I had decided to eat dinner at a restaurant in town (one which accepted credit cards), I decided on a German bistro called “La Alpine”. The exterior and interior looked Germanic-ally authentic and I hoped that the food wouldn’t disappoint. This was first proper meal of the trip (as opposed to the café snacks and biscuits of past 2 days).

First Taste of a Pisco Sour

Oddly enough my first pisco sour was in a German restaurant in Argentina (the drink originates from Peru & Chile), but that didn’t put me off the drink. The sharp sourness of the cocktail is pretty easy on the tongue (compared to the other liquors about).

An Italian legacy

The Italian immigration of the 19th & 20th centuries had a profound impact on the country’s palate.

The most notable being:

  • Pizzerias & pastas can be found almost everywhere
  • Gelato-style heladarias are a key aspect of Buenos Aires life

Cafe culture

This is something more prominent in the major cities but you can find Italian-style cafes on almost every street corner.

Apart from the Dulce de Leche (caramelized milk) biscuits (called Alfajores), I can’t really spot anything that sets these cafes apart from their European counterparts.

It’s possibly part of the culture that was brought to the country by Italian immigrants. The food options of these cafes feature Italian panini and the sort (with some overly salty hams to my liking, and some very crumbly bread) any European would find familiar (even sparkling water: Agua con gas served almost by default).

Typical Breakfast

Breakfast, like most meals in Argentina are a mostly European-based affair. Pastries & jams are quite common featuring local variations like medialunas served with a Dulce de Leche spread along with some hams & cheeses.

Parrilla meats

Given that Argentina as a huge population of cattle (hence the gaucho culture of the rural areas), it comes as no surprised that the national dish is a very meaty one.

Grilled meats or parilla as its locally known, is a common argentine dish and the beef/chicken/lamp portions are very generous indeed.

Tried a local white wine along with the meal. Red wines apparently go better with red meats but their flavor isn’t to my taste. The wine was alright though the small bottle was well packaged I must admit.

Mate : the social beverage of choice

My first taste of mate only happened at El Calafate, but I’d noticed the mate culture on the first leg of my trip in the Iguazu of northern Argentina.

As much a social custom as it is a beverage, mate (which is pronounced as māt) is an integral part of argentine culture and you’d be hard pressed not see a local carrying around a thermos and gourd outdoors. Mate can be closely described as a herbal tea based on the yerba leaf which is harvested from the northern rain forests.

The crushed dry leaves are poured into the gourd and less-than-boiling water is poured into in stages. The idea is not to dilute the tea but to drink the thick paste with a filter-straw. The tea is a bitter one, comparable to Chinese grass jelly or the Sinhalese cassaya herbal medicine. I found the herbal medicine repulsive in my youth but found the mate more bearable , sipped hot through the metal straw. Once most of the gourd is emptied of tea, more hot water is added to the existing leaves and the process is repeated for quite a number of cycles.

Bariloche Chocolates

The last thing I was expecting in South America, was the wide assortment of European-style chocolatiers. The best known region for Argentine chocolate is around Bariloche in Patagonia.

I suspect the reason for the popularity of this industry here is a combination of German/Italian immigrants and the large herds of Argentine Cattle. I’ve tried chocolates in Belgium and found the Bariloche options to be of pretty good quality. Though Europeans probably won’t find anything unique here.


There is probably a reasonable explanation for the difference in cuisine here. Argentina’s population is largely of European descent. The populations of Peru, Bolivia & Chile have larger native populations and many of them retain their ancient recipes.

If you’re looking for exotic South American dishes Argentina’s very European menu might disappoint the more adventurous foodies (no exotic rodent roasts like Peruvian cuy sold here) but if you’re well acquainted with European food then Argentina will be a treat.