In the land of the asado, finding a good vegan option may seem like an impossible challenge. Indeed, Lonely Planet recently ranked Argentina as one of the worst countries for meat-free travellers. Hidden among the parillas and empanaderías, however, a small but growing core of vegetarian restaurants offers a host of not only vegan but also raw and live food options.
In honour of environmental month, The Argentina Independent brings you the top five vegan-friendly Restaurants in Buenos Aires, your guide to eating healthy for yourself and the environment. Sure to satisfy not only vegans but also their vegetarian and omnivore friends, these restaurants present delicious, filling and affordable vegan options.
Lively green on the outside, cheery on the inside, Buenos Aires Verde is a lovely spot for lunch or a casual dinner. The walls of the small restaurant are lined with colourful chalkboards spelling out both meal options and philosophical quotes; a soft reggae sound track sets a relaxed mood for your meal.
The extensive menu is a mix of vegetarian, vegan and live food that features several creative vegan twists on classic favourites. Try, for example, the crepes, prepared with a surprisingly flavourful dehydrated seed-dough pancake, stuffed with vegetables and mushrooms and topped with sprouts, activated seeds, rawmesan and sun-dried tomatoes. If one of the non-vegan options happens to strike your fancy, the staff is open to substitutions.
To accompany your meal, you may consider choosing from a wide selection of fruit smoothies, such as the tangy and refreshing raspberry. If you are lucky enough to still have room at the end — don’t count on it, as the meals are filling and delicious — a range of vegan ice creams and other vegan-friendly desserts are available.
Best of all, if you want to recreate your meal in the comfort of your home, the restaurant offers cooking classes and has a small selection of foods available for purchase onsite — those delicious dehydrated seed dough pancakes, for one. The store also offers organic wines, artisanal chocolates, seeds, cereals and a wide range of pastries.
Gorriti 5657. Open Mon–Thurs 9.30am-12.30pm; Fri–Sat. 9.30am–1.00am. Mains, $ 40-55.
Chef Mauro Massimo also runs La Huella, which is located in Almagro at Guardia Vieja 3802 and open Mon–Sat from 12.00pm to 12.30am.
Probably the most up-scale option on this list, Kensho is a staple of the Buenos Aires vegetarian and vegan-dining scene. Kensho has a sophisticated feel that makes it a great option for a special night.
A simple and clean design lends a Zen atmosphere to the space, while calming music sets the mood for your dining experience. Kensho’s menu offers a variety of vegetarian, vegan and raw food options. Conveniently, the menu is demarcated with symbols to let you know which options are vegan, but even better, you won’t need to worry much; all of the mains options and the overwhelming majority of offerings are vegan.
The food at Kensho is unquestionably excellent, featuring unique blends of tastes and flavours that entertain the palette. You may try the rice and squash gnocchi, a delicious take on this warm and rich style of pasta that’s perfect for the winter months. Sitting on a leek, portabella and lime sauce, the dish is truly satisfying. Who said that vegan food couldn’t be filling?
And if you are looking for something sweet to wrap up your meal, Kensho has an excellent selection of vegan dessert offerings. Can’t make up your mind, or want a taste of everything? Try the tasting plate – the portion is big enough to be shared amongst 3-4 people, and at $45, it’s a steal of a way to end a delicious meal.
A word of warning: Kensho’s excellent food and ambiance draw a crowd, so if you want to be sure that you get a seat, call in advance to make a reservation!
El Salvador 5783. Open Tues–Sat, 12.00pm-3.30pm and 8.00pm–12:00am, Sun 12.00pm – 3.30pm. Mains from,$50.
When people think of fast food, vegan-friendly is not often the first thing to come to mind. Lucky for time-pressed vegans in Buenos Aires, Picnic makes it a possibility.
Located in Microcentro, Picnic is a great place to stop for a bite after a long day shopping on Florida or a visit to Plaza de Mayo. The restaurant is enormous, with three floors and plenty of space to accommodate diners. Despite its size, it manages to maintain a unique and quirky vibe – a mismatched variety of colourful tables and chairs, bright walls, and plenty of plants create a friendly atmosphere.
The food is flavourful, quick, and reasonable. Unlike the other restaurants on our list, at Picnic you order at a counter and then seat yourself. The menu offers a variety of interesting salads and sandwiches, perfect for a light bite.
The Rayos y Centenos sandwich features a mix of warmed vegetables and vegetable cheese, and you can choose a side of greens or potatoes. Picnic also offers a variety of baked goods to accompany your meal, including a vegan take on medialunas. The chocolate chip cookies make an excellent end to your meal.
In the next two years, Picnic plans to open five new locations, in Palermo Viejo, Belgrano, Retiro, and Barrio Norte.
Florida 102. Open Mon–Fri 8.00am–9.30pm; Sat 10.30am–5.30pm. Mains from $ 30.
Part café, part market, La Radiancia offers an entirely vegan menu. The large open dining area is painted in a lively green and orange, and white tables lend the restaurant an air of springtime even in the dead of winter.
In a city where Italian influence has left a pizzería on every corner and cheese-oozing fugazzeta rellena is the pie of choice, vegans may be happy to discover that La Radiancia has its own alternative take on pizza. A delicious concoction constructed on a base of dehydrated seed dough, the pizza features seed cheese, tomato sauce, peppers, olives and onions. To accompany your meal, you may consider a fruit juice, squeezed fresh the moment you order.
A side note – the food is delicious, but the portion sizes are on the smaller side.
One highlight of the menu at La Radiancia is the pastry and dessert menu, which allows you to try a variety of porteño classics, vegan style. For example, the whole-grain medialunas, 100% vegan and sweetened with organic apples. In contrast to the meal portion sizes, these medialunas are enormous, and denser than their more traditional counterparts. Although they don’t taste quite the same as a medialuna de manteca, they are delicious in their own right. To end the meal, you may consider a café con leche served vegan style, with a little bit of vegetable milk.
Or, to satisfy your sweet tooth, La Radiancia offers vegan dulce de leche and vegan alfajores. No need to miss-out on the sinfully saccharine experience of Argentine dessert.
Gorriti 5132. Open Tue–Sat 10.00am–8.00pm. Mains $45–60.
Enter into La Reina Kunti, and you can already tell that your dining experience is going to be distinct. A collection of hanging lanterns casts a dim but warm glow over diners, and the décor features rich red and gold tones. Three separate dining rooms give all the guests a little extra space, and you can choose to sit at a traditional table or relax at a couch.
La Reina Kunti’s menu offers a variety of vegetarian Indian options. You may have to hunt a little further here to find the vegan offerings, but there are plenty, and if you ask the friendly staff, they are more than happy to point you in the right direction. What’s more, they are also open to modifications; if you want to enjoy the verduras con salsa khadi, for example, which features boiled carrots, peppers, and cauliflower, you may ask to switch the yoghurt-based sauce for a tomato-based sauce. Another vegan favourite is the squash pie.
At the end of your meal, you may consider a vegan tart, made fresh at the restaurant and available in coconut or fruits. Best of all, La Reina Kunti will leave you full and happy without leaving a dent in your wallet – prices are reasonable and portion sizes just right.
Humahuaca 3461. Open Tue–Thu 12.30pm-12.30am; Fri–Sat 12.00pm–1.00am. Mains, $ 25-35.