Argentina is known for having some of the worlds juiciest and tastiest steaks. And if you see the look on my wife’s face when she was served a bife de chorizo, the Argentineans have well deserved that reputation.
I however have been a vegetarian for over 10 years now. So when I told people that I was going to travel to Argentina, they asked me: ‘So what are you going to eat?’ or even ‘Aren’t you going to taste even a little bit of steak?’. The answer is no, I didn’t feast on the world’s best tasting cows.
So how did I survive 6 weeks of traveling through meat heaven?
First of all, I’m not a vegan nor am I a full blown vegetarian. You see, I cheat because I love a piece of fish now and then. So that made it just a little easier. But still, I’ll show you that it isn’t hard to eat your way around Argentina as a vegetarian.
Argentina isn’t just known for its meat but also for its empanadas, little pastries stuffed with a delicious filling containing meat, fish or vegetables. They are perfect for lunch or in between meals and you can find them in empanaderias, bakeries and supermarkets. Look for empanadas containing corn (humita), cheese and tomatoes, onions and cheese or spinach.
Tips: Go to Rincón Norteño in Buenos Aires for a variety of tasty vegetarian empanadas.
If you eat fish like I do, hop over the border and try a seafood deepfried empanada in Santiago de Chile.
One of the food highlights in Argentina is attending a barbecue or asado. I’ll have to admit that vegetables are merely a side dish to these events but if you let your host know well in advance that you won’t be feasting on chorizos, you can get a vegetarian version. Expect different sorts of grilled sweet potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, pumpkin and tomatoes.
Pasta,Pizza & Ice Cream
You love the Italians because of their simple but delicious cuisine? Well than we have some good news! Lots of Italians emigrated to Argentina in between 1850 to 1950, bringing along their love for pasta, pizza and home made ice cream. And yes, ice cream is a meal here. We have seen Argentinians order 1/4 liter portions. Cones are for kids or tourists.
Tips: Look for the Jauja ice cream parlors in Northern Patagonia (Bariloche and El Bolson) and go for one of their creative ice cream flavors such as chocolate raspberry.
For pasta or pizza go to one of these places:
– La Fonda del Parillero in El Calafate: Order the pumpkin filled ravioli with pesto which is 100% homemade.
– Pizza Cala de los Andes in San Martin de los Andes: they have huge and delicious vegetarian pizzas.
I never had any problems eating out. Even the smallest restaurants had vegetarian dishes on the menu. One of my favorites was Techado Negro in El Chalten, a small isolated hiking village. They serve a fantastic squash stuffed with humita. Mendoza even has a large amount of vegetarian restaurants. We arrived in the city on a national holiday so unfortunately most of them were closed.
Being on the road for 6 weeks, we cooked our own meals from time to time. The best place to look for fresh veggies is to go to a farmers market. We found some fresh broccoli and basil on a market in El Bolson.
If there isn’t a farmers market you can also try the local supermarket. They often sell a variety of vegetables, pasta and cheese. However, don’t expect to find any meat replacers such tofu, seitan or quorn.