For a city with such great weather, Buenos Aires has fewer street markets than you might expect. The stalls loaded with vibrant fruit and veg that snake along streets and commandeer plazas around the Mediterranean Basin are conspicuous by their absence here. For whatever reason, porteños prefer to shop indoors—not only in the big supermarkets, but also in the local butcher's, baker's, and candlestick maker’s, plenty of which are thriving against the odds.
Several of the grand old covered markets (the one in San Telmo is an architectural gem) are going strong, thanks in part to an influx of young foodies eager to follow in the footsteps of their chef heroes. Brand new on the scene are outdoor—and usually itinerant—organic markets such as Buenos Aires Market and Sabe la Tierra. They feature local producers selling everything from wheatgrass and craft beer (look out for Boudicca) to natural detergents and vegan blood sausage. Long may they run.
Feria Artesanal Plaza Francia
A palm- and rubber tree-studded bluff in Recoleta is the setting for this popular handicrafts fair, open every weekend and on public holidays. Come here for mate gourds of all shapes and sizes, handcrafted jewelry, and accessories, or simply to sit in the shade and listen to the inevitable drum circle.
Feria San Pedro Telmo
Usually known simply as the “Sunday market,” this hugely popular fair fills every nook and cranny of San Telmo’s Plaza Dorrego and spills out into the surrounding streets. Though it advertises itself as an antiques fair, most serious relic hunters will skip the market and make a beeline for the dedicated stores on nearby Defensa street.
Mercado de Pulgas
I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent strolling the vaulted corridors of this splendid flea market, which was renovated a couple of years back. I do know that I’ve never bought anything here, which is probably why the stallholders wince when they see me coming. Everything you would expect to find in a flea market is here, plus indigenous treasures like rare tango and football memorabilia.
Feria de Mataderos
If you can’t get to the country, at least get to this weekend market on the western edge of the city and let the country come to you. Gauchos in bright belts and broad boinas (a kind of beret) put horses through their paces, couples dance the chacarera (the country’s best known folk dance) while numerous asadores (pitmasters) fire up their rusty grills.
This pioneering farmers market is housed in a bright yellow shack in Chacarita. Many of the products on sale, including poultry, charcuterie, cheeses and fruit and veg, are organic (how organic is frequently an open question) and unavailable in even the most upscale supermarkets. It opens Wednesday and Saturday, the former quite peaceful, the latter chaotic.