Without question, Argentina is a meat loving country and for good reason. Any meat-eating traveler would be amiss if they didn’t try Argentina’s famous grass-fed beef or experience an Asado–the traditional barbeque featuring numerous cuts of meats and entrails. Most streets have a Parrilla every few blocks where hungry wanderers can satisfy their carnivore cravings. Yet beef is not the only Argentine specialty. There exist many other regional dishes and a few unexpected treats worth sampling. Be warned though, some are thoroughly addicting!
These meat, cheese, or vegetable filled pastries are the perfect snack when on the go or an ideal alternative for a full meal when in need of something fast and simple. Compact and delicious, empanadas come in a variety of forms and with a variety of fillings. Some favorites include carne (with either ground beef or whole cuts of steak inside), pollo (chicken), jamon y queso (ham and cheese), queso y cebolla (cheese and onion), or vegetales (vegetables). Better yet, empanadas are cheap! At around four pesos apiece, you can snack on empanadas all day without breaking the bank.
If you were to discuss the great pizza capitals of the world, you may not think to mention Buenos Aires. However, pizza is as widely consumed here as anywhere, and like New York or Napoli, its preparation is considered an art form. Thanks to a large population of Italian immigrants (Italian is the second most spoken language in BA behind Spanish) pizza has not only found a new home in Buenos Aires but a new style as well. Unlike sauce-based pizzas, it’s all about the cheese in Buenos Aires. Here, pizzas come with fresh slices of tomato and green olives placed upon mounds of mozzarella cheese.
The ice cream of Buenos Aires is simply superb. From quality to presentation to the vast variety of flavors available, Buenos Aires makes gelato of unrivaled delight… dare we say it may even be better than Italy’s? Heladerias (ice cream shops) are everywhere, and they provide the best place to cool down on hot summer afternoons.
Medialunas (literally half moons in Spanish) are sweet croissants. Eaten for breakfast with coffee or as an afternoon snack to quell hunger while waiting for dinner, they are as delicious as they are useful. Sample these and other facturas (sweet pastries) at any café or panderia.
Argentines really can’t get enough sweets. Case and point Alfajores. These ubiquitous packaged treats are sold in every street side kiosco, and will cure the most severe of sweet cravings. An example is Conitos, a cone shaped piece of cholcolate filled with dulche de leche, a sugary caramel-like spread, and more chocolate.
Dulche de leche
This rich confection is perhaps Argentina’s signature treat. Like Nutella, dulche de leche can be used as a spread to sweeten up most anything. Additionally, it is also the main ingredient in most Argentine deserts and is even a popular ice cream flavor.