Eating Green in Buenos Aires: Verde que Te Quiero Verde

It’s not easy being a vegetarian in Argentina, so imagine how difficult it is if you’re a vegan.

After two weeks in Buenos Aires with a couple of vegans from North Florida, here’s what I learned.

1. Vegetarian here means no beef. It does not mean no meat. And vegan is a totally foreign concept.

For the first couple of days I’d ask if there were any vegetarian dishes. “Sure, we have chicken dishes or ham and cheese empanadas, for example.” Then I’d explain I meant dishes with no meat. But the word for meat is carne, which means beef. “They don’t eat any land or water animals,” I would explain, “or any products of animals like eggs, cheese, milk, etc.” This explanation usually worked.

2. Salad, french fries, pizza and pasta (although most are made with eggs) are your best bet.

Salads here are fresh and cheap and virtually every restaurant has them. Argentines, though carnivores at heart, are very creative with their salads and you can pretty much guarantee there will be no land or water animals of any kind.

I’ve had the best fries I’ve ever eaten here in Argentina. When I asked what they did to make them so scrumptious, the waitress said they were fried in lard. It’s probably worth asking if you’re going to order fries.

The Italian influence here is everywhere. The way they drive, the way the men flirt, the way they speak Spanish. And yes, the way they cook or at least what they cook. For good pizzas try Piola or Romario. But your best bet for creative vegetarian-style pizza (and some pasta dishes) is Flor de Lino in San Telmo.

I’m a bit picky when it comes to pasta. There’s a place everyone says is wonderful on the corner of Cordoba and Esmeralda. It’s called Broccolino and it has the feel of an authentic Italian restaurant. My pasta was drowning in sauce though and the cheese they piled on top of it became a melted layer of rubber. Ask them to bring the cheese to the table and put it on yourself. If you’re used to eating pasta in the States, you’ll probably like the pasta here. If you’re Italian, order something else.

3. Thai and Indian restaurants are plentiful.

There’s a great Thai restaurant in Las Cañitas called Lotus Neo Thai. It’s beautifully decorated and the food was wonderful.

For Indian food, try La Reina Kunti in Almagro or Krishna in Palermo.

4. Read the menu before you enter. Even some of the best parillas (steak places) offer fantastic vegetable dishes.

One of my favorite restaurants in Las Cañitas is a typical parilla called Las Cholas. They serve some traditional dishes from the North of Argentina along with the standard parilla fare. Try the vegetables from the oven (al horno): squash, potatoes, corn, and pumpkin cooked with honey. They also have some delicious rice and vegetable dishes but these usually come with a creamy cheese.

Bio

5. Three restaurants that offer creative all-vegetarian dishes.

Argentines are proud of their city and love to offer advice. Friends came running to my aid with a few amazing suggestions. The picture above is of Bio, a fantastic place that serves macrobiotic cuisine and delicious fresh juices.

A bit more upscale is Verdellama which claims to specialize in “life food.” The chef is well-known Diego Castro who used to run a one-night-a-week all vegan restaurant from his home.

And finally there’s Artemisia. Another upscale vegetarian restaurant in trendy Palermo that offers homemade natural cuisine and a nice wine list. Artemisia’s menu also includes some fish dishes in case you’re going with friends who aren’t veggie lovers.

To find restuarants by type of food, location, or rating go to the Oleo Guide of restaurant in Buenos Aires.

Also interesting is this article in Spanish Recorrido vegetariano on vegetarian options in the capital.

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12 Comments

Filed under argentina, buenos aires, restaurants, tourism, travel

12 responses to “Eating Green in Buenos Aires: Verde que Te Quiero Verde

  1. Gaby

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m a vegetarian and will be traveling to Buenos Aires in February. This was very helpful. Are you familiar with the website happycow.net? It’s a fantastic directory of vegetarian restaurants around the world and has helped me eat well in Costa Rica, Prague, Paris and Maine. Thanks again!

  2. You bet Gaby. Glad you found it useful. Since I wrote this, I’ve seen several others I need to include in an updated post. Looks like it’s becoming easier to be a vegetarian here. Hope you enjoy your stay! And thanks for the tip on happycow.net. I’ll check it out.

  3. Hola Natalia, Angela y Gonzalo
    Sigan asi, me encanto la foto del jacaranda, cominiquense con VerdeLlama 4554-7467, los invito a probar cosas. Salud, Diego

  4. Hola Diego,

    Gracias mirar nuestra pagina.

    Estaremos en contacto muy pronto y es un gusto poder ir a probar tus comidas.

    Saludos,
    Angela, Gonzalo y Natalia

  5. Pingback: No Beef « San Telmo Loft Weblog

  6. stilllifeinbuenosaires

    Senutre (www.senutre.com) in Alto Palermo is another good restaurant for veggies. They deliver too.

  7. Thanks stilllifeinbuenosaires for visiting the blog and for mentioning Senutre. Great that they deliver. I’ll have to give it a try!

    Take care,
    Angela

  8. Thanks for the post… I’ve been researching restaurants and you have some useful tips. My friend and I are both vegan and are looking forward to Buenos Aires but dreading the food options. As it is on the flight down to South America, they do not have any food options for us 😦

  9. Hi Kalavinka,

    Glad you found some useful tips here. Granix is another vegetarian restaurant you might want to add to your list. Here’s a post about it http://waterandsoul.blogspot.com/2008/07/lunch-at-granix.html from Jackson over at Water and Soul. Oh, and Flor de Lino has closed, but there is another vegetarian restaurant in San Telmo that wasn’t around when I first posted this. It’s called Origin and it’s on Humberto Primo and Peru.

    I guess you guys will have to bring some snacks on the plane for that long flight. I bet airlines will offer vegan options one day, but that may be a long way off.

    Vegan options really are hard to come by here. Hope you guys will let us know if you find any places we should add to our list. And have a great trip!

    Angela

  10. Gerhard

    Hi, thanks for the vegetarian info. I’m vegan and have been wanting to visit Buenos. The lack of knowledge about vegetarianism has been a big worry to me. Most of the infi I’ve come accross said that Argentina is so meat oriented that there is very littly if anything for vegetarians. I feel more at ease now. Before I had visions of starvation or living on peanuts and other snacks.
    I like the look of “The Pad”. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity soon to stay there. If all goes well then I will visit Buenos in July ’09. In the meantime I’ve started learning Spanish.

  11. Hi Gerhard,

    So glad this post helps. I need to do a new one as there are a few new options for vegetarians. It’s a bit more difficult for vegans, but you won’t starve or have to live on peanuts 🙂

    Water and Soul (http://waterandsoul.blogspot.com/) is a blog by an American vegetarian living here in Buenos Aires. It’s not about food per se, but he does offer a few posts on food options here and there.

    We’re also thrilled you like the look of the pad. It’s really quiet and luminous. A great place to contrast the chaos that Buenos Aires can be. We hope to see you in July.

    All the best,
    Angela, Naty and Gonzalo

  12. Pingback: No Beef

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