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When you think about Patagonia, what comes to mind? Probably mountains, glaciers and wild landscapes.
However, there is so much more to this region than just the natural beauty.
The food in Patagonia is a major part of the regional culture within Argentina.
There are many different types of local foods that come from Patagonia – everything from lamb dishes to seafood.
Ushuaia, the Southernmost city in Argentina offers some amazing seafood and crab dishes.
El Calafate, a popular destination for its phenomenal glaciers, has surprising natural berries.
And Bariloche, the northernmost city known as the little Switzerland of Argentina stands out with its chocolate.
After eating our way through the region, we share 10 delicious foods in Patagonia you want to try.
In this food in Patagonia guide, find what to eat as well as where to eat the best local foods.
1- Patagonia Lamb or Cordero Patagonico
“Don’t miss the Patagonian lamb” Francis Mallman, Argentina’s celebrated chef told us when we met him in Buenos Aires.
While exploring the food specialties in Argentina, we followed the advice of local food experts to guide us to the authentic dishes of the country.
Francis Mallmann, most famously known for cooking with fire, highly recommended lamb as a key food in Patagonia not to miss.
Patagonia lamb is the “star of Patagonian food.” The lamb from Patagonia is a registered trademark based on its superior quality. In Spanish, it is referred to as Cordero Patagonico.
In the Patagonia region, the food revolves around meat dishes and most notably, the lamb.
As such, there are many different ways of cooking and serving lamb.
Following are a few popular ways you’ll find in Patagonian lamb prepared.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: For a more in-depth look at the art of Argentinian grilling, we highly recommend the book Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, by the legendary chef, Francis Mallmann.
Grilled Lamb or Asado Cordero or Cordero al Palo
One of the most popular ways of cooking lamb in the Patagonia region is over a wood fire, This style of cooking goes by many names depending on where you are in Patagonia.
In Chile, it is referred to as Cordero al Palo. And, in Argentina, where we were, we heard it referred to as Asado Cordero or sometimes Asado al palo.
Regardless, the style of cooking Patagonian lamb is the same. The lamb is stretched across an iron cross and cooked over an open fire.
Like typical Argentine grilling methods, the meat is minimally prepared, usually just salted and left to slow cook for several hours.
The resulting Patagonia lamb meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender, flavorful and exquisite.
Other ways you will find Patagonian lamb prepared is: grilled lamb chops or cordero parrilla, lamb steaks or bife de cordero, and many more.
Lamb is an iconic food in Patagonia not to be missed, even if you don’t eat meat.
AUTHENTIC FOOD RECIPE: In Chilean Patagonia, lamb dishes are typically served with pebre, a Chilean condiment similar to salsa. Get the pebre recipe here and make it for your meat dishes at home.
Where to Eat The Best Grilled Patagonia Lamb in Argentina
As a popular dish across Patagonia, you’ll find lamb on almost every menu. All the restaurants prepare this signature Patagonia food in different styles.
For grilled Patagonia lamb, our best experience was at the parilla, or Argentinian grill house, called Alto El Fuego.
Alto El Fuego is known to be one of the best parilla in Bariloche. What we liked right away was the “short menu.”
Not a lot of pages or options to choose from, just a few simple dishes that showcase the restaurant’s grilling expertise.
After conversing with the friendly chef Matias Bolinger, we learned that the best season for lamb is from December to April.
So, if you are traveling to Patagonia during this timeframe, make eating Patagonia lamb a priority.
The portions at Alto El Fuego are generous and the food extremely flavorful. This casual eatery is a must-try while in Bariloche.
Another good address this time in El Calafate is La Fonda del Parrillero. This local rotisserie offers dishes to eat in or takeaway.
We enjoyed a generous portion of lamb steak served with delicious freshly cooked french fries.
If exhausted after a long day of hiking and want something delicious to take-away, stop at this unpretentious and affordable eatery.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP – Particularly popular in Chilean Patagonia is Filete de Guanaco or Guanaco Filet. This is very lean and tender meat from guanaco’s which are South American camelids similar to Llamas. The guanaco’s are the oldest meat source in Patagonia and worth trying. If you are feeling adventurous you’ll find many restaurants serving this traditional Patagonian food.
Lamb Empanadas or Empanadas de Cordero
While in Argentina, we fell in love with empanadas. So much so, that we learned to make empanadas in Mendoza.
Once in Patagonia, we were excited to try the famous lamb empanadas we had heard about before.
One of our favorite styles of Argentine empanadas are baked and referred to as the empanadas saltenas.
When we finally tasted the lamb empanadas we were surprised to find them lightly fried. Nonetheless, we eagerly dug into them and found them delectable. Absolutely delicious, they were juicy, tasty and quickly became some of the best empanadas we had.
In Patagonia, we highly recommend trying out these little tasty lamb empanadas.
Where to Eat The Best Lamb Empanadas in Patagonia
Although empanadas are quite popular in Argentina, it was challenging to find empanadas prepared with lamb.
They are mostly available in the Patagonia region. While in Bariloche, we had the opportunity to taste them at Familia Weiss restaurant
A long standing restaurant in Bariloche, Familia Weiss is known for its smoked trout and meats.
They also serve tasty empanadas including lamb empanadas. Having stopped at the restaurant after a hike around Bariloche, we devoured our lamb empanadas.
We were pleasantly surprised at how tasty they were. A must try food in Patagonia.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: How To Make Delicious Argentinian Empanadas Mendocino Style
2- Southern King Crab or Centolla Crab
If lamb is the prime meat dish of Patagonia, then king crab is, well, king of the seafood.
Natural king crab is one of the most popular food in Patagonia specialties and is a shared delicacy in Argentina and Chile.
Patagonian king crab is used in a variety of specialty seafood dishes including king crab chowder and chupe de centolla, or Patagonian king crab pie – sumptuous with fresh bread.
In Ushuaia, we splurged on copious king crab and enjoyed every single bite of the delicate white meat.
It was served naked, devoid of any sauces, allowing the sweet natural flavors to shine through.
Travelers to Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost part of the Patagonia region must place this seafood high on their to-do list.
This southern king crab food in Patagonia is one of the finest seafood dishes you’ll savor on your trip.
Where to Eat King Crab in Patagonia
You will find restaurants serving king crab exclusively in Ushuaia. Your best bet is to choose restaurants dedicated to fish and seafood.
One of the best restaurants in Ushuaia that serves an excellent king crab is called Kaupé Restaurant.
A fine dining restaurant overlooking the Ushuaia harbor and famous for its seafood dishes, Kaupé will not disappoint.
3- Patagonia Trout or Trucha Patagónica
Patagonian trout or Trucha Patagónica dishes are regional specialties from the abundance of trout found in the lakes and rivers.
A premier fly fishing destination, Patagonia is famous for its pristine waters and robust population of fish, including trout.
Trout dishes are especially popular and commonly available. The trout is prepared in a variety of styles like grilled, smoked, pan-fried, roasted, or in creamy sauces.
Following are some of ways we enjoyed this regional specialty.
Grilled Patagonia Trout
Our personal favorite way of enjoying fish dishes is grilled. And while looking to try Patagonia trout in Bariloche, we looked for restaurants that specialized in grilling.
Alto El Fuego, a rustic and casual restaurant, met our criteria for Trucha a la Parrilla or grilled Patagonia trout.
The serving sizes at Alto El Fuego Parrilla were surprisingly large. The trout arrived as two thinly cut fillets, ample to feed us both.
The rich aromas captured our attention right away. It smelled grilled, but did not have the traditional dark lines of a seared fish.
It smelled heavenly and looked appetizing. Fresh, succulent and cooked to perfection, the flavors burst open in the mouth.
No sauces, just the simple tastes of unadulterated Patagonia trout.
Smoked Patagonia Trout
Patagonia cuisine is varied. In Bariloche, smoked meats and fish reflect the strong influence of the early German and Swiss settlers.
Smoking is one of the oldest ways of preserving foods, and many restaurant menus feature smoked products.
In addition to smoked meats and fish at restaurants, you also find canned smoked trout, salmon, wild boar and more.
We tried smoked trout at a restaurant and also canned to eat at our Airbnb. Surprisingly, we much preferred the canned smoked trout which was extremely flavorful and tender.
At Familia Weiss restaurant in Bariloche, the smoked trout was underwhelming. The
Our second encounter with Patagonia trout is a less successful one when we sampled smoked trout. Many dishes are smoked in this region, so we hoped for something special, but we were underwhelmed.
The simple trout dish was served with a slice of lemon and picked vegetables. The presentation was appealing, but after our first few bites we found it lacking in flavor.
Even though our experience at Familia Weiss did not live up to our expectations, there are other restaurants to explore.
Don’t miss sampling this regional delicacy either at a restaurant or canned.
Where to Eat Patagonia Trout
Even though trout is not as popular as lamb, it is a food in Patagonia not to be missed, especially in Bariloche.
It’s at Alto El Fuego where we had some of the best grilled trout.
Alto El Fuego not only serves an excellent lamb but also a flavorful trout. It is a great place to sample several Patagonian cuisine items in one sitting.
4- Black Hake Fish or Merluza Negra
Black Hake, also known as Patagonian toothfish or Southern Cod, is another fish specialty from Tierra del Fuego or southern Patagonia.
This fish lives in the deep Patagonia waters and is difficult to catch. Most of the black hake fish is exported, but you will find seafood eateries in Patagonia to try it,
In a restaurant in Ushuaia, it was prepared en papillote (French for “in parchment”). The fish was accompanied by julienne cut leeks and carrots in a fine, light and very tasty sauce.
We also prepared it ourselves. There are many pescaderias or fish stores in Patagonia making it easy to find fresh and delicious fish.
Whilst staying in our Airbnb we lightly sauteed merluza and found the flavors outstanding.
A light and flaky fish, don’t miss trying it at a restaurant or making it if you have access to a kitchen.
Where to Eat Black Hake Fish
While king crab is more exclusive to Ushuaia, black hake fish or merluza negra can be found across Patagonia.
In Bariloche, there are many fish stores where you can get fresh fish to cook home. While staying at our Airbnb, we cooked our own fish and went to the fish store Delicias del Mar.
The fish was fresh, well presented and the staff incredibly happy and helpful. They also offer appetizing seafood preparation to enjoy as an appetizer.
This is a great fish store or pescaderia to try some of their tasty seafood preparations.
For a seat down experience, Kaupé serves the most tender black hake fish that will surely delight your taste buds.
The “en papillote” preparation technique traps the mouthwatering juices inside while baking in a light and flavorful sauce for perfect results.
5- Patagonia Deer or Ciervo
Our first time trying ciervo was as part of a picada patagonia, which is a sampler plate. This is a wonderful Argentina tradition of finger foods designed to be shared while entertaining.
Wild meats such as Patagonia deer are regionals specialties found in the central part of Patagonia.
The cuisine in this region is flavored by German, Swiss, Italian cultures and the native Indian culture.
We tried deer or cievo in a few different preparation styles. As a tough meat, it is most typically slow cooked in a stew or goulash.
Our most enjoyable deer experience was having it pickled and as a starter. Known as escabeche de ciervo, the deer was prepared as a marinade.
In addition to the very tender deer, the onions, carrots and cloves in a delightful vinegar sauce was extremely flavorful.
We added it to a salad and enjoyed the contrast of flavors and textures. A surprisingly tender experience, we recommend not missing the deer.
Where to Eat Deer in Patagonia
Bariloche, is the place to be for smoked and wild meats. Not only can you find deer in restaurants, but it’s also available as a take out option.
Our best experience was at El Rey del Pollo, an unpretentious and straightforward rotisserie.
A small portion of deer was offered as a side dish in addition to their main offer, the grilled chicken.
Prepared as a marinade with vinegar, onions, carrots and cloves, it turned out so well that we were pleasantly surprised.
Another great option for cold cuts, smoked meats, and cheese is La Pata Negra.
A small deli store, you can get a local charcuterie board or picadas prepared to go with all the local delicacies.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: To explore the regional food in Patagonia specialties, consider taking a walking food tour in Bariloche. Not only will you sample traditional foods including Patagonia beer, you’ll also learn about the local culture and food influences. This two-hour walking food tour with a local guide will get you deeply acquainted to the local culture through food. Book your Bariloche regional food walking tour.
6- Wild Boar Meat or Jabali
Wild boar or jabali is another regional food in Patagonia influenced by the European and indigeneous food cultures.
In Patagonia, wild boar is a staple food that you will find cooked and also smoked.
The first time I had wild boar (or sanglier in French) was as a student in Lyon, France.
I distinctly remember the restaurant in the old part of the city.
The restaurant had a reputation of serving the best wild meats in the area. I can still remember the taste of the boar. It was served as a stew filled with thick tender cuts of boar meat.
With this experience firmly fixed in my memory, I was curious to see how wild boar would be served in Patagonia.
Much to my surprise, wild boar in Bariloche was frequently served as thin slices of cured meats. On most menus it was presented as an appetizer, often along with other cold-cuts.
While the boar meat might not have been as hearty as a stew it was firm with deep, strong flavors. We really enjoyed the distinctive rich flavors.
The winter months are best for wild boar though you can enjoy it cured and smoked at any time of the year.
Wild meats should absolutely be a part of your Patagonia food journey.
Where to Eat Wild Boar in Patagonia
In Bariloche, you will find wild meats in stores or restaurants.
Familia Weiss restaurant is one of the first families to introduce smoking fish, meats and cheese in Bariloche.
To sample the different variety of products they offer including the wild boar, we recommend their Patagonia charcuterie board or picada patagónica.
With this platter you’ll taste thin slices of cured wild boar along other smoked meats, fish and cheese.
While the cuisine at Familia Weiss isn’t quite up to par, you should definitely try their smoked products.
They also have a store next to the restaurant where you can purchase these meats as souvenirs to take home.
7- Calafate Berry – The Legendary Patagonia Berry
The city, El Calafate, where we started our Patagonia food exploration is named after the Calafate berry that’s found in the region.
It’s a spiny shrub with highly aromatic dark blue berries and deeply rooted in Patagonia folklore.
If you want to taste the fruit naturally, plan your visit during the summer months of the southern hemisphere, otherwise it won’t be available.
It is said that “anyone who eats a Calafate berry will return to Patagonia’s again.”
While we missed out on trying the berry on its own but we didn’t mind as we were able to indulge in two desserts featuring the fruit.
Calafate helado (ice cream) and alfajores de calafate, a type of cookie with a sweet calafate filling.
The fruity Calafate ice cream tasted closer to blackberries than raspberries. While the Calafate alfajor was delicious and not overly sweet.
Where to Eat The Legendary Calafate Berry
For ice-cream made with Calafate berry, check out the artisanal ice cream from Acuarela Helados.
Located inside the gourmet coffee shop Ovejitas de Patagonia, this artisanal ice-cream shop offers several ice-cream varieties.
In this popular shop, you can also find calafate berry jam and chocolate. This gourmet coffee shop is the perfect place for a sweet treat after an active day in town.
Another artisanal shop where you can find Calafate sweets including delicious alfajores, is Dulce de Lugar.
In the back of the shop, you can see the production area where they make artisanal chocolate as well as alfajores and other sweets.
Don’t miss out on some delicious food in Patagonia like Calafate berry ice cream or cookies when you’re in El Calafate.
8- Artisanal Patagonia Ice Cream
Ice cream in Argentina is extremely popular. Italian immigration into Argentina in the 1900s brought Italian influences like ice cream, pasta, architecture and more.
Ice cream or helados, are a big part of the local food and especially dessert culture. While dulce de leche is the most popular ice cream flavor, each area of the country has unique regional flavors.
In Patagonia, Calafate berry and chocolate ice cream are two local specialty flavors not to be missed.
The deep berry flavors expressed in a rich creamy texture makes the Calafate berry ice cream an experience to be savored. Those that love fruit flavored desserts will enjoy the sweet flavors of this regional berry.
As Bariloche is considered the home of chocolate in Argentina, chocolate ice cream is plentiful.
In addition to traditional chocolate, you’ll find more diverse expressions of chocolate ice cream than you’ve ever seen.
From the darkest deep chocolate possible like Chocolate Profundo to all sorts of unique shades of chocolate.
What makes this Patagonia chocolate ice cream so special is the use of locally sourced ingredients and it is made fresh daily.
For a sweet finish to your Patagonia food experiences be sure to savor artisanal Patagonia ice cream.
Where To Eat Artisanal Ice Cream in Patagonia
While in Bariloche and El Calafate, we could not miss out visiting some of the best ice cream parlors.
As we mentioned above, in El Calafate you want to head to Acuarela Helados. Sample the iconic Calafate berry ice cream as well as the variation of chocolate ice cream.
In Bariloche, make sure to visit Helados Jauja. Jauja is an artisanal store rated as one of the finest not only in Bariloche but in all of Argentina.
With an impressive selection of ice cream, the friendly staff will make sure to guide you in your choice. Chocolate ice cream alone is available in more than 10 variations of flavor.
An ice-cream lover heaven, this place will have your taste buds tingling for hours on end.
READ RELATED: Top 7 Authentic Desserts in Argentina
9- Argentinian Chocolate in Patagonia
Bariloche is renowned for its chocolates, which is no surprise considering the European influences throughout the city.
After the second world war, many Europeans migrated to Argentina with many settling in the Bariloche and Patagonia areas.
Seeing to recreate a taste of home in the cold winters, hot chocolates became widely popular, which then spread throughout.
Now, the city is home to some excellent chocolatiers. Mitre Avenue in Bariloche is known as the “The Avenue of Chocolate Dreams” and is where you’ll find many shops.
We spent time happily exploring the independent stores and bespoke artisans and watching chocolate being made.
You can’t miss the chocolate experience in Patagonia. Simply indulge yourself and discover new variations and expressions of one of the world’s most popular foods.
Where to Have Chocolate in Patagonia
For chocolate In El Calafate or Ushuaia, choose Ovejitas de Patagonia, a gourmet coffee that offers fine chocolate.
Dulce de Lugar in El Calafate is also a great place to find chocolate souvenirs to bring home with you.
If you make it to Bariloche, the town is filled with dozens of chocolate boutiques and stores. To help you navigate the myriad of chocolate stores, read our guide to chocolate in Bariloche.
10- Patagonia Beer
While the craft beer scene in Argentina has taken off in recent years, Patagonia has a long tradition of craft beer brewing.
In Bariloche, where the Swiss and Germans immigrated, it is said that hops were introduced as early as the 1900.
Today, leveraging the fresh water sources and hop production, Bariloche offers several micro breweries to visit and craft beers to sample.
Berlina Brewery is one of the most successful craft beers in the region. They make over 20 types of beer as well as cider.
Another area south of Bariloche called El Bolson, has a growing craft beer scene with eight major micro-breweries.
Rupestre is one of the main microbrews with three different beer varieties; Golden Ale, Red Ale, and Stout beers.
In Ushuaia, try Cape Horn and Beagle beers, two names that are leading the craft market.
These craft beers follow the traditional German beer making process, using water from the glacier, malt, hops and yeast without preservatives or chemicals.
The Patagonia beer from Quilmes brewery is mass-produced, but has a premium taste.
Offered in three different styles, wheat, amber and stout, each is worth trying.
Where to Drink Patagonia Beer
Across Patagonia you will find craft and mass produced beers sold at grocery stores. The most common is Patagonia beer from Quilmes Brewery.
To find craft beers in Patagonia, check upscale gourmet grocery stores or at local wine shops that also carry beer.
We recommend visiting Berlina in Colonia Suiza, 20 km from Bariloche. Berlina offers tours of the brewery as well as beer sampling.
Located in nature, this is a great place to stop while hiking and enjoy a welcome rest with beer in hand.
Patagonia is, without question, an exceptional place to visit for its spectacular and scenic
The food in Patagonia is worth experiencing and as memorable as stunning Patagonian landscapes.
If you’re in season for the Calafate berry or when the spit roast lamb is at its best during summer then these tastes are delicious.
Fresh Patagonian seafood cuisine like king crab and trout are always top-notch. And the wild meats and chocolate treats offer plenty to tantalize the taste buds.
If you have the opportunity, don’t miss out on cooking your own food in Patagonia specialties. Fish markets or pescaderias and pasta shops offer exceptionally high quality food that is lighter on the wallet.
No doubt, there are more Patagonia specialties that go beyond this list of ten. And to help you savor your travels, this list of the best food in Patagonia offers you a taste of the authentic flavors not to miss.
In the comments below, please tell us what food in Patagonia you’ve tried or are craving to try.
Savor The Adventure!
Looking for More Argentinian Local Food Experiences?
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 that 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