Feria de Mataderos — You’re not in San Telmo anymore…

Feria de Mataderos — You’re not in San Telmo anymore…

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Interested in something unique to do in Buenos Aires? Read on…

“Feria” is the word they use down here to refer to an open air market.  Most sell various arts and crafts as well as clothing, food and antiques.  There are several of them in varying shapes and sizes all over the city (and country).  Some are every day, some are only on certain days of the week.  Probably the most common one for tourists to check out is the Feria de San Telmo which is every Sunday and stretches from the center of the San Telmo neighborhood all the way to Plaza de Mayo across streets that are closed weekly for the occasion.  It’s usually pretty full of tourists, but we enjoy the San Telmo market… despite being quite crowded, it somehow manages to maintain a laid back vibe; this is much assisted by the fact that the vendors are super chill and I’ve never seen anything even remotely resembling an aggressive sales pitch–on the contrary, they are usually just hanging out and enjoying the day.  San Telmo is roughly a 10 minute cab ride away for us, or a 30-45 minute walk.  This is obviously far too convenient, so in our continued desire to get off the beaten path and find more stuff to do here in BA, yesterday we decided to go to the exact opposite side of the city of Buenos Aires to check out a different Feria:  Feria de Mataderos (Fair warning:  I’ve encountered very few Argentine websites that don’t begin with an annoying animated intro that includes music that plays automatically–this site is no exception)

Feria_de_Mataderos_map Image

For context, we live in the top right corner and the city is ~80 Sq. Miles; so this is a bit further than 'off the beaten path'

Why we went:

We were looking to do something a bit more adventurous than normal and see a different side of the city (literally), and this delivered.  There are several ways that you can get there by bus as detailed on their website, but we decided to splurge and take a cab.  The cab took nearly 30 minutes (I told you it was far), but still only cost about ~US$10.  It was pretty cool driving through so many different parts of the city that we hadn’t seen before.  It definitely changes as you get further out–still quite pretty, but the lower buildings and wider streets give it a more tranquil feel (at least as viewed through a car window, it’s entirely possible that some of these neighborhoods are somewhat unsafe).

Jen had heard at school that Feria de Mataderos was more traditional/authentic, far less touristy and would include lots of gaucho (~cowboy) type stuff, good food and maybe even some live shows.

gaucho-pants image

For context: According to Google images, these are "gaucho pants" -- apparently Argentine cowboys wore heels

Did it deliver?

The quick answer is Yes.

There was a main stage area where they did dancing shows and other stuff that seemed exciting  which was kind of cool.

Feria de Mataderos stage image

If that's not a live show, I don't know what is

And of course lots and lots of booths selling all kinds of stuff

Feria de Mataderos booths images

One of many streets full of vendors

Much of the stuff on sale was similar to the stuff you’d find at other ferias in the city, but this stuff seemed higher quality and more authentic on average (and was cheaper).

Feria de Mataderos booths with Argentina flags image

Argentina will never be accused of lacking patriotism

It also felt far more neighborhood-ie if that makes any sense.  While I’m sure we weren’t the only tourists there, it felt like the majority of the people there were from the neighborhood and turned out every Sunday which gave it a cool vibe.

Also, unlike San Telmo and many of the other ferias in the city, at Feria de Mataderos, there is lots of food!

Feria de Mataderos Choripan Image

That, my friend, is Choripan... Grilled chorizo cut down the middle, smothered in Chimichurri and served on bread; it's obviously very healthy

Feria de Mataderos Choripan with Jen Image

...Doesn't she look healthy?

You’re probably wondering where we found that Choripan…

Feria de Mataderos grill image

Some people say "where there's smoke there's fire," in Argentina it's more appropriate to say "where there's smoke, there's meat; lots of it"

Aside from lots and lots of meat (the above is only one of the multiple meat venues), there were also several booths with traditional foods from all over the country such as humitas and tamales, locro, empanadas and more.

Feria de Mataderos locro booth

This locro/empanada/tamale/other stuff booth had a very long line

This being Argentina and all, there were also tons of sweets–lots of fried pastries and some very fat women sitting behind freshly baked cakes that looked quite tasty (we wanted to get a picture of this, but were afraid of the aforementioned very fat women–we figured we could outrun them, but they seemed to have lots of friends).  Also, there were some candy type things:

Feria de Mataderos fruit candy image

This was some sort of fruit candy with popcorn--looked really cool, but we didn't eat it; also possible that someone just spilled a bucket of popcorn on their candied fruit

We had also heard that there would be animals.  We had heard right.

Feria de Mataderos Llama image

For instance: We were greeted by this rather smug looking and well dressed llama

Feria de Mataderos Llama backside image

Later he showed us how he really felt about us; disgusting, yet entertaining--both the event itself and Jen's excited desire to capture it on camera

In addition to our Llama friend, there were lots and lots of miniature ponies.

Feria de Matadores pony image

Of all of the ponies, this one definitely had the coolest hairstyle. If you're into punk ponies that is. (I am)

Aside from the animals wandering around, one of the highlights of this market is said to be the Gaucho shows on horseback.  Apparently the Gauchos perform various cowboy skills and other feats of strength/prowess while on horseback.  We did see the gauchos and the horses, but I think they must just have been warming up because not much was happening.  That said, plenty of people were waiting around expectantly, so I’m sure the shows do happen.

Feria de Mataderos gauchos

Or... it's possible that the gaucho feat of strength is just sitting still on a horse for a long time... if so, the show was awesome!

In Summary

We had a great time and while the Feria de Mataderos is unlikely to rock your world, it is sure to be an enjoyable Sunday afternoon and will allow you to get a much more authentic glimpse into Argentine culture and tradition as well as allowing you to see a different side of the city.  A perfect 3-4 hour outing off the beaten path.

Quick tip:  Be sure that you have a way to get home arranged before you go–we found it to be quite difficult to flag down a taxi as this is quite far away from the city center and cabs are a bit rare (also, apparently the neighborhood is a bit iffy safety-wise if you stray too far away from the market).  Either know the right bus to get you home or bring a phone and call for a cab to pick you up (which we keep hearing we should be doing all the time anyway, but we continue to tempt fate with flagging down cabs on the street).


Please leave a comment, it will make us feel special!

  • Sera June 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Can I be all fannish and say I just looove your blog? It kicks ass, seriously, I found your content to be ultra useful (found my vacation rental in BA through your blog) and fun to read. Thank you!

    • ryan June 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

      Hey Sera,

      Awesome, thanks!! Tell your friends!! :)

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