When guidebooks paint Buenos Aires as the "Paris of South America," the proud locals, die-hard expats and probably some visiting Parisians can't help but roll their eyes a little. But when you take a stroll through Retiro, a small neighborhood on the northern edge of the city, it's easy to see the comparison. Fashionable old buildings in French architectural style, tree-lined streets and cobblestones make it a picturesque area to explore — and a blossoming dining scene is reinvigorating the barrio. Here is our shortlist of the best eateries in the area.

Basa

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If you’re looking to impress a date, try out this slick, dimly lit basement bar. Nab one of the salon’s best seats during happy hour (7-9 p.m. on weekdays), where the focus is on classic drinks with modern twists, like an old fashioned that swaps out whiskey for rum or a whiskey sour with a touch of malbec. The menu dresses up and refreshes been-there-done-that local fare, with an extensive list of pastas and grilled meats. It's also one of few spots in town where you can order bone marrow. 

Where: Basavilbaso 1328
When: Mon.-Fri., noon-3:30 p.m. & 7 p.m.-close; Sat., 8 p.m.-close
More info: +54 11 4893-9444; Facebook

 

Brasero Atlantico

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Floreria Atlantico is one of the city’s most infamous speakeasies. It's hidden in the basement of a flower shop and accessible through an inconspicuous refrigerator door off to the side. Fanciful drinks and gourmet dishes decorate the extensive menu. So when the owners announced that a second restaurant would be opening upstairs, no one expected a dressed-down bistro focused on traditional grilled meats and pickled seasonal vegetables. But no one is upset about it, either. The must have? A gin and tonic. Owner and celebrity bartender Tato Giovanonni is such a fan of the classic cocktail that he distills his own gin and mixes it with his own tonic water. Trust us, it’s one of the best in town. 

Where: Arroyo 882
More info: +54 11 4393-7450; Facebook

 

Shout

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Nestled on the edge of the business district, this historic mansion turned bar and restaurant is the go-to spot for the after-office crowd. It's no wonder that the young suits choose Shout as their unwinding destination after a long workday: The full bar offers an enormous selection of wine by the glass and original cocktails (the owners previously tended bar at nearby Pony Line), including a yerba-mate-inspired drink served in a pitcher and meant to be passed around in a shared gourd. The menu isn’t too shabby, either, with a lot of informal grilled dishes. 

Where: Maipu 981
When: Mon.-Weds., 6 p.m.-2 a.m.; Weds.-Fri., 6 p.m.-3 a.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.-3 a.m.
More info: +54 11 4313-2850; Facebook

 

Bao Kitchen

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After living in two dozen cities across three continents, the mother-daughter owners of Bao Kitchen opened their restaurant's second iteration in Buenos Aires (the original was in Berlin). Considering this city isn’t exactly overflowing with good Asian food options, we’re especially glad for this Taiwanese street-food joint. Although the star of the show is the gua bao — freshly steamed buns stuffed with pork loin, peanuts and house-made pickles  the menu is filled with an assortment of delectable options, such as fried chicken, dumplings and pork ribs.  

Where: San Mart
ín 960
When: Mon.-Weds., 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Thurs. & Fri., 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. & 7:30-11:30 p.m.; Sat., 7:30-11:30 p.m.
More info: +54 11 4312-5950; Facebook

 

Gran Bar Danzón

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Buenos Aires is no stranger to a good wine bar, but Gran Bar Danzón has something that sets it above the rest: a killer dinner menu. While many others focus on the plate of bread and cheese (hey, we aren’t complaining), this neighborhood staple allows guests to order wine by the glass — a fairly new trend that Danzón helped pioneer  and choose from a truly eclectic menu, where French mixes with Argentine and touches of modern Peruvian and Japanese are sprinkled throughout. While pumpkin noquis and octopus ceviche don’t normally make sense on the same menu, it feels so right at Danzón. 

Where: Libertad 1161
When: Mon.-Fri., 7 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sat. & Sun., 8 p.m.-2 a.m.
More info: +54 11 4811-1108; Facebook


By Kevin Vaughn

When Kevin isn't writing about Buenos Aires food and culture, he's guiding travelers to Buenos Aires with his intimate arts and lifestyle tours via Buenos Aires Art Tours. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.