Mataderos is a large and populous barrio situated in the southwest corner of Buenos Aires Capital Federal district that offers a mix of both city and rural life. Tradition runs deep here and visitors can often stumble across improvised lyric battles, known locally as payadas, taking place in the bars and on the street corners.
An introduction to Mataderos
The traditional barrio of Mataderos shares its borders with Liniers, Parque Avellaneda and Villa Lugano within the limits of Buenos Aires Capital Federal in addition to Ciudad Madero and Lomas del Mirador that situate themselves across Avenida General Paz in Buenos Aires Province. It is a lesser visited barrio and a far cry from the European-styled neighborhoods such as Palermo and Belgrano.
Mataderos takes its name from its literal meaning, slaughterhouses, testament to the barrios rural traditions. On 14th April 1889, the first stones were laid for the new slaughterhouses that would replace the historical Corrales Viejos (Old Corrals) of Parque Patricios, and it was around these slaughterhouses that the barrio was born. Inaugurated on 19th March 1900, the slaughterhouses were originally dedicated to the slaughter of cattle, followed a year later by the opening of facilities for the butchery of sheep and pigs.
In its early days Mataderos was known as Nueva Chicago (New Chicago), giving reference to the meat industry of Chicago in the USA, and for a great part of its history has served as an important crossroads between the city and campo (countryside). In 1912, the first hospital facilities were installed and by 1915 it was officially opened. Named after the businessman Juan F Salaberry, the hospital allowed Mataderos to grow and truly flourish as a barrio.
Throughout the 1960s and 70s Mataderos became a popular meeting point for payadores, poets and lyricists that would sit on street corners – often with guitars – and sing improvised verses about everything from love and daily life to comedy. This created a great sense of community spirit thus making Mataderos once of Buenos Aires’ most traditional neighborhoods.
Today, although times have changed somewhat, Mataderos remains proud of its roots and thrives in displaying the spirit of Argentine gaucho and country life.
Things to see, do or both
The standout highlight of a visit to Mataderos is without doubt the Feria de Mataderos. This weekly folk fair – held on Sunday from March to December and on Saturday in January and February – is a true celebration of local country life and offers a welcome change from the modernity of other barrios. Held at Mercado de Hacienda (on the corner of Avenida Lisandro de la Torres and Avenida de los Corrales), over 300 stalls set up to sell typical Argentine food, artisanal products and gaucho memorabilia.
The main event is the sortija, when gaucho horsemen stand up on their horse’s saddles in full cowboy clobber and gallop along the street. Meanwhile, couples meet at an open air stage to dance the chacarera and chamame whilst the payadores sing their verses. Moreover, if you take a walk along Avenida de los Corrales you might just stumble across impromptu tango and milonga dancing.
If, like a vast majority of Argentines, you are a diehard football fan, then you might be interested in watching a game of Club Atletico Nueva Chicago. Playing its games at Estadio Neuva Chicago (a few blocks south of Feria de Mataderos), following a brief spell in the Argentine A Division during the 1980s the club now competes in the National B Division. Bear in mind that the club has a notoriously violent barra brava (fan base), therefore, it is advisable to go with an organized tour or a knowledgeable local.
Finally, with a few extra hours in the area, stop by Museo Crillo de los Corrales, an interesting museum dedicated to creole culture and exhibiting over three thousand artifacts alongside a library, gallery and antique vehicles.
Nightlife and restaurants
Rusticana (Emilio Castro 7505). Right on the Mataderos-Liniers border, Rusticana is a classic bar del barrio specializing in picadas, a selection of cold cuts, salami, cheese and olives served on a thick wooden tray. Simply furnished with square wooden tables and chairs, both indoors and out, it is a great place to enjoy early evening food accompanied by a beer and friends.
Bar Oviedo (Lisandro de la Torre 2407). Just steps from Feria de Mataderos, Bar Oviedo has been declared as an official symbol of cultural interest by the Buenos Aires city government. The blue and yellow façade invites you to take a step into a century-old establishment that since 1900 has served as a meeting point and watering hole for slaughterhouse workers. On any given day, you’ll meet locals dressed in alpargatas and bombachas; however, drop by at the weekend to find spur-of-the-moment tango dances. And, if you are interested, the bar serves coffee, beer, wine and the usual array of Argentine café food.
Clifton Jazz (Corner of Larrazabal and Bragado). If your idea of a good night is being serenaded by a jazz crooner or saxophonist whilst dining then give Clifton Jazz a shot. The open brick walls and black and white square-tile floor create a cozy setting for performances by known Argentines like Adrian Otero and Osvaldo Bosch. On the menu you’ll find steaks, brochettes, homemade pastas and a large wine selection.
Why it’s hot / Why it’s not
There is no better example of working country life within the city confines than Mataderos and when visiting the barrio you will be rewarded with a wonderful insight into how different the city is from the bustle of El Centro and the heavily touristic barrios of Palermo and San Telmo.
Great for a visit and to enjoy the spirit of the weekend market, as Mataderos is a solid one-hour bus ride from the main action of the city it is unlikely that you would want to live here for the long-term.
In addition to being famed for its farming and gaucho heritage, Mataderos is the birthplace of a long list of famous Argentine faces, namely the writer and cartoonist Geno Diaz, tango singer Horacio Deval and boxer Justo ‘El Torito de Mataderos’ Suarez.