After spending a few days in Buenos Aires, I headed down south to El Calafate intending to see Perito Moreno Glacier. I must admit I have never been to any place quite like the Southern tip of Argentina. Typically when I take vacations, I seek out tropical locations or more modern cities with ancient pasts. Hence, I have been to Oslo, New York, Marseille, Rome, Dubai, Bangkok, Seoul, Lisbon, or Barcelona. Despite this I have yearned to glimpse Patagonia for myself, while I had no lofty intentions such as climbing Fitz Roy or trekking the Patagonian wild; I just wanted to see it for myself even if it was only for a day. When it came to the food of this region, I had no expectations other than to go with the flow and to be as open to possibilities as humanly conceivable. I spent three nights in El Calafate, and at that time, I found many comfortable, delicious, cheap, and inviting places to graze at.
Esplendor by Wyndham El Calafate
On the first day I landed in El Calafate, I headed straight to Perito Moreno Glacier and spent a significant number of hours at the glacier park. So with all the stress of travel and excitement of seeing something so monumental as the Perito Moreno Glacier, I decided that room service was appropriate. The in-room menu was well laid out and didn’t seem to skimp as they serve almost the same menu for in-room service as at the hotel restaurant. On the first night, I had fish served with beets, mash carrots, and eggplant. The fish was crisp and well-seasoned and was perhaps the best fish I’d had since landing in Argentina. While my travel mate, on the other hand, had the guanaco strew served with potatoes and other vegetables. A guanaco is an animal in the family of the llama but also related to camels and alpacas. I was a bit iffy about trying this meat because these animals remind me of goats and lord knows I detest mutton. Surprisingly the guanaco meat tasted nothing like mutton and was just like my fish which was well seasoned and tender.
La Nieve Bar & Café
After hiking to see Laguna Capri and Chorrillo Del Salto, I stopped at a tiny café on my way out of El Chaltén called La Nieve Bar & Café. There I grabbed a cup of tea and an excellent cheese and ham sandwich. It’s a small establishment serving anything from empanadas to pizza and beer. The staff there were welcoming in a much-needed casual environment after a long sweaty trek through the woods.
Laguna Negra popped on my radar as a place that serves delicious hot chocolate. Upon arriving, I noted that it also sold artisanal chocolate, jams, and local liquor. This restaurant is along the main strip in El Calafate comingled into the souvenir shops, bars, and other attractions. While at Laguna Negra, I sampled some of the local jam on toast with tea, hot chocolate, and alfajores. Anyone who stops in cannot help but walk away with either jam, handmade chocolates or alfajores.
After walking around El Calafate, I stopped at the Wanaco Bar for a quick drink with bar food. This place offers a nice hang out spot for a quick afternoon drink, but also has a filling menu. I didn’t have any alcoholic beverage while here, but I did have a very memorable lemonade drink; made with ginger, and mint. This place had a very casual feel and was a perfect place for a break.
In El Calafate, several restaurants are highly recommended on TripAdvisor and other outlets. La Tablita came highly recommended as a place to taste the best lamb in town. My ghost audience knows that I am not a lamb or steak eater, so this was not my idea. At this restaurant, my traveling companion had lamb while I had the fish. I would say the fish was not to my liking, but it was palatable enough. The lamb, on the other hand, was crisp and delicious according to my friend who couldn’t stop raving about it. I honestly would say that the atmosphere, staff, and the price was jaw-dropping, as it was very cheap to eat there for the quality of service and food provided.