Bridget Gleeson, a writer and photographer whose work has been published on BBC Travel and in the Guardian and the Independent, has lived in Buenos Aires for six years. She shares some tips for shopping and experiencing Argentine culture.
Q: Can good antiques still be found at the San Telmo market? Are there other markets that you like in Buenos Aires?
A: You can still find good antiques at San Telmo’s market, especially on Sundays during the Feria San Pedro Telmo street fair, when antiques vendors set up their booths on Plaza Dorrego, just around the corner from the covered market. I’ve found quite a few treasures here, from vintage sunglasses and antique silver flatware to an art deco cocktail shaker. The Mercado de las Pulgas, more oriented towards furniture and home decor, is another antiques market that’s very popular with locals on the hunt for a quirky coffee table. For copper jewelry and ceramics, I go to the Feria Plaza Francia, a weekend artisan market in Recoleta. For leather and gourmet food shopping — from goat cheese to dulce de leche — plus a shot of gaucho culture, I adore Feria de Mataderos.
Q: What are some of your favorite cafes and bars?
A: Go for café con leche and almond croissants at Malvón, or stop into La Esperanza de los Ascurre to enjoy a Spanish-inspired tradition: vermouth and soda in the afternoon. Both are near the leather outlets of Villa Crespo. In Palermo Soho, Lattente makes the best takeaway coffee in the city, and Pain et Vin pours interesting wines by the glass. For a taste of old-world Buenos Aires, stop into the historic El Preferido de Palermo — just across the street from Borges’ childhood home — for a glass of wine. If you’re shopping in Recoleta, go for the glamorous afternoon tea at the Alvear Palace; in San Telmo, take a coffee break in an old-fashioned corner bar like La Poesía, El Federal, or Bar Seddón.
Q: What are some unique Argentine gifts you won’t find elsewhere?
A: Buenos Aires is the perfect place to buy leather: from luggage to riding boots, the quality is excellent for the price. Pick up a ceramic pingüino (a penguin-shaped pitcher used to serve wine), a mate set, complete with gourd and bombilla (metal straw), an old tango poster, or a first-rate set of knives — they make these well here, thanks to the gaucho tradition and the locals’ predilection for steak. I like to buy edible gifts: dulce de leche, chocolate alfajores (a clasic Argentinian sandwich cookie), high-end olive oil from Mendoza, and wine that’s expensive or difficult to find outside the country, like a great Bonarda from the Valle de Uco or a Torrontés from Cafayate.
Photo: Boris G.