“What are you going to eat in Argentina?” was a common question I was asked by friends and family when I told them I was going to be spending a few months in Buenos Aires. With a reputation for some of the best steaks in the world, Argentina = Carnivore’s Paradise in the minds of most. In fact, I think that’s the only thing people know to associate with Argentina; that, and maybe the wine–which, of course, goes perfectly with the steak–tango, and fútbol fanaticism. Anyhow, with me being a vegetarian, my decision to travel to Buenos Aires was puzzling for some with respect to how I would maintain my meat-free lifestyle. Being totally honest, I’ve let myself try a few local specialties made with meat in the spirit of trying new things while I’ve been living here. But, the important point I want to make is that I did not resort to eating meat out of necessity: it is extremely easy to eat, and eat well, as a vegetarian in Buenos Aires. This is partly due to the fact that its status as a large, cosmopolitan city brings with it a variety of options when it comes to vegetarian–even vegan–fair, especially in the trendy neighborhood of Palermo. But Argentine cuisine itself has some very tasty options you can find pretty much everywhere, for those not into making a meal out of our animal friends.
A local staple, empanadas have dozens of different kinds of fillings. While many do indeed contain meat, there are plenty of veggie options when it comes to these little pockets of heaven. My personal favorite has been the ubiquitous cebolla y queso (cheese and onion). Simple, but muy ricas!
An obvious remnant of the massive Italian immigration to Argentina in the 19th and 20th centuries, there is certainly no shortage of pizza joints in this bustling city. They do it a little differently here, but, because it is nearly impossible to make a bad pizza, of course it’s delicious. Some places are better, than others, though. El Cuartito and Pizzeria Güerrin in the city center are two can’t-miss locales for some gooey, cheesy goodness. If you’re a certified cheese lover, go for a Fugazzeta. Tip: get there early for dinner!
It’s winter here in the so-called “Paris of the South,” and porteños, who are not cold-loving creatures, enjoy their comfort foods this time of year. Guisos, or stews, are a popular dish during these chilly days. Guiso de lentejas (lentil stew) is the most common vegetarian option, but maybe if you’re lucky you can find a place serving vegetarian Locro, another type of stew with origins in native Andean civilizations made with corn, beans, potatoes, pumpkin and unfortunately, usually some type of meat. Maybe this is a Carnivore’s Paradise!
Another food that comes from pre-Hispanic Andean civilizations, humitas are a corn-based food that consists of corn masa, along with sauteed onions and spices, cooked inside of corn husks. If you’re thinking, “isn’t that called a tamale?” then yes, they are very similar, and many Central and South American countries have their own version of this age-old dish. They can also be humitas dulces (sweet humitas), yum!
Parilla Side Dishes
Nowadays, in restaurants and at asados, it’s rather common for people to prepare salads and side dishes to accompany the heaviness of the meat. If you’re a vegetarian and are invited out to have dinner at one of the many incredible parillas (steakhouses) in Buenos Aires, instead of skipping it, order an ensalada and a few sides (sometimes known as guarniciones or simply para acompañar) for your meal! Common choices are fried eggs, potatoes or sweet potatoes, and grilled vegetables.
So, if you’re a vegetarian and planning to come down here to the Land of Steak and Malbec, you won’t be shunned when you say “soy vegetariana,” and now you know that you won’t go hungry, either. Quite the contrary! And if you do eat meat, well, you should be here already. Come try all of the wonderful food Argentina has to offer, and why not learn some some Spanish while you do! You can find more information at vamospanish.com Viamonte 1516, C1055 ABD, Buenos Aires, Argentina +54 11 5984-2201 https://g.page/Vamospanish