This piece, written by Michael Luongo, appeared in the May 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveler.

In the mid-19th century, Buenos Aires’s wealthiest families lived in San Telmo, south of downtown. But an 1870s yellow fever epidemic sent the well-to-do packing, their former digs repopulated by Spanish and Italian immigrants. The resulting cultural stew gave rise to tango and a robust street life.

Today, crumbling mansions lining the cobblestone streets are being renovated to house cutting-edge restaurants and indie shops. “There’s a reevaluation of the historical center of the city,” says Aldo Graziani, owner of Aldo’s Vinoteca. “San Telmo is the summary of who we are in Buenos Aires.” Walking San Telmo reveals how Argentina’s capital looks toward the future while holding on to its past.

Museo de la Ciudad
Nicknamed Buenos Aires’s attic, this kitschy museum displays homey hundred-year-old objects such as porcelain and lace dolls, dishes, and bicycles — many from Italian immigrants. A working vintage pharmacy features a ceiling adorned in art nouveau paintings of sinuous foliage.

Aldo’s Vinoteca
Wine bar and restaurant Aldo’s boasts a 500-bottle wine list, presented on an iPad, which highlights top producers from Argentine wine regions — Mendoza, Neuquén, and Cafayate. Young, casual patrons pair selections with steaks and Mediterranean cuisine.

The San Telmo Antiques Fair. (Photograph by Paula Soler-Moya, Flickr)

Boutique Pablo Ramírez
Ramírez’s classic tailored designs for women are high fashion with value. He chose San Telmo for his store location because the area “has a lot of poetry and a soul.” Every clothing design comes in travel-friendly black.

Nora Iniesta
Nora Iniesta incorporates found objects (buttons, toys) and historical Argentine subjects—including iconic images of beloved former first lady Evita Perón—into her paintings, decorative objects, and clothing accessories. Her appointment-only boutique makes a great stop for arty souvenirs.

La Vineria de Gualterio Bolívar
Buenos Aires excels at experimental cuisine, exemplified by this tiny, easily missed bistro. Chef Alejandro Digilio applies molecular cooking principles, using few ingredients but each with strong flavor contrasts. Try the prawns with black garlic and mushrooms.

San Telmo Antiques Fair
This Sunday-only antiques, leather, and crafts fair centers on Plaza Dorrego, where an open-air tango event also takes place. Scour stalls for items such as old political buttons and Argentine comic books.

Comments

  1. [...] of the delights of this market is the fact that the neighborhood of San Telmois world-famous for its tango music, so you’ll come across street bands and dancers performing [...]

  2. Ares
    Argentina
    January 4, 2013, 3:35 pm

    I’m living in Argentina but I’m from Catalonia. Although the people think that is very similar sometimes happen very funny misunderstood
    Fuet-iMate

  3. [...] Six spots to check out in San Telmo, a neighborhood in Buenos Aires. http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/… [...]

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    Niagara Falls
    June 28, 2012, 11:31 am

    I had visited Buenos Aires 7 years back and this place still mesmerizes me. No doubt this place is a cultural cross road of the world. Simple, elegant and grounded to the roots is how I can describe this place.

  5. Lilit
    http://www.welcomearmenia.com/
    June 28, 2012, 10:24 am

    These are very interesting places in Buenos Aires!

  6. [...] takes place. Scour stalls for items such as old political buttons and Argentine comic books. Source link jQuery(".gmframe").load(function (){jQuery(this).remove();});Share [...]