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Argentina is Mad Cow crazy for its meat. In Buenos Aires, you can’t throw a porteño without hitting a parilla restaurant. Luckily for us, there is also a burgeoning vegetarian/health food scene and with a little research and some lucky stumbles, we found a whole bunch of really tasty veggie restaurants – mostly around the trendy Palermo Viejo area.
These are our favourite vegetarian restaurants in Buenos Aires. Not all of these places are strictly vegetarian but they all offer great options for meat-free meals. It’s usually a good idea to plan in advance and head to a specific restaurant or else it’s pizza night (again).
Our Top Picks
Artemisia was our first veggie restaurant discovery in Buenos Aires and it was a find. They have a few fish dishes but most of the offerings are inventive and seasonal vegetarian meals. The home-made bread and garlicky houmous served free before your meal are sublime, and along with the gingery lemonade it’s seriously worth a visit just for the bread and juice.
But it gets better. We had a bit of a ‘Huh, really?’ moment when we saw the pear, goats cheese and rocket bruschetta on the menu but the mixture of the creamy queso and tangy pera was inspired. They also have a huge tapa selection, featuring fresh and tasty vegetables, cheeses and dips.
There are two branches in Palermo but we preferred the one on Gorriti – it’s a lovely bright space with huge windows, wooden tables and a small courtyard. Menus are constantly changing so are handwritten on brown paper bags while the hand-crafted, colourful plates and bowls add to the rustic charm.
Average cost: 80 – 100 pesos for two. (Nov 2012 update: it’s now 55-70 pesos per dish).
Address: 5996 Gorriti and Cabrera 3877, Palermo Viejo.
Sarkis is an Armenian restaurant that isn’t vegetarian at all, but alongside the meat dishes there is a huge range of choice vegetarian cuts. We hadn’t eaten Armenian food before so we can’t comment on the authenticity but it’s very similar to Middle Eastern cuisine – falafel, houmous, tabouleh etc – and was so tasty that we kept returning.
There are a few veggie mains (including a decent moussaka) but we preferred to order lots of half portions of the starters for an interesting mezze selection served with warm flat bread. We loved the jambra (mashed red peppers with walnuts); fried aubergine in provençal herbs; tomatitos ‘willy’ (intense sundried tomatoes in olive oil sprinkled with parmesan cheese); and flavoursome tabouleh.
Argentine food is pretty bland so it was a wonderful relief to have so much flavour. The food comes quickly so you can always order more if you are still hungry. This place is extremely popular so get there early (Argentina early, that is), ideally at 8pm. After 8.30pm be prepared for a wait although usually it doesn’t take too long, and there is a heated seating area outside.
Average cost: 80 pesos for two.
Address: 1101 Thames, Palermo.
Puerta Cerrada (closed door) restaurants in private homes are popular in Buenos Aires so we were keen to try one. Casa Saltshaker is run by an American Dan and his Peruvian partner Henri. They aren’t vegetarian but occasionally they put on vegetarian nights (it’s always worth asking too) and when they did, we went along and it turned into one of our best nights in the city.
It’s basically like a dinner party with 12 guests eating together in Dan & Henri´s Barrio Norte apartment. On arrival we all gathered in the living room with a herby cocktail to get to know each other. On our night everyone else came from the US (although a few were originally from South America) so unfortunately we didn’t get to practice much of our Spanish.
But it was a lovely mixed crowd and we met some really interesting people including Anna, who’s studying at a BA culinary school; Sam, a New York journalist; and Lizzie, an inspiring Peruvian flight attendant (now living in Miami) who makes the most of the few hours she has in destinations. It was all very relaxed and conversation flowed easily.
The food was delicious and unusual. The five course set menu at 150 pesos is pricey by Argentine standards but definitely worth it. Dan likes to have a theme for each meal and ours was Mediterranean. We were treated to stuffed vine leaves; bean and mint soup; home-made pasta with a creamy grappa and lemon sauce with peaches; seitan with a smoky aubergine puree; and divine profiteroles with a cappuccino cream. One of the best things is that the set menu forces you to try things you wouldn’t usually order and in every case we were pleasantly surprised.
Average cost: 150 pesos per person for five courses, a cocktail, water and coffee. It’s 60 pesos extra for a five wine paired tasting. (Nov 2012 update: it’s now 280 pesos per person including wine).
Address: Barrio Norte (Recoleta). You get sent the address once you’ve booked.
4) Kensho (Update November 2019: Closed permanently)
Kensho is a very cool 100% vegetarian restaurant a little out of the way in Villa Ortúzar. It’s a tiny place with just three or four low tables; cushions on the floor instead of chairs and an open kitchen with friendly staff. It is more like being in someone’s apartment than a restaurant.
The four course set menu features inventive dishes made with fresh ingredients. It was all so full of flavour and actually featured spices (a rare occurrence in this country). Highlights included black bean guacamole, mushroom and sundried tomato ceviche, and a pumpkin curry with soft tortillas.
Average cost: 120 pesos per person for four courses.
Address: Zárraga y Estomba, Villa Ortúzar.
5) Meraviglia (Update November 2019: Closed permanently)
We happily stumbled upon this family-run cafe in Palermo Hollywood on a sunny Saturday afternoon and took a seat at one of the outdoor tables. Like most vegetarian restaurants in Buenos Aires they don’t describe themselves as vegetarian but generally the words sana (healthy), natural and orgánica mean that they are. It’s open for lunch only and serves delicious salads, sandwiches and daily specials.
Average cost: 20 pesos for a salad or sandwich.
Address: 5796 Gorriti, Palermo Viejo.
If you are craving a change from Italian then this simple Mexican place is a wonderful option. There isn’t a huge meat-free selection but it’s worth going for the excellent vegetarian tacos and guacamole. Other options (that we didn’t try) are quesadilla and refried beans. It’s tasty, cheap and there are three different choices of hot sauce! Spicy food! In Buenos Aires!
We were so excited.
Average cost: 10 pesos per taco. We had two each plus guacamole (20 pesos). (Nov 2012 update: it’s now 22 pesos per taco).
Address: 5062 Gorriti, Palermo Soho.
This small, entirely vegetarian restaurant was one of the first organic restaurants in the city. Initially we were disappointed in the menu as we aren’t fans of meat replacements like tofu and seitan but we were pleasantly surprised by the tasty quinoa risotto and an interesting salad.
Average cost: 80 – 100 pesos for two. (Nov 2012 update: it’s now about 180 pesos for two).
Address: Humboldt 2192, Palermo Viejo.
Krishna is Indian themed in its colourful décor and the menu is all veggie but strangely only one of the dishes resembled Indian food. Go for the thali plate for a range of healthy and tasty, although not spicy, curries, chutney, rice and chapati. The ginger lemonade (happily found in most vegetarian places) is also good.
Average cost: 100 pesos for two. (Nov 2012 update: it’s now 200 pesos for two).
Address: Malabia 1833, Plaza Palermo Viejo.
On our last day in Buenos Aires we prepared for our overnight bus journey (where we knew we wouldn’t be able to eat the meal served onboard) by eating a huge Italian meal at La Parolaccia. This chain has restaurants all over the city and the lunch menu is really good value. There are tons of veggie options (risotto, gnocchi, ravioli in a variety of sauces) and the 8 peso cover charge includes an immense basket of bread (resist if you want to have any chance of finishing your three courses!), a champagne or campari aperitif and a limoncello to finish.
Another superb and classy Italian restaurant is Sette Bacco in Barrio Norte.
Average cost: 38 pesos for a three course lunch.
Address: Various locations.
November 2012 update: We were in Buenos Aires in March-May 2010 and we’ve just been informed by the Globetrotter Girls that prices are now around double what we paid then due to the high rate of inflation in Argentina. We have updated some of the prices but if you have any new information let us know.