Going to Florida Garden, one of the Buenos Aires’ 54 Notable bars, is like going to the British Museum for the first time. There are so many amazing things to see that you don’t really know where to start. The stairs? The bar and its English style? The waiters and their white optical uniforms? Or perhaps, could you glance at the desserts and more especially, at the succulent tarts? Hum… Difficult to say.
After a few minutes of enchantment, it might be worth sitting down and tasting their coffee: “Unique” according to the manager, Alejandro Robles. Florida Garden makes its own brewage, mixing Colombian coffee and Coffee Santos. At 9 in the morning, the bitterness of this drink wakes you up suddenly; a bit too strong for someone who is not used to drinking coffee. A cup of tea would have been more appropriate.
But the taste forgotten, you can keep enjoying the place. With the voices that resound and the noise of spoons making tinkling sounds in the background, you start imagining how life was here when the confiteria opened its doors for the first time in 1862.
The Florida Garden was one of those English-style bars in vogue at the end of the 19th century. The customers from the upper-class discovered a new concept where they could sit and enjoy their coffee directly at the bar, admiring the British pieces of decoration. Everything was imported from the UK: the bar, the paintings and even the copper stairs, which remain the most impressive element in the middle of the confiteria. This Art-Nouveau décor gives the bar its elegant and cozy atmosphere.
This is probably the reason why the bar became rapidly a meeting point for journalists, intellectuals and businessmen. In the 1950s, the expression “tan fino que un señor ingles” (as fine as an Englishman) spread all over the place and highlighted perfectly the spirit of the bar. Then, in the 1960s, Florida Garden became famous thanks to the affluence of the arts – famous Argentines such as Marta Minujin and Facundo Cabral used to head down here.
Nowadays, the confiteria, located at number 899 of calle Florida – two blocks away from Plaza San Martin -attracts a large number of tourists. People like to settle down after a long walk around the city centre. But most of the customers come from the offices near by and are regulars at the bar. Pinto, who comes here every day, is one of those aficionados. Every morning and every evening, he’s got the same ritual: he slowly sips his coffee and reads his paper. And if you ask him why he gives such esteem to Florida Garden, he will tell you that the good quality and the good service push him to frequent the bar more than any other.
Even though the prices remain slightly higher than the average, this classic English-style bar is a hot spot to enjoy a wide variety of cakes. Chocolate fans won’t miss the chocolate tart, one of the specialties. And for those who would prefer something “lighter”, the cheesecake appears as the best option.
For something more substantial, the menu offers a large choice of sandwiches and salads. However, I would recommend you to stick to the cafeteria and its products, as the meals served here are similar to any other meal served in any other bar.
But, despite this detail, the important thing, as Alejandro would say, remains the atmosphere: “When you walk into Florida Garden, you feel at home. People who come here are like my family.”
I left Florida Garden with a good feeling. I had the chance to meet those customers who were happy to talk about their meeting point and smiled at me… like if I was myself part of the family.
Florida Garden confiteria, 899 Florida and Paraguay. Tel 4312 7902.