Yet another great travel adventure in the books! David and I recently returned from our 2017 South American extravaganza where we explored Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay. I'll be putting together a longer post outlining our favorite activities, recommendations, and lessons learned, but I first want to share some of the delicious food that kept us energized (pictured above: provoleta).
Both Buenos Aires and Montevideo are vibrant cities with strong food traditions, which are closely tied to their love of all things beef, and the influx of European (mostly Italian) immigrants around the turn of the 20th Century. I'm not going to attempt to run down every little cafe we stopped in, but I do want to highlight some of our favorite stops. The map below will guide you, but keep reading for a photo diary of mouth watering meat, coffee, and gelato!
Dulce Charlotte: This was our first stop in Buenos Aires after we settled into our AirBnB. We were in desperate need of a snack, as dinner was still a few hours away. Although dinner is extremely late in both countries (10:00 or 10:30), there is a wonderful snack culture that comes alive after work. Cafes fill up with friends sipping on coffee, tea, or wine, and sharing sweet treats.
La Zoila: Who doesn't love an empanada? Luckily, there is no shortage of them in Buenos Aires. Unlike neighboring countries, most of the empanadas in Argentina are baked rather than fried, which I prefer anyways. We stopped in La Zoila during our food walking tour to sample a traditional spicy meat variety (note - "spicy" is relative, nothing is that spicy in Argentina).
La Cocina: For another amazing empanada spot, drop by this tiny establishment, which heavily caters to locals. There are very few seats, but totally worth taking to-go if there isn't any room. David will attest they were some of the best empanadas he's ever had.
Rapanui: There's at least one heladaria on every block in Buenos Aires, and Montevideo (remember that Italian influence?), but Rapanui is by far the best. Believe me, I tried a lot of them in a week and a half. It's hard to say exactly what sets them apart, but their extra creamy gelato will hit the spot at any time of day or night.
Cafe Tortoni: This was one of the few food stops I planned ahead of time. Cafe Tortoni's surprisingly large dining room takes you back in time, 1858 to be exact. The cafe's popularity among locals and tourists means there will most likely be a line outside waiting to get in, but it's worth the extra time for anyone looking for a little nostalgia.
El Pobre Luis: No trip to Argentina is complete without at least one (hopefully more) traditional steak meal. Located at the end of Barrio Chino, this parrilla (steakhouse), keeps it classic. Sides are ordered separately from cuts of beef, and the meat is served plain, although a bowl of house made chimichurri is always available. Keep in mind that portion sizes are huge, so consider splitting, or asking for a half portion.
La Mamma Rosa: Yes, the endless steak is wonderful, but our last meal in Buenos Aires at La Mamma Rosa was the best all-around meal during the trip. We chose this restaurant based on our search for the finest milanesa in town. Once again, we completely forgot about the ridiculous portion sizes, so we ordered three dishes, when one would have been just fine. Milanesa may just be my new favorite comfort food.
Ramona: Let's move on the Montevideo, which shares a lot of similarities to Buenos Aires in terms of food profiles; meat, meat, meat, potato, alfajores, and more meat (so not a bad thing). However, by this point in the trip my stomach was in need of something different. One of our tour guides recommended Ramona, a small, trendy, and bustling corner cafe with a menu of sandwiches, salads, and pastas.
Cafe Brasilero: This cafe is the oldest coffee shop in Montevideo, and still maintains many of its original charm. We ducked inside for lunch during our rainy travel day looking for something cozy, and warm. It totally hit the spot. Not only was the coffee delicious, but the vegetable soup was exactly what my chilled bones needed.
Montevideo Agricultural Market (Mercado Agricola): Tucked away in a lively neighborhood, Mercado Agricola is a wonderful place to feel like a local. The renovated space now houses small shops, cafes, produce stands, and of course helado! Stroll through for a glimpse into local life, or stick around for a bite to eat.
La Otra Parrilla: Our final meal of the trip was of course another wonderful parrilla experience. We opted for a 1/2 portion of meat, a full portion of grilled vegetables, and mollejas (grilled chicken gizzards). This was a new one for us, but we will certainly be ordering them again! Warm, crispy, juicy, fatty, basically perfection.
Basically, you can't go wrong in my book when the choices are between meat, cookies, and ice cream. However, like anywhere, it's best to search out the places where locals go. Sites like Trip Advisor, and Yelp can be incredibly helpful, but don't forget to ask your tour guides for recommendations, and search for local food blogs, which will often have more updated information. The easiest way to find the best food though is with your own two feet. Take a walk around the neighborhood, and I promise that crowded dining rooms, and long lines will never fail to point you in the right direction.
Walking enthusiast, and kitchen experimenter currently living out my dream in Mexico City, Mexico.
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