Being Vegetarian in a City Known for its Beef

Noa Leiter
June 28, 2019

One of the most common questions I got before coming to Argentina was, “Are you gonna eat meat?” I’ve been a vegetarian for a little over three years now, and my close friends and family thought it was absolutely hilarious that I chose to study abroad in a city known for its meat. When choosing Buenos Aires, I didn’t really factor food into my decision, so as the questions continued arising, I became super nervous that I was going to be stuck eating side dishes all semester. Luckily, that has been far from the case! 

The most traditional Argentine food is asado, which is technically just a barbeque above an open flame, but culturally much, much more. It is a social affair that consists of lots of chatting accompanied with courses upon courses of meat, including chorizo, ribs and steak. Thankfully, many asados serve grilled vegetables, too! The most common were onions, squash, zucchini, and eggplant─which when put on a roll with chimichurri and mustard are absolutely delicious. 

Argentina is also known for their empanadas. Although the most common one is an empanada de carne (beef) or pollo (chicken), there are almost always three vegetarian options: cebolla y queso (onion and cheese), espinaca (spinach and cheese), and caprese (tomatoes, basil and mozzarella). Occasionally there is also the option of empanadas de humita, which are filled with corn and some type of creamy cheese, but I haven't been all too fond of the ones I’ve tried. Empanadas are the perfect grab-and-go lunch or snack because they are around a dollar each (45 pesos) and available all over the city. My favorite empanada spot is Taragüi II, which is just two blocks away from the IES Abroad Buenos Aires Center. 

Aside from asado and empanadas, Buenos Aires is filled with vegetarian-friendly restaurants. Here are some of my favorites: 

     Sparaw: a vegan food and juice store

  • It is ideal if you are craving a pressed juice or want to grab a fresh soup or hefty salad on the go!

     Gran Dabbang: a trendy Indian fusion restaurant

  • One of my absolute favorite meals was at Gran Dabbang. The menu is constantly changing and consists of lots of small plates, so you get to try a little bit of everything. I would recommend going either early or late because it is a small restaurant that fills up quickly!  

     Tandoor: an upscale Indian restaurant

  • Tandoor has a pleasant, upscale ambiance and serves delicious Indian food with a large variety of vegetarian options. The portions are hefty, making it perfect to order a few dishes to share between the table.

     Birkin: coffee & brunch 

  • Birkin serves my favorite brunch in Buenos Aires! They have a special where you get to choose a drink along with a fruit/yogurt dish, an egg dish, and a toast/pastry dish─allowing you the perfect mix of sweet and savory. They also have delicious salads and sandwiches, which are filled with fresh produce.

     Sheikobs Bagels: bagels!!

  • One of the few places I found where you can get a good bagel in Buenos Aires. Sheikobs has a great, casual ambiance and a wide array of yummy bagel-sandwiches. They also hold English story nights if you’re looking for a wholesome Friday night activity!

     Florentin: cheap, tasty falafel

  • Florentin sells a $4 falafel sandwich that is a little messy, but absolutely delicious! It is just a takeout window but has outdoor seating in a beautiful, bustling area of Recoleta.

     Benaim: Jewish street food

  • Benaim is a charming, artsy restaurant with lots of seating. It is a great place to get dinner and drinks with friends. There are a variety of vegetarian-friendly dishes, including both great falafel and eggplant sandwiches!

     La Locanda: an upscale Italian restaurant

  • La Locanda has great food and a really friendly staff! Although it is on the pricey side, they have a range of tasty vegetarian pasta options and a great ambiance. The waiters are very attentive, and the owner of the restaurant visits each table, ensuring customers are pleased and offering good laughs.

     Sarkis: a friendly Armenian restaurant

  • Sarkis is a restaurant of organized chaos. It is consistently bustling with people but has delicious food and excellent service. There is a very large menu filled with tons of veggie options, all priced very reasonably. Most are small dishes, so it is ideal to split many between the table. I would recommend getting there early or late, as you cannot make reservations!

Although I have tried my fair share of restaurants, I actually eat the majority of my meals at my homestay. If you stay with a host family, you get breakfast every day and dinner five days a week. IES Abroad strategically matches us with a family and ensures that your host family can accommodate for your dietary restrictions. I got very lucky, and Horte, my host mom, loves cooking and is a talented, creative chef! 

Breakfast, especially in Buenos Aires, isn’t an issue for vegetarians. The meal is typically small and fast. I alternate between eating cornflakes and oatmeal along with a piece of fruit and a cup of coffee before I run off to class. In terms of dinner, Horte does a great job of mixing it up every night and serving healthy, balanced meals. Some of her most common dishes included vegetarian curry, tartas de zapallito, homemade lentil burgers, and roasted vegetables. The main dish is generally paired with a side salad, and we frequently eat dessert! My favorite dessert is canned peaches or other fruit with dulce de leche. Overall, I have had no issues with being vegetarian and would definitely not let fears of the food deter you from choosing Buenos Aires!

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Noa Leiter

<p>I am a junior at The George Washington University majoring in psychology and organizational sciences with a minor in Spanish. I am passionate about sustainability and over the last three years I have been working to both decrease my own ecological footprint and advocate for sustainable development on campus. I am also an art enthusiast; I love exploring galleries, finding new street art, as well as creating my own photography and multimedia projects.</p>

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