A.K.A. Palermo Barrio Guide. The long read.
Tree-lined and cobblestoned, chic, boutique, bohemian, trendy… dog shit, are all terms used liberally to describe Palermo; pound for pound champ of Buenos Aires neighbourhoods. Flanked by Belgrano and Recoleta, Palermo is the biggest barrio in Buenos Aires and as such has been chopped up into smaller bite sized singular sub-barrios. From Milongas, great restaurants and bars, to live music and markets, there is something for everyone here on any given day or night. Here are some things to do if you like to do things.
Brief Barrio breakdown
3. Las Cañitas
5. Villa Freud
6. Alto Palermo
1. Palermo Soho
When the artists and fashionable young Palermitanos moved in to the old part of Palermo (viejo), and the little casonas became art galleries, boutique clothing stores, and restaurants, it was out with the old and in with the OhSo trendy, and BA’s very own Soho (who even knows what that means anymore) was born. Palermo Soho (and neighbouring Hollywood) is a great spot to shop, eat, drink, and wander.
You could discover almost everything there is to know about Argentinian cuisine in Palermo. That’s not to say there isn’t much to discover, but that Palermo has it going on on the food front. From a laid back Bodegón serving up the classics, to a top rated Parrilla and the best range of international cuisine you’ll find anywhere in the city, Soho (and Hollywood) are ideal for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Consult the expert fatties over at PickUpTheFork to find out what’s really good, or close your eyes spin around and start wandering, you’re bound to find something good… or get run over by a bus. For top quality Sunday BBQ, Don Julio Parrilla on Guatemala (4691) is a classic spot. The area surrounding Plaza Serrano is also dotted with great restaurants and cafes.
Palermo has it going on when the sun goes down too. Covering the Palermo nightlife warrants its own article, but briefly, Plaza Serrano and Plaza Armenia have heaps of outdoor seating and on weekends are always buzzing. Check out this excellent list for some of the best Happy Hours in Palermo and beyond. Baum on Honduras (5720) and Antares bar on Armenia (1447) are cool spots and both offer a good selection of crafty beers.
Feria de Plaza Serrano & Feria de Armenia
Palermo has great markets, and you’ll find two of the best in the Feria de Plaza Serrano and Feria de Plaza Armenia. Here you’ll find clothing and accessories, jewellery, beautiful parrilla knives, a steampunk bong, alpargatas (shoes), art and other hand made goods. Like shoes? Like jeans? Like shoes made of jeans? Grab some Alparpatas alpargatas at the market in Plaza Serrano. Wandering the streets around Plaza Serrano is also one of the best spots in the city for anyone looking for boutique clothing stores.
Even if your Spanish vocabulary runs out at ‘grassy ass’ and ‘pour fav ore’, conversation exchanges are a fun place to start a night out on the town, and a great way to meet locals and other visitors to the city. Mundo Lingo organise a couple in Palermo every week at Soria Bar on Wed (Gorriti 5151) and Olivers on Fridays (Guatemala 4462).
The Milonga, the cities late night Tango affairs take place in dance halls and dimly lit bars, on creaky wooden floors and under street lights all over Buenos Aires. Palermo has some of the best Milongas in the city and a good night at a Milonga can leave you with a feeling like you truly experienced a little piece of this magical city. Most Milongas kick off around 11pm, and many offer classes before the big dance. Try Milonga Parakultural on Scalabrini Ortiz 1331 (Mon/ Tue/ Fri) www.facebook.com/MilongaParakultural/photos_stream
2. Palermo Hollywood
Palermo Hollywood is stitched together with Soho along calle Jorge Luis Borges, and while you probably won’t find any movie stars, there is certainly no shortage of 5 star rated restaurants, cafes, and bars. Like Soho, it is a beautiful part of the city to walk or cycle around (plenty of bike lanes).
For something politically delicious, and a little different, check out Perón Perón restaurant. A Peronista themed restaurant, the walls are adorned with paintings of Evita, the Kirchners, Perón, and slogans for social justice. More importantly, Perón Perón has an excellent menu of classics and lesser known traditional Argentinian dishes. The Osobuco, a slow cooked meat casserole served with polenta, is unreal. Start with a little fried empanada, and finish with a cup of Té de coca (coca leaf tea). If you’re planning on having a big night, Coca tea will help keep you up till 5am. If for some reason you have a urine test coming up, avoid. When the restaurant breaks out into song during your meal, don’t be alarmed it’s just the Marcha Peronista. I wouldn’t call myself a Peronista, but I’m definitely a Perón Perón-ista. Ángel Justiniano Carranza 2225.
For a low key authentic Parrilla experience, try Parrilla el 22 (Ángel Justiniano Carranza 1950) in Hollywood. There is nothing fancy about this joint, just friendly service and expertly grilled meat. The mixed boards for 2 are a perfect option to sample a few different cuts.
For general grub suggestions in Palermo Hollywood
Breweries in BA are getting crafty with their brews and there are some cool spots to sample the best Argentina has to offer. Bodega de Cervezas (Dr. Emilio Ravignani 1715) is a small bottle shop selling Argentinian craft beer. The owner Martín is a guru when it comes to Argentinian artisanal beers and hand picks the finest from around the country. He keeps stock in the fridge and there are even a couple of bar stools so you can have a few and talk shop with a man who truly knows his beer.
Mercado de Pulgas (Buenos Aires flea market)
You know those flea markets where you feel like you’re about 12 years too late and all the good stuff is gone? Mercado de Pulgas isn’t one of those. Housed in a big old hanger style warehouse, the small shops are overflowing (literally in some cases) with proud collections of the best junk. Pick up an old tango record, some Filete, an old Canon camera, a blender, pretty much anything and everything. Be sure to visit Tony Valiente when you’re there. Tony is a wacky looking cat making wacky looking hats. He is a friendly fellow and a truly unique artist.
Buenos Aires has a strong tradition of independent theatre, and between Hollywood and Soho there are a number of excellent small theatres. If you have seen Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro you might be curious about the theatre scene in BA, and it’s well worth exploring in Palermo. Even if you’re Spanish isn’t spot on, catching a show makes for a cool night out. Chacarerean Theatre in Palermo Hollywood is a small theatre offering a diverse range of shows (5565 Nicaragua Palermo Hollywood).
There is so much to explore on the music front in Palermo. If you’re in Hollywood and in the mood for some Jazz, check out Boris club on Gorriti (5568). Sundays with the Boris Big Band is always a good time. For a relaxed sit down with some Folklore, La Peña del Colorado (Güemes 3657) puts on some great shows in a cozy little bar that also offers an interesting menu of Northern Argentinian cuisine. For a more comprehensive guide to live music across BA check out (Link to LPAD article).
3. Las Cañitas:
Las Cañitas is one of the lesser known sub-barrios of Palermo but a good shake for a meal and a drink. The heart of Las Cañitas is where Báez street meets Arévalo. Within about 20 steps of this intersection you can get a taco (La Fabrica del Taco), a piece of sushi (Sushi Club), milanesa (El Club de la Milanesa), or a burger (Heisenburger). Milanesa (the Schnitzel of South America) is an Argentine staple and Club de Milanesa gets creative with a range of different toppings and styles. There is another Antares Bar here (Arévalo 2876) or try RoT (Arevalo 3031) for a cocktail and tapas.
Las Cañitas is also where you’ll find the Campo Argentino de Polo. Known as The Cathedral of Polo for good reason, this is arguably the most important Polo arena in the world. The Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo (Polo championship) is the biggest polo event on the calendar and kicks off in late November. For a quick lesson on the rules (link to LPad article).
4. Bosques de Palermo aka Palermo Chico
Palermo has the best green in Buenos Aires. Parks that is. The Bosques de Palermo and in particular the Parque Tres de Febrero is a beautiful place for a stroll, jog, pash, picnic, or even a romantic boat ride on one of the artificial lakes. Spread throughout this urban park, you’ll find the Botanical Gardens, the Zoo, the Japanese gardens, and the Galileo Galilei Planetarium (home to an actual piece of lunar rock!).
Walk across the wooden White Bridge into the Rosedal (rose gardens) and through the Poets Garden, with its bronze busts celebrating wordsmiths like BA’s own Jorge Luis Borges. Take it to the next level and go full Argentino, tuck a Termo under your arm and stop for mate and medialunas. Pretty nice. Jorge Luis Borges after going permanently blind at the age of 58-
“I can now live my dreams with less distraction”-
Amazing. Doesn’t really have much relevance in the context of this article… but amazing.
Just behind the Botanical Gardens (Lafinur 2988) is a small museum dedicated to the life of Evita. The Casa Carabassa, an immaculately restored mansion from the 1920s displays pictures, old video clips, clothes and more that give a glimpse into the life and legacy of one of Argentinas most iconic figures.
Down the road from the Museo Evita you’ll find the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires (or MALBA). The museum displays work by modern artists from across Latin America and is definitely worth a visit for any art enthusiast. The cultural centre also has a dynamic schedule of art and film installations and other cultural activities. Check the website to see what’s on. www.malba.org.ar
Transport: The D line
The D line (green) is your friend while exploring Palermo.
For Palermo Soho- Hop off at Plaza Italia (head down Jorge Luis Borges)
For Palermo Hollywood- Palermo/ Ministro Carranza
For Las Cañitas- Ministro Carranza
For Alto Palermo- Bulnes (right outside the stop)
The D also has some of the best buskers in the BA underground. If you’re lucky you’ll get a jazz man or a poet to entertain you on the journey. If you’re unlucky you’ll get the guy that beatboxes into an empty coke can.
You may find that your body clock is incompatible with the BA nightlife. The party kicks into high gear late in Buenos Aires. Glide your way out of a Milonga at 2am and into one of Palermo’s nightclubs (or Boliches). Niceto Club is possibly the most well known spot for local and international DJs, bands, and a whole range of different live music and events (Niceto Vega 5510). Crobar next door to the Rosedal is also a good place to catch DJs, and Unicorn Huset in Hollywood is perfect for “loveable people to perform their party fantasies” whatever that means.
5. Villa Freud
The sub-barrio of Villa Freud gets its name from the high concentration of psychiatrists, psychologists and psychoanalysts in the area. A lovely neighbourhood for a stroll and to contemplate your existence for sure, but there isn’t too much to see here. As Freud himself said ‘sometimes a cigar is just a cigar’. Perhaps that quote is misused. Who knows.
6. Alto Palermo
Alto Palermo is a shopping mall in Palermo (Av. Santa Fe 3253).
Palermo is a great neighbourhood to base yourself in while exploring Buenos Aires. If you’re staying for a week or more there are heaps of great Apartments for rent. If you pick a spot in Soho or Hollywood, the D line is never far and can take you to the centre of town, Recoleta, or San Telmo (with a connection or a short walk). There are a bunch of rental companies to use but Byt Argentina (bytargentina.com) has worked out well for me.
Palermo Barrio Guide Playlist (Spotify)
1. Marcha Peronista
2. Carlos Gardel- La Milonga
3. Hollywood swinging (cool & the gang)