Retiro . Buenos Aires
- Ambience 95%
- Service 95%
- Quality and Variety of Coffee 90%
- Accompaniments 75%
- Value 75%
Address: Arroyo 940
Telephone: +54 11 4326 3463
Restaurant Type: Cafe
Hours: Mon-Sat 9 am to 8 pm[/types] Sun Closed[/types] [/types]
Summary of Review
Restaurant Review for The Shelter
Rating: 4.4 stars
What the Shelter lacks in size (one small room with about seven tables seating about fifteen to twenty customers, with a couple of tables outside when the weather’s good) it makes up for with a unique style and a darn good cup of coffee. Most coffee shops are either of the Duncan Donut variety or they suffer from counter-culture personality disorder. Lattente, in Palermo Soho, is an example of the latter type in Buenos Aires. If you have dreadlocks, that’s okay. But mainstreamers like me want something a little less off the wall.
One alternative is the “industrial, drink it here or take it with you” coffee shop like Negro or Tostado. They’re nice enough and they serve good coffee. But The Shelter is something different. Its location should clue you in. It’s comfortably nestled in between a slew of art galleries, a fancy Italian leather shoe store, and is just half a block from the Sofitel Hotel and the city’s most happening bar, Florería Atlántico.
The patrons run the gamut. Ex-pats, wealthy locals residing in the surrounding Retiro neighborhood, diplomats that work in the nearby embassies talking about the new government policies over a cup of java, and more than a few travelers staying at the one of the many nearby hotels.
The ambiance is comfortable. It is sort of a cross between a pretty café and the smoking room in a “gentlemen only” private club in Manhattan. The kind of place where they smoke pipes and sit for hours reading the New York Times. If you’re really into comfort you can sink down into the big, leather easy chairs or sit in bliss on the big leather sofa while you a sip on your tiny cup of espresso. If you’re into that fancy foam art that seems all the rage you can slurp down a big frothy cappuccino expertly prepared by Susana, the barista extraordinaire. If she paints a big heart in the frothy milk covering your cappuccino or latte, you know she likes you.
None of the traditional imported Italian coffee (Illy) here. They use a proprietary blend of Colombian and African beans. It’s a really good cup of coffee.
Combine the unique and comfortable ambiance with a friendly staff, an owner dedicated to the details that make a business worth returning to (like a clean restroom), with a good cup of coffee and you’ve got the formula for a successful coffee shop.
The only problem with The Shelter is that it’s too good. During peak hours in the late morning or late afternoon you might have trouble finding a place to camp. Do what I do. Get there early and stay all day, consuming five or six cups of coffee. No wonder my writing style is so bad.