Food and Drink
Food and drink range from the economical and ordinary to the truly elegant and everything in between. For most of the 1990s, eating well at restaurants was financially challenging except for cheap cafeteria lunches and tenedor libre (literally, “free fork”) buffets, but the 2002 peso collapse has made it possible to eat diverse and imaginative food for a fraction of its former price—at least for visitors with dollars or euros in their wallets.
Stereotypically, the Argentine diet consists of beef and more beef. This common perception is not entirely mistaken, but the local diet has always had a Spanish touch and, for more than a century, a marked Italian influence with pizza and pasta. Over the past decade, though, the restaurant scene has become far more cosmopolitan, adventurous, and nuanced, with Brazilian, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, and many other once-exotic cuisines—not to mention high-quality variations on Argentine regional dishes. Certain Buenos Aires neighborhoods, such as PalermoViejo and Las Cañitas, seem to have sprouted stylish and sophisticated new eateries on every corner and in between.
For a succinct but detailed guide to Argentine cuisine, look for Dereck Foster and Richard Tripp’s Food and Drink in Argentina (El Paso, TX: Aromas y Sabores, 2006). Dan Perlman’s English-language blog Salt Shaker (www.saltshaker.net) is another savvy resource on Argentine food in general, though it focuses on the Buenos Aires food scene in particular.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition