This city definitely takes the biscuit for our favourite South American capital, I would move here in a heart beat if I could. The food is amazing, the people friendly, the bars unique and the laid back cool culture permeates everything.
We stayed in the area of San Telmo first and then moved to Palermo to get a feel for a different area. San Telmo is much more traditional, rustic and gritty. Less tiny dogs in handbags basically. It’s known as the place to stay if you like antiques, and is also home to the famous Sunday market that takes over the whole of Defensa street. It sells the usual tourist tat mixed in with artisan goods and antiques, but the best thing about it for me was the tiny plaza serving beers and cakes in the sunshine with a fantastic Argentinian band entertaining the crowd. They made everyone so happy, people were spontaneously getting up to dance, and even the waiters we bouncing as they cleared tables. Sitting there sipping my cold beer listening to the sweet sound of Argentinian music is a moment I’ll never forget.
Palermo on the other hand is a bit more upmarket, with definite hipster vibes. It’s clean, full off trendy cafes and restaurants, excellent boutiques and 2 great clothes markets on the weekends at Plaza Serrano and Plaza Armenia. We loved staying here too, but found it much closer to what we know, being from London and Paris. We therefore preferred San Telmo as it felt more classic “Argentinian”, more of an authentic experience, even if the reality is that BA is just as trendy, if not more so, than London!
This is a clean, refined and central choice for your stay in Buenos Aires, if you’re not on a budget that is. It has a very different feel to San Telmo and Palermo, perhaps because it’s so much more upmarket with its tree lined boulevards and mega mansions. The famous Recoleta Cemetery is here, one of the top things to do in BA which surprised us at first but in fact was a lovely thing to do. It’s not as depressing as you might think, more like an episode of Pimp my Crypt, if such a show should ever exist.
Another Reason to Choose San Telmo: THE FOOD!
Maybe one of the best things about BA. There’s so much steak everywhere, how do you choose?! Well we tried out both ends of the spectrum and enjoyed them both equally in different ways. We headed to our good friend Four Square to find a well rated steak restaurant, and picked La Brigada in San Telmo, a wonderful choice. The waiters are so attentive and help you pick the right meal. It’s a fancy setting so we freaked out at first that the price would be too much, and actually it was for our backpacker budget. I proceeded to have kittens because it’s was too late- we were already sitting down and this was not the kind of place you could quickly dash out of if the price was too high, like we had done so many times before. Luckily Mickaël put things back in perspective, and reminded me that half the fun of travelling is eating amazing food, and we were going to have a fancy steak and wine dinner in Buenos Aires whether I liked it or not. Well obviously I liked it very much indeed, and just to put it into perspective for you, the bill came to £52. Seriously.
On the other end of the spectrum you have the hole-in-the-wall eatery near the info or antiques market that has a huge grill going all evening, tempting everyone that walks by. You can find it near the corner of Defensa and Bolivia streets. Here you will find the best Choripan in BA (chorizo sausage in yummy white baguette), for a mere 30 pesos, or a huge piece of steak and if you’re feeling adventurous, even a black sausage that is not a sausage at all, make no mistake. It will burst into a pile of black goo when you poke it. Obviously I did not order this, the people sitting next to enjoyed this as their dinner as I looked on, horrified.