A truly Argentine food menu must include some basic dishes that define Argentine traditional cuisine. Depending on the type of Argentine restaurant, the menu will be more biased towards beef (like the Argentinian steakhouses or parrillas) or will also include more urban food that is a mix of different European cuisines, with the Italian and Spanish cuisines as the most influential is what is today’s Buenos Aires traditional restaurants menus.
When you visit and Argentine restaurant outside Argentina, and especially in the USA, many times the menu includes “alian” dishes that do not belong to the Argentine cuisine, very frequently mixed up with spicy Mexican food. Argentine food does not include chiles, it only uses some mildly spicy ground pepper known as ají or ají molido. Burritos or any kind of tortilla are absolutely non-Argentinian.
Let’s begin with the Argentine Steakhouse menu:
Argentine food appetizers
Empanadas in English: there is no exact translation for empanadas. You can say stuffed dough, but most people today already know what empanadas are. What differentiates one empanada from another are what they are filled with, and if they are fried or made in an oven.
Empanadas landed originally in Argentina from Spain and the Arab cuisine traditions, but were adapted locally to the taste of each Argentinian region.
Empanadas de carne
Empanadas de carne are empanadas filled with ground beef (sometimes cut with a knife, known as “cortada a cuchillo”. The empanadas de carne are the most popular and diverse ones of the Argentinian empanadas. Each Province (State) has its own empanadas recipe. The most vital difference is the way the beef is cooked before filling the empanadas. Almost all of them use onions and garlic, but some of them include other vegetables like red peppers and potato. They use different spices, like pepper, parsley, cumin and oregano. Some of them might be a little spicy if they have ají molido (ground pepper). Some must taste sweet because of the addition of raisins (pasas de uva). Others include olives.
EmpanadaS de Humita
Empanadas de Humita are empanadas filled with corn, and most of the times also include mozzarela cheese.
Empanadas de jamón y queso or napolitana or capresse
All these empanadas are filled with mozzarella cheese. Most of them include basil, some of them include ham (jamón).
Empanada de verdura or de espinaca
Empanadas de verdura or espinaca are filled with pre-cooked spinach and mozzarela cheese.
The provoleta is a traditional appetizer in any Argentinian steakhouse. It is a dish of Italian style provolone cheese that is grilled at the barbecue and served melted in the inside but a crusty exterior.
The Argentine chorizo was also derived from the Southern European cuisines. Unlike the Spanish chorizo, the Argentinian chorizo does not include pepper powder (pimentón), so its color is not red but a semi transparent greyish due to the tissue membrane that contains the stuffing. It is made of ground beef, or pork meat (if made with pork exclusively it is called “puro”), or both, with added fat and spices
Achuras in English mean offals. Argentinians have a passion for achuras. Originally these glands were only used to feed dogs, slaves and blue collar workers, but over the last century they have become a central part of the Argentine steakhouse menu.
Chinchules are the most conspicuous offal in the parrilla menu.
There are over 100 Argentine beef cuts as detailed by the official Animal Health Service SENASA in an official nomenclator.
Here we will list only the most popular ones found listed in most of the Argentinian steakhouses or parrillas menus.
Asado de Tira
Asado de tira, in English ribs or short ribs are the most popular beef cut at Argentinian steakhouses.
Vacío, called flank steak or flap meat in English, are number 2 beef cut in terms of popularity at Argentinian parrillas.
Colita de cuadril
The colita de cuadril in called rump, although colita de cuadril is the inferior end of the rump primal cut.
Entraña is probably the 3rd most popular beef cut at Argentine steakhouses. In English, Entraña meas skirt steak or outside.
Matambre is a very popular beef cut in Argentine parrillas, though it is found more often in the interior of the country rather than in Buenos Aires. Matambre in English is called fly shaker, elephant ear or twitch. It is a cut that is hardly grilled in countries other than Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brasil. Due to special consistency of its meat, matambre is cooked in other ways outside the Southern Cone of Latin America.