For your fix of mouthwatering Vietnamese street food, look no further than Saigon. Located in the heart of San Telmo in a renovated resto-bar, Saigon has taken the soup-slurping world of Buenos Aires by storm. Vietnamese sandwiches are also on offer, and an array of spicy sauces you won’t find in your standard parilla will keep you ordering craft beer from the bar.
Oui oui, of course you want the most delicious French bread, pastries and coffees in San Telmo, and Merci is where you’ll find them. This slice of Paris fits snugly into the covered San Telmo market, and in winter you can warm your cockles with a rich French onion soup or a croque-monsieur. If you order a bottle of wine on Fridays before 8pm, you get some free tapas. Merci indeed!
Chin Chin in many ways defines a typical San Telmo joint. Kind of dingy but oozing character, and characters, it wedges drooling customers into its dimly-lit enclave and serves them generous portions of non-Argentine dishes such as red curry or barbecue ribs. Or steak, of course. It has reasonable prices and good craft beer. Get there early and go in small groups, as finding a table for more than six is tricky.
Banco Rojo has been a staple of the San Telmo food scene for many years. In its new incarnation as an expanded restaurant/bar, it has a patio and internal and external seating – a far cry from the uncomfortable high stools customers were forced to devour their empanadas from at the previous premises. Banco Rojo continues to reign supreme, and the fried empanadas and taco specials are really what keep people coming back for more. Beware, you may have the best intentions, but you will inevitably find yourself 12 empanadas and six beers deep at 2am and invited to an afterparty in some local’s house. Go. It’s that kind of place.
La Vermuteria is basically a Spanish food invasion of San Telmo. This classy tapas joint has overhauled an old San Telmo property and you could be fooled into thinking you’re in Madrid by its swish decor – distinctly at odds with the nostalgic old cafes that litter this neighborhood. Located in the breezy front section of Cafe San Juan, La Vermuteria is designed with tapas in mind, as twelve seats prop up the bar for customers to enjoy their tapas and vermuts a la Espanol.
Fabrica del Taco
It may not be new to Buenos Aires, but it’s certainly new to San Telmo. With branches already going loco in Palermo and Las Canitas, Buenos Aires’ primo taco joint has brought a decent dollop of Mexico to San Telmo. It may be competing with barrio regulars Che Taco, but Fabrica has been doing this for a while and has built a name for itself on its authentic decor and potent margaritas.
An oldie but a goodie, this classic San Telmo restaurant has recently come under new management and certainly deserves a mention. With its wood-paneled bar and white-clothed tables, Cafe Rivas conjures up memories of old Buenos Aires. Spend an evening with close friends or a new lover here, and afterwards walk through the cobbled streets, safe in the knowledge that you have had a true San Telmo dining experience. They also do a great brunch at weekends.