So...I think I'll just pick places we went and do a quick write-up of each area.
First off--San Telmo. The loft we stayed in (the one I gushed about in my previous post) was located in San Telmo. We stayed there a week, so we spent a lot of time walking around the neighborhood.
San Telmo is one of the older neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. It's supposedly the home of tango, but there is a lot more going on there than just dancing. In fact, one of the things that we didn't due in Argentina was go tango dancing.
Have I mentioned that I was sort of paranoid about going out at night after being robbed our first night? I should point out that while San Telmo sort of gets a bad rap in terms of pickpocketing and other crime, I did not get robbed in San Telmo. I was robbed in Palermo SoHo--the fancy schmancy neighborhood! But walking around San Telmo at night actually felt relatively safe--on par with walking around San Francisco at night.
Our Picks in San Telmo
Cafe San Juan- Cafe San Juan is a family-run, family-friendly restaurant that serves very high-quality food in a relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant is open to the kitchen so you can see the skate bumper stickers all over the fridge and the cooks wearing backwards baseball caps while they cook your amazingly delicious rabbit (or whatever you decide to order). They are cash only, which we didn't realize until we arrived, and since there isn't an ATM nearby we didn't go all out here and ended up sharing an entree to make sure we had enough money to pay for our meal. We had a momentary panic when our shared entree came out with two full portions of the rabbit (we spent a good five minutes freaking out, trying to decide whether something we said in our broken Spanish could have been interpreted as us both ordering the same thing). Turns out they just split their portions very, very generously!
Don Ernesto-A casual, but super high-energy, parrilla that seems to cater to both locals and tourists. For the quality of the food, the prices here are amazing. The steak, sausage, salad, and potatoes we ordered here totaled around $30 US, with wine. It's nothing fancy, but it's a steak house, so that's kind of refreshing.
Los Loros-We had our first meal in Argentina at Los Loros--pre-robbery--so I had a wonderful time here. It's a nicer restaurant with prices that match (but will still seem insanely reasonable compared to US prices). The food is elegant and fresh. I'd imagine that if this were in the US they'd be selling it as a seasonal food sort of place. It's got a nice bistro feel and the atmosphere is upscale without seeming at all stuffy. You could show up in jeans and a tee-shirt and nobody would bat an eye.
Origen-This is my favorite lunch and light meal stop in San Telmo. The pizzas and salads are highly recommended. And the food is organic. Very casual with outdoor seating that's kind of wonderful on a spring night.
Pride Cafe-We ate breakfast at Pride Cafe several times while in San Telmo. People in Argentina don't seem to eat breakfast. And they don't take their coffee to go. So knowing about tiny little Pride Cafe was essential to us not having to cook or eat medialunas for breakfast every morning. The food is good, the coffee is excellent, and the staff is really nice. Also, if it's not obvious, they are a GLBT shop so if you are looking for local info on that scene, this is a great resource.
El Federal-This seems to be the go-to place for a beer and a snack in San Telmo. Every guidebook talks about it and it always seemed busy. While I liked the look of the place--it's old and funky--the food was boring and the service was terrible. People all around us were having trouble getting the waiter's attention after sitting for very very long periods of time. And while I don't assume that every waiter in Argentina should know English, this place caters to tourists and this guy seemed annoyed as get-out that we were struggling with the menu. I'd go with a group for a beer or something.
Gibraltar-I love this place. Yes, after getting robbed I was seeking out people I could talk to--and loads of people here speak English (including the Englishman owner). But it's also just a nice, fun pub. Great selection of beer, fun atmosphere, and great pub food.
Mercado De San Telmo-While the Sunday market is a big to-do, the permanent market in the center of San Telmo is also worth visiting. There are several antique stands up daily, lots of food stalls, and other odds & ends. I bought antique buttons here. Lots and lots of buttons.
Feria De San Telmo-The Sunday market is like a craft fair, an antique fair, a market, a series of parades and a music festival all combined into one event. It's amazing. Start early, go all day. I didn't want to leave. It seemed like every time we got tired a new drum group went past and lured us in. Or we found another street of stalls and music we hadn't walked down.
I wish I knew how to get the video I took of this guy off my camera and onto my computer (it's still on there). His marionette show was fabulous and hilarious.
Plaza Dorrego-If you want to see Tango just hang out near the Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo. People perform almost all day long and offer lessons. The woman we rented the apartment from also recommended Torquato Tasso for Tango in San Telmo.
The street art in San Telmo is amazing. One of our favorite things to do was to just walk around looking at it. Though I was mostly afraid to take pictures, as taking a picture of street art is how I got us robbed at gunpoint (did I mention that we were robbed?).
So that's about that. There is a ton of shopping to be done in San Telmo (both at the markets and in shops), but I imagine that you know your own style better than me, so I'm not going to name names. Lots of antique shops, artsy housewares type places, and all sorts of clothing stores. Oh, and stores that sell baby deer chairs.