The rapidly developing east side of Austin is filled with just about everything you want in plain sight. Well, almost everything. In the case of Milonga Room, you have a speakeasy that resides underneath Buenos Aires Cafe, which is anything but in plain sight.
Milonga Room Basics
The first questions with every speakeasy are 1) “Where is it?” and 2) “How do I get in?” Milonga Room is located at 1201 E. Sixth Street. You won’t see it right away, though. The bar is accessed through a nondescript door in the back of the building, but don’t think you can just strut right in. No, you’ll want to plan your visit in advance with a reservation and entry password.
To make a reservation, text the number listed on the website with your name, date and time you’d like to come by, and the number of guests in your party. After doing so, you will receive a password if your reservation is confirmed, which you’ll say to make your way through the nondescript door.
So if you’re looking for a different kind of evening on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday between 6 p.m. and midnight, you might be in luck. I visited this 1920s Argentinian-inspired speakeasy recently and was treated to a memorable night of food, drink, and live entertainment. I learned first-hand why this is a special place that deserves “must-visit” status here in Austin.
The Most Relaxing Room
While Buenos Aires Cafe has been around for almost a decade, Milonga Room is a far more recent addition to the scene, having opened on Valentine’s Day 2016. Paola Guerrero-Smith, owner of Buenos Aires Cafe, decided the space wasn’t being properly taken advantage of and that she could make something special of it. So she did just that.
Utilizing her degree in architecture and love for her home city of Buenos Aires, Guerrero-Smith created an intimate Argentine art deco-inspired room. The ceiling was repurposed. All of the decorations were brought in. The attention to detail is apparent, and the results speak for themselves.
What to Expect at Milonga Room
Milonga Room is unlike any bar I’ve been to in Austin. Upon entering, I was immediately transported to another place in another time.
True to its label of “speakeasy,” Milonga Room recreates the 1920s prohibition era…only in Argentina. The room is tiny and intimate, with an ideal number of occupants in the 20s. Like so many speakeasies, it feels like an escape from the craziness of the real world.
Speakeasies are just different, I’ve learned. Every detail is scrutinized; every nuance indulged. Milonga Room provides an experience you won’t find anywhere else in Austin. Travel back in time to another world and leave your worries on the other side of the secret door. This may be the most relaxing room on the east side. The lights are low, and the drinks are strong. Yes, the drinks…
What is a speakeasy without great drinks? Not a speakeasy I want to visit. But Milonga Room has no such problem. I sat at the bar and made my way through the menu of four specialty cocktails.
The menu changes almost every week with one or two new drinks. Experimentation is a part of the bar’s DNA. In fact, the bartenders all meet once a season to go over and taste various ideas for drinks.
The Italian herbal liqueur amero plays a huge role in the drinks here, and the bar utilizes its large collection in almost all of its drinks. In Italy, every town has its own amero, and the love of amero followed the many Italians who emigrated and settled in Argentina.
On my visit, three of the four drinks featured amero. Milonga Room has a goal of introducing guests to the stylings of amero.
The Toque Sensual was a favorite cocktail. A mix of cardamaro, sweet vermouth, and averna. It was smooth and delicate, and felt appropriate for the cold weather outside.
I then tried the delicious Secret Garden, my favorite. A gin drink, it was both refreshing and intense, with fruity grapefruit notes.
All this drinking and decor-admiring can make you hungry, so I ordered a couple of empanadas from Buenos Aires Cafe. These empanadas are well known in town. When they were brought down fresh and hot from upstairs, I figured out why.
First was the carne picante, the spicy ground beef version. It was piping hot, and the shell was delicate and flaky. This makes sense, as the dough is imported from Argentina and a chef works in-house to create the pocket-sized holders of flavor.
I also tried the verdura empanada, filled with spinach ricotta cheese, parmesan, and onion. It was a delightful and delicious vegetarian option.
Always Something Happening
Milonga Room has great decor, drinks, and food, as well as entertainment. Yes, plan your night right and there’s a gold chance you’ll be able to experience live music or dance. There’s a tango singer who serenades the room, Argentine rock, and a DJ who inspires dance parties.
I was lucky to experience my first burlesque show during my recent visit. Full of empanadas and cocktails, I watched male and female artists dance, sing, play guitar, and make me feel like I might be sitting in–not only the most relaxing–but also the most interesting room in Austin.
Events aren’t limited to what the bar organizes. Milonga Room is available to rent for private events, parties, or even wine tastings. It seems the team is open to pretty much any type of event you can think of, albeit for smaller groups.
➡️ Keep reading: Milonga Room Speakeasy Reflects 1920s Era and Argentine Roots
A Destination, an Experience
Looking to spice up your normal dinner and drinks? Milonga Room could be just the thing for you. Come by for a drink and stay for a show. Just plan in advance, and get ready to relax and experience. A memorable evening awaits on the other side of the door.
1201 E. Sixth St. – Website
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