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.
Almibar Café (Aguirre 991)
A tiny spot on Aguirre, Almibar serves up a modest menu of salads, sandwiches and tartas. A solid bakery selection, it’s the ideal place for a café quickie. (Photo from Almibar FB page)
Angelito (Camargo 490)
When the legendary pizzeria Imperio closed its doors, the owner opened Angelito a few blocks away. A colorful, rustic, tiny, noisy bodegón, the pizza is a neighborhood favorite. (Photo: Guiaoleo)
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)
Besón (Castillo 501)
A quiet corner spot, Besón brings something a bit different to the VC. An Argentine menu revamped and modernized, the simple decor, strong WiFi and solid lunch specials make it a barrio winner.
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.
Dale Perejil al Toro (Estado de Israel 4473)
And the award for the most unique restaurant name goes to Dale Perejil al Toro. Not the best food in the area, but the intimate, rustic atmosphere makes up for that. (Photo: Dale Perejil al Toro FB)
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 Cocina Discreta (address given upon reservation)
Only open Thursday – Saturday nights, this closed-door restaurant is located in a beautiful Villa Crespo PH and ideal for a multiple course special and discreet eating experience. (Photo: La Cocina Discreta’s Facebook page)
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.
La Petite Momó (Malabia 695)
A tiny spot to take away freshly baked muffins, budínes, paninis y más. A great new addition to the area.
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.
Marucca Coffee (Av. Warnes 376)
Not your typical Argie café, Marucca is more of an American-influenced coffee house with milk shakes, frapuccinos, egg-filled breakfasts, bakery items, sandwiches and salads. Very affordable, this is a VC small gem.
Melão (Castillo 52)
Get your fix of culinary delights from around the world, where the food takes you on a gastrojourney, offering cuisines from over 20 different countries. Sure, the menu is a bit overwhelming with such a wide range of dishes, stick with ordering the Jamaican Curry & Callaloo and the Irish steak and you’ll do just right.
Mill Café (Scalabrini Ortiz 801)
It’s your standard modern café: cute decor, wraps-salads-sandwiches menu, brunch on the weekends, busy at prime hours, nice option for breakfast, lunch, merienda if you’re in the area. (Photo: Mi Mundo No Privado)
Even though this close-door speakeasy might not be such a secret anymore, 878 makes killer cocktails and a very tasty lamb burger. They also use the Entaste digital wine list on iPad which makes them extra cool.
Original (1170 Bravard)
Another favorite among the Chinese community, it’s the place to go for the house specialties like xiao long bao (Shanghai steamed bun with pork served in a bamboo basket), dumpling soup, crab with onions and ginger and whole steamed fish. (Photo: The Lost Asian)
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?
Check out the original article in the Argentina Independent.