La Lechuza is a cosy and warm restaurant serving simple but tasty Argentinian favorites, but it is most popular for its pizza. The pizzas are a good size with generous toppings, and are a great price too. La Lechuza is always busy, and at peak times it’s hard to get a table, but eating in the buzzing atmosphere is well worth the wait. The beer selection is pretty good, with a number of local Patagonian brews as well as the standard favourites. It also has a sister restaurant across the road, La Lechuzita, which serves more sophisticated salads and hot dishes.
Pura Vida Restobar
Pura Vida is not as busy as some of the other establishments in the town, but it is one of El Calafate’s best places for a square meal. The menu offers delicious home cooking, with dishes such as Patagonian lamb stew and chicken pie, as well as a few vegetarian options such as vegetable lasagne. The place is dimly lit and cozy, with comfortable cushioned booths and colorful table settings. On chillier winter evenings there is also a rustic wood-burning fireplace to add to the ambience.
It’s likely that at some point, visitors to Argentina will want something to eat other than steak. Los Amigos is a surprising seafood restaurant, located conveniently just off the main commercial stretch of El Calafate. It is run by a Uruguayan family, and has friendly and efficient service and a welcoming atmosphere. It is also popular with locals, which gives it an authentic vibe, and its enticing menu includes tasty dishes such as fried calamari and fish stew. To escape the tourists, Los Amigos is a great option.
Quidu is in a tranquil location at the western end of El Calafate’s main street, Avenida Libertador, which is generally less crammed with tourists and more peaceful. It serves hearty dishes, perfect after a day exploring the chilly Glacier National Park, such as slow-braised lamb, gnocchi and lasagne. The restaurant has tables across two floors, with the top floor providing beautiful views of Lago Argentino, a romantic spot to watch the sunset. The interior is simple and modern, but with an element of rustic charm thanks to exposed stone walls and wooden beams. The wine selection is excellent.
Librobar Borges y Álvarez
Librobar is a quirky bar and café that is also home to an array of books. The menu is mostly drinks (coffee, beers, wines and cocktails) with a small range of sandwiches and other light meals. The beer selection offers a number of artisan regional brews, which can be enjoyed while surrounded by walls stacked high with books that are free for customers to peruse. The walls are also decorated with chalkboards featuring famous quotes, and old posters and photos. Librobar is the perfect place for a laid-back afternoon reading a book.
Chopen (formerly known as Sholken) is a brewpub offering home-brewed beer with a menu of tempting light meals and sharing platters. The pub offers samples of each of their beers when customers enter, although the beer is very well priced so more than one pint is easily affordable. A popular food choice is the sharing platter of local smoked meats and cheeses, which makes a delightful accompaniment to a few pints with friends. The clientèle is as much locals as it is tourists, which makes for an authentic and welcoming atmosphere.
One of El Calafate’s best parrilla restaurants, La Tablita has a tasty selection of meats barbecued in the traditional style. It is the oldest restaurant in El Calafate, but it has kept up with the times by embracing a modern and stylish decor of crisp white tablecloths and stylish table settings. The menu offers all the classic cuts of meat included in a classic parrilla, such as sirloin, black pudding, and sweetbreads. As expected of parrilla restaurants, there is a fantastic wine list with an amazing variety of Argentinian vineyards represented. Wash your meal down with an Argentinian Malbec for a real treat.
Mi Rancho is a hugely popular restaurant in Calafate, and it is necessary to book a table a couple of days in advance. The restaurant has only a few tables and is family-run, making it very welcoming and intimate, with friendly and efficient service. The food too is full of color and flavor, with a menu of dishes such as ossobucco, lamb risotto and trout.
Serving a variety of Italian and Argentinian dishes, La Cocina can be found in a great central location on Avenida Libertador. The interior is simple, but with a few rustic touches, and there is a varied menu offering large portions of pasta, steak and lighter meals such as soup. The desserts are also generous, with an enjoyable selection of wines to accompany the meal. La Cocina is also popular with locals, which adds to the restaurant’s authentic flavour and ambience.
Wine is the main focus of this restaurant and bar and at La Zaina the friendly wait staff have excellent knowledge and can help to pair your meal with the perfect bottle. The interior is warm and inviting, perfect after a winter’s day seeing the glaciers, and it has a quaint decor of antiques and vintage pictures. The food is generally parrilla with a few extras, including fish and lamb stew, all of which are very well cooked and presented.