What are the most popular foods in Argentina

Food and drink in Argentina

This is how one imagines Argentine food: a typical one Asado

The Argentine cuisine is especially known for the giant beef steaks. However, these are by no means the only culinary delights that you can learn to taste in this South American country. On the contrary: the various immigrant groups, but also some of the indigenous people, have left their mark on the country's cuisine.

Still: Vegetarians have a harder time in Argentina than elsewhere. Almost all types of vegetables on earth thrive in the country, but only a few dishes are offered in restaurants without meat. Exceptions are pizza and pasta dishes, which show the influence of Italian immigrants on the country's culture.

If you want to cook Argentine dishes yourself, you will quickly find it under this link: Argentine cuisine.

Introduction [edit]

Argentina is not only supposedly the largest cattle pasture in the world, but also the breadbasket of South America. The country's cuisine has been influenced by the various immigrants, especially Spaniards and Italians. So it's a bit of a surprise that the kitchen is so meat-heavy. The explanation is simple: in colonial times, beef was the cheapest food in the country because of the large numbers of cattle that were released into the wild, which reproduced in the pampas as they pleased and were thus available in abundance 19th century, introduced.

The meals [edit]

The breakfast (desayuno) is quite spartan in Argentina. Most Argentines only drink a cup of coffee in the morning, possibly garnished with small toasted pieces of white bread (tostadas) or croissants (medialunas). Coffee is often drunk black, at best with a dash of milk (cortado), only rarely really as café con leche (with a small jug of milk). Some cafes also offer one desayuno americano with a few other side dishes.

The Having lunch (almuerzo) is taken between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., as in Central Europe. It is usually a warm, hearty meal, but often not as extensive as dinner. Often there is pasta around lunchtime and meat in the evening.

Between lunch and dinner there are two "informal" meals that are eaten as the mood takes you: The merienda (4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.) is similar to German afternoon coffee. This is usually a coffee as well criollos (a very simple, almost tasteless pastry) or facturas (sweet pastries, often with dulce de leche) served. Sometimes mate is drunk instead of coffee. Cakes are rarely found, in Argentina this is more of a festive meal and is often eaten in the evening as a dessert at festivities or in restaurants. The Picada on the other hand, it is salty and is eaten with friends and colleagues rather than in the family. It's a hodgepodge of chopped sausage and cheese pieces, which are usually accompanied by a beer, and takes place between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., but often after work.

The dinner (cena) is the main meal and at least as hearty and extensive as lunch. It is usually taken between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., with festive meals (asado) maybe even later. Often there are meat or chicken dishes at dinner, and pizza is also common. A "cold" dinner is very rare.

Eating in the restaurant

The Argentine restaurants are often quite uniform in terms of equipment and menu. The Argentine usually prefers the traditional steak when they go out to eat, something more exotic can only be found in larger cities.

The "Parrilla" [edit]

Parrilla In Argentina they not only call the grill on which the asado and other meat dishes are fried, but also the most popular type of restaurant. As the name suggests: You can get grilled here. Larger parrillas often have isolated pasta dishes for vegetarians or children, but you cannot rely on them.

Parrillas are mostly large restaurants that often have the character of a "dining hall". It is generally loud, there is often music and the decoration is spartan or even non-existent. A restaurant like this is particularly suitable for a boozy festive meal with friends.

The most popular dish in the Parrilla is - how could it be otherwise - the parrillada, basically an asado. The waiters keep coming to the table with different types of meat, sausages and offal, and you can eat until you are full - you pay per person, drinks, salads and side dishes (French fries, mashed potatoes) usually have to be paid extra. Often there is an empanada as a starter and a dessert that you can rarely choose.

Pizzeria and pastas

The Italian immigrants left their mark on the gastronomy in particular. That is why pizza and pasta are among the most popular dishes in Argentina, and also Pizzerias can be found everywhere, in all shapes and price ranges. A cheap one muzzarella (simple pizza with tomato sauce and cheese) starts at around $ 13.

There are different types of pizzerias. The cheaper ones offer other fast food options besides pizza. In contrast, there are chains like Il Gatto and smaller individual restaurants that only serve Italian dishes. Pasta is almost always offered too. In terms of quality and price, these are well above the fast food pizzerias. In between there are numerous restaurants that resemble parrillas in their presentation, i.e. large dining halls with pizza as the main course.

Fast food and "minutas"

The choripán, a warm roll with well-seasoned meat sausage

The fast food in Argentina is somewhat similar to the American one, but has its own creations. Bars of this type usually offer a number of standard dishes that are the same everywhere. These primarily include various Sandwich types. The most popular is probably that Lomito, a white bread with a thin slice of beef fillet, topped with tomatoes, cheese, egg, ham and green lettuce. The Sandwich de milanesa is similar, but a schnitzel is used here instead of the fillet. Also hamburger, often the same size as the Lomitos, are popular. All of these sandwiches are a complete, high-calorie and high-fat meal and by no means a snack between meals. There are usually two variants: simple, mostly only with lettuce and tomatoes and completo with cheese, egg, sometimes ham and french fries as a side dish.

Sometimes there are also unusual sandwich creations like that lomo de molleja, in which a piece of sweetbread is the main ingredient. Arabic sandwiches such as doner kebab and shawarma, on the other hand, are rare. As a snack between meals pancho (Hot dog), choripan (Bread with a spicy chorizo-Grillwurst) and partly too morcipan (Bread with grilled black pudding) is offered.

Typical fast food dishes that can be found in almost every restaurant are still pizza and empanadas. There is also the minutas, this is how simple dishes such as schnitzel (milanesa) with mashed potatoes or simple pasta dishes are called.

Although the American chains (especially McDonald's) are also frequently represented in Argentina, most of the fast food restaurants are independent, and there are some small chains in the various cities. The quality varies, but mostly acceptable. Some fast food restaurants are trying to redesign the typical sandwiches as premium food and sometimes to enlarge the selection with their own sauces and side dish mixes.

The prices are not too cheap: For a lomito (beginning of 2011) you have to reckon with around 20 to 30 pesos depending on the side dish and quality, i.e. 4 to 6 euros. Try sandwich de milanesa and hamburger completo Around 15-25 pesos, empanadas for 2-3 $ each and a simple schnitzel dish for 20-25 pesos.

Tenedor Libre and Comida by the kilo[To edit]

Tenedor Libre or Served libre are buffet restaurants where you pay per person and you can refill your plate as often as you want. They are comparable in size to parrillas and often comparatively cheap. The quality varies greatly. In the case of particularly cheap restaurants, it is definitely worth asking locals how the quality is going. Prices currently fluctuate between $ 30 and $ 100.

Most "tenedor libre" offer the typical Argentine dishes, often a lot of meat, some chicken, empanadas, various potato and rice side dishes and simple salads. There are also many tenedor libre with Chinese cuisine.

Comida by the kilo is a modification of the concept. There is also a buffet here, but the food is weighed and paid for by the kilo. Such restaurants are often of better quality than tenedor libre.

Regional cuisine [edit]

Locro is a spicy stew from the north and is eaten on national holidays

Restaurants with regional specialties are almost only found in the north-west of Argentina. This is also the only region that has a slightly different cuisine than the rest of the country.

These restaurants are often geared towards tourists, but since most of them are also Argentinian, that doesn't necessarily mean a high price. In these bars you can for example humita and tamal (two types of corn porridge), chicken with rice and hot paprika sauce (picante de pollo) and eat various types of empanada.

The ambience of these restaurants is different. Often, however, the decoration is also kept regional, for example with gaucho hats and ponchos as decoration.

Haute cuisine [edit]

Haute cuisine is not very popular in Argentina. Restaurants with, for example, author's cuisine are almost only found in large cities. These restaurants are of course more expensive, but also more stylish in terms of ambience than their mass-oriented counterparts. They are also the only ones in which you can expect halfway elaborate sauces that are otherwise frowned upon - you don't want to spoil the taste of the steak as a result.

These "star chefs" often serve themselves (even if the Michelin guide does not yet cover Argentina) both in the Argentine, South American regional cuisine as well as exotic specialties from overseas. The Far East (Southeast Asia) in particular seems to have recently become fashionable.

Restó (Resto-Bar) [edit]

Resto bars or Restó are, as the name suggests, a mixture of restaurant and bar, a popular combination in Argentina since the 1990s. In such places you can often eat well, listen to a band or a house DJ and then stay for a few hours to drink. Or you just come to drink - there is no compulsion to eat.

Resto bars usually have fast food such as empanadas on the menu, on the other hand almost every one of them has a creative chef who brings a new specialty, often from exotic regions, to the table every day or at least every week. So they are often the cheapest way to get fancy food.

Popular dishes

The asado [edit]

The Asado (literally simply "grilled") is probably the most typical of all meals. There is hardly any other country in the world where barbecues are as passionate as they are here. The Asado is a real social institution, because it is often organized as a get-together for the extended family or a group of friends.

Most of the grilled beef, especially in the pampas region. In Patagonia, on the other hand, lamb is more popular, as sheep are mainly raised there. Goat (cabrito) or chicken (pollo asado) are a little less popular, but still common, pork is less common, but is considered a delicacy. Often several types of meat are grilled in parallel.

Everything that the respective animal produces goes on the grill: once the traditional cuts such as rib (costilla, tira de asado and faldaThe former only differ in the type of cut, the falda, on the other hand, denotes the smaller, richer ribs at the end of the chest), vacío (the particularly tender and juicy meat between rib and hip) as well as different types of ham. Then the different innards: from the particularly tender sweetbreads (molleja) over the sweet intestinal membranes (chinchulines, tripa gorda) to the kidneys (riñones). Even sausages (chorizo) and black pudding (morcilla) are mostly part of an asado.

In addition to the "normal" variant of preparing the pieces of meat on a grill (the embers are always used, never the flame), there is also the traditional variant asado con cuero, in which the animal is cut into a few, huge pieces that are impaled around a fire or a pile of embers. In the case of large "asados ​​con cuero", these pieces cover almost the entire calf. This asado can of course only be enjoyed at large gatherings - such as folklore and gaucho festivals - it is considered particularly tasty.

The side dishes are usually only simple salads (green, tomato and potato salad). The spicy sauce, on the other hand, is common Chimichurriwhich consists of a mixture of spices (especially paprika, parsley, pepper and oregano) in oil.

Steaks and other meat dishes

The following are the most popular types of steak:

  • Bife de chorizo, comparable to a rump steak. It is almost always served without sauce and well-fried, usually with a side dish.
  • Bife de lomo, Fillet steak. Is served in the same way as the bife de chorizo, but is a little more tender.
  • Bife a caballoThis is the name of every steak that is served with a fried egg.

Chicken dishes [edit]

The chicken is also usually eaten grilled, accompanied by potatoes (french fries or mashed potatoes) or rice with paprika sauce (in the north, so-called picante de pollo). Chicken schnitzel (milanesa de pollo) and chicken steaks (suprema de pollo) popular. In traditional recipes, the chicken is actually only cooked in Guiso stew.

This is a particularly tasty chicken dish pollo al disco, which, like the Asado, is considered a festive meal and is celebrated in a circle of friends or an extended family. It is a chicken roasted in a large pan on the grill with plenty of onions and peppers, to which white wine is added later and rice, which is then simmered in the wine in the final phase of preparation.

Empanadas and tartas [edit]

Empanadas in a particularly large version

Empanadas are filled dumplings. They are usually crescent-shaped and have a characteristic pattern at the "seam" where they are closed. Empanadas are the most famous dish in Northwest Argentina, they probably come from the province Salta - that's why they are in Bolivia, for examplesalteñas called.

There are different types of empanadas:

  • criollas saladas with a seasoned mixture of minced meat, olives and eggs
  • criollas dulces also prepared with a minced meat mixture, but with added sugar "sweet and sour"
  • criollas picantes like criollas saladas, but spicier
  • salteñas, also with minced meat, but instead of olives with paprika and potato pieces
  • cordobesas, sweet and sour, with minced meat, raisins and potatoes
  • jamón y queso, with ham and (butter) cheese
  • cebolla y queso, with onions and cheese
  • roquefort, with Roquefort cheese
  • atún, also as de vigilia (Fasting empanadas), mostly eaten during Lent: with tuna mix
  • tomato y albahaca: with a tomato and basil mixture
  • de acelga: with Swiss chard (cheese) filling
  • árabes, with a mixture of minced meat, onion and paprika. They are different from the rest of the varieties of Arab origin. The special thing about it is its shape (triangular) and the fact that the filling is not boiled, but the spicy onion juice and the added lemon juice cooks the minced meat. Of course, they are then put in the oven, where the cooking process is completed.

Tartas are called vegetable pies baked with a similar batter and fillings as the empanadas. The variant with a minced meat and egg filling, with Swiss chard and with ham and cheese is particularly popular. There is also a popular variant with corn, the humita similar in taste.

Stews: Locro, Puchero and Guiso [edit]

The stews are particularly closely related to the Argentine tradition, even more closely than the asado.

The Argentine "national food" that is served on the two national holidays (May 25th and July 9th) is the Locro, a stew with a base of boiled corn, beans and tomatoes.It is prepared with different types of meat, sausages, onions, spring onions and sometimes peppers, all of which are thrown into a large saucepan and cooked. On the national holidays, Locro is often served free of charge in the plaza of every city, otherwise it is not missing at any folklore festival.

Puchero are stews based on potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots. Popular additions are osobucco (sliced ​​beef leg) and other inexpensive meats, Swiss chard. Onions and eggs.

Guiso stews are called rice and noodles based on rice. They are often made with minced meat, chicken pieces (a popular and extremely cheap, but also very tasty poor man's food is the use of chicken entrails), and beef gizzards (mondongo), they also contain tomatoes or tomato sauce, onions and spices.

Salads [edit]

Gourmets shouldn't have high expectations of the salads offered in standard Argentine restaurants. Most only offer one to three types of salad. The most common is that ensalada mixta containing lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and oil and vinegar. Usually, these ingredients can be used to make a simpler salad. The Ensalada completa, which is also often offered, also contains eggs, carrots and usually also beetroot (remolacha). In restaurants with a larger selection you can find potato salad (usually as so-called ensalada rusa prepared with mayonnaise, peas and carrots) that Ensalada criolla (Tomato salad with paprika) and the rice and tuna salad (ensalada de arroz y atùn). That seems a little more complex ensalada waldorf with nuts and apples.

A typical Argentine or South American salad that is hardly known in Europe is the palm heart salad (ensalada de palmitos), with the ensalada completa sometimes enriched with palm hearts. You can usually always order it in better restaurants.

Vegetarian [edit]

A vegetarian community has now also developed in Argentina. However, this is still small and largely limited to the big cities, exceptions such as the alternative colony of San Marcos Sierras confirm the rule. In addition to pasta dishes and salads as well as the Humita (see regional cuisine) there are hardly any real vegetarian specialties, apart from one or the other creative chef. Vegetarian sandwiches (but mostly with cheese) with vegetables instead of schnitzel have at least established themselves in the better fast food restaurants. Tortillas (Omelettes) are also often available without meat and with vegetable ingredients such as various pumpkins, carrots and potatoes. Also two of the most popular Tarta- varieties (with Swiss chard, acelga, and with corn porridge) are vegetarian.

Completely vegan Food is very rare and limited to a few specialty restaurants in Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Rosario. The best advice here is often to prepare the food yourself. Especially in the north there are a lot of exotic fruits and vegetables.

Drinking [edit]

With the exception of mate, drinking traditions are very similar to European customs. So nobody has to do without their coffee, cola or beer.

The mate

The Mate is the national drink of Argentina. It is an herbal tea made from the herb Yerba mate, which is grown mainly in northeast Argentina, Paraguay and southern Brazil. Although it is also called a "normal" tea bag (mate cocido) is available, its preparation in the traditional way is an integral part of everyday culture in Argentina. It is drunk in a calabash with a tube, which is also called mate (the tube is called bombilla), and is passed around between the drinkers.

Preparation: About one liter of water is brought to a temperature of about 70 ° C - 85 ° C. Some brands even give an exact grade on their yerba bags, but this is controversial - it is only important that the water does not boil, otherwise you will not only burn your tongue but also certain nutrients from the yerba leaves. The calabash is then filled to about 3/4 with yerba so that the powder is a little slanted. Then the bombilla is plugged in and the hot water is poured in so that only the lower part of the powder is moistened - in order to preserve a leftover yerba with "full taste" until the end. Perfect for guests or for a presentation.

Wine [edit]

Wine is grown mainly in western Argentina. Argentine wine is of high quality and comparatively inexpensive. For a good wine you hardly need to spend more than € 2 per bottle, top wines are available for less than € 10.

The most popular are the red wine varieties Borgoña (Burgundy), Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, There are also the somewhat less popular white wines and traditional wines such as the vino patero, a handcrafted, sweet and inexpensive red wine, mainly produced in the northwest. Also slightly carbonated wines are like the New Age popular.

In the restaurant you can choose either the types of wine listed on the menu or one vino de la casa, choose a cheap house wine. When buying, the better wines are awarded the predicate vino fino labeled, the cheaper wines are called vino de mesa designated.

In Mendoza in particular, wine plays an important role in everyday culture and regional traditions. A huge grape harvest spectacle is held there in the provincial capital Mendoza in autumn Fiesta de la vendimia, with music, theater and even fashion events as a side dish, the opulence of which should impress even Palatinate and Italians.


Beer is just as popular in Argentina as it is in Central Europe and an integral part of all festive gatherings. For beer connoisseurs, however, the selection of varieties is a bit disappointing. The big brands like Quilmes, Brahma and Isenbeck all mainly offer lager beer. There are also a few North American and European brands to buy. The beer is usually sold in returnable liter bottles. Quilmes also offers black beers such as Bock and Stout.

If you want to drink a little tastier beer, you have to look, because there are small, independent breweries with specialties in every major city and especially in settlements with a high proportion of Central European immigrants, but they hardly advertise and also draw the short straw compared to the standard brands in gastronomy . At the national beer festival in Villa General Belgrano (beginning of October), the most famous independent breweries are represented.

Other alcoholic beverages

When it comes to spirits, there are only a few really Argentinian specialties. The caña made from sugar cane is probably the most traditional alcoholic drink in the country, it usually has between 15 and 25% alcohol and tastes sweet. The ginebra, a local variant of gin, is also steeped in tradition and particularly popular in the country. Local schnapps will be aguardiente called. There are also a variety of liqueurs, among which the typical Argentine dulce de leche liqueur which is made from caramel cream and is very tasty. In the Andes there is also the Chicha Made from corn popular, it's called in Patagonia chipilka.

Mix drinks are widespread. The "most Argentinian" of all mixed drinks is probably the one Fernet con coca, a mix of Fernet Branca and Cola, which is a real folk drink, especially in central Argentina (Córdoba and neighboring provinces), but is also very popular as a stimulant in discos and bars in Buenos Aires and the rest of the country. Although the Fernet Branca is originally from Italy, Argentina consumes around 50% of the amount of Fernet produced worldwide and numerous local brands compete with the original.

Non-alcoholic drinks [edit]

Lemonades from the multinational corporations Pepsico and Coca-Cola Company are available everywhere and their prices are similar to those in Europe. There are of course also Argentine brands, of which the des Pritty-Corporate stand out. As a fashion drink, fortified diet sodas such as Magna and Ser established. Fruit juices, on the other hand, are less common, powder juice and juice extracts for diluting are much more popular than natural fruit juices, which are quite expensive compared to Europe. However, orange juice is almost always included with breakfast in the hotel.

Mineral water (agua mineral) is usually served non-sparkling, otherwise you have to agua mineral con gas to order. soda is carbonated drinking water, it is completely harmless to health, but usually not particularly rich in minerals.

Coffee, tea and other hot drinks

Coffee is very popular with the Argentines, also as a drink in between. The numerous street cafes testify to this. Often one will take every opportunity Cafecito (small cup, black coffee with sugar) is enough. The one already mentioned Cortado and Café con leche are both more likely to be found at breakfast, and of course there are also cappuccinos. Normal whole milk is almost always used for the accompanying milk, and condensed milk is almost never used.

In addition to mate, black tea is popular in several varieties, often flavored with lemon or orange. Herbal teas, of which all variants known in Central Europe are popular, are called infusion only rarely referred to as . Mate cocido is mate powder in tea bags.

That’s among the hot milk drinks submarino ("U-Boot") the most popular, in which a chocolate bar is dissolved in the hot milk. Cocoa (chocolate caliente) is rare in restaurants and cafés, but it is easily available in supermarkets.

Sweets and desserts

Almost all sweets have a very high sugar content. The dulce de leche, a brownish caramel cream, is the basis of all Argentine cakes and cookies. It is also the most popular spread at the same time.

This is probably the most typical pastry alfajor. It is a round, multi-layered and mostly soft biscuit that is filled with dulce de leche. It is available in "industrial" versions at every supermarket or kiosk, often with a chocolate or sugar coating, but also in "home-made" varieties. This is where the alfajores of the Sierras de Córdoba (alfajores cordobeses) garnished with coconut flakes.

The most popular pastries for breakfast or afternoon coffee are the facturasCoffee pieces coated with sugar jelly, either with a dulce de leche filling or with a yellowish cream made of egg and milk. Medialunas, Croissants, are smaller than the French version, but they are also available in filled form.

Cakes and pies are based on the USA. For example, the lemon pie (Lemon foam cake) one of the most popular types of cake, including the Brownies made from chocolate dough are common. Many types of cake are based on two thin sheets of pastry, they become like their salty namesakes tartas called. A particularly typical filling - in addition to the ubiquitous apple and berry fillings - is that dulce de membrillo, a hardened quince jelly with a firm consistency. It is also eaten on bread and biscuits with cheese. At festivals, on the other hand, cream cakes of all kinds are eaten, including the Black Forest cake (Selva Negra).

Recipes [edit]

If you want to enjoy Argentine cuisine at home, you can find the corresponding recipes under this link: Argentine cuisine. Have fun cooking at home.