Morph, a rangey, high-ceilinged space, sells wine caddies, placemats, throws and trays all made of leather and cowhide from the Pampas; blankets and tapestries in rugged, geometric patterns recall the gauchos.

Upstairs, Puro Diseño specializes in housewares and accessories by Argentine designers: leather handbags and clutches, cushion covers of suede and leather, leather-bound sketchbooks and giant plastic screws that you can use as hooks in the bathroom.

Dogma represents 300 local artists in media from oil painting to glass art; I was particularly taken with the glass trays and plates by Romina Cohen, which seemed inspired by Miró.

On Saturdays and Sundays, an art fair takes place in the park between the cemetery and the design mall. Stalls along narrow paths sell more crafts than art: ceramic cups, wood carvings, silver jewelry, woolen clothing and bombillas, gourds for drinking Argentina's national drink, yerba mate (bitter green tea sipped through a metal straw). Snack on cotton candy, fresh-squeezed juice and candied apples rolled in popcorn, or lounge on the grassy lawns, where you might catch a guitar singer or puppet show.


Buenos Aires is nothing if not a party town. It keeps Spanish hours: Arrive at a restaurant for dinner at 10 p.m. and you'll be all alone for the first hour or more; 1 a.m. is still early for bars and nightclubs; and it's not unusual to return home after sunrise.

The Palermo district is party central, with bars, nightclubs and late-night restaurants in the neighborhoods of Las Cañitas, Palermo Soho and Palermo Viejo. Some bars around Plaza Serrano in Palermo Viejo have found a way to make money even in the afternoon. About half a dozen of them become clothing bazaars when the sun is out.

Tazz is typical; Doors videos with Jim Morrison play in the background, and pool tables double as display tables for necklaces and handbags. The bar area is filled with racks of trendy T-shirts, jackets, camisoles and dresses, many by young designers who work in the neighborhood.

There's a similar scene beneath the mirrored balls at Las Brugas, and the work of young designers fills every narrow nook of Bar Macondo.

A short walk away are more established boutiques: Rapsodia is the jeans brand of choice among fashion-conscious Argentines, Prune is noted for leather bags, and my Argentine-born female friend swears by Caro Cuore for lingerie (although she says sizes run small).

With all the money I spent, I felt as if I had single-handedly rescued the Argentine economy. Not bad for $150. More than that, I felt like I had left much richer than when I arrived. Maybe there is such a thing as retail therapy after all.

More shopping

Patio Bullrich: It's a tony shopping mall in Recoleta, with about 70 shops and a well-respected food court, in a onetime cattle auction hall.

Avenida Santa Fe in Palermo and Recoleta: It's worth a stroll for bargain-priced clothing and footwear, from formal to casual.

Alto Palermo on Avenida Santa Fe: This contemporary mall (built in 1990) won awards for its architecture. It has some of the same shops as Galerías Pacífico but fewer tourists.