San Telmo is one of those areas that is effortlessly cool and we instantly appreciated its chilled vibes. With its crisscross of cobbled roads and mix of old ramshackle buildings, this area has a comfortable character about it.
The smell of fire grilled beef and sausage wound its way through the streets and the bric a brac shops were a feast for the eyes. Locals and tourists alike weave their way around the narrow paths and seem to share the same aura about them, giving San Telmo a community feel.
Returning on Saturday, we had the pleasure of visiting the little market that offered some beautiful and quality hand crafted items. One gentlemen handmade movable models of well known characters such as Mickey Mouse, Micheal Jackson and Alex in Clockwork Orange, however they were all distorted into frightening characatures of themselves.
Another made orgasmatron head massagers – needless to say we were sold! Intricate jewellery winked at me, glistening, ruffling feathers – I felt like a magpie. The stall holders all had enthusiasm to chat, without being pushy, and the ambience was welcoming.
Food and Drink
Argentina does great coffee, which we have drunk a lot of. However there’s always room for one more, so we returned to a sheltered market area that had a sign outside that we resonated with:
Needless to say we enjoyed a very delicious and well presented latte at Coffee Town, although twice the price of the local cafe prices at 60 pesos (£2.50)! I also managed to get a gluten free sweet, which was a pleasant surprise.
From what we have experienced, the food is limited and not very good in Buenos Aires, so it was an over due treat when we found Cafe San Juan. Arriving just before 8pm when the restaurant re-opened for dinner service, we were able to get a table having not booked ahead. They reserve a few small tables for walk-in service, otherwise I’d advise booking – the place got busy very quickly.
Cafe San Juan was one of the few places that had the menu in English and the way they wrote about their dishes reflected how good it actually tasted:
- Cured and smoked pork sirloin with pickles, figazza with butter and green onion
- Pink salmon and white fish carpaccio with fresh sprouts, balsamic reduction and pickled radish
- Platter of grilled seasonal vegetables perfumed with garlic and rosemary oil and green leaves
Yummy! This cash only restaurant was classy and comfortable and although more expensive, still only came to 170 pesos (£8) for all of the above, plus sparkling water.
For a quick, delicious, budget friendly food option, we ate at La Cresta, an English owned joint that did an incredible selection of gourmet burgers and hand-cut chips with a mouth-watering variety of sauces. Everything was seasoned to perfection and it only cost around 100 pesos (£5) for a full meal and soft drink.
Another great place was a proper authentic grill, nestled in a little chubby hole down one of the streets. Scrumptious, massive beef cuts were on offer, cooked by an old-hat on a huge open grill. With or without bread and with chilli and a green sauce, this was some of the best meat I’d eaten in Buenos Aires. No idea what is was called, but all you need to do is follow the smell!
Even in June, there was still plenty going on in the street and bars. Tango and live music is in abundance and is often free for people having some food or drinks. This made it easy to experience the city’s renowned tango dancing whilst being on a budget. Most of the bars and restaurants around San Telmo square have people working for them on the street, and they will tell you about the performances and music on offer. Luckily something is available daily, both during the day and night.
Having initially stumbled across San Telmo accidentally, we went back to the area several times over our week long stay in Buenos Aires. From what we have seen of the city, this was by far our favourite area.