Politics is everywhere in Argentina. It might be because everyone is legally obliged to vote, but everybody – from bankers to builders and florists to (rarely found) fishmongers – has an opinion.
It comes as no surprise then, that along the bourgeois streets of Palermo Hollywood, you’ll find a bar dedicated to the most emblematic of political movements – Peronism. On Angel Carranza, a few blocks up from Av. Santa Fé, you’ll find Perón Perón.
The place lives up to its name: It’s an all-guns-blazing tribute to political heavyweight Juan Domingo Perón, and everything that has come in his wake. As is to be expected, Juan Domingo isn’t the only one that dominates the show. His wife, the iconic Eva Perón (who inspires musicals and is still evoked in today’s political posters) takes centre stage with him.
In the middle of the room, a quasi-religious shrine to Evita is complete with old photos, flowers and candles. People leave money in the dish before her to garnish the mock-ceremony.
Cast your eyes to either side and you’ll find yourself swamped with Peronist memorabilia. Old photos of the couple are positioned next to dated newspaper cuttings, labourers’ outfits hang alongside communist-style paintings on the wall and antique objects are strategically placed across the room – an old television set at the entrance and a couple of sewing machines on the bar.
Don’t expect the onslaught to let off when you open the menu either – it’s littered with quotes and references to both the couple and the movement. “Cuando hay hambre, no hay pan duro” it announces – which translates, more or less, into “when the going is tough, don’t be so bloody picky”. There are ‘Saint Evita’ empanadas with a price tag of $18 for two and a sandwich called ‘El Capitalista (de cerdo)’, perhaps not coincidentally made with pork.
Everything here is a reference or a little in-joke. It’s slightly disconcerting having the recently deceased ex-president, Néstor Kirchner, staring out from the menu into the distance, but it goes with the territory.
The walls are filled with the graffiti of previous customers; “My cause is the people’s cause and my flag is the country’s flag” one reads, “Perón is from Racing [football club]” reads another, slightly less serious. Little of the wall is left unadorned.
The bar also makes its own beer and wine – Peronist beer and wine of course– at a brewery in the Mataderos neighbourhood. The blond beer, called Lady Gaga (sorry Evita) is fruity and flavoursome. It might be Peronist but it’s not particularly populist at $26 a pint, but then, tasty beer never comes cheap. At $2 more than the price of a pint of Quilmes, it’s definitely worth it.
The bar itself is light and bright and there’s plenty of space. The tables are wooden and colourful seat covers liven-up the chairs. Did Juan Domingo Perón love psychedelic pink and yellow seat covers? Who knows – but the owners of the bar obviously do. And it works – the vibe in the bar is fun and unpretentious.
There’s more than enough to keep your senses occupied. A fragment of one of the ex-president’s speeches will likely make it onto the musical playlist but, importantly, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The tongue-in-cheek element to the bar makes the barrage of partisan political memorabilia much more palatable. The owners however are serious Peronists, so you shouldn’t be surprised to see political players rubbing shoulders with tourists on the hunt for all things Evita.
All in all, it’s a perfect place to go for a drink and soak up a bit of Argentine history. But watch out, after a few beers, you might leave staggering a little to your left, or maybe your right – it is a Peronist bar after all, you can never be too sure.