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10 Foods to Eat in Buenos Aires, Argentina with Some Tips on Dining

Updated on December 12, 2010

You are visiting Buenos Aires. If you’re a smart traveler then you want to eat the foods that are best in this area. What should you dine on during your stay? Here are ten suggestions for the best food and drink in Buenos Aires:

1.     Steak. The most famous food to dine on in Buenos Aires is steak. The meat here is very tender and the steaks are highly affordable in comparison with steaks in the United States. There are many different cuts of steak and it’s the best meal option in the city so consider trying several different cuts while you’re there. In addition to the regular cuts of meat you can order “asado” or “parillada”, which means that several different cuts of meat will come to your table on a small grill. Many people think that because they don’t typically eat a lot of red meat they won’t enjoy the meat here but it’s so tender and tasty that most of them find that they’re wrong.

2.     Malbec. Complement your red meat with this favorite red wine of Buenos Aires tourists. What’s interesting is that Buenos Aires locals are often more likely to order a good Cabernet than a Malbec but the Malbec is from the region and therefore more popular with visitors. It’s also a good wine for sangria, a popular afternoon beverage choice in Buenos Aires. If you’re a white wine drinker then the top local choice is Torrontes.

3.     Mate. This tea is so popular in Buenos Aires that it’s practically a tourist attraction in and of itself. Every single market sells mate sets to tourists. If you go to a guided tour or visit an estancia then you’ll be offered this tea. It’s a fairly strong tea that you traditionally drink out of a gourd and share with the people who are with you.

4.     Empanadas. These pastries are a must-have item when you’re in Buenos Aires. They are typically filled with meat but there are other options as well such as the cheese and onion empanada. Order them as appetizers or get several as a main course.

5.     Croissants and café con crema. This is a really terrific option for breakfast as a tourist in Buenos Aires since it’s available everywhere. Café con crema is coffee with steamed milk (like a café au lait). The croissants, called medialunas, are usually sweet and buttery. You can get them with jam but they’re tasty on their own so it’s really not necessary. Usually you order three at a time; they’ll be offered that way on the menu.

6.     Tortilla Espanola. This is another terrific option for breakfast although it’s a very, very filling meal. It’s an omelet that is rich with potatoes and also contains cheese, onions and sausage. There are other versions of the tortilla as well so you don’t have to get the sausage if you don’t want to. If you’ve ever tasted traditional potato pancakes then you’ll find that the taste of the tortilla Espanola is familiar, similar to a mixture between an omelet and a potato pancake. It’s definitely yummy.

7.     Dulce de leche. This is a really thick caramel that is very tasty although you don’t need much because a little bit goes a long way. This sweet treat is abundant all throughout Buenos Aires. You can get dulce de leche pancakes, for example, which are similar to crepes filled with A LOT of dulce de leche. Another option is dulce de leche ice cream, which is more like frozen caramel jam than actual ice cream in terms of consistency and richness. And of course there’s the option of getting flan, the dulce de leche custard dessert. Really this can be a bit much if you aren’t used to super sweet items but do try a bite while you’re in the city.

8.     Ham and cheese. I’m not sure why it is that this sandwich is so incredibly popular in Buenos Aires but it’s on almost every menu and often comes in several variations. A very popular option seems to be the ham and cheese torta, a really thick sandwich filled with ham and cheese. However, you’ll also find crustless toasted ham and cheese and more traditional takes on ham and cheese as well. It’s not a very fancy dish but it seems to be very, very easy to find.

9.     Pasta. If you’re looking for an Americanized food that tastes decent in Argentina then your best bet is probably pasta. Not all of the pasta that you’ll have in Buenos Aires is yummy or tastes like what you’d get in America. However they seem to do this dish better than many of the other popular American dishes (such as hamburgers or pizza). Go for the more touristy restaurants if this is what you’re looking for. Those along the waterfront in the Puerto Madero neighborhood are a particularly good choice if that’s the type of food that you’re seeking to find.

10. Milanesa. This term simply means breaded and seems to also be popular on menus in Buenos Aires. Mozzarella Milanesa, for example, is breaded cheesesteaks although a more popular choice would be breaded meats.

In addition to choosing these foods, some things you might want to keep in mind when ordering meals in Buenos Aires include:

o   Water can be “sin gas” (still / flat) or “con gas” (sparkling). It doesn’t come automatically at most restaurants but must instead be purchased.

o   Meals are generally later in Buenos Aires than in the United States with most dinner restaurants not even opening their doors until eight at night.

o   Ketchup isn’t common in Buenos Aires and usually won’t be available (although that’s not always true). A popular condiment is Salsa Golf, which is basically Thousand Island dressing.

o   Coffee sizes are very small in Buenos Aires, similar to the size of a single or double espresso rather than the large sizes you may be used to in America.

o   It is common to tip 10% – 15% when dining in restaurants.

Enjoy your meals in Buenos Aires!


Submit a Comment

  • fruitunderatree profile image

    fruitunderatree 7 years ago from Cambridge, UK

    You really take out the simplest but best stuff about Argentina I really admire that writing.

  • Roffi Grandiosa profile image

    Roffi Grandiosa 7 years ago from Bandung, Indonesia

    empanadas sounds delicious! great hub!

  • sim0n30 profile image

    sim0n30 7 years ago from Ireland

    I would love to go to Argentina and get a steak with a bottle of Malbec to wash it down, great hub!

  • Edwin Clark profile image

    Edwin Clark 7 years ago from Thailand by way of New York

    Yumm steak and dulce de leche, makes my mouth salivate! I think I was born in the wrong continent! Very informative hub!

  • UKLinkBuilding profile image

    UKLinkBuilding 7 years ago from Manchester, UK

    Really liked this hub and found it very useful. Thanks

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    The steak and wine of Argentine is legendary. Thanks for your informative hub.

  • lindacee profile image

    lindacee 7 years ago from Arizona

    Kathryn, I live right across the river in Uruguay. Your comprehensive list is spot on even for Uruguayos (except for the red wine choice--the local favorite here is Tannat, followed closely by Cabernet.) Thoroughly enjoyed reading this hub! I too, cannot fathom why jamon y queso are soooooo popular. Voted up and useful!

  • SteveoMc profile image

    SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

    I have heard the steak and wine is superb. Two friends in Argentina to climb a mountain had the steak and wine as their first dinner there, they report that it was out of this world.