Cafe Tortoni, Buenos Aires

3.5 out of 5 stars 33 Reviews

Avenida de Mayo 825 5411- 4342-4328

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    Inside Cafe Tortoni
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  • DougL131's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: We were robbed here

    by DougL131 Written Nov 11, 2012

    In early November 2012 we visited this cafe with another American couple. One of us put his knapsack on the floor next to his foot, and five minutes later it was gone. The pickpockets and thieves in this town are smooth-- four of us at a table, near the back of the cafe, and none of us noticed the thief. What was most infuriating was that the waiters were neither surprised nor concerned. So I would boycott this cafe, which takes so little interest in the security of its patrons. The food wasn't anything special, anyway.

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  • mircaskirca's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: Sophisticated and Elegant Old Charm

    by mircaskirca Updated Sep 7, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

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    Sophisticated and elegant Cafe Tortoni is the classic example of Buenos Aires' old world charm. It was founded in 1858 and is the oldest cafe in the whole country. Art nouveau decor and high ceilings transport you back in time. Wonderfully appointed in woods, stained glass, yellowish marble and bronzes, the place tells more about its history than any of the paintings and pictures (mostly dedicated to cafe itself) hanging on its walls.

    Carlos Gardel, one of Argentina's most famous tango star, writer Jorge Luis Borges and intellectuals of the time used to frequent the cafe. While the place is now flooded with international visitors, you can still find typical Porteños sitting and enjoying their coffee. Cafe Tortoni is a perfect place for a coffee or a small snack when wandering along Avenida de Mayo.

    Cafe Tortoni is also a historical tango spot and every evening they present a different tango show to those with reservations. For 30 pesos (plus the cost of a drink) you can sit in their historical basement saloon and enjoy live tango music and dancing where performers often walk through the crowd. Check their site for an updated schedule of performances. I was unfortunately too late for the show but very much enjoyed the ambience of the place anyway.

    The cafe is open Mon-Sat 8am-2am, Sun 9am-1am

    Favorite Dish: I had chocolate con churros (hot chocolate with sticks of fried sweet pastry for dipping) that the place is famous for. The chocolate drink was very delicious, thick, felt like it is just melted chocolate. This is definitely something not to be missed when visiting Buenos Aires. Absolutely divine!

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  • spidermiss's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: Nostalgic and not to be missed!

    by spidermiss Updated Jul 13, 2010

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Cafe Tortoni
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    It is worth paying Cafe Tortoni a visit for the nostalgia and ambience. The cafe was founded 150 years ago and famous for its literary and art connections. The overcharged prices are catered towards the many tourists who come and visit daily. It is best visiting in the morning to avoid the queues.

    Tango shows are also held nightly at the Cafe's Tango Hall and you're able to obtain tickets there.

    Favorite Dish: I had a delicious milkshake (Expensive as it cost me around 25ARP- January 2010) and it was nice enjoying it in the cafe.

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  • annreyz's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: ****THEFT**** Tourist Trap be Careful

    by annreyz Written Dec 4, 2009

    Big Mafia Cafe, inside theft job in my opinion. The restaurant tries to keep the integrity of the pass in this place for the tourist but in the 21st century, the cafe plots out their targets for theft. Why not, it is the perfect spot....ALL TOURIST!!

    HERE IS HOW IT PLAYS OUT:
    At the door you meet a greeter who peeks his head in to tell them there is a seating for two, he will not even let you in until he does that. He opens the door then you are seated by the Maitron D'. The waiter takes your order (does it wrong I might add) and waits for you to get your food. Our bag was on the floor by my husband foot tucked underneath oh so carefully(my only wish was he cuffed it around his leg), he just finished taking a picture of the wax statues in the corner and takes a bite of his really gross non-tasteless sandwich. Thirty seconds later, I asked him to hand me the camera, which is about $1000, so I can take a picture of the 12inch diameter table with our food. It was gone!!!!! The couple sitting literaly 5 inches away from us did not see a thing (yes, some tables are that close). The other people around us did not see it either.

    My guess is that our waiter kicked it to the bus boy or another waiter and stashed it away. The thing is, they keep a close watch of who comes into this place and the timing was perfect. My husband just literally decided to put the camera into the back when he ate before that he has it around his neck. When we reported the issue, they were not helpful. Supposedly the camera they had did not tape a thing, it was just there as a fake set up. No one wanted to talk to us and everyone pretended that they did not know or see anything.

    BE CAREFUL, THIS TRIP MAY COST YOU MORE THAN A COFFEE OR A YUCKY SANDWICH!!!

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  • Bigmac52's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: Overrated

    by Bigmac52 Written Sep 30, 2009

    This may be the oldest and most celebrated cafe in Buenos Aires but it is without shadow of a doubt one of the least welcoming.

    The waiters are dour, slow and quite frankly uninterested. They look and portray the " couldn't care less attitude ".

    Waiters aside, the decor is interesting and worth a look and the Cafe con crema is superb.

    Don't know why the guide books go OTT about this place as there are a number of other Cafes in B.A. that are worth the effort i.e. Cafe Federal in San Thelmo.

    I suppose, however, that it is worth a photograph and a "been there / done that badge" I would not rush back there for any friendly banter with the waiters though !!!

    Favorite Dish: Cafe con Crema - Freshly brewed coffee with fresh whipped cream which you can put in thus deciding how much or little you want -Excellent !!

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  • barryg23's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: Buenos Aires' best known cafe

    by barryg23 Updated Sep 9, 2008

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A Cafe Tortoni Submarino

    It seems like there is a cafe on every street corner in Buenos Aires, but the best known by far is Cafe Tortoni on Avenida de Mayo. It's a historic cafe which in past times was frequented by some of the great Argentine writers and intellectuals, including Jorge Luis Borges. Nowadays, it's something of a tourist trap, though it's still worth visiting at least once.

    The cafe was very busy when we visited and almost everyone appeared to be a tourist. The already busy waiters spent much of their time taking pictures for people. I felt the waiter here was encouraging us to hurry up and leave after our coffees as there was a queue outside and all the seats were taken. This would never happen in any other cafe in Buenos Aires, so we were having none as we still had a load of homework to finish!

    The interior of the cafe is lovely with old pictures from its glory days. The prices in Cafe Tortoni aren't too much higher than in other BA cafes, but you get the feeling that today's artists and intellectuals have moved on elsewhere.

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  • RafaelTheSecond's Profile Photo

    CAFE TORTONI - OF COURSE!!!!: A VERY TRADITIONAL POINT

    by RafaelTheSecond Written May 25, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Marcone, me and Juan Carlos at Caf�� Tortoni!

    It is very touristic I know, but it is one of the most important historical places in Buenos Aires!

    But something I have to add here. Café Tortoni is the best place for a great sandwish in the country!!!

    You can find various types of sandwishes there...

    Actually Café Tortoni is my best's VERY OLD MAC DONALD'S...

    I usually go there with my best friends....this time with my very dear argentinean friend Juan Carlos and my everlasting travel partner and best friend in Brazil, Marcone Lima.

    JANUARY 2008

    Favorite Dish: They have a wonderful and traditional SANDUICHE DE MIGA!! :))))) lOTS OF CHEESE...VERY YUMMY!!!

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  • Cafe Tortoni: Just Desserts!

    by Roseemery Updated Nov 25, 2007

    Cafe Tortoni is quite spectacular, but definitely for tourists. It's great just to go for the atmosphere. We ate lunch there - food was pretty mediocre, but the dessert and cafe cortado was excellent. It was a "must do", but wouldn't go back next time.

    Favorite Dish: Great flan.

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  • MikeAtSea's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: THE Historic Cafe

    by MikeAtSea Written Nov 18, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    History in BA
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    This historic cafe has served as the artistic and intellectual capital of Buenos Aires since 1858, hosting notable guests such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio de Caro, Cátulo Castillo, and José Gobello. Wonderfully appointed in woods, stained glass, yellowing marble, and bronzes, the place tells more about its history by simply existing than any of the photos hanging on its walls could. This is the perfect spot for a coffee or a small snack when wandering along Avenida de Mayo. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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  • rodrigonp's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: Great coffee!

    by rodrigonp Updated Mar 25, 2007
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    One of the most traditional Coffeehouse in Buenos Aires, located in the heart of the city. You can find there a great coffee, nice envinroment and a huge history about Tango! There are some statues of famous tango's dancers (including Carlos Gardel) and playing the classical tango for the enjoy of the listeners.

    It used to be the favorite coffeehouse of Carlos Gardel.

    Favorite Dish: Coffee

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    • Music

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  • dharmabum222's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: Great dancing...terrible food

    by dharmabum222 Written Sep 5, 2006

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I had heard a lot about Cafe Tortoni & it's popularity....we saw the late show and the tango was impressive. The food was terrible and overpriced, although we did not eat the famed shurros and chocolate....I hear it is terrific. A fun experience, albiet as toursity as expected....but as the locals say- that is why they have tango shows, for the toursits....

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  • alza's Profile Photo

    Café Tortoni: A Belle Epoque café

    by alza Written Aug 3, 2006

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    The one-hour pose for slow waiter

    During my stay in Buenos Aires, a friend in Ottawa asked if I could meet two of her friends passing through the city. I called them at their homestay and they asked me to choose a nice place for lunch. I knew San Telmo well by then and had my favourite haunts there but I don't know... I wanted a well-known place so they could find it easily, and also thought this was my chance to enjoy something special.

    So we met at Tortoni's, an imposing fin-de-siècle café near Plaza de Mayo. The location was perfect since they wanted to go to the March of the Mothers of the Disappeared at the Plaza afterwards. The décor blew us away! Not one inch of wall or ceiling is left bare, everything is framed in gold leaf, bronze statues everywhere, and the waiters in long black aprons complete this picture from the 1900's.

    We had a nice time catching up on the news at home and talking of our recent travels. I'm not complaining. But the service and the food was disappointing. Our waiter strutted around a lot and was obsequious. When he saw my camera, he offered to take our picture but took forever and moved so that he got another waiter instead of us. By then, he had to serve another table and said he'd be back to take a good one. When we were almost ready to leave, I asked him for the bill and if he would kindly take another pic. He started playing hard-to-get and saying "no" -- we waited for the bill and didn't know what to make of this nut. Suddenly, he stuck his head close to mine and whispered something about "why the rush to go?" -- god, I can't stand waiters like that!

    He finally took the dam pic but he moved again I guess. It's blurry.

    Favorite Dish: My friends had a cold cut plate that they said was good but they didn't rave. I had "Oeufs à la russe", they were presented in the old-fashioned, rather heavy on the potatoes style, but good. We decided to have an icecream outside for dessert.

    Btw, I went back alone a few weeks later to compare with my first impression. I asked for a cheese and pâté plate and it took the longest time! The dish comes on a huge, round wooden board and could satisfy three persons. The cheese was all of the same variety, hard and rather bitter. I loved the pickle. Wish I'd asked for a jar of pickles.
    This time, I sat in another area so I wouldn't get the same waiter as the first time. I got another waiter all right, he totally ignored me. I can't stand waiters like that either. haha.

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  • morochaargentina's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: historic place with bad service

    by morochaargentina Written Mar 1, 2006

    I think the Cafe Tortoni is a must see in BA, just be aware that they treat you horrible... I've been there several times with people from other countries and everytime is the same: you have to wait forever to be served! So my advice is this: go there (it's worthed to go anyway) but expect to be there for at least one hour even if the only thing you want is a cup of coffe...

    it's the oldest coffe house in Buenos Aires, the place where all the politics go (and has been going since they opened) since it's only a few block from the pink house

    Favorite Dish: nobody goes there for the food or the coffee (nothing to brag about) you just go there for the arquitechture and the historical importance itself

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  • RafaelTheSecond's Profile Photo

    CAFÉ TORTONI: HE WAS REALLY THERE!;)

    by RafaelTheSecond Written Oct 8, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Remainings of Gardel at Caf�� Tortoni by RTL

    They are so proud that Gardel really liked Café Tortoni that they have all the pictures and newsparer articles regarding his several visits to the place, it is a big big big place where you can elarn and see lots about Tango, and also Tango shows are provided, the prices are very friendly and the ambience is really traditional!

    SEPT - THRID WEEK - 2005

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    CAFE TORTONI: I AM ALSO A TORTONI FAN

    by RafaelTheSecond Written Oct 8, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Gardel was here, and so did I - Cafe Tortoni by Sa

    It is one of the oldest café in town and one of the most raditional cafés in the MICROCENTRO of Buenos Aires! :) setting at Café Tortoni is more than taking part of the local daily life, it is a religious experience. In this place all the composers and best Tango characters used to come and have a good time, I was sitting in the same place where Gardel used to come many times!

    Favorite Dish: They have incredible sandwishes and spanish tapas, but here they all PICADAS!

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