Always on the hunt for the latest spots to be in Latin America, Dehouche have recently fallen head over heels, madly in love with Villa Crespo. Located just ten blocks north of tourist vortex Plaza Serrano in the buzzing barrio of Palermo Soho, Villa Crespo is what Palermo used to be 10 years ago before the smart bistros and boutique shops took root and multiplied. As property prices spiked, Palermo’s former creative types and trendsetters packed up shop and headed north to re-establish their laidback bohemian community in converted factories and traditional chorizo houses. Once considered the limits of the city, the wild west of Buenos Aires, Villa Crespo was a neighbourhood that arose around fabric and clothing production and was home to a largely jewish community and local factory workers. The neighbourhood still retains the atmosphere of an utterly authentic porteno barrio, where families pull tables out on to the street to have Sunday lunch in the shade of the trees and everyone knows each others’ names.
In the last 3 years, the biggest international and national brands have set up their outlet shops along Aguirre street attracting an influx of tourists, a double edged sword for locals, for while driving business and bringing prosperity to the barrio, threaten to disturb the bohemian utopia created by Buenos Aires’s creative types and long time locals. Traditionally a barrio of production and creation, the stand of innovation has now been translated into some of the city’s most interesting new cafes and restaurants. In a city that lives with inflation at a rate of 25% per year unofficially, Villa Crespo seems to have thus far escaped the excessive price hikes: While the outlet shops may not contain this season’s newest collection, the quality of items from Argentina’s chicest brands remains the same at often a 50% discount and the plethora of bohemian cafes, bars and restaurants mean that you may still want to buy breakfast for everyone. For anyone nostalgic for the Buenos Aires of 5 years ago, we may have just found your time machine.
While wandering the streets of Villa Crespo will give you the chance to soak up the barrio’s energy and check out some of the city’s hippest street art, it will also take you a while to find out favourite hidden spots. So we have put together Dehouche’s guide so you can navigate VC like a local.
1.Malvon– This former race jockey’s private residence has been reformed to its 1930’s vintage glory with some serious style. The restored wooden counters display a dazzling selection of cakes and 12 different types of homemade bread, ranging from English muffins to German rye to New York bagels that the chef uses to make what could be the best brunch in town. Head out to the ivy covered courtyard for a long lazy sunlit morning of breakfast tapas and homemade lemonade.
2.La Esperanza de Los Ascurra– You can’t fail to be taken in by La Esperanza de los Ascurra. A family run tapas restaurant open only a few months, this is destined to be a big hit amongst the porteno smart set once they catch on to the quality of Spanish tapas, carefully constructed from secret family recipes brought from the Basque country back in the 40’s, it’s bohemian decor and vibe of pure Buena Onda. Highlights include the burrata (a dreamy ball of buffalo buzarella), Spanish tortilla and the lightest rabas (calamari) to be found in the city. Portions start at 9 pesos (£ 1.20). Don’t be too ashamed if you go for dinner, then lunch, then dinner again. We did.
3.Bungalow Room- An artists’ collective set up in a private residence that hosts regular exhibitions, fashion shows and some of the hippest private parties in town. If you are looking for Buenos Aires cutting edge creative set, then you may just have found it.
4. La Crespo– A nod to Villa Crespo’s Jewish heritage, La Crespo serves up traditional Jewish dishes such as knishes (dumplings), goulash and pastrami sandwiches on rye bread that aficionados claim to be the beat even New York delis.
5.San Bernardo- Encapsulating the authentic charm of Villa Crespo, this former working mens’ club turned bar is still run by the same waiters as 50 years ago in crisp white coats, who serve Fernet to local characters whiling away the afternoons playing dominos and chess. The current favourite among the barrios famous creative types who are drawn to its authenticity and their ability to keep a low profile, the Tuesday night ping pong tournaments have become the stuff of local legend, so you better get practicing.
6.Doma Outlet Long have we lusted after Doma’s exquisite leather jackets. From rainy days wandering through Harvey Nichols to Saturday shopping in Palermo Soho, they seem to provide the answer for all wardrobe dilemmas and lend the wearer an effortless edge of cool. While their hefty price tags whispers of exceptional tailoring and innovative design combined with the smoothest butters-oft leather, it means they remain out of reach for many. Imagine our delight then, when we stumbled across Doma’s Outlet store. With a wide selection of both men’s and women’s jackets from previous seasons at over 50% discount, this is an excellent opportunity to pick up some of Argentina’s smartest leather. Other Outlet highlights include Vintage Raphsodia for girls and Airborn Outlet for men, both a significantly better value than their Palermo counterparts)
7.Sarkis– In a country where it is unthinkable to even consider eating before 10 pm, Sarkis has them queuing out the door by 9pm. Much loved by locals and in-the-know expats for its excellent Armenian food and slick service at rock bottom prices, you can even have your coffee dregs read by an Armenian mystic. A full stomach and the future unfolded all for under 100 pesos.
8. Scannapieco– Forget Freddo, the prolific chain that appears on every corner fuels the average Argentinean’s insatiable passion for ice-cream. Scannapieco is the real deal- with all ice cream made on the premises by the same family who set up shop back in 1938 after immigrating from Italy. The thick Dulce de Leche is as about as decadent as you can get.
9. 878– One of the city’s first ‘hidden’bars- walk past 878 and you would have no idea that behind the thick black door lies one of the city’s coolest cocktail bars. With regular nights hosted by the city’s hottest mixologists, 878 is also the perfect place to slip away to for a cheeky cocktail if your craving for Sarkis requires a spell on the waiting list.
10. And finally, don’t miss the impressive Chacrita cemetery that runs long the border of Villa Crespo and Chacarita. A tiny town in itself, Chacarita Cemetry is almost entirely devoid of other tourists and boast elaborate tomb lined avenues that far outway its more well-heeled counterpart.
For more expert insider tips on the latest hot spots in Buenos Aires and across Latin America, contact Dehouche to arrange your ultimate trip.