When you talk about Argentine Cuisine the first thing that comes to mind is Argentine beef. If there is one thing you need to taste in here it’s the delicious beef dishes. As you know Argentina is the world’s leading cattle producer. And they are as good and experienced in cooking as they are in production.
But is beef the only good thing about Argentine Cuisine? Of course not. It’s not like the whole country only eats beef. But to be honest Argentine cuisine is not that diverse. It’s mostly based on meat and pastries. On the other hand, they are amazing at cooking the finite number of dishes they have.
In this article, I will talk about the best dishes in Argentina and I will suggest some places in Buenos Aires you can eat these dishes. (Because I know more about the restaurants in Buenos Aires than any other city.) I have talked about the restaurants I liked in other cities in my other guides. If you’re planning on visiting a different city in Argentina I suggest you check out the articles under the Argentina Category.
Asado / Parilla:
Firstly, let’s talk about the terminology a little because it took me a long time to figure out what everything meant. Asado means barbecue. The picture you see above is the most traditional version of asado. And parilla means grill. So, these terms describe the cooking methods, not the meat itself. Asado de Tira is the barbequed ribbs and parillada means grilled food.
Some restaurants show which part of the calf the meat comes from on their menu using pictures. The best explanation I’ve ever seen was the beginning of the Todo Sobre el Asado (Everything About Asado) documentary. I couldn’t cut the video for copyright reasons but if you start watching from the 55th second you can see the beginning of the documentary where they introduce the different types of meat. You can find the full documentary on Netflix with subtitles if you’re interested.
It is very easy to find good meat in Argentina. They have become experts at it. It is very unlikely that you will have a bad meal at a restaurant.
Here are some suggestions from Buenos Aires:
- Estilo Campo: In addition to being one of the most luxurious restaurants in Puerto Mado it is also one of the most popular and successful restaurants in Argentina.
- La Estancia: It’s located on Lavalle street in Microcentro. It has delicious meat dishes and it is best known for its lamb.
- La Cabaña & La Cabaña Las Lilas: Both of them are very popular meat restaurants and they are located very close to each other in Puerto Madero. I would prefer Estilo Campo or La Estancia instead of these restaurants but they are still good restaurants.
- Happening Costenera: It is a good meat restaurant. You can find a Happening branch in Puerto Madero but Costanera is generally better in terms of flavor.
- La Hormiga: It is my personal favorite. It has one of the highest price/performance ratios amongst the meat restaurants in Palermo. You can not only eat the delicious meats of Argentina here but also get stuffed with food and still pay a reasonable price.
- Rodizio: It actually cooks Brazilian style meat. It has a large all-you-can-eat buffet and the different types of meat get served to the tables by the waitresses. You can find many branches of it in different parts of the city.
- La Cabrera: It is a very successful restaurant. It is located in Palermo.
A must-have in Patagonia: If you happen to go south you have to try the lamb! You can find the special Patagonia lamb as LOMO in menus or you can ask your waiter.
You can think of milanesa as Argentine style schnitzel. It is different from the German schnitzel in terms of taste but it is prepared basically the same way. A thin piece of meat is breaded and then baked or fried. You can choose between meat, chicken or soy milanesa options.
You can find Milanesa in almost any restaurant but I suggest El Club De La Milanesa. As you can tell by the name, this restaurant chain specializes in Milanesa and has many restaurants around the city. You can find many different sizes and varieties of Milanesa in their menu. For example, the XL Milanesa (for 3-4 people) that’s served with avocado sauce, tomatoes and arugula you can see in the picture above. They also serve other kinds of food but El Club de Milanesa is the place to go for some delicious Milanesa in Buenos Aires.
We can say Argentina Cuisine and Italian Cuisine are related. Since a great deal of its population are made up of Italian immigrants, the cuisine is greatly affected by Italian culture. So Argentina is also famous for its pizza and the pasta restaurants we’ll talk about later.
But I should warn you, just because it is greatly influenced by Italian culture doesn’t mean it will be just like a pizza that you eat in Italy. Argentinians transformed the pizza to their liking. They make their pizza with a little too much dough but still, it is very delicious. And then toppings of your own choosing are added on top with lots of cheese.
Pizza Place Recommendations in Buenos Aires:
- El Cuartito: This restaurant is very close to the city center and it is very popular with both tourists and locals. You can see the long lines forming in front of El Cuartito. But it is a very casual place.
- Broccolino: Broccolino that is located in Microcentro is an Italian restaurant. We especially love the arugula-parmesan pizza.
As I have mentioned before the Italian influence shows itself in the pasta as well. Especially Ravioli made a good place for itself in Argentina Cuisine. It has become a regular food made by the locals. It is easily found in restaurants as well. You can also easily find other kinds of pasta in Argentina. The number of Italian restaurants in Argentina is really high just like meat restaurants.
- Broccolino: Yes, I put Broccolino twice. Because the seafood pasta is just as good as the arugula-parmesan pizza.
- Il Quotidiano Bar de Pastas: This restaurant that is located in Recoleta specializes in all different kinds of pasta. Therefore, it has delicious Ravioli.
- Marcelo: It is one of Puerto Madero’s luxury restaurants and it is a very successful Italian restaurant. This restaurant that makes everything from the pasta to the sauces from scratch is known for having extremely delicious food. But be aware that everything comes in portions for two people.
You can call this the Latin American Puff Pastry. Empanadas are a classic part of Argentine Cuisine. It’s a pastry made with minced meat, cheese or potatoes. It can be baked or fried.
It has many different fillings: meat, meat and olives, 4-cheeses, cheese and ham, mixed vegetables, corn, chicken, salmon… I won’t be recommending a special restaurant for Empanada. Because you can find it all around town. It is listed as an entree in many restaurants’ menus. (The salmon empanada is not that common but you can find it in larger restaurants.)
Another star of Argentine Cuisine is the Choripan. Chori is the name of the bologna and the pan means bread. It is generally sold as a street food. You can find many vendors who sell “Chori”. Some have the word Chorimovil written on them. (Chorimobile, so it basically means Chori car). These vendors also sell other kinds of meat sandwiches beside Chori. So you can also choose steak type meats but Choripan is the most popular one.
So this is how the ordering process goes in Chorimovilles: Usually, there is a sign with the pictures and the names of the food outside. Later you give your order and tell them your name. If your name is hard to pronounce for foreigners you can use something like Pablo or Maria but remember your fake name. When your meal is ready they will call out your name. Just like Starbucks but Chori style. The meal they give you will be the most basic version of it. Then you can add spices, condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise and chimichurri (a spicy condiment) and some vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and lettuce.
You can find Chorimovilles, especially in the Ecological park in Puerto Madero and along the coast that’s across Jorge Newbery Airport. You can just pick a Chorimovil and eat a Choripan there. I usually don’t trust the ones around the inner city but you can try any Chorimovil that looks clean enough to you (some are really nasty…)
Now let’s talk about desserts. If you go to a market or a kiosk in Argentina you may notice how small the chocolate range is. I’m guessing that the reason why is, their love for dulce de leche. Dulce de leche means milk jam. It is very common in South America. You can find Dulce de leche in almost any dessert or chocolate sold in stores.
Alfajor is the most local one of these desserts. Alfajor is made of dulce de leche between two chocolate-covered biscuits. It has many different kinds: three-layered, white chocolate, with cream… It is a really delicious snack.
You can find Alfajor in any store, bakery or café. I especially love the 70% chocolate alfajors that are sold in Havanna. (Havanna is the local Café chain in Argentina.)
Another Italian Influence! There are really great Ice Cream shops in Argentina. You can find many different flavored Ice Creams. My Favorite one in Buenos Aires is RappaNui! It is one of the most popular brand chains. Another popular brand ıs Luciano’s, which is an award-winning ice cream shop chain. You find it in many places around the city. Besides Luciano’s, Volta also has good Ice cream. This is another Ice cream shop chain you can easily find all over the country. Another Ice Cream shop you will see often around the country is Freddo. Freddo is a good place too but we can say that the ice cream is mediocre when it comes to taste. Still, it is more affordable than Rappanui, Volta or Luciano’s so that’s a plus.
Mate is an herbal tea. It’s a little bitter taste. You can see people walking around with their mate cups and thermoses. Argentine people are really addicted to Mate.
Mate is prepared in its own special way. Firstly, you need a mate cup and a straw. Traditional Mate Cups are made from carved out gourd. You can also find mate cups made from glass or plastic in stores. If you buy a traditional one made from gourd or wood you need to put mate and water into the cup and let it sit for 24 hours. Then you can start using it daily. If you have another mate cup or you’ve done this process you can start making your mate. (I prefer the plastic cups that are easy to clean.)
Firstly, you need to fill 1/3 of your cup with mate tea and then place the straw into the cup. Lastly, you need to adjust the cup and pour hot water into it. After the tea is dispersed around the straw be careful not to move it or you can’t place it back again. You can drink your tea after it has brewed a little.
Malbec wines that are produced in Argentina and Chile are popular around the country. You can easily find them in every restaurant, bar or grocery store. Also, you can find wineries that sell more special wines.
And that’s all!
That was Argentina Cuisine. It is generally built around the meat-pasta-pizza triangle. And they are great at making this trio. So you really shouldn’t leave Argentina without trying out the delicious foods here.
If you’re planning on visiting Buenos Aires, don’t forget to check out my Comprehensive Buenos Aires Travel Guide. More venue recommendations are down below.
Buenos Aires Venue Recommendations
These are some venues you can find in the city even though they are not a part of the culture.
- Havanna: As I have mentioned before It is one of the biggest coffee shop chains in Argentina
- Café Tortini: It’s the oldest café in Argentina. The café which was founded in 1858 still stands to this day and it is a popular touristic spot. It doesn’t have Wi-Fi or outlets. Well, it is a very old building…
- Lobo: It only has branches in Puerto Madero and Palermo. It is famous for its delicious and huge desserts.
- Café Martinez: It is another one of Argentina’s popular coffee shop chains. It is a high-quality place. It’s only difference from Havanna is that it’s a less touristic spot.
- Tienda de Café: It’s another local coffee chain. It’s a little lower in quality than Martinez.
- La Panera Rosa: It’s a coffee shop/bakery chain. It’s a cute place with its pink decoration. It is a preferred spot for an afternoon tea/coffee.
- Tea Connection: This one is a tea shop chain instead of a coffee shop. Tea is not as popular as coffee in Argentina. Coffee and mate are the most popular drinks. Tea connection is the only chain that’s focused on tea. It is a preferred spot for trying out different kinds of tea and for brunch.
I didn’t think it was necessary to add Starbucks to the list but I thought it would be good to mention it since you never know when you might need Wi-Fi. Although you can easily find Wi-Fi in most venues you go to, there may be exceptions (like Tortini).
- Rabieta: It’s a very stylish bar right next to the racetrack.
- La Birreria: It’s a beer chain, you can find it in many different spots in the city.
- Temple Bar: It’s a bar chain that brews their own beer. You can find it in many spots around the city. There is especially one in Palermo that’s famous for its many wall decorations.
- Shout: It is located in Microcentro. It is famous for its Wines.
- Seldon Bar: The terrace of this bar that’s located in Palermo is a prominent feature of this bar. The lower floor can be distinguished from the other bars by its calm and speakeasy vibe.
- McDonald’s: You may find it strange that I added this to the list but I have a special reason for this. This fast food chain that accommodates to every country it goes to has a special avocado-burger menu for Argentina. It’s called Menu Guacamole. It is a menu specially made to be accustomed to Argentinian people’s palate. (I think you can find the same menu in Chile but I am not sure.)
- Mostaza: Argentina’s local hamburger/ fast food chain. You could say its Argentina’s local McDonalds.
- Kentucky: I wanted to add this especially because everyone thinks its KFC and get surprised when they walk into a pizza place. Yes, It is a pizza chain.
- Dandy: While it gives you healthier options like salads and sandwiches, Dandy is still a fast food chain. It also sells hamburgers and desserts.
- Central Market: It’s one of the best options for people who want to eat healthy. It gives you a much greater variety of options. You can find salads, wraps, sandwiches, sushi, fruit juices, desserts, ice cream and even hot meals around noon at Central Markets.
Beside these ones you can find generic fast food chains like Burger king, KFC and subway. I wanted to add these too since sometimes subways three-dollar menu of the day can be a lifesaver.
- Burger Joint: A chain that can be found in many places.
- 180 Burger Bar: A chain that can be found in many places.
- Burger Mood: A chain that can be found in many places.
Since meat is really popular in Argentina these hamburger restaurants are generally successful.
- Green Eat: It’s a fast food chain that provides healthier, vegetarian/vegan options. It can be found in many spots around the city.
- La Hierbabuena: It’s located in San Telmo. It is also famous for the little shop it has next to the restaurant. You can find great bread and spices in this shop.
- Shoduko: It’s a Japanese restaurant in San Telmo. It is affordable considering the size of its menus.
- Osaka: It’s a Japanese restaurant and it is expensive. It has a few branches around the city.
- Sushi Pop: It’s a Japanese fast food restaurant that can be found in many spots around the city. It doesn’t make great sushi. (Interestingly they have a sweet taste.) But the other products are okay. I wanted to add it to the list since it’s likely you will come across one.
Original posting date: October 1, 2018
Translation Date: December 27, 2019
Translated by: Dilan Şen
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