Food has always been a big part of my travels. I love sticking my fork into local cuisines and, stuffing myself with tasty eats that could be from other places. The Food in Argentina is definitely one of the defining characteristic of the country.
This list will mainly be traditional food in Argentina or popular ones typical for locals. It will also include drinks because some of them are just so representative of the Argentine culture that you simply cannot miss.
If you are a frequent traveler, you would know that countries in the same region usually similar cuisines or similar variations of the same dish.
Keep in mind that this list comes after having traveled through most of South America. If you haven’t been to other parts of South America, there are bound to be a lot more stuff that catches your eye (or tongue). It was challenging to pick 10 out from so many awesome contenders.
This list is not in any order of ranking but if it is, Asado or Parrilla has to be on the top of the list. Both terms are used interchangeably but if you have to know, my understanding is that Asado refers to the grilled meat, while Parrilla is like the method of grilling.
There is another method of grilling meat that is more “wild style”, where the meat is crucified to a cross and stuck next to an open fire for grilling. I saw more of this in Patagonia. (Can’t be bothered about terminology when your mind is getting blown off by juicy meat.)
Asado is the BBQ in Argentina where succulent meat is grilled to perfect goodness. Having tried grilled meat in Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil, Argentina is still my pick in terms of quality and price ratio.
Asado is not just a popular food in Argentina, it is also one of the most popular activities. It is best done with friends because then it evolves from just gastronomy into a whole
get-fat-together social experience.
However, you can also easily find this in Parrillas. A Parrilla set from traditional restaurants will typically include an Asado meat, morcilla or chorizo, chuchurins, rinons, bread, and a side dish of potato or salad.
Tip: You can stuff your Choizo in bread, spread some Criolla and Chimichurri to make your own Choripan (Chorizo + Pan (bread) = Choripan), which is also another common dish or street food in South America.
Popular Places for Parrillas
For a more premium experience of this, there are Parrillas that are similar to steakhouses. Popular ones in Buenos Aires include Parrilla Don Julio and La Cabrera where you might even have to book months in advance for peak hours.
Alternatively, you can go early during opening hours and hopefully get a quick seat which is what I did for Don Julio. Really lucky that my gym was just two doors away and I went straight for it after seeing a short queue when leaving the gym (Bye all my gym effort).
La Cabrera also offers a happy hour (30% off the bill, entry until 7:15 pm) between 6:30 – 8 pm. I recommend going slightly earlier to queue before they start dinner service.
In a meat-based food culture of South America, vegetarians will be happy to know of this great option. Provoleta is a flavored cheese grilled like in an Asado and does typically appear when we do Asados ourselves. You can easily find them in Parrillas or buy them in the supermarket. They are extremely flavorful and can be pretty filling when you eat it with bread.
This hearty stew dish is more commonly found in the North, but it is a traditional Argentina food widely eaten countrywide on the 25th of May (1810 Revolution, the event that set Argentina on the path to liberation) and 9th of July (Day of Independence).
Locros are served with meat, beans, corn, etc, and have slightly different variations from store to store. You will find many restaurants selling homemade or their own version of Locro even when it is not usually on their typical menu. Some even get creative like this Ramen Locro from a Japanese Ramen place.
If you like stews, similar dishes include Guiso de Lentejas (Lentils stew) and Mondongo (Tripe Stew). For vegetarians, you might have some luck finding a vegetarian version of Locro or Guiso de Lentejas (definitely not Mondongo). Otherwise, another option is Humita stew, which is a corn stew.
Another food commonly eaten with Locro on the days of celebration is Empanada. It is weird to specify this because, unlike Locro which shoots up in popularity during those celebratory days, Empanadas are eaten all day, every day.
Empanadas is a very popular food in Argentina, they can be eaten as snacks or even as a meal. Pastries wrapped with all sorts of filling, the variety of empanadas are endless. You can find typical flavors and cheap ones along the street, or there are also restaurants selling them with more premium ingredients.
The texture of the pastry can vary, the fillings can vary, so much can go right or wrong. My suggestion here will be to try and sample around different places as and when you feel like it.
Here are some other places where I like their empanadas.
- EL Hornero in the San Telmo Market is extremely popular.
- The Stand (The empanadas here are of more unique flavors, like Cheeseburger, Philiy steak, etc)
- Amores Tintos
- Santa Evita
Another typical food in Argentina, Milanesa is basically your breaded cutlet. Compared to the thick juicy meat in Parrillas, I am not as big a fan of Milanesas, which are made of a thin but usually big piece of meat.
Don’t get me wrong though, this is still an awesome option for a meal. Milanesa can be of chicken, pork, or beef. They are a common food in Argentina and you can find it in many restaurants. They usually come with options of toppings like Napolitana (ham, cheese, tomato). Milanesa tends to be a pretty economical dish in my opinion. They are not expensive and can be filling.
The perfect treat for people with a sweet tooth! This is another typical food of Argentina, suitable for breakfast or tea. Generally, Alfrajores are filled or sandwiched with Dulce de Leche, which is one of the main reasons I would recommend trying it.
Dulce de Leche is this sweet condensed milk filling that some people absolutely love, while others crin at its sweetness. Regardless, you will find it very commonly in cakes and desserts.
I would recommend having an alfrajor with your hot coffee or tea. You can find many variations of it, from artisanal ones to factory-made ones in supermarkets. Some are coated in chocolate, almonds, or filled with other fillings.
This is one food that people can get creative with, so much so that there are even subscription box services for people to try different ones every month.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Wtf isn’t Pizza Italian?
Indeed! However, many Argentines actually have some degree of Italian ancestry. This is also why I met many Argentines during my trip to Rome. Consequently, we can find strong Italian influence in the Argentine food culture.
I like to break the options down into 2 categories of pizza.
First being the “modern” pizza, which caters to the international, trendy food scene. There are thin crusts and a multitude of flavors, similar to what you might find in many international cities. The pizzas here are good by international standards in my opinion. Some place I would recommend are:
The other category which is what I recommend trying is the traditional Argentine pizza. These come with a thick crust and stuffed with an insane amount of cheese. As a big fan of cheese, I enjoyed it, but they are so hearty and filling that I wouldn’t be able to eat this regularly. It is not that I prefer this over the “modern” style pizza, they are almost different to me. I definitely recommend trying it because you are after all in Argentina!
The place I recommend would be La Muzzetta Pizzeria which appeared on the Netflix Street Food: Latin America series. This long-standing pizzeria has been running since the 1930s and is very popular among locals. Fuzzgatte is their signature dish.
Another great option that I have tried, is Pizzeria Guerrin. They are located in the city center and frequently patronized by locals. Despite having a large store, they are always crowded.
Moving on to drinks! You cannot miss the national drink here, Yerba Mate. Yerba is the leaves and Mate is the cup (The straw is called Bombilla), locals usually just refer to the whole thing as Mate. There is a procedure for preparing the drink, from shaking up the leaves, the water temperature, and the way it is poured it into the Mate.
It’s like an art (ok, maybe not as artsy as Japanese tea but still), it takes technique to shake the Yerba properly so you don’t suck in small loose pieces when you drink.
Locals always have a mate with them and can drink it anywhere, anytime. There is also a cold version called Terere which is more commonly drank during summer to cool down. The same Yerba is used but cold juice is used instead of water.
When people take the trouble to lug around a hot water flask and a cup, you know how much it means to them. Mate is also commonly consumed in surrounding countries like Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Brazil.
The reason for recommending Mate is not because of the taste of it (it doesn’t taste particularly good or bad in my opinion) but really because of the culture behind it. It is common for people to share a mate when hanging out together. Some of my best memories in Argentina are definitely sharing mate with friends while chilling in a river stream or park.
This is by far my favorite white wine, and I don’t think it can be found easily outside of Argentina. I haven’t seen it regularly in the surrounding countries, and certainly not at the price point you get in Argentina. I first tried it in the wine county of Cafayate and instantly fell in love with it.
Torrontes is usually sweet and has a fruity aroma. I love spicy food and Torrontes goes well with them. This is my choice of white wine in Argentine.
While Torrontes is a personal favorite, Fernet Cola is without a doubt the local favorite, arguably even a national icon. Fernet Cola, sometimes known as Fernande, is simply a cocktail of Fernet mixed with Cola. Argentines simply love that mix. I have seen traveling friends helping to deliver gifts of Fernet to Argentines in other countries.
I found it weird for my taste but I am not a Fernet or hard liquor person. Nonetheless, do give it a shot simply because it is what most Argentines swears by. It is all about trying the local flavors, ain’t it!
Yes, I know, I sneakily threw in some extra food recommendations in my list of 10, but now you have my list of food and drinks to go fooding in Argentina!