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The food in Argentina has been shaped by its history and culture. The cuisine, rich in flavor, draws from European immigrant influences to the indigenous people of the Andes.
From the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires to rural Patagonia and everything in between, Argentina food delights.
Over a four month period, we traversed the country by bus, exploring the local and regional food specialties.
From rich flavors, exquisite cuts of meat and fresh seafood, we were surprised by the diversity of mouth watering Argentina foods.
In every region, there was a story behind the cuisine.
Discover the top quintessential flavors of Argentina with these 15 authentic Argentina foods to try.
The One Iconic Argentina Food To Have
1- Asado – The National Food of Argentina
Nothing sums up Argentina cuisine more than asado. Asado is a collection of barbecue meat dishes, rather than one specific food, always cooked over an open flame.
More than just meat, an asado is deeply rooted into Argentine culture. It really is a chance to come together with friends and family and connect.
While in Argentina, it was described to us as an “excuse” and simply the joy of getting together.
The asado experience involves grilling beef alongside a variety of other cuts of meats. Some of the most typical cuts include bife de lomo or tenderloin, bife de chorizo or sirloin, vacio and matambre or flank.
However, the first things off the grill are usually the sausages. You’ll have chorizo or sausages served with bread called choripan. And, also blood sausage or morcilla, also served with bread called morcipan.
The asador or the person in charge of the meat will then distribute the rest of the cuts of meat. And, in the end, an applause is given to the asador.
The tradition of asado dates back to the gauchos of central Argentina who lived entirely off the land.
If you find yourself at a barbecue or Argentina grilling restaurant, you can savor the typical cuts you’d find at an asado.
When ordering your meat in Argentina you will order jugoso or medium rare, a punto or medium, or, bien cocido or well done.
The barbecue experience in Argentina is a social ritual that brings friends and family together.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: To learn more about grilling and cooking with fire, consider a YesChef online cooking class with Argentine chef Francis Mallmann. See the recipes and learn from Francis Mallmann in our YesChef Review.
Argentina Street Food
2- Empanadas – Argentina Doughy Snacks
This is one food in Argentina that we didn’t mind eating over and over again. The sheer diversity of empanadas in Argentina is worth a food quest in itself.
Empanadas are small doughy pies filled with various savory or sweet fillings. The empanada dough is often a little tougher and less flaky than puff pastry.
The filling varies depending on the region of the country you’re visiting. From the North to the South, you can find empanadas for every taste.
The most popular is the empanada de carne or meat empanada. Typically mixed with onions, vegetables, and in some cases eggs or potatoes, this is also our favorite one.
Though the empanadas filled with cheese which melts after baking are also contenders to our top choice.
Empanadas are typically baked though you can also find them fried which adds some crunch to the texture.
What we loved about empanadas is that you can eat them at any time. You will find empanadas at street joints or even some bakeries to eat as a snack or as dessert empanadas.
At restaurants, empanadas are offered as an appetizer to start off a meal. Some venues offer only empanadas and you can make a full meal out of it for lunch or dinner.
Empanadas are believed to have originated in Spain, with the name deriving from the Galician verb empanar. It translates to “enbreaded” which means “wrapped in bread”.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: How to Make Delicious Argentinian Empanadas Mendocino Style
3- Choripán or Choripan – The Argentinian Sandwich
The choripan is one of the most popular Argentina foods and one of our personal favorites. It is named for its two main ingredients – chorizo and bread, which is pan in Spanish.
Even though it is quite commonly eaten at an asado for appetizers, you can also have it by itself. It’s essentially a beef and pork sausage sandwich.
The sausage is cooked on the grill and served between two slices of lightly grilled bread. It is often cut in half lengthwise where it is called mariposa, which means butterfly.
Chimichurri sauce is usually added to the sandwich.
Choripán is typically eaten as a street food and also popularly served at stadiums during sports games.
Argentina Food With Italian Influence
4- Milanesa – Argentinean Style Milanesa
Milanesa is widely celebrated in Argentina. It is arguably the most popular dish in the country and ubiquitous in Buenos Aires.
This dish is so famous that it even has its own day named for it, which is celebrated every May 3rd.
Argentinian milanesa consists of thin beef or veal cuts coated in breadcrumbs, herbs and then shallow fried. You can also find some versions with chicken or eggplant, soy or even fish.
It’s hard to keep track of the many versions this favorite dish has taken. If topped with tomato sauce it becomes Milanesa Napolitana.
When a fried egg is added on top, it becomes a Milanesa a Caballo, or “milanesa riding horseback”.
When it is eaten as a sandwich, with lettuce, tomatoes or mayonnaise, it’s known as Sandwich de Milanesa or Milanga.
The milanesa in Argentina has its roots in the wave of Italian immigrants that came into the country between 1880 and 1970.
5- Fugazzeta – Argentinean Style Pizza
In the capital city of Buenos Aires, pizza and specifically Argentinean style pizza is beloved.
Similar to Milanesa and pasta dishes, fugazetta draws its history from the Italian immigrants that settled in Argentina.
Unlike traditional pizzas, the fugazzeta does not contain any tomatoes. There is no tomato sauce used in this style of pizza.
Instead, the fugazzeta is a pizza exploding with cheese, topped with onions on a thick crust. For Argentinians, the more cheese the better.
Pizzerias are very popular and in Buenos Aires, you can find one at almost every corner.
Besides fugazzeta stuffed with cheese, you can also have versions with ham and cheese known as fugazzeta rellena con jamón.
Vegetarians can find this Argentina food with layers of spinach and vegetables known as fugazzeta de verdura.
Interestingly, Argentinians accompany their pizza with faina or fainá, a pancake-like flatbread made from garbanzo beans.
It is often placed on the pizza and eaten together for even more flavor.
Like the pizza, the faina is traced back to Genoa, Italy.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: One of the best ways to taste the flavors of the country is to take a food tour. Read our review Buenos Aires Food Tour – How To Learn About Argentinian Food Culture
Regional Food in Argentina
6- Patagonia Lamb – Patagonia Signature Dish
Lamb is a signature dish of the Patagonia region. Patagonian lamb is a registered trademark that demonstrates its outstanding quality.
It is known for being low in saturated fats due to the free-roaming nature of the lambs in their extensive pastures.
In Patagonia, lamb is most often prepared on the grill. The most famous is the lamb asado where the lamb is cooked over open fire.
Other popular ways of enjoying Patagonia lamb are as steak, grilled lamb chops or lamb empanadas.
Raising lamb was introduced to the Patagonia region in the mid 19th Century by European settlers.
7- Llama Meat – Steak and Casserole Dishes
While exploring the local food in northwest Argentina, we were surprised to discover llama meat in many regional specialties.
In the northern Andes region of Argentina, llamas are more popular than cows, so the meat features prominently in dishes.
Llama meat is lean, high in protein and low in fat. This healthy llama meat is prepared in a variety of ways.
We tried llama steak, empanadas, casserole dishes like cazuela de llama and cured dry meat or salame de llama.
It was our first time having llama meat and we enjoyed the flavorful and tender lean meat. The taste of llama is a little stronger than beef and quite delicious.
This regional dish is one we would recommend to anyone traveling to northern Argentina to try at least once.
More than the llama steak, the casserole dishes were our favorite version of this dish.
8- Quinoa Salad – The Golden Grain of the Andes
In South America, one of the most important grains is quinoa or quinua in Spanish.
Quinoa originated in South America and in particular the Andes region. This includes the countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru.
More than 5,000 years ago, quinoa was the daily diet of the Inca people. It was known as the “Golden Grain of The Andes.”
Widely known around the world as a superfood, today quinoa is recognized for being a nutritionally dense food source and supergrain of the future.
In Argentina and also in Peru, a country we later visited, we were surprised to discover so many different types of quinoa.
Our favorite quinoa based Argentina food was quinoa salad, a regional specialty. This bright and colorful meal was prepared with fresh tomatoes, local Andean cheese and corn.
Even more surprising were quinoa empanadas which were hearty and flavorful.
Quinoa salad and quinoa dishes in general, are ingrained in the local food culture in the Andes region.
While in Argentina, savor the different varieties as you explore quinoa based food in Argentina.
9- Locro – Chorizo and Corn Stew
Locro is a dish that originated in the Andes and its roots can be traced back to the Inca civilization.
The dish itself is a thick and hearty stew that contains corn, some form of meat, and vegetables like squash or pumpkin.
An important Argentina food, it is often considered the country’s national dish.
Locro is said to have made its way to Argentina with the Cuyo indigenous people from the Andes. They migrated to northern Argentina before Spanish colonization taking Locro with them.
After Argentinians participated in the May Revolution to remove Spanish control, the dish was adopted as a symbol of local dominance.
Today, Locro is traditionally served on May 25th to honor the revolution. And, it is also eaten during the winter as a warm and comforting meat dish.
There are many variations of Locro based on availability in different regions across the country.
No matter how you have Locro in Argentina, savor the flavors in this Argentina food with historic importance.
10- Humitas – Filled Corn Husk
Humitas is a delicious dish from the Andean South America countries of Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
The word “humita” comes from “jumint’a” in Quechua to describe a sweet corn bun wrapped in cornhusks and cooked in water.
Humitas are found throughout Argentina and each region has its own different version. We tried humitas both in Mendoza and in Salta and were surprised by the differences in taste.
The humitas from Mendoza were creamy, made with milk with a sweet corn taste. Whereas the ones from the Salta region had a delightful savory picante sauce.
In Argentina, you’ll find humitas served at local restaurants and markets. Allow yourself to be surprised by the flavors you’ll find as you unwrap the corn husk.
This Argentina food with a shared South American heritage is to be experienced at least once on your travels.
11- Tomatican – Tomato Based Stew
Tomatican is a popular dish in Argentina eaten in the summer months, when tomatoes are at their ripest.
Generally, tomatican or tomaticán is a stew made with tomatoes, eggs, onions, and other vegetables.
While protein can be added, it is often omitted when served as a side dish alongside meat dishes.
We discovered tomatican in Mendoza where tomatoes are a celebrated fruit. The sweet tomatoes with savory flavors were quite enjoyable.
We learned later that tomatican is one of the most popular comfort foods in Chile. Just like in Argentina, each family and home cook has their own unique variation of tomatican.
For refreshing summer on a plate flavors, don’t miss the tomatican flavors of this iconic food in Argentina.
12- Helados – Argentinian Ice Cream
Helados translates simply as ‘ice cream’, but Argentinian helados is not the same ice cream you find elsewhere in the world.
Instead, it takes influences from its Italian immigrants and they have perfected the recipe.
The result is something between gelato and ice cream, with a smooth and creamy consistency.
Argentine helados are made with natural ingredients and very little artificial flavors or preservatives.
Across the country, you’ll find many delicious flavors to choose from. Dulce de leche is the most iconic flavor but you cannot miss the luscious chocolate flavors.
In Patagonia you’ll find regional calafate berry flavors and in Mendoza, you can try malbec-flavored ice cream.
No matter where you are in Argentina, be sure to leave room after your meals for exceptional ice cream dessert flavors.
13- Dulce de Leche Alfajores – Argentinian To-Die-For Cookies
Dulce de leche alfajores are an extremely popular stuffed sandwich cookie in Argentina. A traditional alfajor is made with two slightly sweet shortbread-like cookies.
The most common and traditional filling is dulce de leche, a sweet jam similar to caramel.
The alfajores made their way to the Americas via the Spanish. And as a result, they are very popular across South America.
In Argentina, alfajores are a large part of the local food culture. And these celebrated cookies are eaten as a snack, dessert or even for breakfast.
The dulce de leche traditional filling is what makes these treats so popular. You can have alfajores cookies plain, dusted with coconut or dipped in chocolate.
Crumbly, gooey and delicious, it’s no wonder alfajores with dulce de leche are an Argentine food treasure.
If you’ve never tried alfajores and want to taste this celebrated Argentine dessert, you can order them on Amazon. Havanna alfajores are a popular brand, even in Argentina, and with one bite you’ll become a convert.
14- Malbec and Argentina Wines
Argentina is the largest producer of Malbec wines with the vast majority of vineyards located around Mendoza.
The grape was introduced to the country by French immigrants back in the 19th Century. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that Argentinian Malbec gained worldwide recognition.
In Mendoza, Malbec wine is spread across three different wine regions: Lujan de Cuyo, Uco Valley and Maipú Valley.
Besides this full-bodied and fruity Malbec red wine, Argentina produces a variety of wines from other lesser-known regions like Patagonia.
Another famous wine from Argentina that doesn’t get the same notoriety as Malbec, is Torrontes.
We were pleasantly surprised by this white wine while visiting wineries in the town of Cafayate from the province of Salta.
This Argentinian wine is an aromatic dry white wine growing in high altitude vineyards.
The history of wines in Argentina goes as far back as the 16th Century. Wines are produced across the country with Malbec and Torrontes being the most revered.
While in Argentina, you want to sip your way through the country, one delectable wine drop at a time.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If traveling to Argentina is not in your immediate future, explore Malbec wines virtually. Via Livestream with your host in Buenos Aires, explore three wine regions in Argentina – Patagonia, Mendoza and Salta. Learn about the differences and nuances, including Torrontes white wine. Simply book your virtual experience and explore Argentinian wines.
15- Yerba Mate – Argentinian Favorite Drink
Yerba Mate is a popular drink throughout Argentina and nearby Uruguay.
It’s made by infusing the yerba plant into hot water, then shared from one cup or gourd with others around you.
Drinking the yerba mate takes place through a metal straw called a bombilla and is passed around from one person to the next.
Mate is more than just a drink. It is a tradition and custom, shared in a spirit of celebration or friendship.
On a visit to Uruguay from Argentina, we visited a museum which featured an extensive backstory of mate.
While mate is consumed in several South American countries, Uruguay consumes the most mate per capita.
While in Argentina, we saw mate consumed much more in the rural area and provinces as compared to Buenos Aires, the capital.
That said, mate is an Argentinian favorite drink and is consumed frequently at home, in restaurants, or on the go.
While in South America, don’t miss this special drink that is very much a part of tradition and culture.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: To get authentic dulce de leche, yerba mate, alfajores, Argentinian grass-fed beef, and more, see the Best Stores for Authentic Argentina Food.
Argentina food undoubtedly is some of the most diverse cuisines in South America. The country’s traditional dishes offer a variety of textures, flavors and aromas.
Behind all the unique food in Argentina is a story about the dish and the history. The Italian influence in the food in Buenos Aires is not to be missed.
While the flavors of the Andean influenced food in the north are to be savored. The famous Argentina asado and grilled meats are best enjoyed with Argentina wines.
On your travels, use this Argentina food guide to help you navigate your food choices.
While the country offers many more local food specialties, this list of 15 authentic foods in Argentina is a tasty way to begin.
In the comments below, please tell us what is your favorite Argentina food.
Savor The Adventure!
Looking for More Local Food Experiences in Argentina?
Our book, Authentic Food Quest Argentina takes you on a journey through food in four main regions of Argentina. Buenos Aires, Mendoza & the Wine Regions, the Andean Northwest, and Patagonia & the Lake Region.
In it, you’ll find descriptions of the typical dishes, desserts, beverages, street food and unique produce not to miss. Also included is an overview of the farmers markets and local stores, restaurants, wineries and local producers worth visiting.
Throughout the guide, are stories and insights shared by local experts including Argentina’s most renowned Chef, Francis Mallmann.
By combining storytelling with local information, this unique guidebook inspires intrepid and armchair travelers to savor their adventures in Argentina.
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Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
Find out more about Authentic Food Quest