Boedo is traditionally a working class barrio situated in the mid-east area of Buenos Aires Capital Federal. The barrio is known for its influence in tango culture and its cafes were important meeting places for writers and musicians.
An introduction to Boedo
Boedo, and its principal thoroughfare Avenida Boedo, take their name from Mariano Joaquin Boedo who was a significant figure during the Argentine independence movement. The barrio is bordered by Almagro to the north, San Cristobal to the east, Parque Patricios to the southeast, Nueva Pompeya to the south, and Caballito and Parque Chacabuco to the west.
In its early days Boedo was a semi-rural area of Buenos Aires where cattle herding and slaughtering played a key role in daily life. Later, following the arrival of the first trams that traveled along Avenida Boedo, the barrio was settled and became a residential neighbourhood. The barrio soon became inhabited by immigrants and a fusion of both anarchists and socialists. Such cultural diversity allowed literary and artistic groups to rise; namely El Grupo Boedo.
Established in the 1920s, El Grupo Boedo was a group of left-wing writers from Argentina and Uruguay that expressed a need for change in a society awash with social injustice and imbalance. The group met in a shop at the back of Avenida Boedo 837/39, was founded by political journalist Antonio Zamora and included notable writers such as Enrique Amorim, Nicolas Olivari and Roberto Arlt. El Grupo Boedo’s opposition was the avant-garde Grupo de Florida, with Olivari and Arlt being active members of both.
Boedo is a lesser-visited barrio but with a prevalence of terraced townhouses, which were once omnipresent throughout the city, presents an impression of Buenos Aires before the high-rise and commercial development of today took over. Similarly, its literary influence offers glimpses of the tango culture and movement away from San Telmo.
Things to see, do or both
The main points of interest in Boedo relate to its tango history and what are collectively known as the ‘Esquinas de Boedo’, or Boedo Corners. The most famous of all is at the intersection of Avenida Boedo and Avenida where you will find the café Esquina Homero Manzi. Formerly known as Canadian, the café was a meeting point for tango singers and immortalised when Homero Manzi mentioned it in ‘Sur’, one of the most revered tango songs about Buenos Aires. Today, the café is a classic porteño bar-restaurant with tango shows in the evening.
Traveling north for two blocks, Avenida Boedo meets with San Ignacio street which for many years was known for a proletarian tribune where leaders of a socialist party would speak. The corner is referenced in the milonga ‘Cortada de San Ignacio’ and was later named Esquina Escultor Francisco Reyes to honor a well-known resident of the barrio.
Without doubt, the beating heart of Boedo is its namesake boulevard and running from Avenida Independencia to San Juan is the Paseo de Esculturas. This ‘Sculpture Walk’ includes work by Francisco Reyes, Oscar de Buenos and Leo Vinci. Further south along Avenida Boedo is La Esquina de Osvaldo Pugliese, another café where important tango musicians met, including Osvaldo Pugliese himself. By day the café goes by Recuerdo and is still frequented by old tango singers. At night it becomes La Esquina de Osvaldo Pugliese, a tango dinner-show venue.
Other places worth checking out here count Museo Monte de Piedad (Boedo 870), a walk through the ages of Banco Ciudad since its inception in 1878, and Escuela Tema (San Juan 3886), a music school offering group, individual and children’s classes and workshops.
Nightlife and restaurants
From top to bottom, Avenida Boedo is well stocked with places to eat, ranging from historic cafes to parrillas and pizzerias. Elsewhere in the barrio you can find European-styled pubs and a boutique vinoteca.
Cossab (Carlos Calvo 4199). Dim lighting, wooden furniture, open-brick walls and a bar at which to sit at and chat with the bartenders whilst sipping pints of stout, scotch, honey beer and IPA make Cossab a welcoming addition to Boedo’s watering holes. Soak up the beer with hearty sandwiches, beer marinated pork chops, picadas and other pub grub.
Pan y Arte (Boedo 880). Restaurant, theater and art foundation all rolled into one, Pan y Arte opened in 2004 with a goal to celebrate Boedo’s rich cultural history. Whilst the restaurant’s primary aim is to tempt your taste buds with Argentine classics and an emphasis on the flavors of Mendoza, it also offers a cultural space utilized for jazz, tango and folkloric events and art exhibitions. Meanwhile, the theater puts on performances by both upcoming and established artists, and Fundacion Pan y Arte aims to bring the people of Boedo closer to their artistic roots.
Señor Gonzalez (Carlos Calvo 4293). A block along from Cossab, Señor Gonzalez is a cozy vinoteca offering 300 brands of wine, abundant international beers and a limitless supply of pickles, sauces and syrups to accompany a fine offering of cheese and cold cuts. Friday and Saturday nights are recommended to enjoy wine and picada tastings.
Bien Bohemio (Sanchez de Loria 740). This former home of composer Tito Rossi, responsible for the tango songs ‘Bien Bohemio’ and ‘Azucar, pimienta y sal’, Rossi’s offspring welcome guests to experience one of Boedo’s many significant tango haunts On the agenda are milongas, tango classes, shows open-mic nights.
Why it’s hot / Why it’s not
Being only 6km from Buenos Aires Centro and on the E line of the Subte, Boedo is certainly a barrio worth checking out. Owing much to its tango and literature history, Boedo has a bohemian charm and will often feel far removed from the city’s tourism hotspots.
If there is any downside then it would be its lack of parks therefore if you are the type that feels claustrophobic then work out your quickest escape routes.
Seemingly set up to receive tourists, many expats & tourists take the easy option by finding accommodation in Palermo, Recoleta and San Telmo. If you are more adventurous and not concerned by the amount of obvious tourist attractions and familiar bar and restaurant names then barrios such as Boedo can offer a true porteño lifestyle. With a lack of foreigners you might even brush up on your ability to converse in castellaño.