Buenos Aires Feature
Good Marketing Skills
The array of open-air ferias (markets) in Buenos Aires testifies to the fact that locals enjoy stall-trawling as much as visitors do. Argentina holds its craftspeople, both traditional and contemporary, in high esteem. The selections include not only crafts but also art, antiques, curios, clothing, jewelry, and housewares, and stalls are often attended by the artists themselves. Bargaining isn't the norm, although you may get a small discount for buying lots of items.
Feria de San Pedro Telmo. Plaza Dorrego is the heart of the Feria de San Pedro Telmo—an open-air market that stretches for more than a kilometer (0.6 mile) along Calle Defensa each Sunday. Thrust your way through the crowds to pick through antiques and curios of varying vintages as well as tango memorabilia, or watch dolled-up professional tango dancers perform on the surrounding cobbled streets. The unofficial "stalls" (often just a cloth on the ground) of young craftspeople stretch several blocks up Defensa, away from the market proper. As it gets dark, the square turns into a milonga, where quick-stepping locals show you how it's done. Plaza Dorrego, Humberto I and Defensa, San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1065AAT. www.feriadesantelmo.com. Sun. 10–dusk. C to San Juan.
Feria de Artesanos de Plaza Francia. The sprawling open-air market winds through several linked squares outside the Recoleta Cemetery. Each weekend, artisans sell handmade clothes, jewelry, and housewares as well as traditional crafts. Avs. Libertador and Pueyrredón, La Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1113AAX. www.feriaplazafrancia.com. Weekends 11–dusk.
Feria de Plaza Cortázar. The business conducted in hip Palermo Viejo's Feria de Plaza Cortázar (also known as Plaza Serrano) rivals that done in the neighborhood's trendy boutiques. In a small square—which is actually round—artisans sell wooden toys, ceramics, and funky jewelry made of stained glass or vintage buttons. This is also a great place to purchase art: the railings around a playground here act as an open-air gallery for Palermo artists, and organizers control the quality of art on display. The feria continues on the sidewalks of Honduras and Serrano, which intersect at the square, then down the former on weekends and inside the bars on the square itself, which push their tables and chairs aside to make room for clothing and accessory designers: expect to find anything from cute cotton underwear and one-off T-shirts to clubbing dresses. Quality is often low, but so are prices. Plazoleta Cortázar (Plaza Serrano) at, Honduras and Serrano, Palermo Viejo, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1414DFF. Weekends 11–dusk. D to Plaza Italia.
Mercado de las Pulgas. On the edge of Palermo Hollywood lies the large warehouse sheltering the Mercado de las Pulgas, packed with furniture on its second—or third or fourth—time around. You won't come across any Louis XV, but original pieces from the 1940s, '50s, and '60s may turn out to be (relative) bargains. Lighting up your life is a cinch: choose from the many Venetian-glass chandeliers, or go for a chrome-and-acrylic mushroom lamp. If your taste is more rustic, there's also a sizable selection of hefty farmhouse-style tables and cabinets in oak and pine. Don't be deceived by the stalls' simple-looking set-up: vendors are used to dealing with big-name local customers, and can often arrange overseas shipping. Alvarez Thomas between Dorrego and Concepción Arenales, Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1427CCA. Daily 10–dusk. B to Dorrego.
One of the last surviving European-style indoor food markets in town, the Feria Modelo de Belgrano is a gourmet's dream. The building has stood more or less unchanged since 1891, and its 30 stalls are the ideal place to ogle top national produce like Patagonian trout and lamb, porcini mushrooms, and stuffed meats. The cheese stalls sell creamy ricotta by the kilo and chunky wheels of queso Mar del Plata, an eminently snackable Gouda-style cheese. Juramento 2527, at Ciudad de la Paz, Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires. Mon.–Sat. 8–1 and 5–8:30, Sun. 8–1.
In the Market for Some Culture
Jewelry and matés aren't the only things porteños stalk markets for: books and music, prohibitively expensive in Argentina, are also top finds. Kiosklike stalls on the traffic island of Avenida Santa Fe west of Plaza Italia (D to Plaza Italia) do a brisk trade in used and cut-price new books (in Spanish). You occasionally find gems amid the piles of scratched LPs on sale at Parque Rivadavia (A to Acoyte), but what locals really come for are the pirate CDs and DVDs for 10 pesos. (They browse innocent-looking folders, tell vendors the codes of what they want, and 10 minutes later are paying for an unassuming plastic bag of goodies.)
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