It’s safe to say that Villa Crespo is no longer an up-and-coming neighbourhood; it’s already the hotness and has been for some time. 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’, this quaint middle class residential barrio has been transformed into something quite culinarily unique.
So what makes VC so damn special? In a nutshell: 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.
Mariana Pereira, owner of Querido Bed & Breakfast in Villa Crespo, agrees that finding food of all different styles in such a close vicinity is really what makes this barrio stand out. Living in the neighbourhood for four years, she has witnessed the gastro-boom first hand: “Before you would go eat at the more traditional restaurants with great food, but today you notice more smaller gourmet restaurants.” Not only does Mariana love the ethnic variety of the neighbourhood, she finds it especially gratifying when stumbling on those places that don’t appear to be that special from the exterior, but shock you with their excellent food. In Villa Crespo, there are a lot of those surprises.
The 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.
With so many great restaurants in such close vicinity, I suggest you embark on a Villa Crespo food crawl starting with some of these recommendations:
Almacén Purista (Velazco 701)
With fresh, homemade food, this vegetarian restaurant and café will even please the meatiest of meat eaters.
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.
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.
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.
Da Dong Fang Dian (Vera 468)
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. Simple atmosphere, extremely affordable prices, this place is all you could ever want in a neighborhood Chinese joint.
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.
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 cheese.
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.
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.
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.
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 baked goods, offering a wonderful assortment of fresh baked breads, muffins, bagels, and an incredible maracuyá cheesecake.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rolaso (Julián Alvarez 600)
A neighbourhood favourite, most local Villa Crespians will vouch for Rolaso. Great service, food and wine – what more can you ask for in a parrilla?