Trade in your SUBE card for a MetroCard; we’re going to New York.
Situated similarly to a speakeasy, Uptown is a swanky bar that is everything a New York subway station isn’t: clean, trendy, and flashy. The bar is easily overlooked by a pedestrian, as it is beneath La Mar restaurant in Palermo.
“Uptown comes to occupy a niche, which would be somewhere in between a bar and a disco, more like a New York club than a typical bar in Buenos Aires,” owner Andrés Rolando says. “It is a very conceptual thing.”
The new “station” opened during the first week of May by some of the creators behind The Harrison Speakeasy and designed by architect Paula Peirano. If granted access (usually through a reservation made in advance or by waiting in line), you’ll find yourself walking down the concrete stairs lined with blue fluorescent lights. The signs above your head will direct you to Uptown & The Bronx. The pathway covered with subway tile and advertisement posters will continue to a turnstile that you can conveniently enter without swiping your MetroCard for the $2.75 fee.
“There is something of the underground that is attractive, in addition to urban art like graffiti, there is a mystique around the subway that no other means of transport has,” Rolando explains. “In all the major cities of the world, subway lines are representative of culture: London, Berlin, Tokyo, New York… and we did not want the car or the station to be a stage set.”
A stationary subway car with the words “LAST STOP” blink on the screen and the doors slide open to the most pristine subway train in both Buenos Aires and New York, or any city for that matter. Fuzzy orange seats invite you and your party inside and the mirrored wall adjacent is practically asking for selfies to be taken. After the photoshoot is over, you’ll press a green button which unlock the doors that open to the bar. The underground “basement” features a large bar with six bartenders, an elegant living room with cozy plush chairs that resembles an old pharmacy, and booths for dinner.
The bartenders know their stuff, despite looking like they just stepped out of a “Portlandia” episode — it’s as if a handlebar mustache and fully buttoned shirt is part of the uniform. Yet the eclectic mix of drinks, garnished with dehydrated pineapple, grapefruit, and other goodies, are the stars of the show.
Don’t know what you’ll like? Don’t fret. The drink menu (separated by major destinations of the city, like Central Park) has a guide to explain which drinks are on the more dry, sweet, or strong side. And if you’re more of a visual person, the full-wall, rainbow ombre display of liquor bottles above the bar surely will get you going.
Prices of tragos range from AR $130 to AR $220, a little more than you would spend at a kiosk in the subway station, but consider it worth it.
Hip-hop and rap music fill the bar, a rarity in Buenos Aires; Uptown features a new DJ every day, so you’re bound to hear something you like.
Before you get a chance to dance downstairs, the bouncers are a little stuffy, so make sure you aren’t wearing your typical street clothes — especially on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night. They’ll turn you away for wearing ripped jeans or sandals. This subway is more exclusive than the D line.
With that, this is not your typical Buenos Aires bar. Uptown plays with a contrast: graffiti-lined walls and elegant red velour seats, concrete stairs and showy drinks. Take a trip to New York for the night without dealing with a cab to the Ezeiza Airport.
Uptown | Arévalo 2030