Caballito maintains a pretty low profile, despite being in the exact geographic center of the city…and despite that intriguing name. Caballito means, of course, ‘little horse.’ So what’s up with that – did it used to be the best place in town to get a pony ride? Well, no. The story goes that Caballito is named after a horse-shaped weather vane that adorned a landmark local bar favored by gauchos.
Unfortunately the weather vane is gone now, but that’s ok – we have maps. Let’s further investigate this fine and comfortable Buenos Aires barrio.
An introduction to Caballito
Historically, Caballito was where wealthy Porteños would go at the weekend to kick back at their colonial-style mansions. Some of these mansions are still standing today on Avenida Rivadavia – for example, the house of the wine baron Ambrosio Lezica.
One of the most notable things about Caballito these days is the presence of a faculty of the University of Buenos Aires. The scruffy students of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters help to roughen up what is otherwise rather a patrician and well-to-do district.
The main commercial area of Caballito is on Avenida Rivadavia, which is one of the city’s main thoroughfares and also one of the borders of this barrio.
Things to see, do or both
For people who like to wander around and look at things, Caballito has plenty that’s of interest. Parque Rivadavia features an every-day street market selling books and music (vinyl records, music scores and so on). The other park, Parque Centenario, is also beautiful, and was very recently refurbished after some years of neglect.
For tram buffs (they exist, right?) there’s the Historical Tramway museum of Buenos Aires, and for architecture enthusiasts there’s the English District, which features buildings in late 19th century British style. The Mercado del Progreso, a historic and still-functioning market, is also impressive.
Nightlife and restaurants
• Locos por el Futbol (Rivadavia 4751). Yes, it’s a sports theme bar and restaurant! Maybe not the best place to take someone on a first date, but when important football games or other sporting events are on it’s the place to be, and after they finish it turns into a disco. You can check out their program ahead of time on their website.
• The Oldest (Juan B. Ambrosetti 31 and Rivadavia). The residents of Caballito aren’t spoilt for pubs, ‘tis true, but then as long as you have one good option, does it really matter? The Oldest is probably far from the oldest pub in Buenos Aires, but with tap beer, whisky, food and buena onda, no one is calling them on it. Good times any day of the week.
Why it’s hot / why it’s not
For those who plan to stay a long time in Buenos Aires, the primary attraction of Caballito is that it’s a whole lot cheaper than places like Palermo, very comfortable, has some character, and yet isn’t too far from the action. It’s great value for money.
On the other hand, Caballito is a quiet, middle-class neighborhood without much in the way of nightlife, and where’s the fun in that?
Caballito is a classy, understated barrio with tree-lined avenues, cobblestone streets and some beautiful parks. It’s well served by the subte and it has no shortage of amenities. Honestly, it’s probably not a place to rush to visit if you live elsewhere in Buenos Aires, but if you choose to make it your home while you’re in Buenos Aires, you might just never want to leave.