Heading to Argentina and Uruguay? You might be a little overwhelmed by all the food choices you’ll have to make. We’d like to share what we think is definitely worth trying. This is not an ultimate food guide (and let me remind you, we cannot speak for the rest of Argentina), but here are the things we can recommend.
Weird, I know, right? Why would you go to South America and eat pizza? Truth is, there are so many pizza restaurants in Buenos Aires! I personally prefer thin crust pizza, but it seems like in both Argentina and Uruguay thick crust is the king. Nonetheless, we did find some really nice thick crust pizza, thanks to recommendation from our new friend Paulina (check out this place in Chacarita). The thick crust is accompanied by a giant layer of cheese in this part of the world, so for cheese fans it should be worth a try.
Tip 1: try Fainá (also known as farinata) – a chickpea pancake
Tip 2: order few slices instead of ordering a whole pizza, because 1) you get to try more different types 2) as I said, thick crust comes with lots of cheese plus whatever toppings – 2 slices plus one fainá might be more than enough
One of the reasons I was in love with Argentina as a teenager is a tale of Argentina’s amazing meats. Parrilla is a type of barbecue very popular in Argentina, and that’s something you definitely want to try unless you’re vegan/vegetarian. To get our meat fix, we went to El Desnivel restaurant in San Telmo. My spanish is simply not good enough, neither is their english translation of the menu; so instead of getting a mix plate of different sausages/meats, we got a mix plate of several types of intestines. Truth to be told, after watching a video by vagabrothers, we got inspired to try something new. So we weren’t upset when we got intestines: once I tried grilled intestines in Philippines, and it wasn’t that bad. But it must have belonged to another animal!! Because this was terrible. I’m not a big fan of liver and kidneys, but there were other things on the plate and none of them had either nice consistency or taste. The waiter took it away after a while, and judging by his look, it wasn’t the first time. Afterwards we ordered some steaks – and these were fantastic. I would recommend, however, to go and find a place where you can have “all you can eat” meats. If you are in Colonia, try the Sos Gardel – it’s all you can eat, including drinks (wine/beer/soft drinks/water) and dessert. Be aware, however, that in Argentina, and especially in Uruguay, most places open for dinner around 8 pm and finding good quality food before that can be a challenge.
Dulce de leche seems to be a small obsession in Argentina, and Alfajores is one of the many ways to try it. It’s basically two cookies with a filling between them, often covered by something. The most popular filling is dulce de leche (which is similar to cooked condensed milk), but it can be anything – chocolate, coffee mousse, anything berry or fruit related and more. Coating can also vary – chocolate, nuts, shredded coconut. My personal favourites were alfajores by Cachafaz, however you can find variety of brands in most shops, made by both small local companies as well as bigger international brands. Check out the bakeries as well!
Simply speaking, it’s croissants. You can get them in any cafe. Often they are smaller in size than European croissants, and they come plain, with sugar, with powdered sugar, with ham and cheese. It’s not the taste that is so magnificent, it’s the experience. Medialunas are everywhere, and it’s more than just something for the tourists. While you’re at it, try bizcochos (especially in Uruguay) – a variety of small pastries and snacks.
We tried them in Montevideo at Chiviteria Marcos Pocitos thanks to the recommendation of our friend Maite. It’s something between a burger and a sandwich – you get it with barbecued meat, but also with lots of other stuff inside. It’s delicious and enormous! If you can eat two, you are my hero (and probably need to sign up for the foodaholics anonymous).
You can’t come to Argentina and Uruguay and skip trying mate. It’s not as easy as you think, because it’s more of a social thing than an item on a restaurant menu. Argentinians drink mate at home, in the park or with friends, but it’s not common to order mate at the cafe. Good news: you can still do it! In Las Cholas, for example, you can order mate together with some bread and jam. The best way, of course, is to get your own calabasa and bombilla and make mate at home! Because mate is awesome. Funny thing is that in Argentina in Uruguay they drink it a little bit differently, so if you want to confuse yourself – ask one Argentinian and one Uruguayan how to drink mate. Each of them might tell you that the other one is doing it wrong.
Normally we try not to eat too much “familiar” food while we travel, but Burger Joint in Buenos Aires is a must try. First, when we saw burgers, we both said: “well, that doesn’t really look that interesting”. Hungry, we both made first bite and went: “Nommm! Mine is delicious!” Moral of the story: don’t judge the book by its cover and go check out the Burger Joint.
Besides all the dishes Argentina and Uruguay have to offer, check out the fresh markets – you’ll be surprised by the quality and variety of produce you’ll find there.