Try the best Argentina food while you are visiting the country (or elsewhere in the world)

Richly influenced by colonial Spain, European migrants and traditional Gaucho lifestyles, Argentina is a juicy one, that’s for sure. When it comes to food, the nation shapes up to impress its guests with a diverse array of red meats, cheesy treats and Latino flavours, sometimes all rolled into one and then deep-fried! With more cattle than people and more BBQ events than you could possibly fit into one vacation, Argentina is sure to leave you satisfied and quite a bit heavier than when you stepped off the plane. Discover Mr Hudson’s top 10 picks of must-try dishes below.

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El Chaltén, Santa Cruz, Argentina | Photo: Martin Sanchez

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A way of life as well as a national dish, the Asado is a key feature in any Argentinian’s social calendar

1. Asado & Parrilla

A way of life as well as a national dish, the asado is a key feature in any Argentinian’s social calendar. Also known as parrillada, asado is an outdoor barbeque event hosted by friends and family whereby a feast of meats will be grilled on parillas for hours until tender. While you’re waiting for the smoky chorizo, morcilla sausages and beef ribs to arrive on your plate, indulge in Malbec wine, appetizers and laughter with the hosts, all under the Argentine sun.

Photo: Rafael Hoyos Weht

Photo: Jose Ignacio Pompe

2. Empanadas

The Argentinian food version of a pasty (or Hot Pocket for the American readers among us), empanadas the ultimate on-the-go food brought over by Spanish immigrants in the 16th century. Stuffed with sweet or savoury filling and wrapped in pastry, empanadas are then deep-fried or baked to crispy perfection in a clay oven, best served alongside a glass of Malbec. Try any of the spiced meat versions (chorizo, pork, ground turkey or beef) one day and the cheese or seafood version the next, finishing up with a sweet cinnamon or dulce de leche treat if you still have space. While in the Tucumán region, there’s only one way to go for lunch and that’s the empanada tucumana, a traditional recipe made using beef fat, hard-boiled eggs and paprika.

Empanadas | Photo: Delfina Iacub

3. Choripán

The no-fuss Argentine cuisine served up at any street food market or football stadium vendor around the country, the choripán deserves international renown. Watch your beef and pork chorizo sausage grill over wood flames, before being butterflied down the middle, topped with chimichurri and handed to you in a baguette or marraqueta roll. So yes, it’s an Argentinian hotdog, but it’s the sauces and quality of the meat that marks it apart from its US equivalent. Swap the chimichurri for caramelized onion, pickled aubergine and green peppers if you so wish.

Choripan | Photo: Los Muertos Crew

Photo: Los Muertos Crew

4. Matambre arrollado 

Beef is big on the menu in Argentina and matambre arrollado is a prime example of how Argentina steak doesn’t just have to be just a slab of meat. To make the matambre arrollado, a thinly rolled piece of beef flank is stuffed with vegetables, egg, herbs and ham and rolled up tightly before being boiled, baked or grilled to perfection. Literally translated as ‘hunger killer roll up’, the matambre arrollado is a quick fix any time of day, most appreciated while waiting for the rest of the Asado to cook.

5. Locro

Locro is typically served at one of two times; on May 25th to commemorate the day of the revolution and during the cold winter season. Whenever you try it, locro is certain to warm you to the bone, with its filling soup base made from a mixture of corn, beans, potatoes and squash, and likely a choice of beef, chorizo or tripe. For all the more flavour, locro is seasoned with cumin and bay leaf and topped off with a dash of chimichurri hot sauce for a happy mouth and a full belly.

Photo: Gustavo Zambelli

Photo: Nicolas Lobos

6. Milanesa

There’s more meaty goodness from the Milanesa, a fried steak dish inspired by the Italians. To make the Milanesa, get yourself some silverside beef, soak it in egg batter and fry it. Eat alone as an entrée or between two slices of bread with extra toppings of lettuce, cheese and a fried egg, or go sophisticated with the Milanesa Napolitana which dresses up the dish with mozzarella and tangy tomato sauce. Bellissimo.

7. Fugazza

Another offering heavily influenced by the Italians is the fugazza. Essentially an Argentinian pizza, the fugazza differs slightly from its predecessor with a thick dough likened to focaccia or sourdough, topped with a thin coating of sauce, caramelised onions and lots of cheese. Besides the original Buenos Aires flavour, the fugazza can come topped with whatever you fancy – usually spicy sausage and other meats. A second-generation version of the fugazza for the most fiendish of cheese lovers is the fugazzeta, a mozzarella-stuffed monster similar to a calzone.

Milanesa | Photo: Catceeq jpg

Photo: LouMact

8. Carbonada

The carbonada meanwhile is authentically Argentinian, developed by the gauchos to be enjoyed at the end of a hard day’s work, especially in winter. The beauty of the carbonada is that it can be cooked with minimal effort, stewing slowly throughout the day on coals while the gauchos are hard at work. Though similar to a stew with a selection of meats (mainly beef of course) potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and peppers, the carbonada is made distinctly Argentinian with the addition of corn on the cob and dried fruit, all served up in a hollowed-out pumpkin.

9. Alfajores

A sweet treat to enjoy with coffee at any Argentinian restaurant or café, the alfajores are hard to turn down. Akin to shortbread with a gooey jam centre, alfajores are said to originate from the Arab world, entering by way of the Spanish moors. Now ostensibly Argentina’s national cookie, alfajores are big business, sold with a range of fillings, the most popular being sweet, sweet dulce de leche.

10. Dulce de leche

A regular appearance in or on top of many Argentina desserts, dulce de leche is a saccharine all-rounder. Made from caramelised condensed milk, you already know you’re going to enjoy this one, whether drizzled over helado (ice cream), dripping from pancakes or spread thickly on bread. One of the outcomes of Argentina’s thriving grasslands and cattle industry is dairy and, as such, a hell of a lot of “dulce de leche” is produced each year. Loosely translated as ‘milk jam’ or ‘ milk candy’, dulce de leche is good in sweet empanadas and heavenly when layered up in the Argentinian version of mille-feuille, known as rogel.

Alfajores | Photo: Delfina Iacub

Alfajores with Dulce de Leche | Photo: Melina Bronca

BONUS: 

Chimichurri, as well as being a common addition to a number of the dishes above, is also a staple product in its own right, like a spicy pesto and the go-to condiment for locals. To drink meanwhile (besides Malbec of course) Argentinians can offer you yerba mate tea, a South American speciality made from powdered leaves similar to Ceylon tea and served in an iconic gourd with metal straw.

If you’re not quite finished on desserts, Argentina still has a few treats in store, firstly by way of medialunas, a croissant-like pastry doused in jam, dulce de leche or chocolate for that mid-afternoon ‘merienda’ sugar rush. Lastly, its pastelitos criollos that helps take us way past our weekly sugar limit; a crispy star-shaped pastry filled with all of the dulces (dulce de membrillo, dulce de leche, dulce de batata, dulce de guayaba et al) before being deep-fried and brushed with more sugar!

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As well as eating the country out of house and home, enjoy the best of gay Argentina with our guide through the best cities, towns and national parks.

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San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina | Photo: Emilio Lujan

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