Food and drink are major draws luring travelers to Argentina in search of sizzling steaks and regional wines. Diners looking for a quick bite can sample from a variety of empanadas. Daring drinkers can sample a bitter liquor known as fernet. Argentina boasts an abundance of restaurants, cafes, and bars catering to late night crowds. It’s nearly impossible to go to bed hungry or thirsty in this South American foodies’ paradise.
Dining on steak in Argentina
Argentinians ingest a large amount of beef, and families gather during weekends at the asado for barbecued roasts. The barbecues are coal fed and the meat is prepared using only salt. Beef is on the menu at every conceivable restaurant including cafeterias, ethnic enclaves, and fast food joints. However, a visit to a parrillada is a must.
A parrillada restaurant is a mixed grill serving generous portions of meat at reasonable prices. Diners can watch and learn as enormous grills are often open for viewing.
Parrilladas feature other meats and fish, and travelers can sample exotic food like sweetbreads and blood sausage. For standard cuts try sirloin (bife de chorizo), tenderloin (bife de lomo), or flank steak (vacio).
Empanadas in every direction
Empanadas are the ultimate fast food and a great snack in between meals. An empanada consists of baker’s dough stuffed with savory fillings and baked or fried to crispy perfection. Empanadas are sold for comsumption in bakeries, pizzerias, restaraunts of all sizes, and supermarkets. You can also order your empanadas to go (para llevar) and snack at your hotel or while walking through the streets.
Common Argentinian varieties of empanada include beef (carne), chicken (pollo), ham and cheese (jamon y queso), and vegetable (verdura). Specialty markets and fish shops may offer tuna and salmon so be sure to window shop. Triangle shaped Arabic empanadas are common in large cities, loaded with beef and accompanied by tomato and onion. Decide on cold or hot (frio or caliente), and enjoy empanadas in Argentina, when many restaurants are closed until 8pm.
Discovering wines in Argentina
Argentina is the world’s fifth largest producer of wines. International investments have led to new methods and improvements in technology for many area wineries. Premium vintages are created from Salta in the north to Patagonia in the south. While many travel to Argentina to try malbec, commercial and boutique vintners also produce fine chardonnay, merlot and sauvignon blanc.
Wine is served everywhere and even on long distance bus rides. Several wine regions spring from western Argentina making Mendoza City a useful base for travelers. It is possible to climb Andean peaks in the morning and have wine tastings on the same afternoon. Wine touring options range from independent bicycle tours to package tours out of Mendoza City.
Whether traveling on a backpacker’s budget or splurging on a honeymoon, wining and dining in Argentina offers value and variety. Steak and wine are exceptional from high-end establishments to mom and pop cafeterias. Snacking is a breeze across the country. Simply find a street with a few empanada shops and taste your way down the block.