It is often said that street food in Buenos Aires is a little lacking compared to some big cities. This is simply not an eat-on-the-run culture. You will rarely see people eating and walking at the same time, and most porteños will take their coffee break sitting down rather than grabbing a paper cup to go. Yet that doesn’t mean you’ll go hungry. Read on and we’ll help you get the inside track on the best street food around.
Note that if you want to make your own discoveries, the city’s train stations, the Costanera (riverside) and weekend fairs (San Telmo, Plaza Francia, Mataderos) are generally the best places to head.
Chomp on a Choripan
The king of Argentina street foods, which gets locals – and many visitors – most excited, is the famous choripan. We won’t say much more as The Real Argentina has already shown its love for this beloved sausage sandwich, but we’ll give you this video to whet your appetite (with bonus ‘street cake’ footage) and remind you that the place to head is the Costanera.
Pick a Pancho
For fans of sausage-and-bread combos, you also have the pancho (hot dog), which feels a bit like the choripan’s poor relation and is sometimes advertised as a ‘super pancho’ to help it get over its inferiority complex. Expect not much more than simple frankfurter in a bun, although you often get the twist of sprinkling chipsticks on top, known as a lluvia de papa (potato rain). A hot tip received from a resident Colombian is that you can find particularly fine ones, fried for extra flavour, at Bolivar subte station on line E. To keep it no-frills, you could also try Plaza Once.
Chew a Chipa
Chipa is a cheesy cornbread from Paraguay, served as balls, buns, or round with a hole in the middle. They are best enjoyed fresh from the oven, when they are warm and soft. After that, they go a little chewy. If you like the idea of a squeaky bagel with hints of cheese (and, actually, I do), then get your fill outside Retiro train station. Or look out for better quality versions around Iguazu Falls, near the Paraguayan border. Fans can also show their chipa love on Facebook.
Bite into a Bondiola
“Bondiola! Don’t forget bondiola!” said the Argentines, when asked about their tips for street food. For those who think this traditional pork-shoulder sandwich deserves more praise, above is a lovely picture of the filling. Try one on the Costanera or at Puestito del Tio (Dorrego, between Figueroa Alcorta and Lugones, Bosques de Palermo).
A tender shoulder of meat – Photo by Southern Foodways Alliance
Pick up a Pizza Slice
You can buy it by the slice, or to take away, and yet in true BA-style most would prefer to pull up a seat. That means it’s debatable as to whether this is true street food, but the important thing is you won’t go hungry late at night if you’re anywhere near Avenida Corrientes. Dating back to the 1930s, Guerrin is one of the city’s classic pizza stops. If you’re not on a date, make it a fugazza: pizza dough slathered with onions.
The Usual Suspects
Aside from these standouts, you can also expect to come across pirulines (coloured lollypops), caramelised nuts, freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee served from multiple thermos flasks and various meat/bread combos, including the famed milanesas (beef schnitzels). Then there are the media lunas, churros and various facturas (pastries) – and you’re never too far away from an empanada.
Vendors will also come out of the woodwork to sell homemade goods at big events. In summer, they circulate around sunbathers in Parque Tres de Febrero with baskets of alfajores and other biscuits.
Burgers, Medoza-style – Photograph by H Dragon
Street food is currently undergoing a resurrection worldwide, from Miami to London. Here’s betting that Buenos Aires is likely to get some new, hip takes on food-to-go soon. Fortunately, for now – and for a long time to come – we’ll still have the classics.
Seeing as the guidebooks and Tripadvisor tend to have no place for street vendors, we want to know your tips. What foods have we missed? What would you suggest as the must-try and where from?
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9 responses to “Street Food in Argentina”
The two that come to mind are some of the shawarma places that sell direct to the street from a window – places like Oasis on Montevideo, Medio Oriente on Malabia, El Timon on Niceto Vega, Turquesa on Estado de Israel, Burmana on Balcarce, and quite a few others. The other would be the little parrillas that are often nestled along the sides of the different city Mercados that while they may have a seat or two at a counter around the parrilla, are primarily just a place to grab a lomo sandwich (or choripan or bondiola) and go find a place to sit. Our favorite is in San Telmo along the side of the Mercado San Telmo, at Estados Unidos 471 – not sure if it actually has a name, but there are plenty of those sorts scattered around the city as well.
That's excellent, Dan — thanks for the tips!
Chinatown, aka calle Arribeños. There are now a number of holes in the wall selling marinaded things on sticks with dipping sauces. And other stuff. These have sprung up over the last year or so, and seem to be very popular.
I rarely disagree with anything you write, Vicky, but personally I find the whiff of fugazza almost overpoweringly erotic.
I went to Señor Schawarma a week after it opened for a ‘bab – and it was bloody fantastic with chips on top. It’s right opposite Kika nightclub – oh, they did their research… A ‘bab cost 16 pesos and when I went back two weeks later (gotta limit these things…), it had gone up to 20 pesos. Worth it though. PS Nigel Tollerman swears by the kebab shop on R. Peña…
Pork balls and battered prawns on sticks – finished off with a 3 peso MELONA ice lolly (popsicle for the Americans) OH MY.
Quizás porque en Argentina la cultura gastronómica se asocia tanto a la
mesa servida como a la sobremesa social, los argentinos no son muy
fanáticos de “street food”.
What do you think about that?
More of my thoughts:
Thanks for all the extra tips. Is that kebab place opposite Kika really that good? Where you drunk, Sorrel? I had a falafal one sober the other day. It was ok, but the falafal and the chips were overcooked. Think they fried then and then refried them, until there was barely anything left between the crispy outer edges.
And, the commenter going by the name of G, I think you’re right. Sobremesa does make a difference and I love that about Argentina. I can’t get your link to work though… Re-post if you can.
And, most importantly, someone tell me where I can find these prawns on sticks?
Agree! And Melona rules!
I don’t know if ice cream is considered a street food, but the ”dulce de leche” ice cream is delicious. If you come to Argentina shouldn’t go without tasting ”dulce de leche” ice cream.