Last week a friend of a friend was in town. He was staying in San Telmo, so we took him over to Bar El Federal for dinner. Located on the corner of PerÃº and Carlos Calvo, El Federal is one of those classic bars and cafés of Buenos Aires. Indeed, El Federal is one of the most picturesque places in the city. Yet, that also means that it is full of tourists. All around us everybody was speaking English. If it wasn’t for all the tourists, I probably would go to El Federal often. The prices are still very reasonable, no more than any other café in town. It’s surprising that they haven’t raised the prices with all the tourists that are in there. The food was decent but the service was incredibly slow. It took thirty minutes for the waiter to take our order; however, it was only that waiter’s second day and they were busy. We had a leisurely evening planned anyway, so it was okay.
El Federal does have a beautiful bar. Photos just don’t do it justice. So, I would say that tourists definitely should consider El Federal as a place for stopping. (Plenty of other good, old bars in San Telmo which I need to cover in another post). Locals who have never been to El Federal should visit it at least once. Also, there’s a quaint little bookstore deep inside the café. Most of the books are used and overpriced (compared to the bookstores on Corrientes) but it’s interesting to browse for a few minutes.