Although many older generation Argentines still think that tofu is a style of martial arts and quinoa is a city in China, vegetarianism is growing at such an astonishing rate that vegetarian restaurants are no longer inexistent.
Until around a decade ago, many people in Argentina thought that a vegetarian was a type of biologist or animal rights syndicate. A vegetarian going to a barbeque was usually put in a difficult position; the only viable meal options available were what might be considered the diet of an effeminate Porteño Viking: salads, eggs, cheese, wine, cigarettes and alfajores. However, being vegetarian in Argentina has gotten easier in the past decade as the trend of eating healthy has spread around the world.
Below is a list of five local favorite vegetarian food items that can be purchased in a majority of restaurants or can be made with simple ingredients at the supermarket. This is followed by a list of five great vegetarian restaurants in Buenos Aires that won’t break your budget. Enjoy!
Common Vegetarian Foods in Argentina
1. Morrones Rellenos – Stuffed Peppers
4 red/green/yellow peppers (morrones rojos/amarillos/verdes)
100-200 grams of blue cheese (roquefort)
1 large onion (cebolla)
3-4 leeks (puerros)
2 large carrots (zanahoria)
After dicing the onions, leeks and carrots, sauté with oil, salt and pepper for ten minutes until bland (salt/pepper appropriately). Next, cut the peppers in half and then fill with the sauted vegetables. Finally, sprinkle the blue cheese over the peppers and place either in the oven or on the grill for about twenty mintues.
2. Milanesa de Berenjena – Eggplant Milanese
2 eggplants (berenjenas)
2 eggs (huevos)
½ kilo bread crumbs (pan rallado)
2 cloves of garlic &1 sprout of parsley (2 dientes de ajo y un atado de perejil)
Cut the eggplants longwise about 1 cm, salt them and leave them for 15 minutes on a paper towl. Mix the bread crumbs with garlic and parsley in a large bowl. Coat each eggplant piece with eggs and then coat in the bread crumb mixture until completely covered. You can either fry the eggplants or bake them in the oven.
3. Empanadas de Acelga y Queso – Cheese and Vegetable Pies
500 g of chard (acelga)
1 large onion (1 cebolla)
1 red pepper (1 morrón)
200 grams motzarella (mozzarella)
3 eggs (huevos)
If you’re in Argentina you should be able to find pre made empanada dough in the refrigerated section of any grocery store and they’re usually in packs of twelve. First boil the chard for five to seven minutes. Then sauté the red peppers and onions. Next, in a large bowl mix the veg mix, eggs and small pieces of mozzarella. Finally, stuff each empanada with the mixture and bake for about 20 minutes at 250°.
I cup of garbanzo flower
1 cup of water
6 tablespoons of olive oil
¼ cup of shredded cheese
First mix the garbanzo flower with water and nutmeg. Avoid lumps and then gradually mix in your cheese and olive oil. Preheat oven to 200° and let it bake for 15 minutes. Fainá is a typical accompaniment to Porteño pizza!
5. Zapallitos rellenos – Stuffed squash
4 small green squash
2 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of corn
200 grams of cheese
First boil the squash whole for about ten minutes in order to soften the texture. Remove them from the hot water and then cut them in half. Dice the mixted veg until bland. Hollow out the halved squash with a spoon and then fill the squash with the veg mix. Top with cheese and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Vegetarian Restaurants in Buenos Aires
1. Almacén Purista:
Located in Villa Crespo, this rustic vibed restaurant serves simple food very well. Choose from whole-wheat pizzas + fainá rellena, wraps, sandwiches, homemade pastas, lentil stews and a daily special. If you go midday around teatime they serve free mate! Expect to pay around 75-100 pesos for lunch.
Information: Ramírez de Velazco 701, Villa Crespo / Phone 4779-2210
Located in Palermo Hollywood, this intimate local changes its menu daily and offers tapios, squash risotto, grilled polenta, veggie pastel de papa, wraps, and salads. Because you’re in Palermo Hollywood, expect to pay a little bit more because the surrounding view is much more ‘oo la la’.
Information: Arévalo 1478, Palermo Hollywood / Phone 4776-4252
Who said fast food couldn’t be healthy? This centrally located vegan hotspot offers office workers quick lunch alternatives. For lunch you can choose between woks, vegan pies, veggie burgers, salads, mushroom ceviche and zucchini lasagna. For breakfast they offer muffins and cupcakes. There are no sodas served, but instead a variety of freshly squeezed juices. They even offer organic coffee served with almond milk. Expect to pay around 60 pesos for lunch.
Information: Florida 102, Centro / Phone 4327-0003
4. Jueves a la mesa:
This is one of the best local kept local secrets. Three chefs (Megan from the US, Sofía from Costa Rica, and Ramiro from Cordoba Argentina) serve a three course vegetarian meal with dessert at their home in San Telmo, all for $250 pesos. The menu cycles every fortnight between Carribian, Italian, Thai, Mexican, and always with a zing of spice in every dish. For the amount of food you eat and the homemade atmosphere, Jueves a la mesa is a must! For dessert, Meghan always prepares homemade chocolate surprises. The dinner begins at 20:30.
Information: Perú al 700, San Telmo / Phone 15 6200-0004 / firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Los Sabios:
This vegetarian Taiwanese buffet is a great bang for your buck! The tofu stew is great and they offer a wide variety of salads and wok stir frys. The only bad part is that there are no alcoholic beverages served. Expect to pay around 80 pesos.
Information: Av. Corrientes 3733, Almagro / Phone 4865-9585
Written by Brian Athey