It’s hard to believe that after living in Buenos Aires for over 7 years, I never made it to the Feria de Mataderos. I guess I always passed it off as a pointless touristic activity, crawling with La Boca Caminito types; big boned tourists who are suited up to go trekking in foothills of San Telmo, grey haired middle aged liberals with walking sticks sporting an urban sombrero, and shady peddlers scheming to give you Argie-monopoly money as change while their accomplice slips her hand into your fanny pack. None of the above are correct, I was wrong yet again, and the Feria de Mataderos has made me fall back in love with Argentine street food.
A new discovery that reassured my love for Buenos Aires, Feria de Mataderos is an Argentine food and crafts haven filled with great renditions of street food classics, market foods, local families, gauchos, horse shows, free concerts, and folklore music and dancing. Nothing forced or unauthentic about it, not overrun with tall Nordic-looking tourists, it’s a fair made by locals for locals.
The trip to Mataderos took only about 45 minutes on the #55 bus, far less than the 2 hour journey that some guidebooks warn tourists about. Right when I got off the colectivo, I instantly became a bit worried when there was no food in sight (the horror) and only vendors selling the same old junkity market crafts and fake Nike shoes. But I spotted a mechanical bull, smelled chorizo smoke in the distance, and knew all would be good in the world, as long as I followed that smell of the sausage.
Seek and thou shalt find.
Known as the gaucho fair with over 300 stands selling all sorts of those cowboy-like crafts and goodies, I came for the edibles. And edibles I done eat.
I started at the street food section, where ladies in white bonnets slave over an outdoor fryer and cook up hot Argentine specialties to order: empanadas of all flavors, humitas, tamales, torta frita, and locro. I had a hot tip that the best empanadas in the city were at “the stand on the left.” Thanks for nothing, I eyed rolled into my computer thinking it was an empty recommendation. On the left of what, idiot? How the hell am I going to find the empanada stand “on the left?”
I take it back. I take it all back. I totally (and easily) found the stand to the left (aka …Con sabor Argentino) and it was all I dreamt it would be and more. Much more, with some of the best empanadas I’ve had in Argentina — I ordered one of each style, salteña, tucumana, jamón y queso and pollo and was not disappointed. Especially by the sexy salteña and hot tucumana.
Nice ladies in funny hats perfectly hand repulgue-ing empanadas before plopping into the deep fryer. That’s authenticity, bitch.
Fuck elaborate party centerpieces made out of “flowers,” tamale and humita bouquets are the new black. I will carry this down the aisle at my wedding.
And then open it up and eat it right before I say my vows.
While my future husband will get down on one knee with a tamale.
Most of the stands serve the same Argentine fare, except for one of the only spots to try Paraguayan food in the city. What’s Paraguayan food consist of, might you ask? (Or maybe you didn’t but I’ll tell you anyway).
A whole lot of consonants-accent-mark names in Guaraní and even more chalky pesado carbed out corn-mandioca-flour-cheese: Chipa so’ó, mbejú, chipa guazú (the winner).
It’s not every day you stumble across a cast iron pan on the street filled with hot sizzling oil. But I suggest if you do, you should probably order one. These empanadas are truly awesome on so many levels (AND I WILL NAME EVERY LEVEL).
1. They are floating around frying in oil. 2. They are filled with a perfectly seasoned beefy filling. 3. They give off a wonderful golden brown shimmer of what greasy acne faces are made of. 4. They are fried right on the street over a wonky flame.
Embracing an #Empanadaselfie, ain’t no shame.
Moving on to more fried goodness, the crowds be of great length and line-up-long-time for a piece of this torta frita action. I’m no hater of the fried persuasion, but no piece of fried dough is worth a long wait.
Look I can see Jesus in my torta frita. I guess I will wait in that long line(?)
And don’t be fooled by the delicious looking cake, it don’t taste so hot. Total butter face.
While the kids (and me?) take turns riding on Lil’ Sebastian, adults can head over to buy more local artisanal delicacies like jams, cheeses, meats, licors, and all that awesome bullshit you’d want to buy from your favorite artisan fair.
Eat some cheebus.
Gnaw on some cured meats.
Get scolded (and then hit on) by a delicatessen.
Homemade licors, jelly and jam, home cured meats, providers from all across Buenos Aires come to sell their goods — most of which are quite excellent in quality.
The dulce de leche makes for a great buy, as does the light, sweet and delicious Los Panqueques de Mataderos.
Waaaaaait for it… Live dulce de leche pancake flippage.
In the middle of the fair set up you’ll notice a huge stage where some pretty famous Argentine folklore bands and singers perform, people of all ages come to sing and dance along.
Feria de Mataderos is also a great spot to pick up unique Argentine souvenirs and gifts, beyond the food items you can’t (or probably wouldn’t want to) eat. Like these hooves mate gourds.
Or an old haunted lady selling regular mate gourds.
A place to hold your fucking keys.
A wicker framed photo of your favorite animals.
A soothing bathroom wall decor just for you, cat weirdos.
A joint smoking Rastaman.
Or perhaps a wooden framed photo of your favorite celebrity, horse, flower, sailboat, or female back.
So head out to Feria de Mataderos this Sunday and set forth to eat, drink, shop, be merry and folklore the day away.
More photos of the Feria de Mataderos here.
Feria de Mataderos
Av. Lisandro de la Torre y Av. de los Corrales
Open Sundays and Holidays, 11am – 8pm (Hours change during summer)
Buses: 55, 63, 80, 92, 103, 117, 126, 141, 155, 180
Feria de Mataderos on Trip Advisor
Feria de Mataderos on Facebook