El Calafate  has several decent confiterías for minutas (short orders), sandwiches, coffee, and the like. Among them are Pietro’s Café (Av. Libertador 1000, tel. 02902/492334) and Confitería Casa Blanca (Av. Libertador 1202, tel. 02902/491402).
For breakfasts, sandwiches including smoked venison or wild boar on homemade bread (US$6), and fresh-made chocolates, don’t miss Almacén Patagónico (Av. Libertador 1044), its interior flooded with natural light.
Pizzería La Lechuza (Av. Libertador and 1° de Mayo, tel. 02902/491610) deserves special mention for its super cebolla y jamón crudo (onion and raw-cured ham). The pastas-only La Cocina (Av. Libertador 1245, tel. 02902/491758) has slipped a notch but still has its public.
In one of Calafate’s oldest buildings (1957), El Puesto (Gobernador Moyano and 9 de Julio, tel. 02902/491620) has three snug dining rooms, one glassed in to enjoy garden views, that evoke an outside house on a sheep estancia. The Patagonian lamb dishes (US$7–9) are the most sophisticated, but there are also fine pizzas and pasta, and a variety of baked empanadas. The posted sentiment “Enjoy our aromas and flavors—don’t smoke” is a welcome one, but they don’t enforce it strictly.
La Vaca Atada (Av. Libertador 1176, tel. 02902/491227) is a popular parrilla, with most entrées in the US$4–7 range, plus fine soups and pasta. Mi Viejo (Av. Libertador 1111, tel. 02902/491691) is comparable but dearer. Rick’s Café (Av. Libertador 1105, tel. 02902/492148) and La Tablita (Coronel Rosales 28, tel. 02902/491065) are both well-regarded parrillas.
It never seems to fill, but Hotel El Quijote’s Sancho (25 de Mayo 80, tel. 02902/492442) has become one of the top dining options, with entrées ranging from pasta to lamb in the US$6–10 range. Portions are large—the half picada of appetizers easily feeds four hungry mouths. It also has a credible tobacco-free section.
Even better is Casimiro (Av. Libertador 963, tel. 02902/492590, www.interpatagonia.com/casimiro ), which would be a good choice anywhere in the world; the plate of smoked Patagonian appetizers is exquisite. Other entrées, in the US$5–11 range, are close behind but less unique, though the pasta, trout, and lamb portions are large. It’s also a by-the-glass wine bar, with an imposing list reaching almost to US$300 per bottle (there are plenty of more affordable, and more than palatable, choices).
A few doors west, under the same ownership, Casimiro Biguá (Av. del Libertador 993, tel. 02902/493993) has an overlapping menu, but it’s best to stick with their grilled beef and lamb specialties.
More than its name suggests, the inconspicuous but stylish Toma Winebar (Av. Libertador 1359, tel. 02902/492993) also serves Patagonian specialties in the US$7–12 range. The smoked appetizers are only so-so, but the trout-stuffed chicken breast is exceptional.
Often accommodating tour groups, Barricas de Enopio (Av. Libertador 1610, tel. 02902/493414, www.barricasdeenopio.com.ar ) prepares meat, fish, game, and pasta dishes in the US$5–15 range; the smoked salmon ravioli with leek sauce (US$8) is a typical midrange dish. Desserts (around US$5) are mediocre, but there’s a big list of premium wines in the US$20–50 range; decent by-the-glass house wines cost around US$3.
Two blocks west of Barricas, an open secret to locals, Pura Vida (Av. Libertador 1876, tel. 02902/493356) draws few foreigners for top quality versions of traditional Argentine and Patagonian dishes such as gnocchi (US$5) with a saffron sauce, carbonada (a motley stew large enough for two hungry diners, US$8), and cazuela de cordero (lamb casserole, US$9). So casual that no two chairs nor menu cards are alike, it has mezzanine seating with views over Laguna Nimes and, in the distance, Lago Argentino; the ground floor, though, is cozier. The wine list is modest.
Astonishingly for Argentina, El Calafate  went nearly a decade without a quality ice creamery, but now it has three outstanding ones. Acuarela (Av. Libertador 1177, tel. 02902/491315) can aspire toward Buenos Aires’s best, but M&M (Av. Libertador 1222, tel. 02902/492422) and Tito (Av. del Libertador 1420, tel. 493199) are also fine. For a local treat, try M&M’s fresh calafate berry flavor, which is slightly better than Acuarela’s.