Although I like Palermo a lot, my favourite area in Buenos Aires is the historic neighbourhood of San Telmo. The heart of the barrio is the Mercado de San Telmo which takes up a whole block. Walking under the beautiful metal columns and beams of the market feels still like stepping back in time (my video here).
Opened in 1897 to cater for the newly arrived wave of immigrants from Europe, it was designed by the Italian-Argentine architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo who was also responsible for many other public works including Recoleta Cemetery (post here). The building was declared a national historic monument in 2000. Many of the stalls have now gone over to antiques but there are still several fruit and veg stalls and a butchers. Currently it seems to be undergoing a street-food makeover.
I spent a week staying in San Telmo in 2014 so I got to know the area, and the market, pretty well. You’ll find all the places I mention on my city map). Usually my day would start here…
Coffee Town (Elementary A), 976 Bolivar (inside the market), www.coffeetownargentina.com
According to many, and I can’t disagree, Coffee Town serves the best coffee in town (B+). They also do a mean Huevos Rancheros, a Mexican breakfast of eggs, tomato salsa, refried beans and tortillas, which always set me up for the day.
And for elevenses…
Parrilla lo de Freddy aka Nuestra Parrilla (Elementary A), 471 Carlos Calvo (in the outer wall of the market)
A hole-in-the-wall parrilla where you can get excellent Choripán, a butterflied and grilled chorizo sausage in a bread bun (also known as a Mariposa). The local habit is to smother it with Chimmichurri (chilli, red pepper, coriander, parsley and more) and Salsa Criollo (onion, bell peppers, vinegar et al). I can also recommend the Morcipan; blood sausage in a bun (A). Fast, flavoursome and inexpensive, for me it’s a must do. There’s nowhere to sit though.
When I went back in 2018, an indoor rival had appeared…
La Choripanería (High Elementary A+), Local 42, 954 Bolívar (inside the market)
Another sausage stand but an upmarket hipster one where you can be served while sitting at the bar that circles the open kitchen. As well as having a more varied menu of excellent Choris than Freddy, they are friendlier (the guy who runs it is a card) and more vibey as they play good tunes as well (video here). Lost my other pics, sorry.
For a more comprehensive sit-down lunch or dinner, you should go to La Brigada, a famous parrilla opposite the market at 465 Estados Unidos (see my next post on steakhouses).
And for a spot of shopping…
Vinotango (Intermediate A), 488 Estados Unidos (outer wall of the market, exactly opposite La Brigada)
This is a great wine shop run by a lovely couple who speak excellent English. They have an excellent selection so I’ve been coming here since 2011 to get my favourites to take back to the UK. When they first opened, they had regular wine-tasting sessions in the shop during which Huan the husband would sing Tango songs. Not sure if they still do them but it’s worth asking.
And for antiques…
Guevara Gallery (Advanced A), 982 Defensa (opposite the market), www.guevaragallery.com
I love looking around this antique shop even if it’s far too expensive for me to buy anything! I collect glass and am in love with their old mint-condition Murano ashtrays which in 2018 were selling for US$800. In 2004 I picked one up at San Telmo’s Sunday antiques market, El Feria de Antigüedades in Placa Dorrego, for a fraction of that price although it was quite worn.
There are lots of other quirky pieces as well…
A walk around San Telmo next!
Photos uploaded from November 2011 and November 2015.