What to do in San Telmo
It’s Sunday in San Telmo and you don’t know what to do?
Sunday is “Fair Day” in San Telmo. From Plaza de Mayo all the way to Plaza Dorrego on Defensa, artisans and vendors set up tables, and sell all kinds of things: from the cool to the bizarre.
What to buy:
Tourist stuff – from keychains, to refrigerator magnets with tango dancers and city scenes.
Art – Along the way, there are several areas with artists. Some quite good. One block down from Defensa on Chile and Bolivar is an artist that I actually like a lot, named Remo. Well, I like a lot of his stuff but some of it is “interesting”.
Clothing – Lots of different types of clothing (including jerseys). What’s on offer depends on the time of year. For men, there are not a lot of options other than soccer (futbol) jerseys, tshirts, hats, and some shoes. For women on the other hand, there are options ranging from handmade shoes, dresses, and scarves, to hand-made shawls, and sweaters.
Artisanal foods – From Dulce de Leche to Marmelades to Sausages. I have purchased from many of these vendors and it has always been good. The prices have been quite good as well.
Other – There are a lot of other cool, weird, and wacky things.
What to see:
The people – It gets really busy. Locals and tourists from all over the world. On any given block you will hear Dutch, German, French, Portuguese, etc. One word of warning! The streets are cobblestone and can be treacherous. Watch your step or you might twist an ankle. It is also very crowded.
All the “stuff” – There is nothing here you “need”. But you might find yourself saying “That’s Cool! We should buy that!”
Bands – Along the way are several bands that play for tips. In my opinion, the very best is on the corner of Independencia and Defensa. They are always having fun, and the music is a great mix of national rock, to 60’s, to jazzy.
What to do:
El Zanzon – On Sunday this old building has tours for 50 pesos (100 every other day). On Defensa right before the corner of Independencia if coming from Plaza de Mayo. See some of the old tunnels that sneak beneath old San Telmo and learn a bit about the history.
Antique shops – If coming from Plaza de Mayo, as soon as you hit Independencia, there a ton of Antique shops. They are almost all open during the week as well.
Plaza Dorrego – This is the center of the action in San Telmo. An old square that fills with antique dealers on Sunday. Lots of great antiques, and lots of potential pictures. Check out the side streets around the plaza as well for some more great artists.
Mercado San Telmo – The central market of the area for many years, it now contains vegetable and meat stands, but antique stands also. For some great artisanal cheeses and meats check out this place:
The owner is super nice, and she sells the best Pastrami and bacon I have found in Buenos Aires. The sausages and cheeses are good too!
Where to eat:
There are dozens of places to eat along Defensa, but on a Sunday, I would recommend “street” food. But not your typical street food. On Defensa and Mexico there is a parking lot that converts to a “restaurant” on Sunday called El Rey de Chorizo (the King of Chorizo). They serve Choripan (50 pesos), Bondiola (100 pesos), and Lomito (100 pesos).
Choripan is an Argentine sausage served on a roll (Chorizo = sausage and pan = bread). Argentine Chorizo is unique and tastes like no other sausage that I know of and definitely not like Mexican Chorizo for the USA travelers.
Bondiola is slow cooked pork, seasoned with salt and lemon, served on the same bread.
And Lomito is usually tenderloin, again, on the same bread.
Besides “El Rey de Chorizo”, there are several other places along Defensa serving sandwiches and Chorizo, all decent, all more or less the same price.
Recommended but not on Defensa:
On Peru between Chile and Independencia – another Chorizo/sandwich place, but 1/2 the price and tastes as good or better.
Gran Parilla del Plata – Corner of Chile y Peru. Excellent food, but not cheap.
Aqui me Queda – On Chile between Defensa and Balcarce. Decent “Mexican” food. It not REALLY Mexican but it is decent.
Also close: Che Taco which is on the corner of Balcarce y Dr. Jose Modesto Guiffra just past Independencia. This is actually legit Mexican food, and the establishment is owned by Mexicans. The are open Sunday during the day, during the week in the evening.