What to eat in Argentina
20th May 2022
As the sun rises over Buenos Aires; the streets still and peaceful save for the infrequent hum of passing cars, you would be forgiven for thinking it a place of tranquility and relaxation. For the most part, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Buenos Aires is a bustling modern capital home to near three million people, with a thriving food and arts scene and energetic nightlife.
When looking for a morning activity in this enigmatic Argentine capital, all one need do is look up. The city has a number of neoclassical buildings, adorned with statues and intricate detailing; simpler, but equally historic colonial structures; even ramshackle street houses of bright, pastel colours. All make for a beautifully varied skyline, wherever you are stood.
One building that stands high above its neighbours is the Centro Cultural Kirchner. The huge nine-storey building was finished in 2015 and occupies one whole city block. The grandeur of the place is worth a visit alone, but within its walls you could lose hours exploring its five auditoriums, 18 halls for literary and poetry readings, 40 art and gallery spaces, 16 rehearsal spaces and two rooftop terraces. A hub for the finest art and culture of the South American continent, you are unlikely to ever see the same exhibition twice. If this wasn’t reason enough to visit the Centro Cultural Kirchner, almost all exhibits are free - the Argentinian Culture Ministry believes exposure to the arts is a right for all people.
Another architectural highlight is a special bookshop tucked away on its west side; El Ateneo Grand Splendid. Housed within a near century-old theatre, its staggering aesthetic consists of frescoed ceilings, vaulted roofs akin to the grandest Italian churches, and well maintained classical decor. It is rightfully deemed one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world. The store has its own coffee shop and live piano music playing most days, making it a peaceful spot to while away the hours with a great read.
As the sun hangs lower in the sky, thoughts turn to dinner. No evening in Buenos Aires is complete without sampling the amazing flavours on offer from the city’s restaurants, cafes and street food stalls. Argentina’s signature cooking style is asado, 'barbeque' in English - but quite frankly, an english barbeque pales in comparison to asado.
Firstly, meat is grilled over wood, not charcoal, imbuing the meat with a rich, smoky flavour. Secondly, the quality of meat you’ll find at most Buenos Aires restaurants far exceeds that of the lack-lustre sausages and burgers adorning BBQs of the UK. With little in the way of additional flavouring or marinades, the flavour of asado is powerful, yet elegantly simple.
Parilla de Freddy is a great place to pick up a Buenos Aires institution, choripán (pictured) - a chorizo sausage, grilled and butterflied, then served with crusty bread and delicious chimichurri sauce. For those seeking something a little more refined, then look no further than Don Julio; an authentic Argentinian Steakhouse popular amongst locals and travellers alike.
Dancing and Nightlife
For all there is to enjoy during the daytime, it is after sunset that Buenos Aires truly comes alive. The city has something to offer for everyone, boasting hundreds of options for clubbing and live music, fantastic dining experiences, and dancing ‘til the early hours. Of course, for the most authentic Argentinian experience, one should head to a Milonga to partake in the country’s most famous export - the tango!
For inexperienced dancers it can be daunting taking your first steps of the tango - not only is it more difficult than it looks, but there are a number of unspoken rules within the Milongas (the venues where the dances are held). It’s important to remember that the tango is more than just a dance for residents of the city - it’s part of national identity, as well as an ideal chance to socialise. One should always be respectful if visiting a less touristy venue. Once you have found the right Milonga and have got the hang of the steps, be prepared for a night you’ll never forget.
For beginners, the company A La Milonga offers a novel way of getting to grips with the tango - with tours of the historic Milonga venues, dance and etiquette lessons, and performances that you can partake in. As your weary feet carry you out of a Milonga back onto the streets, don’t be surprised to be greeted by the rising sun.
Make it Happen
If you would like to indulge in the culinary wonders of Buenos Aires, get lost in its grand architecture or dance until the sun comes up; why not submit an enquiry to our local experts in Argentina? For more info, check out our destination pages.