Argentina’s Must-Try Food and Drinks

Argentine dishes tend to reflect the surrounding landscapes – fish from the mighty rivers of the northeast, beef from the pampas rangelands. Local insider (and sommelier) Estela highlights the specialties to watch for.

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Photo © iStock/Heather Plochman

Traditional Dishes

Number one in Argentina’s traditional dishes is the asado: grilled meat, either on a barbecue or on cross-form metal bars over an open flame. Asado gathers family and friends and, depending on the region, different meats are used: beef or pork in the pampas, mostly lamb in the South, and in the sierras and Northwest it’s baby goat. The best wine to pair with asado is Malbec, Argentina’s internationally known grape.

Asado. Photo credit: Ellen Hall

Other specialties include empanadas, small pies stuffed with meat, onions, peppers, olives, and egg. They’re usually the starter of a huge asado.

On Independence Day (July 9), the customary dish is locro, a stew made from white corn, pork, beans, and red chorizo. Like most of our traditional stews, it’s eaten in winter because it has lots of calories to keep us warm.

A typical northwestern delicacy is humita en chala, made with milk, fresh corn, onions, spices, and goat cheese, all steamed in corn leaves. Carbonada, found around the country in different variations, is a hotpot of corn, meat, onions, peppers, and paprika, served inside a hollow pumpkin previously baked with milk and sugar. The best wine for these dishes is Torrontes, scented with flowers and very intense.

In the Northeast, dishes with river fish are a must, and in the South, lamb, seafood (though it’s an option in all cities) and chocolate are the highlights.

If you’re fond of sweets, don’t miss alfajores: two biscuits joined together with a filling of mousse, dulce de leche, or jam and covered with chocolate or powdered sugar.

A traditional neighborhood restaurant, known as a "bodegon." Photo credit: Ellen Hall

Modern Cuisine

In larger cities, you’ll find many restaurants offering modern takes on traditional dishes, along with international cuisine ranging from Japanese to Armenian. There’s a movement towards using more organic ingredients, and most menus offer at least a few vegetarian options. It’s even possible – though not easy – to find vegan or gluten-free restaurants.

Want to know more about Argentina? Listen to the World Nomads podcast. How drinking mate defines Argentinians, how to kiss properly when you greet someone, and meet Popi, the scientist who's saving penguins.

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