About 12km northwest of Buenos Aires Centro is the residential barrio called Villa Urquiza. It shares its borders with Agronomia, Coghlan, Saavedra, Villa Ortuzar and Villa Pueyrredon.
Villa Urquiza is mostly neglected by visitors to Buenos Aires as it is a highly residential area. But it is worth a visit as it shares some characteristics with Belgrano, being a middle-upper class neighborhood with beautiful old homes and modern apartment buildings.
An introduction to Villa Urquiza
Villa Urquiza was founded towards the end of the 19th century by Francisco Seeber, a key figure in the War of the Triple Alliance fought by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay against Paraguay, and the Mayor of Buenos Aires from 1889 to 1890.
In its early days, Villa Urquiza was made up of three smaller barrios – Villa Catalinas, Villa Mazzini and Villa Modelo. As the owner of the downtown business ‘Muelles de las Catalinas’, Seeber chose the location of Villa Urquiza due to its height with the idea of using the area’s soil for downtown land reclamation.
The barrio was officially christened Villa Urquiza on October 16th 1901 by request of the workers who predominately came from Entre Rios, a province north of Buenos Aires. The choice of name was to pay homage to Justo Jose de Urquiza, a provincial hero and President of Argentina from 1854 to 1860.
Nowadays, Villa Urquiza occupies a quieter zone of Buenos Aires with a blend of town houses and modern apartment blocks. If you pass by at the weekend you might just spot locals sweeping the leaves outside their homes and sharing a mate whilst chatting to their neighbors.
Things to see, do or both
If you are not living in the area you might wonder why anyone would ever visit the barrio. Well, for those that are in Buenos Aires to dance, learn or simply experience the city’s tango culture, Villa Urquiza is home to two important dancehalls. The Sunderland Club (Lugones 3161) was established in 1921 following a donation from an Englishman living in the area and has since served as a both a milonga and sports club. The second notable venue is Sin Rumbo (Tamborini 6157). Founded in 1919, history states that a group of friends went to the racecourse in the hope of winning enough cash to create their own club. The horse they bet on was called Sin Rumbo. With a classic black and white squared dance floor and a capacity for just 150-170, the club is for more serious tango dancers and milongueros.
Should you be the type that enjoys aimlessly wandering the streets of neighborhoods then in Villa Urquiza you can find a handful of pleasant plazas. Both Plaza Echeverria (Nahuel Huapi and Baunes) and Plaza Marcos Sastre (Monroe and Miller) offer small leafy gardens where you can often see locals playing games of chess and backgammon. Similarly, across Avenida Crisologo Larralde into Saavedra is Parque Sarmiento, a large public park complete with abundant recreational activities.
Nightlife and restaurants
Although not swarming with dining and nightlife activity, there are a few venues worth checking out in Villa Urquiza.
Lo De Charly (Alvarez Thomas and Donado). Simply meaning Charly’s Place, you won’t find a more stereotypical neighbourhood parrilla than this. Situated on a street corner on the boarder of Villa Urquiza and Villa Ortúzar, Lo de Charly is a no-frills grill well off the tourist trail but a place that locals trust for its juicy cuts of meat. It is open 24-hours a day thus grants partygoers the opportunity to chow down a bife de chorizo on the way home from a night out.
Café de la U (Triunvirato 4801). Two blocks from Plaza Echeverria, Café de la U is a Villa Urquiza addition to Buenos Aires’ bares notables. Offering a menu full of porteño classics, the café attracts and older crowd and has frequent live music shows.
El Faro (Los Constituyentes 4099). Purists may claim that this café-bar is in Parque Chas but regardless it is worth a mention. Another member of the bares notables, El Faro opened in 1931 and has been dishing up Argentine fare and entertaining guests with tango shows ever since. A great spot to feel like a true porteño.
Why it’s hot / Why it’s not
Although a fair distance from the main action of the city, if you want to escape the swarms of European and North American gap year students and expats then Villa Urquiza could be a good alternative. You might even find a townhouse for the fraction of the cost of a Palermo Soho studio apartment.
On the other hand, if you are a social butterfly then you might find the barrio too far from the nightlife and entertainment areas of Buenos Aires.
With the luxury of your own car in Buenos Aires, barrios like Villa Urquiza are ideally positioned for jaunts into the city center and weekend escapes to suburbs like Martinez and Olivos in La Provincia, and Tigre.