Friday, November 11, 2011

Argentine Adventure, Part 2: Eating

Bodegon Criollo, Bs.As. (non-vegan)
I was a little worried about how well I would be able to deal with the food in Argentina. It is a nation known for its love of meat, and what I'd read about vegetarianism and veganism there did not make me feel very optimistic. It turned out much better than I had expected. With some planning and searching, I was able to make out alright. And we had a few very good vegan dining experiences.

One thing that's worth knowing is that restaurants in Argentina keep different hours than what I'm accustom to in the US. Most restaurants open for lunch, but then close for the afternoon and reopen around 7 or 8 p.m. for supper. That's a later meal-time than we usually have with the kids, but then, we were also three hours ahead of Colorado time, so our schedules were kind of out of whack anyway.

Food is less expensive in Argentina than it is here in the States. Entrees at good restaurants were typically in the neighborhood of $50 or $60 AR, which at current exchange rates is under $15 USD. Some of the main dishes were a little more expensive, but at non-vegan restaurants, I wasn't looking at those very much. Though tap water was generally potable, we didn't eat anywhere that served it. If you ask for water, you buy a bottle or two for the table.

On nights where we couldn't make the restaurant hours work, we stopped by supermarkets and had improvised picnics in the hotel room. Without a means of heating food, these meals were a little tricky and less than stellar. But it worked out pretty well.

On the recommendation from my coworkers, I picked up some crackers and cookies made by Granix, an Argentine company that makes healthy grain-based products. They feature ingredients like chia and flax (lino in Spanish). The crackers, paired with a soy cheese spread that I found at the supermarket, were very good.

These are some of the vegan or vegetarian restaurants that we visited:

BIO - a small, all-organic bistro in Buenos Aires. We ate here on our first night in town. It was pretty far from our hotel, but we loved it. The food was great, and the staff were very friendly. Either we arrived a bit early, or the neighborhood is a bit sketchy. They kept the door locked while we were there.
BIO, Buenos Aires
Sana Sana - my coworkers in Rosario took me here for lunch one day. It's another small venue with nice patio seating in a residential area. I had a really good stir-fry, or wok, as you'll see it listed on the menu.

Rotiseria Vegetariana - an Asian vegetarian take-out buffet in Rosario. (I don't remember exactly where this was, and the name is fairly generic.) This provided one of our hotel room picnics, though the food would have been much better if we'd been able to heat it up.
Rotiseria Vegetariana, Rosario
Verde Te Que Quiero Verde - on the upper level of the Palace Garden shopping center on Rosario's Cordoba pedestrian mall.

Granix - an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet by the company that made the afore-mentioned crackers. In Buenos Aires, it's in a shopping center off of Florida street. I had lunch here with coworkers on our last day in town.

Picnic - vegan fast food. We didn't actually get to eat here. It's in a banking district where everything is closed on Sundays, which is when we tried to go. It's essentially across the street from Granix.

I actually saw a few signs that there is a healthy population of Vegan militants in the area. On the bus ride to Rosario, I saw a building on the road-side with "Meat is Murder" spray-painted on the wall. And I saw two different "Go Vegan" graffiti in Rosario.

Go Vegan!
So while I expect that Argentina will continue to be famous for its beef and barbecue traditions, it's definitely a place where a determined vegan can have a good time and enjoy some wonderful meals.

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