be searching for it. Activities to keep you occupied until the early hours include ping pong, table soccer, pool, snooker, and a whole heap of board games too.
Café San Bernardo | Av. Corrientes 5436
This is one of those bars that is located slightly off the beaten track of densely populated Palermo, and yet it is busy every day of the week. Set up with long tables perfect for big groups to get competitive, Jobs has quite a range of things to do, from your classics like backgammon and pool, to the lesser known worlds of foot pool and pub archery. Here, you shouldn’t have any problem sticking to the chilled vibe as you stumble around trying to kick a ball into a pocket after the liter of beer that’s included in your AR $200 entry – a good time guaranteed almost every time. You only pay on Fridays and Saturdays though; it’s free every other day. Plus, they have a pretty extensive pizza menu, so you can basically camp out here all night before you realize it’s time to go home.
Jobs | Arenales 2932
The Cultured Night
Maybe you want to pass the time doing something totally different to playing games or perhaps you feel like amping up the intellect above pub quiz standard. We get it – when you’re in a city as vibrant and culture-ridden as Buenos Aires, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact place to make the most of all that’s available. There are many places to watch live music or have a coffee while reading a book, but you might be surprised at the number of places that offer these things, in addition to cultural talks and art exhibitions, on a regular basis, and in a classic Argentine setting. These are places that will make you feel like a porteño and they will compliment your cultured night like Coca-Cola compliments Fernet.
Los Notables are a group of five traditional bars and cafes located between Almagro and San Telmo, which have come together to organize literary events, musical presentations, and artistic exhibitions for those who want to pass the night in more than just another pub. Each location boasts its own piece of magic, whether that’s in the form of classic Argentine décor, a menu that won’t quit, or in the case of Celta Bar, surprising acoustics that keep you listening for the whole night. The five locations are listed below, and the combined Facebook page gives up-to-date information on events as they are organized at each location.
Bar El Federal | Carlos Calvo 599
Café Margot | Boedo 857
Bar de Cao | Av. Independencia 2400
Celta Bar | Sarmiento 1701
Café La Poesía | Chile 502
Clásica y Moderna
Primarily a bookstore, Clásica y Moderna is a place for those who truly wish to test their intellect. It’s a place steeped in history, which it proudly wears on its walls decorated with pictures of the original owner, Don Emilio Poblet Diez, who came over from Madrid in 1916 and set up the bookstore in 1938. Still family-run, it offers more than your standard bookstore and it continually hosts cultural events such as music and cinema. It is even recognized by the City Government as a Site of Cultural Interest and it is the perfect place for a peaceful evening with a combination of food, music and, of course, a novel or two.
Clásica y Moderna | Av. Callao 892
Boasting a similar ambient to Clásica y Moderna, Alamut Libros is a place that takes the combination of wine and books very seriously. Located in Palermo, it is the place to go if you are done with the rowdy night vibe and just want a quiet glass of red in a thought-provoking setting. They host literary talks and movie projections too, so it really is perfect if you are in the mood for thinking outside of the box.
Alamut Libros | Jorge Luis Borges 1985
The Rowdy Night
The rowdy night is for those who are committed to their hangover. Maybe you have no interest in playing board games or watching live music, but you also want to do more than drink a few shots while you are out with the gang. Well, one thing that has become more and more popular to facilitate your rowdy night in Buenos Aires is beer pong.
Since it requires a fair few resources (at least 12 cups, a ping pong ball, and a table big enough to let you play), not to mention a big enough room to play it in, it’s understandable that it’s not the easiest activity to include in the previa. Thanks to the Argentine Beer Pong League, though, this is an activity that has become more and more popular in the Buenos Aires bar scene in recent months.
Believe it or not, said league holds tournaments at regular intervals throughout the year. These are becoming more and more popular with the last event being held appropriately on St. Patrick’s Day, seeing over 60 teams take part. The tournament isn’t for the faint-hearted: you need to have a fair bit of stamina for holding your beer if you have your sights set on that trophy. And luckily for those particularly thirsty readers, there is another tournament coming up in June.
You also have plenty of options if you just want a place to go to play a game or two to encourage the rowdy vibe of the night without participating in a tournament.
You may already be well aware of the infamous shot bar, Chupitos. With a couple of locales around Palermo and one in San Telmo, this is a must-go on all the bar-crawl circuits and basically any birthday outing in which you want to get sufficiently smashed. Chupitos offers beer pong by the bucket-load, and you can even opt to play with Fernet and Coke for a few extra pesos if you are feeling particularly irresponsible. We recommend heading there early to secure your table. You’ll probably make plenty of new thirsty friends while you’re at it.
Palermo Soho | Gorriti 5033
Palermo Hollywood | Bonpland 1670
San Telmo | Bolivar 693
Green Parrot Ride Bar
Looking like a makeshift tropical-jungle-cum-surf-shop from the outside, this bar will continue to confuse and surprise you once you get in. Not only does it serve as a place to pass the night away with friends, drinks and good times, but it also has beer pong, Corona, and American and Mexican food. We think you are meant to feel as if you were somewhere in Mexico, but at this point it’s anyone’s guess. Either way, it’s a pretty good vibe and the games are offered two for one on some nights, so check with them before you go so you can plan accordingly for the previa. Nuff said.
Green Parrot Ride Bar | Güemes 3140
Fairly new on the scene, Hermes Bar opened its doors just one year ago, but it has made quite a name for itself among beer lovers. They host tournaments every few weeks which include live DJs and plenty other drinks for those not taking part. However, you can also head there on a regular night to get yourself a beer pong table and set yourself up for your rowdy night anyway.
Hermes Bar | Juan B. Justo 1463
Have fun, drink responsibly, and don’t blame me for your hangover.