How Parrilla Don Julio Helped a Neglected Buenos Aires Square Bloom

(Fine Dining Lovers) It’s a warm autumnal afternoon in Buenos Aires, ash leaves dot the pavement and sun streams between the mid-rise buildings in the hip barrio of Palermo. At Huerta Luna de Enfrente, a sustainable urban community allotment, a small group of green-fingered neighbours are taking advantage of the amiable weather to transplant seedlings into 30-cubic-metre vegetable beds, while a father and his two children drop by to empty a bag of eggshells into a composter. 

Ph: Agustino Mercado.

Taking its name from legendary Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges’ 1925 poetry anthology, just two months ago this urban garden was an unseemly concrete corner located on a slice of prime Buenos Aires real estate. Dimly lit at night, with a few unkempt benches and little else going for it, Plazoleta Luna de Enfrente was a magnet for boozy dossers, football hooligans, frisky teenagers and far worse. It was high time someone showed this neglected square some love; cue Pablo Rivero, the restaurateur behind Parrilla Don Juliolocated a block away, who wanted to give something back to the local community.

Rivero has long lived in this part of Argentina’s busy capital. In his early 20s, he lived on the second floor above the steak house and today lives a short walk away. Over the years he’s seen this public space deteriorate and, ultimately, be rejected by the people who should most enjoy it, the community.

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