What to Do, Eat, and Drink in Almagro
Article by Daniel Whelden.
Ask any resident of Buenos Aires, local or foreign, where their favorite restaurants and bars are and they’ll be quick to name the neighborhoods of Palermo, Recoleta, and San Telmo. A mention of the neighborhood Almagro, however, simply wouldn’t evoke the same response, and would likely fluster a newcomer to the city who perhaps hasn’t ventured out quite so far.
Excluded from the typical touristic route of Buenos Aires, and unexploited when compared to more popular parts of town, Almagro currently remains unchartered territory for most visitors to the city, regarded instead as simply a middle-class residential neighborhood. In recent years, though, this former dairy farm and brick factory region of Buenos Aires has begun to make a name for itself as a gastronomical and cultural hidden treasure of the city with plenty to offer for those willing to wander off the beaten path.
La Catedral – Sarmiento 4006
A former dairy factory and barn warehouse converted into a rustic tango studio, La Catedral is a classic cultural event space in Almagro with an unmistakable bohemian ambiance. This well-known milonga offers 80 peso (April, 2016) tango lessons for various levels of expertise earlier in the night, and also admits guests in as the evening slowly transforms into a tango dance hall later in the night for a cover fee of 60 pesos, although this deal is sweetened to two entries for the price of one before 10pm. Apart from its charming atmosphere and reputable tango scene, La Catedral also offers an exclusively vegetarian menu with bargain prices.
Las Violetas – Av. Rivadavia 3899
No excursion to Almagro is complete without a visit to Las Violetas, Almagro’s prized confiteria. Inaugurated in 1884, this historic and sophisticated café is a porteño favorite for everything from American-style breakfasts to the more traditional Argentine meriendas, lunches and cocktail hours. Complete with ornate doorways, Italian marble columns, white-jacketed waiters and French stained glass windows, Las Violetas is truly a testament to the cherished old-world European ancestry that Buenos Aires loves to pay homage to. Tip: Stop by Las Violetas to indulge in tea and pastries on a weekday or before 4pm on a weekend to avoid both a bustling crowd and higher prices.
Although the neighborhoods of Almagro, Villa Crespo, and Caballito all share ownership over Parque Centenario, a trip to this park is a must while in Almagro. Unlike its more refined Palermo counterparts, this unique park maintains a more bohemian atmosphere with a skate park, drum circles, free yoga classes, and live music populating its green spaces. On weekends, a modest bazaar occupies the outer circle of the park where unusual bargain items can be found.
Iglesia Maria Auxiliadora – Hipólito Yrigoyen 3999
Architecture-enthusiasts and those passionate about history should without a doubt make a stop at Iglesia Maria Auxiliadora when passing through Almagro. Over one hundred years old, sixty-four meters tall, and covering one thousand eight hundred square meters, it’s hard to ignore this religious landmark when in the neighborhood. Step inside on a Sunday when the church is open to the public and gaze up at its domed roof, painted blue and covered with glittering stars, for a quiet afternoon of reflection.
Teamim – Av Diaz Velez 4431
Satisfying a craving for Middle Eastern food in Buenos Aires may be no challenge in neighborhoods like Palermo, Belgrano, and Villa Crespo, but the same can’t be said for Almagro. Luckily, a tiny Israeli restaurant has emerged near Parque Centenario in Almagro that serves authentic and affordable dishes. Though the majority of customers order take-out, there is a small seated area in this open-kitchen restaurant to sit and enjoy a quick shwarma or falafel sandwich. Tip: arrive earlier in the lunch or dinner hours before the crowds have depleted their more popular items.
La Cresta – Bulnes 829
When asked where to grab a quick bite to eat in the neighborhood, experienced Almagro residents will quickly recommend La Cresta for its reasonable prices and creative menu. This small take-out shop serves gourmet, and innovative fast-food with relatively healthy ingredients, making it a no-brainer that they’ve expanded across town to San Telmo. Whether you’re craving salad, a wrap, rotisserie chicken, or a hamburger, La Cresta has you covered (and begging for more). Tip: order the Chilli Chutney burger, their all-star menu item.
Cúrcuma – Sarmiento 3685
Vegetarians and health-nuts, rejoice! The health food frenzy has reached Almagro, and Cúrcuma is the place to be. This cozy, rustic restaurant serves up delicious vegan and vegetarian meals and hosts live music on weekends as well as periodic poetry readings. Popular items on the menu include palm heart ceviche, whole wheat pizza, mushroom risotto and lentil hamburgers. Head to Cúrcuma for a healthy home-cooked meal, attentive service, and an intimate, bohemian vibe.
Los Trujillanitos – Av. Corrientes 3564
Almagro is certainly no stranger to Peruvian cuisine with several popular restaurants competing for attention on Avenida Corrientes that offer traditional dishes and affordable lunch specials that entice larger crowds around midday. For a classic Peruvian menu and speedy service, head to Los Trujillanitos, where a mixture of Peruvians, locals, and expatriates quench their appetites over large portions of their favorite meals. Popular items on the menu include seco de carne, papa a la huancaína, aeropuerto de carne (an eclectic stir fry dish) and fried banana. Tip: rather than ordering water, wash it all down with a cold glass (or liter) of Inca Kola for the authentic Peruvian dining experience.
Pin Pun – Corrientes, Av. 3954
Lovers of the traditional Buenos Aires-style pizza can take refuge in Pin Pun, a humble, old-fashioned pizzeria on Avenida Corrientes that fills with taxi drivers grabbing a quick bite to eat. While Pin Pun is anything but a luxurious restaurant, it remains a classic nonetheless for pizza al molde and fried empanadas that will leave you drooling. The decor will remind you of a bygone era, with 1950’s signs cluttered along the walls and vintage items on display for your viewing pleasure. Tip: eat at lunch or dinner hours when the pizza is hot out of the oven, and avoid going in the off-hours when food is being reheated.
La Granja Converso – Lavalle 3501
In a city where barbeque-culture reigns supreme, both locals and expatriates are quite familiar with the custom of visiting butcher shops for various cuts of meat. In Almagro, however, a specialty carnicería by the name of La Granja Converso offers unconventional options including llama, alligator, deer, boar and buffalo meat. Pay a visit to this unique butcher shop to pick up a novelty meat for your next barbeque, and check out their website afterwards for suggested recipes if you’re unsure how to prepare it.
Lo de Roberto – Bulnes 331
For a truly authentic porteño experience, head to Lo de Roberto in Plaza Almagro, where the spirit of tango lives on through music every single night of the week. This charming, intimate watering hole fills quickly with patrons eager for an earful of traditional tango sung from only an arm’s length away. As drinks are poured, and melancholic tunes fill the room, a hat is passed around to collect tips from those enjoying themselves in the bar that Carlos Gardel once frequented.
Señor Duncan – Av Rivadavia 3832
Don’t be confused if you’re standing outside this unmarked bar on Avenida Rivadavia, wondering if you’ve jotted down the incorrect address. Tucked away above a flight of stairs inside what appears to simply be an old home, Señor Duncan is a hidden bar known only by word of mouth. Fans of this unadvertised bar, known as “Duncaneers”, flock to this hideaway cultural center for affordable drinks and live music, as well as dance and theatre lessons. Visit their Facebook page for their weekly itinerary of events.
El Banderín – Guardia Vieja 3601
Finding a classic neighborhood bar can be tricky in modern day Buenos Aires, where posh cocktail bars are the norm and password-protected speakeasies are popping up left and right. For those who prefer a simplistic, antiquated sports bar and an unpretentious environment, El Banderín in Almagro is the perfect location. One of the oldest cafés in the neighborhood, this humble, one-room bar offers a laid-back, friendly alternative for grabbing a beer with friends.
Guardia la Vieja – Billinghurst 699
Located directly across the street from El Banderín lies Guarda la Vieja, a trendier yet relaxed bar in the neighborhood filled with twenty and thirty-somethings. Expect to wait for a table when arriving later in the night, as this colorful bar is well-known for its festive atmosphere, reasonably priced menu, and a large projection screen that has cult-classic films (such as Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) running silently in the background with music playing overtop.