Restaurants in Argentina the World Needs to Know

Pasta with saffron sauce at Kalma
Pasta with saffron sauce at Kalma | Courtesy of Kalma
Kristin Deasy

Contributor

Most people think of Argentine cuisine as meat sizzling on the grill, a glass of Malbec in hand, or empanadas being devoured. But it’s also so much more than that. Argentina is in a fascinating moment of culinary alchemy where modern gastronomy is finding inspiration in the country’s native plants, grains, game and traditional preparation. Here are six of Argentina‘s hottest, most innovative restaurants.

Gapasai

Deep in the mountains of Cordoba lies Gapasai, another culinary wonder. The restaurant, part of a family-run residence, features a nine-course menu that will blow your mind. A recent menu, Ciclos (Cycles), was designed to reflect the cycle of life, with which Chef Santiago Blondel—who trained in Michelin-star restaurants in Europe—takes diners through the earth’s growing process plate by plate. They are presented with a modest seed-based appetizer, followed by edible “dirt” (made out of crumbled beet covering a foamy substrata created with a local Cordobese root called topinambur) and another plate has edible “dew” placed on plants; meat plates are designed to represent the animals in their native habitat, while varied desserts introduce notes of lavender, saffron, carob, and a Cordobese cactus. The restaurant is cash only, so come prepared.

GARCIA Cocina por Cocineros

Cardue’s trout, in classic Patagonian preparation
Carhue’s lamb plate

Nestled in the stunning Parque Nacional los Alerces natural reserve in Chubut is a six-chef culinary team helping lead Argentina‘s small but growing farm-to-table movement. Their restaurant, which will be known as GARCIA Cocina por Cocineros (A Kitchen for Chefs) from June 2017, is located in Patagonia and features the region’s standout dishes, such as fresh trout and lamb.
The six-year-old restaurant, which is currently known as restaurante Carhue, is a hyper-local culinary experiment. 2017 will see the team launch a new menu that exclusively uses ingredients sourced within a 125-mile (200-kilometer) radius. At the moment, diners can choose between five principal plates, all of which are prepared using centuries-old regional techniques and served with an organic salad from the restaurant‘s garden, run by an agronomic engineer.
When it comes to culinary style, 35-year-old Argentine chef and Chubut-native Facundo García told Culture Trip, “we’re rediscovering the simple things.”

La Torgnole Gastronomique

Argentine Chef Martin Altamirano, who spent a decade working in France, creates a fixed-menu food paradise in the beautiful Ascochinga in the province of Cordoba. Reservation-only La Torgnole Gastronomique applies French culinary techniques in the Cordobese kitchen for a flavor profile reflecting Argentina‘s Europe-influenced history. His menu, a 7- to 10-course affair depending on the season, features everything from otter to buffalo. Altomirano told Culture Trip that, for him, cooking is “traveling through time and covering the distance with flavors.” The restaurant‘s French name literally translates to “gastronomic blow,” and Altamirano is all about shocking his diners into a new understanding of food culture in Argentina.

Kalma Resto

Kalma defines itself with this quote by Spanish painter Joan Miró: “A chef becomes an artist when he has things to say through his meals, like a painter in a painting.” Located at the very tip of Argentina in Ushuaia, proverbially known as “the end of the world,” the small 24-seat restaurant is pulling off some pretty innovative things when it comes to traditional Patagonian cuisine. Led by a Michelin-star trained Argentine Chef Jorge Monopoli, Kalma’s small team offers a rotating menu based on local ingredients, such as the regional merluza negra, a highly valued, delicate white fish.

Aramburu

Aramburu is a prime example of Argentine creativity finding culinary expression. Each plate is jaw-droppingly innovative and meticulously crafted, and even though the food has been transformed (cheese-stuffed apple ravioli, anyone?), it’s still got soul. That’s not an easy achievement in modern gastronomy. And with an 18-plate fixed menu, Aramburu gives taste buds plenty of room to explore—most people spend three hours there, so choose your date well. The brainchild of 30-something rising-star Chef Gonzalo Aramburu, the restaurant uses only organic ingredients and is located in an unassuming building on an equally unassuming street in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of San Telmo. Reserve early—this one of the hottest restaurants in the city.
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