Cafe Tortoni, Buenos Aires

3.5 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars - 33 Reviews

Avenida de Mayo 825 5411- 4342-4328

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    Inside Cafe Tortoni
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  • Sonador3's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: A Buenos Aires Tradition

    by Sonador3 Updated Jul 13, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Cafe Tortoni

    What can I tell you about Cafe Tortoni that you don't already know? Well, it's probably the most famous Cafe in Buenos Aires, and is a tourist attraction for people who aren't even going to sit down and have a cup of coffee. I recall seeing groups of students coming through just to see the place and look around. Most has no idea what they were seeing...pity....

    Founded in 1858, Cafe Tortoni was originally owned by a Mr. Tounan, and he named it after the famous Parisian cafe. The original location was at the corner of Rivadavia and Esmarelda Streets, and was relocated to its present location in 1880. The architect Alejandro Christopherson, who also worked on several other buildings along the avenue, designed the facade. They say that the Porteno tradition of placing tables and chairs on the sidewalk started then. In the basement you can also attend tango shows.

    It's quite clear that the Cafe has taken pains to make sure they maintain their carefully crafted ambiance, with photos of famous guests, paintings and other memorabilia adorning the walls. And of course, you can't have that olde-time ambiance without the appropriately surly, non-smiling waiters. Gruff? Heck, they wrote the book!

    The first time I came here I just had a cafe cortado and medialuna (a short coffee cut with milk and a croissant). Both pretty pedestrian. And the second time I had a "Tortoni Sandwich", though I forgot what the name was in Spanish. It was basically an open-faced sandwich of ham, cheese and tomatoes. Tasty, but a little greasy.

    Anyway, you're not really coming here for the food, are you? Of course not, you come here for the ambiance, the history and to be able to tell your friends back home you had a drink at one of the coolest cafes in the world!

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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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  • 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!

    Related to:
    • Wine Tasting
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

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  • spidermiss's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: Nostalgic and not to be missed!

    by spidermiss Updated Jul 13, 2010

    3.5 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.

    Related to:
    • Food and Dining
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

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  • alza's Profile Photo

    Café Tortoni: A Belle Epoque café

    by alza Written Aug 3, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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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  • RafaelTheSecond's Profile Photo

    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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  • Marcos_BA's Profile Photo

    Café Tortoni: BA's oldest café

    by Marcos_BA Written Feb 2, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The facade of the Tortoni over Avenida de Mayo

    The Café Tortoni was inaugurated in 1858 by a french immigrant, who took the name from a famous café in the Boulevard des Italiens, in Nice. The Tortoni is the oldest café in Buenos Aires.

    Intellectuals and Tango singers always met in the Tortoni for years, which makes it a very touristic place. Unfortunately, owners knew it and prices are very high.

    The ambience is very Porteña, full of small tables, old waiters and the smoke of cigarrettes (don't worry, there is a non-smoking sector too).

    Every night, from midnight to 2 am, Alejandro Dolina broadcasts his radio program "La Venganza será terrible" (The Revenge will be terrible) from there. It is a show about history, philosophy, habits and lots of humour. Beware: it contains lots of local words, unknown to any foreigner. The show is broadcasted live by AM 590 Continental.

    Favorite Dish: The "Chocolate con churros" (Hot Chocolate with a special Argentine mace) is a must in the Tortoni every evening.

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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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  • lkdahl's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: Classic cafe with great tango shows

    by lkdahl Written Feb 19, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Tango Show

    Probably the most famous cafe in Buenos Aires. The inside is very ornate. Lots of wooden columns, a very exuisite wooden bar. The wait staff was very attentive. Saw lots of them taking photos for and of the large number of tourists that were there. Unlike others reports of bad service, I found the service to be very good.

    If you are going for the tango show, MAKE RESERVATIONS!!! I did not know that this was a requirement and just showed about an hour before the show. Luckily there were some no shows and I lucked out in getting seated at the front table.

    The show is very entertaining. They had 2 couples who danced tango, a solo male tango dancer, 3 musicians and a tango singer. The show lasted about an hour. The cost for the show was $20 pesos per person.

    Favorite Dish: I had a few cervezas(beers) and the famous Tortoni sandwich which is a ham sandwicc with tomatos and cheese on toasted bread.

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  • mannymiami's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: A Buenos Aires Institution

    by mannymiami Written Jan 31, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This famous cafe not far from the Casa Rosada has been around for over 50 years. It is known for having famous writers like Federico Garcia Lorca sit here and congragate with other famous writers.
    Each table has a plaque with a famous writers name as where they sat. Its a beautiful place inside with lots a antiques and art work. They have a light fare and a full menu. You can have a capuccino and a pastery to a big steak with a bottle of wine.

    Favorite Dish: We had two capuccinos , a cocktail , and a couple of pasteries and it was all under $3 dollars. It maybe very expensive to Argentines but with the devaluation of the peso with dollars its very cheap.

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  • LondonKevster's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: Good food, nice drinks, great place

    by LondonKevster Written Mar 26, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Dont miss it

    Big menu, nice food all round, nice drinks and nice portions. God friendly staff with no crawling and lots of character and they dont expect a tip!. Fantastic place, with very nice atmosphere, you can sit here for hours alone or with friends. There are pool tables at the back, a small theatre type section and its steeped in history. An absolute must see for Buenos Aires

    Favorite Dish: All the sandwiches are well made, well presented and good pertions.

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  • bruingirl's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: World famouse Cafe Tortoni

    by bruingirl Updated Dec 24, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Soaking up the history at Cafe Tortoni

    Mediocre food, but pretty good service. Personally, I think the place is overhyped, but I guess you have to pay homage to this place because of the historical relevance of this cafe. Carlos Gardel, the famous tango singer, as well as other musicians, artists, and writers used to frequent this restaurant. It was established in 1858 and is the oldest restaurant in the city!

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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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  • oldmonk_92129's Profile Photo

    Cafe Tortoni: The historical cafe Tortoni

    by oldmonk_92129 Written Dec 30, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Scene from Cafe Tortoni

    A must visit place is Cafe Tortoni - not so much for the food or even the tango show but to soak yourself in the history and ambience of this place. There are pictures all over the walls and hand written notes from famous people like Hillary Clinton.
    The ambience is artisty and subtle.
    A tango show can be arranged for 12 pesos, but it is quite touristy. there are much better tango shows to be had elsewhere.

    Favorite Dish: I ate only a cappuchino and chocolate pastry.

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  • La Puerto Rico: Tortoni isn't the only cafe

    by missbutler Written Aug 29, 2003

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The figure in the logo for this place is alarming -- a Sambo character in a straw hat - even depicted in the terrazzo flooring! but if you can get past that (or take it in as a bit of history) you'll enjoy a great cup of coffee, a delicious sweet and feel in the rhythm of downtown BsAs. The beautiful antique mirrors and fixtures, dark wood, and marble tables are well worth spending some time.

    Favorite Dish: cafe con leche and a delicious slice of lemon pie

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