El Papagayo: Córdoba’s Alleyway Restaurant

From hole in the wall to gastronomic haven, this is the metamorphic tale of El Papagayo restaurant in Córdoba, Argentina.

Alleyway Dining?

We love what architect Ernesto Bedmar has done with a narrow lane in the heart of ancient Argentine city Córdoba. Seeing its potential, he bought the 2.5m-wide space many years ago when it was a mere storeroom. His experience living in Hong Kong informed this forward thinking, “I discovered the value that Asian people gave to every space […] and how they achieved something magic.”

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Small Space. Big Ideas.

Keeping this design philosophy in mind, Ernesto employed space-creating tools of the architecture trade. The concrete ceiling (which protected from above at an impressive 7m high) was replaced with light-channeling glass. This was also introduced throughout much of the restaurant’s front punctuated with timber cladding.

Beyond the timber-clad entrance, the restaurant is flanked by a wall of bare brick and exposed concrete. The latter seamlessly merges with flooring of the same material. Further down the 32m length of restaurant you’ll find spiral stairs leading to a private dining area that has been cordoned off with more space-creating glass. Below this lies an office space, bathroom abnd cellar.

The result – a tidy, uncluttered blend of old and new.

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Modern Cuisine at El Papagayo

The experiential nature of El Papagayo also extends to the food it serves. Like the architecture, the fare that comes out of chef Javier Rodriguez’s kitchen is adventurous and innovative. Conventional ingredients are given new life on the plate – rabbits swim in red cabbage soup, pork is adorned with garlic and cocoa, and snails are served with salad. And what’s a restaurant without a good ol’ cuppa and pastry?

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A Restaurant with a Rich History

Located in one of Argentina’s oldest cities, El Papagayo has the honour of being sandwiched between 19th-century colonial style buildings. The lane it calls home subtly acknowledges those of the old world on which Córdoba is based – that is, the alleyways that speckle the city’s Spanish namesake.

Being the second largest city in Argentina, Córdoba is no stranger to innovation and trend setting as seen in El Papagayo restaurant.

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