How to survive in Buenos Aires if you’re a plant-based eater
No lomo, no problemo.
What’s the first thing you think of when someone says Buenos Aires? Evita. Tango. Meat.
You’re not likely to think “vegetables”—and for good reason: Argentina is known for its beef. It has the world’s second-highest consumption of beef, to the tune of 120 pounds annually per person. (Yes, per person!) And livestock farmers keep an average of 50-55 million head of cattle, making the country the third largest exporter of beef on the planet.
But here’s the surprise: Not only have Argentineans gotten hip to the fact that people need their greens, they’ve jumped on the veggie train with the same passion and precision they’ve long reserved for their lomo and bife de chorizo recipes. So on a recent trip down south with my family—including my husband, a chef and formerly passionate meat eater who recently went plant-based—I challenged myself to find vegetable-forward dishes that would make me forget about steak (or at the very least, not order it at every meal).
Argentineans have jumped on the veggie train with the same passion and precision they’ve long reserved for their lomo and bife de chorizo recipes.
Spoiler alert: I ate very well. In fact, I didn’t have one bad meal while I was there—and never felt like the same lettuce-tomato-cucumber salad was placed in front of me day after day.
From grilled pumpkin to charred leeks, there are plenty of options that will pair well with your glass (or, ahem, bottle) of Malbec. Here are the 7 plant-based dishes that made me swoon while in Buenos Aires.
About as old-school of an Argentinean steakhouse as you’ll find—so what better place to begin the challenge? It was surprisingly easy, though, considering that Don Julio devotes a lengthy section of the menu to veggie sides. Standouts were the Wild Arugula Salad with fresh figs (yes, fresh), the Heirloom Tomatoes, and the Grilled Pumpkin.
Guatemala 4699, Buenos Aires
+54 11 4832-6058
A seat on the patio here at lunchtime is nothing short of paradise, so order an Aperol Spritz and take some time to peruse the menu—which will make you very, very happy. I can make it easy for you, though: Just get the Charred Leeks with Black Olive Dust and Egg Soufflé (I promise).
Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires
Av. Alvear 1661, Buenos Aires
+54 11 5171-1234
Pizzaras means chalkboards in English, so it’s no surprise that the menu—which changes almost daily—is written on chalkboards that cover the walls of this incredibly simple yet inventive Palermo Soho spot. There are an insane number of veggie dishes to choose from, but our favorite of the night was the Arugula and Radicchio Salad with almonds, pomegranate, and apricots.
Thames 2296, Buenos Aires
+54 11 4775-0625
Behind a nondescript door in the tony Palermo Chico section of Buenos Aires lies one of the most gorgeous restaurants I have ever, ever laid my eyes on. No joke. I’m not even sure how to describe it, except to say that your jaw will drop from the sheer, simple beauty of it. Think Elle Décor meets Vogue meets Parisian splendor meets…I don’t even know. Just trust me—it’s good. And the courtyard is a place you’ll enter and never want to leave. Oh, and then there’s the food: spectacular, varied, and not at all obvious. The star here was the Quinoa with Mushrooms, Arugula, and Goat Cheese—much like the kitchen in which it was made, this dish makes simplicity taste indulgent.
Cavia 2985, Buenos Aires
+54 11 4809-8600
Proper is the new-ish, super hipster, tapas-y spot located in an old mechanic’s garage. No surprise, then, that service is somewhat Williamsburg-y—and with a lineup of ingredients you’d definitely encounter in Brooklyn. There were a handful of standouts here, but for me it was all about the Grilled Corn with cashew cream, watercress, and grapes.
1676 Aráoz, Buenos Aires
+54 11 4831-0027
Leave it to Buenos Aires to not only build the coolest-looking modern art museum (that would be the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, better known as MALBA), but to also include a café that is much more than your average museum quick-serve spot. In fact, Ninina is a restaurant all on its own; the vibe is laid-back cool, with a side patio that will have you drinking more Aperol at lunch than you may have intended. There are tons of plant options on the menu here—think Avo Toast and the requisite Kale Salad, but what we loved was the Veggie Burger (it has jalapenos!) and the Quinoa (accented with butternut squash, tangerine slices, and goat cheese).
Av. Figueroa Alcorta 3415, Buenos Aires
+54 11 4832-0070
Located inside teeny boutique Hotel Fierro in Palermo Soho, Uco is one of the only restaurants in this ‘hood to offer a totally secluded outdoor courtyard—which is perfectly perfect. The food is straightforward and delish, and the Burrata (with roasted eggplant and oven-dried tomatoes) was smoky, creamy, and surprisingly filling.
Soler 5862, Buenos Aires
+54 11 3220-6820
Pamela Schein Murphy is the founder of The Select 7, and logs nearly a dozen trips around the world every year.