What to Do, Eat, and Drink in Villa Crespo
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, Villa Crespo has long been treated as the “forgotten step-sister” of bordering Palermo, which is arguably the most popular neighborhood in Buenos Aires for tourists looking to eat, shop or go out. But Villa Crespo is a breath of fresh neighborhood air in a city filled with so much hustle and bustle, and no longer is it hiding under Palermo’s shadow. It has developed its own artistic culture, varied food scene, and kept its local and residential charm that seems to be fastly fading from its trendier neighbor.
Villa Crespo is located closer to the geographical center of the city (at its Southeastern edge the Cid Campeador Monument stands and marks the actual center point of the city) and is bordered by Palermo, Almagro, Chacarita and Caballito. The neighborhood grew from working-class roots, late 19th century Villa Crespo was home to factories and clothing manufacturers and a thriving Jewish community. Nowadays, Villa Crespo’s streets are filled with a younger generation that realized the neighborhood’s potential and have brought a new artistic and culinary scene, creating an exciting buzz for both locals and tourists.
Villa Crespo is home to a myriad of international communities, which in turn have blended deliciously into the foodie scene. African, Chinese, Jewish, Spanish, American, and Italian eateries in the area aim to bring their authentic flavor to Argentina. Jewish deli La Crespo is famous for its stacked pastrami sandwich with homemade pickles and mustard and smoked salmon bagel. Duo Fu comes in for the kill with a Chinese hot pot that’s perfect for an adventurous dinner out with friends. Ask the owners for the Chinese menu and get the full treatment (including steamed pork buns!). Nearby Arepera Buenos Aires is your spot for Venezuelan food, where they serve traditional and experimental arepas and excellent tropical licuados.
steamed pork buns off the secret Chinese menu at Duo Fu
Traditional Spanish tapas, seafood dishes and sangria are readily available at La Esperanza de Los Ascurra where the theme is appreciating the recipe book of the owner’s Spanish grandparents. For some of the best pizza in the city, hop over to 1893 and try their super thin crust pizzas cooked over the parrilla: our favorites include the simple pesto, or the spicy pepperoni with pepperoncinis.
A traditional pizza margherita at 1893
Travel down to West Africa at El Buen Sabor, the only African restaurant in the city, which offers typical Cameroonian dishes as well as others from around West and Central Africa. The restaurant is known for fish, which they slow cook whole over the parrilla, but don’t forget to taste their killer plantains and some of the best wings we’ve had in the city. It wouldn’t be a Villa Crespo guide without including the infallible Armenian restaurant, Sarkis, with a line around the block nearly every night of the week. Sarkis is perfect for a night out with friends to stuff your face and smother everything in homemade yogurt without spending a lot of money. Weekend brunches are best celebrated at Villa Crespo classics Cafe Crespin for American brunch staples like french toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash browns, or Malvón, the restaurant and bakery that is a must for pastry fiends. iLatina will take you on a journey of Latin America in the 7 course tasting menu, and show you why it is consistently voted one of the best restaurants in Buenos Aires.
Brunch at a Villa Crespo classic, Malvón
You can get anything in Villa Crespo, from a crisp beer to a stylish cocktail. Relatively new craft beer bar Hops is making a splash in the artisanal beer scene in Buenos Aires. Their BAPA (Buenos Aires Pale Ale) is the right combination of hoppy and refreshing – it’s even better during Happy Hour. Fancy night out isn’t complete without a cocktail from Ocho7Ocho or 878, one of the first speakeasy cocktail bars in Buenos Aires. For a more relaxed glass of wine, look no further than La Cava Jufré, which offers a large selection of local wines as well as tastings and wine courses.
photo courtesy of 878
Shopping is an eclectic mix of leather goods and retro designer fashion. Murillo street is a stock-lined leather paradise. Leather jackets, purses, boots, backpacks, and belts range from overpriced tourist traps to hand-made one of a kind pieces. Aguirre street brings designer brands streetside in a shopping outlet area. Discover new talent in edgy designers like Bandoleiro and his fierce collection of men’s clothing at his private appointment only showroom, or JT with her chic women’s garments.
photos courtesy of Bandoleiro and JT
Villa Crespo has art inside and outside of its walls. Street art is on every corner, from larger murals to small and personalized graffiti. Artista collective space Bungalow Room has events, fashion shows, musical concerts, and exhibits. The Palermo Gallery Walk explores two next door neighbor galleries. La Ira de Dios specializes in contemporary art from young artists, with residency programs that bring artists from all over the world to this factory turned gallery. Gachi Prieto displays Latin American contemporary art and supports young artists in their organization. Ruth Benzacar is one of the oldest and most respected galleries in the city. Benzacar began as an art dealer working out of her Caballito apartment before settling into a basement space underneath Calle Florida and finally settling into this factory turned art space at the edge of Crespo and Chacarita. Benzacar hosts shows by some of Argentina’s most recognized contemporary artists.
the intimate Gachi Prieto Gallery, photo courtesy of Gachi Prieto
Villa Crespo is filled with tiny little bars and cultural centers waiting to be discovered. The Centro Cultural Matienzo, once a popular Belgrano stomp moved to Villa Crespo last year into an impressive three story space which houses space for live concerts, art installations, a bar and kitchen, and arts classes. With events every night of the week, the Matienzo is always a reliable place for anything from a live concert or a simple fernet y coca with friends. Just down the street is La Gran Jaime (which took over the old Matienzo before heading over to Villa Crespo also), another cultural center that does regular theater productions, parties and art house film screenings. The neighborhood is also replete with small neighborhood bars, like La Musicleta, which hosts open mics, poetry readings and folk and tango shows. Known widely for its party hosted in Niceto, Casa Brandon (or simply la brandon) is a LBGT space that hosts parties, film screenings, classes and talks. For a late night out with the locals, head to Cafe San Bernardo pool hall where hipsters, neighborhood kids, pool sharks and taxi drivers collide in a billiards hall that hasn’t changed in decades. Drink and challenge a fellow bar-goer to play a few games of pool or ping pong, or sit and order an enormous plate of late night french fries.
Photo courtesy of San Bernardo
This quiet residential neighborhood is on the brink of popular explosion, so make sure to soak up the originality in all its glory now.