Eating and drinking in Argentina can require a significant adjustment to your dietary habits. Meals are eaten later than you’re probably used to, and when they come they’re generally big, stodgy, and centred around meat.
Vegetarians may struggle, but nobody else is likely to go hungry. Here’s what to expect from the food and drink of Argentina.
Food in Argentina
You might think breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many Argentinians disagree. You shouldn’t expect much more than toast, croissants (medialunas), bread, and fruit, washed down with the usual hot drinks or some yoghurt.
Some cafes in Argentina might offer a more substantial breakfast, but most are saving their appetite for lunch.
You might find your belly rumbling by the afternoon, and lunch in Argentina will not let you down. Most of Argentina’s traditional food is based around meat, so expect sausages and steak, as well as Italian dishes such as pizza and pasta – your best chance of finding vegetarian food in Argentina.
Throughout the afternoon some cafes will offer sandwiches and tostados, so there’s little chance you’ll go hungry before dinner.
Restaurants in Argentina do not serve dinner earlier than 8pm, most locals commonly waiting until 10pm. It’s another big meal, typically consisting of appetisers, the main course, and an indulgent dessert.
Appetisers include empanadas (meat-filled pastries), chorizo, and an assortment of achuras (entrails) – they can be almost as filling as a main dish.
The most common main dish you’ll see is sirloin steak. Argentina is famous for its beef, and you’ll find countless barbeque restaurants offering different cuts of steak, ribs, sausage, and more – they don’t waste much of the animal. Luckily, salads are on offer too.
Italian restaurants are also plentiful, but be warned: their menus often list pastas and sauces separately – make sure you order both!
Dessert in Argentina is usually Italian ice cream or gelato. Dulce de leche, a thick sweet spread, is incredibly popular, and the sweet-toothed should make sure to try alfajor – two cookies sandwiched together with dulce de leche.
Drink in Argentina
You can’t go home without trying the wine in Argentina. The most popular comes from the Mendoza region, which accounts for two-thirds of Argentina’s wine production.
Its unique position close to the Andes mountains means Mendoza wine isn’t like any other in the world. You’ll find plenty of wine tasting events, or seek out one of the many wine bars in Argentina and drink your fill!
Bars in Argentina offer beer in draft form (expect smaller glasses) or served in cans and bottles. Local brands include Quilmes, Isenbeck, and Schneider, and these are generally light lagers. There are also plenty of import brands available.
If you’re interested in truly local Argentinian beer, ask for cervezas artesanales – local handcrafted beers that some bars and pubs will have an offer. Quality will vary!
Fernet is a traditional drink in Argentina, characterised by its dark brown colour. Originating from Italy, it’s a bitter drink made from herbs, and packs a punch at 40% volume. In bars and pubs it’s usually served mixed with Coca Cola.
A non-alcoholic option is yerba mate, another traditional herbal drink, served in a hollowed out gourd that is passed around a group to share. It’s usually served hot, and although there’s caffeine involved, it’s vitamins and minerals that give it a stimulating effect. It’s pretty bitter, so nobody will judge you for adding sugar.