Hikers and climbers can stock up on groceries at El Chaltén (Lago del Desierto s/n), Kiosko Charito (Güemes s/n), or El Gringuito (San Martín s/n). Otherwise, for its size, El Chaltén offers a fine and improving restaurant scene.
La Chocolatería (Lago del Desierto s/n, tel. 02962/493008) is more than it sounds—while the desserts are good enough, the breakfasts and pizzas are also excellent, and the hot chocolate spiked with Bailey’s is comforting on a cold night. Domo Blanco (Güemes s/n, tel. 02962/493036) serves exceptional ice cream, using local ingredients such as raspberries and strawberries, and will deliver to your hotel.
Cruel (San Martín and Cabo García) is best for a quick sandwich. La Tapera (San Martín 249, tel. 02962/493138) is a new tapas bar that’s drawn praise from year-round residents. Malbec (Antonio Rojo and Cabo García, tel. 02962/493195) is a wine bar/restaurant that rolls back the rug for dancing late at night.
New in 2006, with agreeable decor and attentive service, Escaramujo (San Martín 591) serves decent pizza, but the lamb, pork, and seafood menu, with entrées in the US$4.50–8 range, is more interesting. El Bodegón (San Martín s/n, tel. 02962/493109) is a pizza pub with its own microbrewed beer (US$2 per pint); it also prepares an outstanding locro (US$5.50), a thick meal-in-itself northwestern Argentine stew that’s ideal for a cool Chaltén evening.
Soothingly decorated Shelter (Halvorsen 65, tel. 02962/493259) is a tobacco-free wine bar that also makes pizzas, pastas, lamb empanadas, and (most notably) Middle Eastern dishes such as hummus and kebbe, to spread on fresh bruschetta.
Open in summer only, Ruca Mahuida (Lionel Terray 501, tel. 02962/493018) is one of Chaltén’s most imaginative eateries and also sends smokers outdoors to indulge their habit, but the service can be forgetful. Lamb is the specialty at La Casita (San Martín 535, tel. 02962/493042), which otherwise serves a standard Argentine menu—beef, pizza, pasta, and the like. Its major downside is the cramped and tobacco-heavy atmosphere. In midsummer, it’s hard to get a table at Pizzería Patagonicus (Güemes s/n, tel. 02962/493025), perhaps the only Argentine eatery to have lamb on the pizza menu; the decor, with natural wood and mountaineering photos, embodies Chaltén’s evolving style.
Reservations are advisable at Fuegia (San Martín s/n, tel. 02962/493019), Albergue Patagonia’s bistro-style restaurant, especially in summer. Likewise, plan ahead for the unpretentious Estepa (Cerro Solo and Antonio Rojo, tel. 02962/493069), a snug, tobacco-free, nine-table place whose windows face Cerro Fitz Roy. Offering high-level home-style cooking, its specialty is cordero estepa, lamb with calafate sauce, but there are also pizzas and empanadas, with most entrées in the US$5–7.50 range.
Also tobacco-free, at the north end of town, bistro-style El Muro (San Martín 948, tel. 02962/493248) pays minute attention to diners’ tastes, but the service can be distracted when it gets busy. Dishes such as lamb loin with a fresh raspberry-and-cherry sauce (US$11), though, are worth minor inconveniences. Special mention to the light-crusted empanadas, including lamb and beef.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition