A Charlestonian in Argentina: My Buenos Aires Staycation

Bailey Desiree Bial

Hands down coolest part of being a traveling stylist is getting to see all of the different houses/apartments of my clients throughout the city.


There are over 3 millions residents and over 50 neighborhoods within the city of Buenos Aires. One of those 3 million people, my client John, lives in the beautiful historic neighborhood of San Telmo.


John has lived in San Telmo for 12 years, and often we discuss the restaurant scene, the markets, theaters, and more that fill the neighborhood. 


Knowing my interest in exploring San Telmo more, John so kindly offered me to stay at his home while he was on vacation. A Buenos Aires staycation?? Yes, please! I jumped on this offer- packed my bags, my wiener dog, and headed to San Telmo for a 3 day staycation. 


Here’s a day-by-day look into my blissful holiday. (I hope you’re ok with food pics...) 



I arrived to San Telmo around 3pm- toured John’s gorgeous home, put my things in my room, and introduced the pups (he has two)…they all became fast friends.



After settling in, I took a short walk to Parque Lezama- one of the oldest and most beautiful parks in Buenos Aires.

It overflows with palms and other trees, blooming flowers, bright open lawns, brick walkways, benches…stunning.







Friday night I met some friends at Dada Bistro (technically the neighborhood of Retiro, but borders San Telmo).

We dined right before 10pm and the vibe of this place was absolutely perfect- dim lighting, eclectic crowd, boho interior, fabulous food, and delicious wine.




 [I ordered the Lomo Dada- steak medallion over potato gratin with a dijon sauce. Highly recommend]




Around 10am I set out (with my dachshund Nellie of course), to explore the hood.

Just one block away I stumbled upon an incredible farmers market- vendors set up with fresh fish, organic meats, cheese, dried fruits/nuts, any and every fruit/veggie, and more.




[every Saturday from 9-3pm, corner of Mexico St & Balcarce St]


Although I could have enjoyed an organic apple for breakfast, I already had it set in my mind that I was going to brunch at Hierbabuena- a well received natural-food restaurant.

I’m certainly happy I did…as it’s safe to say I am now obsessed. For starters, it is located on a charming avenue that gives you NYC vibes.

Hierbabuena's colorful facade is playful and inviting, and the interior equally as fun with green tile and aqua-stripped walls. 



The menu is FULL of tasty dishes- a variety of poached egg toasts, fresh salads, risottos/pastas, sandwiches, and more.

Don’t forget to flip the menu, where its other side is dedicated to a giant, heavenly juice selection. I ordered the Green Omega Seed juice along side my Egg & Chicken.  

Insert smiley face with heart-eyes when my food arrived…and its tasted even better.

The juice was so fresh and FULL of flavor..and I loved every bite of my warm chicken salad with perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Seriously, can’t wait to go back. 





After spending the afternoon walking through each street of the neighborhood and then resting a bit, I got ready for my Saturday night- dinner and a theater.

I headed to the beautiful, gothic-style performing arts center- Teatro Margarita Xirgu. Here you can catch an array of shows- concerts, orchestras, ballets, plays, etc. I had the pleasure of watching the comedic skits of Los Blablas, 5 guys who act different scenes, each paired with music and humor. The actors are hilarious and talented, even if you don't speak Spanish you’d be highly entertained. 






After the theater followed dinner at Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant around the corner from the theater. Another score!

Great ethnic dishes packed with flavor and spice, paired with a good beer selection and casual-cool atmosphere- I found Saigon to be the real deal.

I sat at the bar and chatted with the cooks and servers, everyone super friendly.

I wanted to try a little bit of the menu, so thats what I did. Check out the colors and vibrancy of these dishes! 



(From Left) 

-Spring rolls with shrimp y mango, served with a thick peanut soy dipping sauce. 

-Bún Tom- HUGE cold noodle salad with poached blackened shrimp, seasoned noodles with sesame, lemongrass, gengibre and honey. Mix it all up with the accompaniment- shredded carrots, mint, bean sprout, cilantro, cucumber, lettuce. SO GOOD. Extremely flavorful and fresh. Giant portion, giant flavors. 

-Nem fríos -Eggs rolls with pork and beans. Crispy and tasty. 

-Hoja de parra (Beef marinated in lemongrass, seasoned and wrapped in grape leaves.. sprinkled with chopped peanuts and served on a bed of green onions and lettuce. Great appetizer, layers of flavor. 

(I would have ordered the pho but didn’t have room. The pho looks amazing as well as many others hot dishes)




I woke up Sunday morning to the sound of people stirring and the smell of choripan in the air. Yay, it’s FÉRIA DOMINGO (Sunday fair) en San Telmo! So happy my staycation fell on a Sunday…to me, this day is magical.




Every Sunday San Telmo hosts a fair that leads down 13+ blocks of Defense St., packed with food, music, and vendors selling anything from antiques, art, leather goods, jewelry, and much, much more.



Love, love, love these handmade purses. Real leather bags that cost around $50. Argentina has one of the top cattle population in the world. Therefore, not only are the steaks out of this world, but the leather goods are phenomenal- all at much lower prices than anywhere fathomable in the US. 




I mentioned the smell of Choripan in the air…and obviously could not resist in indulging in this Argentine classic. Grilled chorizo- hot off the asado, into a baguette, and topped with chimmichuri and an onion-pepper salsa…mine was gone is 2.5 seconds and I wanted another one (I refrained). 




If you’re looking for the best tango shows, San Telmo is the place to be. The dance originated in Argentina in the late 1800’s, and this neighborhood housed majority of that history. 




I headed back to my stay-cation home after several hours at the market. I strongly considered staying in and relaxing, but come on, my last night of stay-cation called for one last outing. Around 10 pm I walked down the block and into the most lovely little French restaurant- Brasserie Petanque. Highly recommended by John, and several others, I made sure not to miss this spot. The interior is elegant and cozy, but also eclectic and fresh. The prices aren’t low but could be worse, plus the food is high quality and every single item is made in house. I started with the fish soup- a perfectly textured puree of fresh fish and spices, topped with grilled shrimp and mussels, and a crispy toast with garlic aioli. The flavors were divine- the dish not to be missed.




Contemplating between the steak tartar and the rabbit, I settled on the latter. Although I’m sure both are delicious, the rabbit was cooked perfectly, over a creamed potatoes, dijon cream, and fresh herbs. Every bite was delectable. Sadly I couldn’t fit the creme brûlée into my stomach. But, I will definitely be back.







It’s sad but true- my staycation is over. San Telmo is a neighborhood full of character, and I had a truly incredible time exploring it. Thanks for following my trip! 

Whether you’ve just moved to a new city, or have lived in the same place for 30 years- I highly suggest taking a stay-cation in a different part of town. Having the chance to sleep, wake up, explore, etc., for a few days, makes such a big difference on how you feel about and know an area. Do it! 


For more photos or information please contact me at Baybial@gmail.com