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Steak and beyond: 11 Buenos Aires classics for all tastes

Dainty sweet treats, street food staples and world-class meat cuts – this capital city has it all on a plate.

Pizza con fainá

Pizza con fainá

Pizza topped with flatbread — a double taste sensation

A pizza slathered in gooey mozzarella, tomato sauce and all the trimmings, this local take on an Italian favourite adds another level of carb-based indulgence. Atop your slice, you’ll bite into a thin slice of flatbread, concocted from chickpea flour, before your teeth sink into the soft toppings below.

Local tip: You’ll often see fainá flatbreads served by themselves as a starter.

Milanesa a la napolitana

Milanesa a la napolitana

A multicultural, topped-up schnitzel

Blending influences from Austria and Italy, this fusion of international flavours is hearty and satisfying. A slither of veal is coated in breadcrumbs, adorned with tomato sauce and ham, then scattered with slices of mozzarella, or fresh cheese. Browned under the grill, it’s plated up with a helping of chips.

Local tip: Locals like to drench these garnished cutlets in lashings of ketchup.

Asado

Asado

A meat feast that’s part of local life

This ritual of roasting is a tasty affair. You’ll find everything from juicy steaks, ribs and sirloin to flavoursome cured meats and offal, all cooked to your preference. Helpings are seasoned with salt and infused with the scent from the grill’s wood or charcoal.

Local tip: Locals recommend accompanying your platter with some sweet molleja bread and a generous glass of fine red wine.

Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche

A caramel-like indulgence that’s as versatile as it is delicious

Straight from the tin, laced through cakes, or sunk into delicate pastries, this gooey, irresistible sauce is made from slowly simmered milk and sugar. It’s a popular ice-cream flavouring and you can treat yourself to bite-size ‘Vauquita’ morsels — chocolate sweets that ooze with the syrupy filling.

Mate

Mate

An essential herbal brew

A heavy, fist-sized silver gourd mug encases this national blend that holds a special place in most Argentinians’ hearts. A straw peaks out of grass-like yerba mate that makes for an earthy-tasting drink with a bitter edge and woody flavour. An acquired taste, it can be sweetened up with a drizzle of honey.

Local tip: Bars selling the drink can be found all over town. You’ll be provided with hot water, a gourd, straw and raw yerba mate.

Café lágrima

Café lágrima

Light and fluffy, a coffee for all palates

Coffee is an art form in this city and you should choose yours carefully. Italian-style java has long been the favoured starting point, with local twists reigning supreme. This popular concoction is made mainly from bundles of steamed, foamy milk. A single dash, or ‘teardrop’, of espresso is all that’s needed for this mini caffeine fix.

Empanadas

Empanadas

Individual pastry treats with a multitude of ingredients

Baked or fried, these petite pastries are generally half-moon, or circular shaped — although the form depends on the ingredients and the maker. Each will have a characteristic fold, setting it apart from just any run-of-the-mill snack. Break apart the flaky pastry and inside you’ll find steaming fillings like meat mixes, tuna, cheese or spinach.

Local tip: The list of ingredients is endless, so check to see what’s on offer in a shop or stall.

Choripán

Choripán

Street food plucked straight from the Argentine barbecue

A link of chorizo, sizzled until it’s crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside, sits in a hunk of crusty baguette. Spicy red chimichurri sauce — and the more famous classic green version — is soaked into the bread, making for a delectable snack to grab from a street stall or van.

Local tip: This is the favoured food to grab if you’re at a football match, or on the way home from a night on the town.

Alfajores

Alfajores

A biscuit sandwich delivering layer after layer of sweetness

These sweet-to-the-max crumbly cookies sandwich a decadent filling of smooth and sticky dulce de leche sauce. If that’s not enough sugar for you, why not opt for a version smothered in chocolate, doused in coconut shavings, or garnished with a fine dusting of icing sugar?

Mantecol

Mantecol

Peanut butter, refined and repackaged

What the country lacks in peanut butter is more than compensated for with this bar of sweet, smooth nougat. Peanuts are finely blended and packed between wafers, or smothered in chocolate, making this a beloved treat at parties, or on the go.

Chimichurri

Chimichurri

A much-loved sauce that throws everything into the mix

Steak forms the backbone of Argentine cuisine and this verdant meat relish is as equally loved. Roughly translated from Basque, it means ‘a mixture of several things, in no particular order’ and doesn’t limit itself to one or two ingredients. Pesto-like in look and consistency, a blend of olive oil, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper is given a kick of vinegar for an added tangy edge.

Local tip: Most ‘asado’ grill restaurants will provide diners with the mixture in a bowl on the side. You’ll also see it livening up vegetable and fish dishes.

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