Villa Crespo: The New Gastronomical Mecca of Buenos Aires

It’s safe to say that Villa Crespo is no longer an up-and-coming neighborhood; it’s already the hotness and has been for some time.  These grand gastronomical happenings are leading Villa Crespo into the food heavens, sprinkling it with that extra sparkle, and making it a hot destination for traditionalists and trendsetters alike.

It’s the Palermo Viejo of yesteryear, on that cusp of coolness yet without becoming nauseatingly trendy and touristy. While some may say the Palermo-fication began a few years ago when real-estate crusaders (who deserve a massive chorizo up their Lanus) tried to coin the neighbourhood ‘Palermo Queens’, unlike Palermo, this quaint middle class residential barrio has been transformed into something quite culinarily unique.

So what makes VC so damn special? Argentine, African, Chinese, American, Jewish, Italian, fine dining, cheap dining and overall delicious dining. In recent years, Villa Crespo has experienced an explosion of quality restaurants with a diverse offering, mostly all family owned businesses and spread over just a few blocks, turning the area into a haven for the culinary adventurous. Here are some top picks for the best restaurants and cafés in the ‘hood.

Almacén Purista (Velazco 701)


One of the only cafés to offer vegetarian food in the neighborhood, Almacén Purista is a pleasant place to hang for breakfast or merienda, sit for a few hours with a cup of tea (or glass of wine) and a good (or bad) book. Buyers beware: the actual food can be hit or miss.

Arepera Buenos Aires (Estado de Israel 4316)

This Venezuelan restaurant located on the Villa Crespo-Almagro border serves Venezuelan flare with a toque of Argentine flavors. If you couldn’t guess by the name of the restaurant, Arepera bangs out bombing arepas, over 15 different flavor combinations, filled with a wide variety of arepa goodness.  (Photo: Wasabi Blog)

Bai Fu (Scalabrini Ortiz 152)

Very simple atmosphere, this Chinese hidden gem serves up excellent food and is frequented by many in the Chinese community. Go for their infamous duck, steamed corvina or fried shrimp. (Photo: The Lost Asian)

Café Crespin (Vera 699)


One of the first American-style cafés to serve brunch, Café Crespín still makes a solid choice even though they may have lost some of their luster since first opening. A bombing bakery, cinnamon rolls, maracuyá anything and chocolate chip cookies all are a little taste of home.

Cantina Los Amigos (Loyola 701)

Los Amigos pretty much exemplifies the experience of a cantina del barrio: decent food, fútbol decor, cheap red wine, a massive menu combining Argie parrilla-pastas-minutas favorites and frequented by lively old school personajes from the neighborhood.

Don Zoilo (Honorio Pueyrredon 1406)

If you look up a classic neighborhood parrilla in the dictionary, Don Zoilo might just show up. A family bodegón that’s always busy, order the dinner of champions: provoleta, bife de chorizo, French fries and a Malbec. (Photo: Guiaoleo)

El Buen Sabor (Camargo 296)

One of the only African restaurants in Buenos Aires, chef/owner Maxime Tankouo brings the tastes of Cameroon to the streets of Villa Crespo. A tiny hole-in-the-wall, munch on African specialties like chicken in peanut sauce, fried yucca and beans with fried plantains. (Photo: Buen Sabor Facebook page)

Falafel One (Araoz 587)

Arguably one of the best falafel spots in the city, this tiny comida arabe kiosco-sized spot serves a mean falafel, shawarma, tabbouleh, yogurt sauce and all the fresh vegetable fixings at extremely accessible prices. The owner is from Syria, and knows a thing or two about Middle Eastern cooking.

Hikaru Resto & Sushi Store (Rocamora 4584)

Fresh fish, affordable prices, reliable delivery service and not every roll contains cream cheese. There aren’t many sushi options in VC, so Hikaru has definitely turned into a neighborhood favorite. (Photo: Hikaru.com)

I Latina (address given upon reservation)


The new and extremely anticipated puerta cerrada has finally opened their closed doors and are bringing something quite gastronomically unique to the local food scene: upscale Latin American cooking. The owners hail from Colombia, and cook food inspired by their home country, while also combining Caribbean elements. Truly something special, this type of cuisine, at this level, just doesn’t exist in any other Buenos Aires restaurant.

La Cava de Jufré (Jufré 201)

Specialty wine shop and wine bar all in one, a great atmosphere to try new wines and gorge on generous picadas. Get your wine education on as well, La Cava offers wine tastings, wine seminars and a course on cheeeeeeese.

La Crespo (Thames 612)

This family-run spot in Villa Creplaj makes everything in-house and is where to go for a cure of NY Jewish deli homesickness. Get down and dirty with real bagels loaded creamed cheese & smoked salmon, cheesecake brownies and an absolutely killer pastrami sandwich, stacked with homemade hot pastrami, crunchy pickles, Dijon mustard and sweet caramelized onions on the side. One of my favorite places in the city.

La Esperanza de los Ascurra (Aguirre 526)


Prices that will bring you back to 2009, this cool arty vermouth bar is laid back with a total buena onda vibe. Go for dinner and drinks, ordering a bunch of small plates like meatballs, gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), and traditional Argie cocktails. All their bread is freshly baked daily which is always a huge plus.

La Mamma Rosa (Jufré 101)

From the outside it appears to be just any old neighborhood bodegón, but La Mamma Rosa is something quite special. Argentine food done right, an Italian influenced menu specializing in stomach-smiling meats and pastas. With decent prices, familiar atmosphere and friendly service, it’s a traditional must visit.

La Parrillita (Malabia 416)

Grab a seat at the bar and have the asador cook you up something tasty: asado favorites like vacio and provoleta or asado specialties like a mad lil wabbit (conejo). Filled with a lively crowd of locals and long time devotees, La Parrillita is one of those hidden barrio gems you always wish you knew about. The quality can be hit or miss, but once you become a regular they will know how to treat you right.

Malvón (Serrano 789)

Malvón converts the essence of a New York bakery café into its trendy BA version at one of the newer spots to pop up in the neighborhood. From the same owner as infamous Green Bamboo, Malvón excels in world of café aesthetics and baked goods, offering a wonderful assortment of fresh baked breads, muffins, bagels, and an incredible maracuyá cheesecake all in a warmly onda-ed restaurant.

Ocho7Ocho  (Thames 878)


Even though this close-door speakeasy might not be such a secret anymore, 878 makes killer cocktails and a very tasty lamb burger.

Paladar Buenos Aires (address given upon reservation)


Chef Pablo and his sommelier wife Ivana open the doors of their home to offer one of the best puertas cerradas in the city. An intimate atmosphere, each party sits at their own table at this closed-door restaurant to indulge in an elegant five-course meal with the optional wine pairings. Get on their mailing list to find out the weekly menu and information about their cooking classes.

Salgado Alimentos (Ramírez de Velasco 401)

The go-to place for pastas, Salgado Alimentos has been around for fivve years bringing fluffy, pillowy homemade carb deliciousness to many happy customers. Their menu is huge, offering salads, sandwiches,parrilla, minutas, platos principales and, of course, PASTA. Stick to what this place knows best, the fresh, dried or stuffed pastas.

Sarkis (Thames 1101)

The most popular restaurant on Guía Oleo, Sarkis is a legend in the world of Buenos Aires restaurants. Specializing in Armenian and Middle Eastern cooking, this lively restaurant is almost always full of families, locals and foreigners. While it’s true that the food quality may not be as good as it used to be, it’s still a solid option if you want big portions, cheap food and a fun atmosphere.

Shan Dong Restaurant (Vera 468, Villa Crespo)

Calling all dumpling lovers, this place is for you. The mother-daughter cooking duo makes a mean shrimp fried noodle, chicken Kung Pao, and of course pork dumplings a la plancha. Dinky atmosphere, extremely affordable prices, and greasy-maybeMSGed-Chinese food, this place is all you could ever want in a neighborhood Chinese joint.

Rolaso (Julián Alvarez 600)

A neighborhood favorite, most local Villa Crespians will vouch for Rolaso. Great service, food and wine – what more can you ask for in a parrilla?

 

EAT IT:

Comments

Comments

  1. Amanda says

    Check out El Trebol — it’s a pizzeria on Corrientes and Angel Gallardo. I can’t eat cheese, but their fugazza is the best I’ve had in BA.

  2. t.mitchell says

    Very good post and thanks to you my family is now addicted to Da Dong Fang Dian. LOVE the fried chicken wings and pan fried noodles. Just typing this makes me picture them. Almibar is lovely – just wish she opened a bit earlier – I think she rolls up the blaster shields after noon o’clcok. Have you found Malvon a bit disappointing lately or is it just cause I stopped ordering pitchers of gin and tonic? They also stopped making french bread to go b/c supposedly no one was buying them – dang. Now we are stuck with the local wonder bread french loafs until we find another bakery.
    keep on writing.

    • says

      I’ve never tried the fried chicken wings from Da Dong Fang – what are they called on the menu? I used to love Malvón, then was disappointed in recent months (other than the breads), but I just went back this weekend and had a pretty solid eggs benedict with crispy bacon.

      • Mitchell Tim says

        Ala de pollo frito – all for only 30 pesos. This place is like a dream – low prices, big dishes and no dulce de leche to be found. We have also tried a fried whole fish there – very wonderful. Hope to run into you there someday!

      • t.mitchell says

        Ala de pollo frito – all for 30 pesos. Served extremely hot out of the fryer. I recommend a spoonful of so and some of the hot red stuff; so perfect. If you can figure it out, try and order a whole fried fish as well. The wonderful challenge is the main wait person there – she doesn’t speak much spanish to go along with no english.

  3. says

    Working my way through your list now that I’m working in Villa Crespo. I think Besón may have closed or be on some sort of mediodía hiatus. I’ve tried stopping in for lunch on a few different days of the week and it’s always gates down, locked up. Bummer, strong wi-fi is indeed a strong attraction.

  4. says

    There are some nice places on the list, as Crespin, Malvon, Salgado and Sarkis. But the first one, Almacén Purista…is terrible. Some friends told me it was an awful place that I should avoid, but I had to try it on my own. Now I must admit my friends were right.

    • says

      What did you order? I went once and had a nice tarta and a glass of wine (but given it was a tarta that’s hard to mess up, and glass of wine even harder). But thanks for the heads up, I hate terrible food.

      • says

        I order an aubergine milanesa, it was completely tasteless. And my husband order a tortilla de papas. This one is hard to mess up too but they did it!

        I was going to Salgado but I stopped at Almacén looking for a new experience. So bad!

    • says

      My family and I just went there today and it was really good. We had a fresh papardelle with a tomato sauce – so good! And the salad we had was so fresh and yummy. The lemonade, though, was missing the sweet component. But other than that we really enjoyed it.

  5. says

    Mammoth post! Did Imperio on the corner of Corrientes and Scalabrini close? Or have I missed something. I’m out of the loop on Villa Crespo since I moved my middle of the road ass from there to Belgrano.

    • says

      OK, ignore me, I just answered my own question with help from the Google. Apparently Imperio used to be good, but then then it changed ownership and sold its soul to the devil, so the pizzeros and mozos from Imperio went and opened Angelito instead. I’ve never eaten Pizza in either, but many a local has told me that Imperio has the best pizza in Buenos Aires. They’re probably thinking of the pre-regime change version, or El Imperio in Chacarita, I guess.

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