Four Surprising Things About Buenos Aires Cuisine

Buenos Aires has long been on my travel list for many reasons, but food wasn’t one of them – until now. This fabulous guest post by travel blogger Stephanie Yoder of Twenty-Something gives us four great reasons to visit the capital of Argentina and they may surprise you!

Buenos Aires is a mega-popular tourist destination well known for it’s unique culture, beautiful buildings and really good food. Still, there’s a lot that people don’t realize about the food down here, there are a lot of misconceptions. After spending the last three months eating my way through the city I’m prepared to share the truth with you guys, and it’s about more than just steak and red wine.


1. The Mediterranean Influence is Strong
While Argentina may be technically part of South America, it’s true roots lie across the sea in Europe.

A major influx of immigrants in the 19th and 20th century means that the majority of the inhabitants of Buenos Aires trace their origins back to Italy, Spain and Germany among other places. Everything, from the architecture to the Spanish they speak (which they prefer to call Catalan) is closer in spirit to Europe than their closer neighbors.

You can see this in a lot of the typical foods. Pasta is a major staple and it’s common to find shops selling nothing but fresh pasta. Pizza is also very popular as are Spanish-style tortillas. The ever-present alfajores, small cookies with dulce de leche filling, can be traced back to arabian sweets. Everywhere you will find a predominance of olive oil, basil, olive and mozzarella cheese.

2. The Best Ice Cream in the World
I know, that’s a bold statement, but I’m prepared to fight for it. The ice cream in Buenos Aires is heavenly. It’s heavily influenced by the Italian immigrants mentioned above, but thicker than your typical gelato.

You can find an ice cream parlor every few blocks, each featuring a vast variety of flavors. There are usually a dozen variations on chocolate alone. The staple must-try is the dulce de leche. Real connoisseurs buy the stuff by the kilo.

3. It’s Not Spicy
Over and over again I’ve had to correct people who think that all Latin American food is spicy. While this may be true in certain places (mostly Central America), most Argentineans completely reject hot food, or really any spices whatsoever. It’s not that the food here is bland, they just prefer the natural flavors to shine through.

The biggest exception to the no-spice rule is salt. Salt is HUGE in Buenos Aires. It’s poured generously over fries, steak, I even once saw a woman dumping salt into her salad. The salt overdose is a major public health problem resulting in an increase in obesity and diabetes.. As a result you will rarely see salt on your table, you will need to specially ask the waiter for it, this is mandated by law.

4. Steak is Cheaper than Salad
On this count the stereotypes are absolutely true: Argentineans love their meat. And who can blame them? It’s incredible quality, absolutely delicious and it is cheap (at least compared to the same cuts at home). A visit to Buenos Aires is not complete without at least one heavy asado (grill), where you will be served a variety of delicious cow parts.

While that is seriously amazing, non-carnivores (or anyone who can’t subsist solely on steak, pizza and empanadas), may find themselves out of luck. Despite being a major international city, the food selection here is not terribly diverse. Aside from the odd chinese buffet or overpriced sushi restaurant, it is traditional argentinean food all the way. Vegetables are not a highlight of the menu. Even when you can find a salad that consists of more than lettuce, onions and tomatoes be prepared to pay handsomely for it.

So there you have it, a real look at what you can expect on your plate in Buenos Aires. There’s a good reason the food here is such an attraction, it is really great and unique. So when you come to visit, come hungry!

By: Stephanie Yoder

Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! She's been traveling the world and writing about her adventures since 2010. Catch up with her on Twenty-Something Travel.

15 thoughts on “Four Surprising Things About Buenos Aires Cuisine”

  1. OMG, these foods are a heaven! I loved the colourful and fanciful ice cream cones. Pizza is one of my best food finds anywhere in the world.

    1. Yes! Underground restaurants are very popular in Buenos Aires right now. I’ve reviewed a couple on my site but there are dozens of them. Highly reccomend giving it a try.

  2. You made my mouth water with theses photos. Haven’t been there yet but will certainly look forward to the food. I’ve never seen cones that colour before.

    1. Yup it’s from BA! I took it at a really local hole in the wall takeout restaurant a couple blocks from our apartment in Monserrat. Unfortunately neither of us can remember the name…

  3. For great service, DYI empanadas and the best steak I have in Buenos Aires, I would recommend The Argentine Experience (you can find it through TripAdvisor).

  4. If you want a really fun foodie experience in Buenos Aires, I would totally recommend The Argentine Experience!

  5. Great pictures – just 1 minor correction, the Spanish spoken is Castellano, from Castille (not Catalan – from the Barcelona region of Spain).

  6. Yup it’s from BA! I took it at a really local hole in the wall takeout restaurant a couple blocks from our apartment in Monserrat. Unfortunately neither of us can remember the name…

  7. Travel Magazine - Travelodium

    I think its a little misleading to just talk about steak. In Argentine cuisine beef is butchered in a different way to what most of us are used to. So a number of the cuts that we generally don’t eat at a barbeque are served at an asado

  8. Update for you on the Salted steaks in Argentina. Their Crazy President Christina decided to ban all pre salted food. This means the steaks in Argentina cant be cased in rock salt which made the asada insanely good. Now its hard to get a great steak when the salt doesn’t seal in the juices. She wants to bring down the high blood pressure of her citizens… works there.. not so well in NYC with bloombergs assault on monster sodas.

    1. Her resigning would lower our blood pressure far more than any ban on anything…

  9. Stumbled on your Buenos Aires Cuisine a few years late, lol. But as an update, I agree with you on the ice cream, it is phenomenal in Buenos Aires. I just came back from a trip a couple of weeks ago and what once my favorite place for steak, has now gotten terrible. In the past you were able to eat a great meal anywhere, nowadays you only get a very good meal at very expensive restaurants. This is obviously attributed to the disastrous economy, but very sad. I can no longer recommend Buenos Aires as a steak heaven.

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