Porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) share a love of good food with their fellow countrymen, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that a trip to the capital is a guaranteed way of encountering the very best of Argentina traditional food.
Indeed, this vibrant city has more than its fair share of top-class restaurants, all of which can provide a solid education in the nation’s most cherished dishes. Here are the eight you should be sampling.
Argentina traditional food you shouldn’t miss:
The asado or parrilla (barbecue) is to Argentinians as poutine is to the Canadians or pizza to the Italians: it’s the country’s staple dish. With asados held in homes around Argentina every week – rain or shine – and restaurants with parrillas practically every second building in the capital, you won’t walk far without seeing delicious cuts of meat being grilled over an open flame.
Sample chorizo (sausage) and cuts of ojo de bife (ribeye) or bife de chorizo (sirloin) for a true Argentine feast, coupled with a glass of local malbec.
To make your first experience of an Argentine parrilla even more authentic, don’t forget to ask for chimichurri as an accompaniment to your meal. Rich in garlic and with a bit of a tang (depending on the amount of chili used), this typical sauce is the perfect condiment to go with your meat.
Empanadas are a South American staple but still deserve to take their place on this list of top Argentina traditional food. Squares of pastry are packed with meat, potato, boiled eggs and scallions to make a typical empanada salteña, while you might even encounter those with a bit more of a punch, as peppers are sometimes added for spice.
A perfect snack when you’re out and about in Buenos Aires, you can buy these from most corner shops or even from street sellers.
Known as “escalope” in the rest of the world, the Argentine milanesa is a similar dish. A cut of veal or chicken is pounded until thin and then coated in breadcrumbs before it is baked or fried. Milanesas are usually served with purée (mashed potato), fries, topped with an egg or cheese sauce.
Argentine society is very close to Italy in many ways, but nowhere is this more evident than in its food. Pizzas, often with a thicker dough than traditionally found in Italy, are readily available around Buenos Aires, while pasta takes a starring role in most restaurant menus.
Tallarines (fettuccine and tagliatelle), ñoquis (gnocchi) and canelones (cannelloni) are the most common types you’ll encounter and can even be bought fresh in dedicated pasta shops around the city.
Argentina traditional food typical of the north of the country, carbonada is a hearty meal that’s mostly served during the winter. Made from meat, potatoes, carrots, peppers and sweet corn, topped with fruit, such as dried apricots and raisins and cooked over a barbecue in a hollowed-out pumpkin, this stew yet again proves the country’s love of a parrilla.
Argentinians also have an extremely sweet tooth. Dulce de leche, a paste made of caramelized condensed milk, is the national addiction and takes its most typical form as the filling for alfajores.
Two cookies are sandwiched together using dulce de leche and the whole construction is dipped in chocolate or shredded coconut to make a delicious snack.
A typical breakfast or mid-morning bite, media lunas take their inspiration from France and the ubiquitous croissant. Baked from butter or lard pastry (with the former much sweeter in flavor), they are brushed with a sugar glaze and eaten in the morning with a coffee.