When we hear someone mention Argentina, soccer and empanadas immediately come to mind. Mostly empanadas. Fortunately, however, we discovered far more to the Argentine culinary universe on a recent trek. If you suffer from the same one-dimensional culinary outlook we did, we’ve got the cure: these (mostly unknown) Argentine dishes, are sure to get you salivating.
Choripán (Chorizo Sandwich)
Think of this delectable treat as an elevated hot dog. Really elevated. Featuring a classic chorizo sausage tucked into a hoagie-style roll, Choripán is a fixture at sports games and among crowds before major asada grill-outs. The best kind, in our opinion, is topped with tongue-kicking chimichurri.
Where to find it: You can find Choripán at street stands throughout Argentina, but the best is arguably at Nuestra Parilla in Buenos Aires. The chorizo is unbelievably juicy (you’ll need a napkin) and the roll is the perfect balance between happy-making crunchy and manageably soft.
Fainá (Argentinian Pizza)
Pizza is pizza is pizza. Not so in Argentina, where fainá turns the doughy classic on its head. Here, expect a base made with chickpea flour and copious amounts of both black pepper and herbs. Pop it straight in the oven or top it with cheese and some sliced tomatoes, then bake it off. The result is a whole new world of pizza bliss.
Where to find it: Don Luis in Córdoba is your go-to here. A pizza stop by origin, this delightful family-owned restaurant also makes a mean fainá — without any toppings. Expect a buttery, flaky flatbread that serves as a delightful snack or precursor to a meaty ‘za.
Provoleta (Grilled Cheese)
If you don’t love cheese, there’s really something wrong with you. If you do love cheese, you will fall desperately in love with this Argentine staple: grilled Provolone cheese. Look for it cooked up in a skillet or put straight on the grill. The best versions are topped with oregano and/or chimichurri.
Where to find it: For gooey cheese heaven, head to La Cabrera in Buenos Aires. You’ll get a crispy Provolone crust capping individual-sized cast-iron skillets with gooey perfection waiting underneath. These are often served simply with a touch of oregano and make the perfect beginning to a grill-centric feast.
One of Argentina’s beloved national dishes, Locro is a staple in chillier months. A hearty stew featuring corn, potatoes, beef, beans, and tripe (or some combination thereof), Locro is a rib-sticking delight when your appetite peaks.
Where to find it: A self-styled gastropub and restaurant, La Cerveceria Chalten in El Chaltén has two big things going for it: house-brewed beer (expect lighter styles) and a locro that puts others to shame. Carrots, great northerns, creamy potatoes, and countless other treats make up this mainstay — and for good reason. It’s especially great when you’re feeling under the weather and need some comfort food.
Humita (Steamed Corn Dough)
Much like a tamale, humita is a corn husk-wrapped soft dough made of creamed corn, a slew of spices, and goat cheese. Unlike tamales, however, they generally don’t have a filling and are served as-is — usually as an appetizer or snack.
Where to find it: Largely known for their empanadas, El Sanjuanino in Buenos Aires serves up some delightfully fluffy and fragrant humita. These are some of the plumper ones we’ve seen, but they’re not so big they take the place of an empanada-focused meal. Heck, go ahead and have two.
These French croissant cousins look a lot like what you’d find in a Parisian café, but they have a unique Argentine bent: They’re smaller, denser, gooier, are often made with lard, and sometimes feature a salty profile in place of a sweet one. They’re frequently eaten for breakfast, though you can enjoy them any time of day.
Where to find it: Many panaderias in Argentina carry this classic pastry, but we favor the ones at Dos Escudos where the daily-changing menu showcases medialunas in different formats — including as the delectable top and bottom of a breakfast sandwich.
Alfajores (Cookie Sandwiches)
Highly regulated sweets, Alfajor cookies are made with honey, almonds, nuts, breadcrumbs, sugar, flour, and spices (including aniseed and clove). The filling between the crispy cookies is another story, ranging from caramel to dulce de leche and chocolate.
Where to find it: There are many branded alfajores sold at stores throughout the city, but a few are continually favored above others. We recommend anything from El Aljibe as their creations are hand-crafted and highly addictive.