When you try to think of typical Argentina food, the first thing to pop into your head is probably a huge steak and a glass of red wine.
You’d be right!
But you’d also be missing so much of what this country has to offer.
Immigration from Europe, indigenous cultures from the north, simple gaucho-influenced food from the pampas and a love of simple, high-quality ingredients all blend together to make up the most popular foods in Argentina.
This post is a list of the 27 most common foods in Argentina from steak to ice cream and everything in between.
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22 Popular Foods in Argentina: Traditional Food You Have to Try There
After living in Argentina for nearly 12 years I have just about tried it all, and if I haven’t yet, it’s on my list!
In Argentina, food is meant to be enjoyed, not rushed through.
Waiters aren’t [always] ignoring you. They are giving your time and space to enjoy your meal and your company.
There’s even a saying my husband always says when I’m hangry: “El que sabe comer, sabe esperar.” He who knows how to eat, knows how to wait.
So sit back, grab a fork, and enjoy these most popular foods in Argentina.
NOTE: Stick with me or scroll to the end of this article for some tips on dining in Argentina.
A delicious little bread pocket filled with juicy meat, you cannot beat a good empanada!
While most South American countries have their version of the empanada (likely brought from big brother Spain), Argentina’s empanadas are a true delicacy and one of the most iconic Argentina foods to try here.
Typical flavors are meat (obviously), chicken, vegetable (typically spinach-based), humita (creamed corn), and jam and cheese.
Meat can either be cortado a cuchillo (a steak diced by knife) or ground meat. I always prefer cortado a cuchillo of the two, it’s my favorite!
Also, keep in mind that spicy food in Argentina is rare to non-existent. Empanadas often have a carne picante (spicy) and carne suave (non-spicy) versions but I dare you to try to taste the difference (there is none).
Where to Try the Best Empanadas in Argentina
The best of the best are from Argentina’s northwest: San Juan, Tucuman, La Rioja and Salta in particular.
So naturally, in Buenos Aires, the best empanadas are from regional restaurants like La Riojana in San Telmo, Fortín Salteño in Nuñez or El Sanjuanino in Recoleta.
Also try regional flavors like trout or deer empanadas in Patagonia and quinoa empanadas in Jujuy.
If you eat ONE thing in Argentina, make it be steak. A good, hearty steak is without a doubt one of the most famous dishes in Argentina.
Argentines consume more steak per person than any other country in the world.
It plays a major part in Argentina food culture and you’ll see a parrilla (steakhouse/restaurant) every few blocks.
Make sure to be emphatic on how you want it cooked as they tend to overcook steaks here. If you want it rare, ask for it vuelta y vuelta.
Popular cuts are bife de chorizo (sirloin), vacio (a flank steak), and lomo (tenderloin, great for lean meat lovers like me).
If you’re starving and want to try everything, order a parrillada, which includes a variety of cuts ranging from sweetbreads and blood sausage to tira de asado (ribs) and steak.
For a complete guide to red meat in Argentina, read my Beefy Guide to Eating Steak in Argentina, with tips on navigating the menu, cuts of meat, and the 8 best steakhouses in Buenos Aires.
An asado is more than the meat, it’s an event a major pillar of Argentina food culture.
Families get together every week for Sunday asados. Friends grill kilos of meat for birthdays, celebrations, and on your average Tuesday.
It’s a ritual with the asador (grillman) setting the fire early and timing the meat just right.
Steaks are seasoned only with salt and placed on the grill over a low fire to cook evenly and slowly.
First come the achuras (sweetbreads, intestines, and the like), chorizos, and provoleta.
Next up is the main course of steaks, cooked in one large hunk of meat and diced up at the table.
Sip on wine before, in between, and after and enjoy the company! You’ll be here all day.
How to attend an asado in Argentina?
Befriend a local! These are coveted meals behind closed doors. If you don’t know a local that can invite you to their weekly asado, the Asado Experience is here to help. It is the perfect way to learn about asado culture, how to grill like a local, and how to enjoy a traditional asado in a local’s backyard.
Alternatively, going on a day trip to one of the best estancias near Buenos Aires will include a full out asado for lunch, along with other activities like horseback riding, traditional dance and horse taming expositions.
Is there anything better than molten melted cheese?
NO, there is not.
Provoleta is a disc of provolone cheese melted over the grill.
It’s typically an appetizer at parrillas and asados and in my expert opinion pairs very well with chorizo.
It’s typically served plain (and requires nothing else to be delicious) but you’ll see options at some restaurants with dried tomatoes, spices, mushrooms, and just about anything that would go well with cheese.
Chimichurri & Salsa Criolla
Forget the polished, parsley-heavy chimishurri bottles you see on the shelves in American supermarkets.
In Argentina, a good chimichurri is red, oily and vinegary and in a huge bowl by the parrilla.
This spicy sauce is heaven and my mouth is watering as I type this. A good chimichurri is a blend of spices and herbs, sometimes fresh and sometimes dried depending on the recipe blended with oil and a little vinegar.
Salsa Criolla is vinegar-based made of diced onions, tomatoes, and bell pepper.
Chimichurri’s perfect partner in crime is the choripan, up next on this list. I put so much on mine that my bread is disintegrating by the time I’m done.
The Meaty Sandwiches: Choripan/Lomito/Bondiola
The choripan is one of the most common foods in Argentina and coincidentally, one of my favorites.
It’s exactly what its name suggests: chorizo in bread (pan.
It’s simply a butterflied chorizo on a crusty bread slathered with chimichurri and/or salsa criolla. It can come with fixings of a single leaf of lettuce and sliced tomato. It is simple but it is delicious.
And in the land of beef you shouldn’t be surprised that steak sandwiches are easy to come by as well.
The lomito (steak sandwich) or a bondiola (pork sandwich) are also popular foods in Argentina for eating on the go.
Where to Try the Best Choripan in Argentina
The best of the best are from Argentina’s northwest: San Juan, Tucuman, La Rioja and Salta in This is one of the only street foods in Argentina, so it’s best enjoyed on the go from a street cart in the park or by the river.
The most iconic place to enjoy a choripan, lomito, or bondiola sandwich is on the Costanera Norte riverfront right in front of the Aeroparque airport. You’ll find plenty of carts to choose from with tables to sit by the water.
You can also find delicious choripanes in the Buenos Aires outdoor markets like San Telmo or Mataderos.
Pizza al Molde
Pizza in Argentina is a far cry from a true Italian pizza and if that’s what you’re expecting (thanks the previously mentioned Italian immigrants) then I fear you’ll be horribly disappointed.
In fact, delivery pizza is nearly always a bad idea here. Fine in a pinch, but not when you want top quality pizza.
BUT, there is a style of pizza in Buenos Aires that stands out: pizza al molde. It’s a deep dish-ish style with a thicker crust, an offensive amount of cheese, and as always, light on the tomato sauce. It’s decadent and (while still insulting to most Italians) it can’t be missed.
Order it at the counter by the slice (two is usually enough) and eat standing up like a local.
Watch out for the paper-like napkins that generally just smear the mess around your face. I hear the trick is to crinkle them up and then they’ll actually absorb the grease. I have yet to test it out.
Flavors to try? Muzza (simple mozzarella), Fugazzeta (onion and cheese, no sauce), and Anchoa (anchovy) are all great local slices to try!
Where to Try the Best Pizza in Argentina
Pizza al molde is a true Buenos Aires specialty. The best pizzerias are on Avenida Corrientes, read about my pizza crawl to try them all. Of them though, one stands out: Guerrin. It has the best pizza in the city (in my and many others humble opinion).
A close second is Mezetta in Chacarita (as seen on Somebody Feed Phil), their Fugazetta what dreams are made of.
When you’re eating your slice of pizza, don’t forget to order a slice of fainá to go with it!
It’s a unique item to add to your Argentinian food list. Fainá is a flat bread made of chickpea flour and herbs.
It’s baked in the shape of a pizza pie and sliced similarly so you can stack one on top of the other.
Personally, I find it a bit too much starch on starch BUT it’s a local classic and you might as well give it a try!
Tartas are a some of the very common foods in Argentina for an easy lunch on the fly. The Argentine tarta is basically a quiche or savory, vegetable-heavy pie.
You can find them in any bakery and some restaurants offer them as lunch specials.
Tartas are an excellent option for vegetarian food in Argentina, which can feel challenging!
Typical flavors are the Tarta Pascualina (spinach, ricotta and boiled egg), pumpkin, or with vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, and the like.
Pastries in Argentina are called facturas and they have a cheeky history.
Many bakers in Argentina were immigrants from Europe who were fleeing political persecution, they were anarchists and used their creations to mock the clergy and the military.
Some have names like bola de fraile (friar’s balls), suspiro de monja (nun’s sigh), and vigilante (guard).
Medialunas, though, are in my personal opinion the absolute best food in Argentina. They are the local answer to the croissant.
They have two varieties. Medialunas de manteca are made with butter, and are gooier and sweeter. Medialunas de grasa are made with lard and are a bit saltier and thinner.
Order medialunas with your breakfast or at merienda (tea time that starts around 4 pm) in any cafe or grab a dozen facturas in any bakery around the country.
Milanesa, one of the most popular dishes in Argentina, is thinly sliced meat that’s been tenderized and breaded with bread crumbs. It’s either deep fried or baked.
It’s traditionally meat but you can also get chicken milanesa as well.
Also, why stop there?
Argentines go all in with the milanesa, treating it basically as a pizza crust. You can get milanesa napolitana with a tomato sauce, ham, and cheese melted on top.
Where to Try the Best Milanesa in Argentina
La Farola is a chain restaurant famous for its enormous milanesa. You can get one to share with a group of friends for a very indulgent night out.
Aside from that, you can get a good milanesa just about anywhere. It’s the perfect greasy spoon food and my go-to food when I’m traveling here. It’s rare that I find one I can complain about.
Yerba mate may not be a food but it’s a vital part of the culture and Argentina food tradition.
This bitter green tea comes from the Northeast.
Dried tea leaves are sipped out of a gourd with a metal filtered straw called a bombilla.
It’s a communal drink and it’s so much better when shared. The owner of the mate (the gourd) is in charge of setting it up and filling it with water.
After each person drinks they always pass it back to them to re-fill and pass it on to the next person.
Of course, everyone has their own personal mate and if you enter any office you’ll see a thermos and mate perched on every single desk.
There’s no better way to get through the day than with the burst of caffeine you get from yerba mate!
How to Try Yerba Mate
Yerba Mate isn’t something consumed in restaurants so you won’t find it on cafe menus along with the coffees and teas.
There are a few places that will prepare a mate service such as Las Cabras in Palermo. They offer it from around 4-6 pm (merienda/coffee time). It’s a chain restaurant and their other locations (under different names) offer it as well: Las Cholas, Cumaná, and La Cholita.
You can also bring your mate practice back home with you, Amazon has great yerba mate brands available! My favorite is the organic Kraus Mate, it’s not bitter like most brands.
Pasta & Gnocchis
At the beginning of the 20th century Argentina experienced a massive wave of European immigration, mostly from Italy into Buenos Aires.
Naturally, Italian food in general is HUGE in Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires (the port that welcomed them).
You’ll find pasta on just about every menu here. It’s often the best vegetarian option in meat-lovers parrillas.
Typically you choose your pasta (ravioli, sorrentino, spaghetti, etc) and then your sauce separately so you can mix and match your perfect meal.
Don’t Miss Gnocchi Day!
It’s tradition to eat gnocchi on the 29th of every month in Argentina! There are a lot of theories about why but it’s most likely that people traditionally run low on cash at the end of the month and gnocchi is a filling but affordable meal. So if you find yourself in Argentina on the 29th, go eat gnocchi!
Cheese lovers will love a good picada, the local take on the chartuterie platter.
They typically come with a variety of salamis and other cold cuts, cheeses, and pickled vegetables.
Order them as a meal with wine or to accompany a vermouth in a bodegon (a tradition called copetin).
The country’s best place to get salami and cheese and therefore a picada is in the town of Tandil (5 hours from Buenos Aires).
Where to Try the Best Picadas in Argentina
However, you don’t need to go that far. Hache is a wine bar in Palermo that serves up great picadas with ingredients sourced from Tandil. Or fill up on a traditional picada at the historic Bar El Federal in San Telmo for one of my favorites.
Locro, a Patriotic Stew
Locro is a hearty bean and corn-based stew and one of most popular dishes in Argentina on patriotic holidays (probably because all patriotic holidays fall in winter and this stew will warm you to your bones!).
It’s typical to the northern provinces like Salta and Jujuy. You will find some of the country’s best locro there any day of the year but on the right days you’ll find it everywhere.
The two biggest patriotic holidays where locro prevails are May 25 (the day the fight for independence began) and July 9 (Argentina’s Independence Day).
If you’re in Argentina on either of those days, find a restaurant offering locro to eat like a true local. Most will offer a “menu patriotico” with empanadas, locro, and probably pastelitos pastries for dessert.
If you’re in the northwest, Huasalocro is another version of locro, literally meaning “almost locro.” It’s more economical
Like traditional locro, this is a dish that dates back to pre-Hispanic and even pre-Incan cultures. Huascha is quechua for “what’s missing” because it huaschalocro is simply locro without some of the ingredients. For example, fresh corn may be used instead of dried corn kernels, or less/no meat.
Cardonada is another stew and traditional food in Argentina. It has younger roots than locro, coming from gauchos on the ranches and traditional comida criolla.
Ingredients can vary but it will typically include meat, pumpkin, dried peaches, onion, peppers, paprika, tomato, sweet potato, and more.
“Eran los días del apuro y alboroto p’al hembraje / pa preparar los potajes / y osequiar bien a la gente, / y ansí, pues, muy grandemente / pasaba siempre el gauchaje.// Veniá la carne con cuero, / la sabrosa carbonada, / mazamorra bien pisada, / los pasteles y el güen vino”
– Martin Fierro quote about Carbonada
Just like most of Latin America, the Argentina food world also includes tamales. They’re shorter and fatter than in Mexico (the other tamales I’m very familiar with and fond of) but in most other ways very similar.
The corn meal is filled with meat in the center and wrapped in a corn husk. They’re common in the Northwest and you’ll see them on just about every menu there.
Humita is similar to a tamal in that it is mostly corn meal wrapped in a corn husk but instead of meat filling it’s filled with a creamy cheesy corn mixture.
Like locro (and most corn-based foods) they originate from the northern region of Argentina. You’ll get the best humitas in the Northwest (Jujuy, Salta, etc) particularly in the summer and spring months.
Humita is also a common empanada flavor so if you can’t get yourself to Salta for the country’s best authentic humita en chala (chala being the corn husk), you can always get by with some empanadas.
Dulce de Leche
You cannot visit Argentina and not try dulce de leche. Seriously, you couldn’t even if you tried. It is literally on EVERYTHING sweet.
Distinct from caramel (made from candied sugar), dulce de leche is just what the name suggests, a sweet made from cooked down milk. (So, do not make the mistake of calling it caramel to an Argentine’s face).
My favorite way to eat DDL is with flan. Restaurants always offer the option of paying a little extra for you to have a generous dollop of dulce de leche and/or cream with your flan. Do it.
In fact, here’s my family’s traditional Argentina flan mixto recipe, complete with dulce de leche!
NOTE: If you’re planning on buying up lots of dulce de leche to bring home as a traditional Argentina souvenir, make sure to pack it in your checked luggage. It counts as a liquid and security will confiscate it.
Read Next: The Best Desserts in Argentina
Alfajores are the best food in Argentina for those with a sweet tooth. It’s made up of two cookies sandwiching a slab of dulce de leche, bathed in chocolate.
There are countless varieties, some bathed in white chocolate or a candied coating, some made with namebrand cookies like Oreos (SO good), triple stackers, and on it goes.
Find them in kioskos (minimarkets) or supermarkets anywhere in the country.
The traditional homemade alfajor de maizena are soft cookies made of corn starch (maizena) sandwiching dulce de leche and rolled in coconut flakes. You can find these in bakeries.
Tip: Search for Regional Alfajores in Argentina
My favorite alfajores have always been locally made by small bakeries that I discover as I travel across Argentina.
For example, in Cafayate we tried northern flavors like cayote fruit or wine flavored alfajores at Calchaquitos. In El Calafate and El Chalten we tried alfajores filled with local berries instead of dulce de leche. El Molle in Jujuy makes alfajores with purple corn flour.
The options are endless as local bakers play with authentic local flavors. In Misiones we even had alfajores made with yerba mate!
Argentina ice cream is insanely good, I suppose we have those Italian immigrants to thank once again!
The best places use artisanal methods and fresh ingredients. Cones are served with the number of flavors you want, not scoops. Why? They skillfully use a spatula to pile the helado into a dangerously high cone! They definitely don’t skimp on portions.
Classic flavors you can’t miss are dulce de leche and sambayon (made from port wine and egg yolks, similar to the filling of tiramisu).
Want to know more about Argentine helado? Read my Complete Guide Ice Cream in Argentina to find my favorite heladerias around the country!
5 Unexpected Regional Dishes to Try in Argentina
The land is inhospitable and harsh in Patagonia. But ranchers were needed to occupy the vast swaths of land and the best way to conquer it was with sheep farms.
So in Patagonia you won’t see as much cattle as you’ll see in the pampas closer to Buenos Aires, here lamb rules the asados.
You’ll find lamb on the menu in most restaurants across Patagonia but for the full experience try a dia de campo excursion (day in the countryside) at a traditional estancia.
We spent the night at the Nibepo Aike Estancia in El Calafate and the lamb there was exquisite. Seriously, I typically hate lamb and its gamey taste, but the lamb at Nibepo Aike was the first lamb I ever enjoyed!
NOTE: In Patagonia you’ll also see a lot of deer (ciervo), wild boar (javali), and trout (trucha)!
Chipá in the Northeast
Chipá is a small cheesy roll, the bread is dense and moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside.
It’s from the Guarani region of Northeastern Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia. Indigenous Guaraní originally made chipa out of cassava starch and water. With Jesuit missionaries and the introduction of new ingredients it developed into the cheesy bread we eat now.
You’ll find it everywhere in provinces like Misiones (home of Iguazu Falls). But in Buenos Aires you’ll also find it at bakeries and from street vendors in the morning selling coffee, fried dough, and chipa out of their carts.
Chipa guazu is another version, literally translating to Big Chipa. It’s most like like what we’d call corn bread in the US.
King Crab in Ushuaia
Centolla, or King Crab, is bound to be one of the most unexpected traditional Argentina foods.
In Ushuaia at the literal end of the world in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina’s most southern point, you can try delicious centolla.
We loved trying all the best centolla in Ushuaia.
In fact, one of the most exciting excursions in Ushuaia is to go on is this fishing expedition to see how centolla is traditionally fished for here in the Beagle Channel.
Llama Meat in Jujuy
I know llamas are cute, but forgive me, they are also very delicious.
When in the Northwestern provinces, particularly Jujuy, you’ll find llama meat on the menu everywhere. Llama milanesa, llama steak, stews with llama, I even had llama ghoulash once.
It is surprisingly very tender and not gamey at all. It breaks my heart to say it, but I LOVE llama meat. Give it a try if you’re curious in Jujuy.
Torta Galesa in Chubut
Argentina is home to one of the world’s largest Welsh populations outside of Wales!
In the Patagonian province of Chubut you’ll find thriving Welsh communities. One of the most popular Argentina food traditions here is a traditional Welsh tea service.
You’ll find them in small towns like Gaiman (near Puerto Madryn’s Atlantic Cost) or in Trevelin (in the Andes).
Torta Galesa is a traditional Welsh cake is a dark cake with dried fruits and nuts and dates back to the earliest Welsh settlers to the harsh climate of Chubut.
Argentina Food Culture
First, here are a few things to keep in mind about eating all of this delicious Argentinian food.
- Things are on a later schedule than in North America, this won’t be a hard stretch for many Europeans but I know it can be hard on us Americans.
- Breakfasts are sleepy and light with just toast, maybe a pastry, and a coffee.
- Dinners are late. Most restaurants open at 8 pm and you won’t find many people there until 10 pm and later (except for me, who you will always find eating in an empty restaurant at 8 pm so if you’re hungry early, there’s no shame, GO EARLY).
- Embrace merienda. How do Argentines make it to such a late dinner time? Merienda, basically a pastry/coffee break at around 4-6 pm.
- Service is slow but not rude. Embrace the slower pace of life and when you need something just flag your waiter down (raise your arm and make eye contact, do not whistle!).
Popular Food in Argentina: The End
If you made to the end of this massive list of popular food in Argentina, then I’m so happy to have found someone who loves food as much as I do! Welcome!
If you’re looking for more information on the Argentina food scene and even MORE food recommendations, don’t worry, this glutton has your back.
Here are more Argentina food guides to keep investigating: