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Eating Argentina: Mendoza! We’re in Empanada Country Now

Best Empanadas Ever? Well, so far, yes :)

Where are the best empanadas in Argentina? Everyone says Mendoza but where exactly in Mendoza you will only know if you are a local. Happily I was with one.

I was feeling a bit peckish so asked if we could stop off for some empanadas after a long day whizzing around wineries. (It’s a hard life!). It was 5 hours since lunch but still 3 hours from our Argentinian dinner time so my tum was protesting severely. Sure, of course! And she promptly picked up the phone and put in an order.

Home of Amazing Empanadas!

20 minutes later we were at a small typical house outside Mendoza in a small town called Chacro. These are the best empanadas in Mendoza, I was confidently informed, she is very famous and lots of people come here.

An old lady in an apron answered the door and proceeded to joyfully tell us all about a local wedding the week before where one of 5 daughters of a local doctor married an Irish guy and 100 people from Ireland came for the wedding (we do that kind of thing!). She was very proud and thrilled to be there herself.

I got a quick tour of the rotisseria, I was only sad it was too late in the evening to try it. At the side were big jars of preserved peaches and large bottles of homemade tomato sauce. She proudly showed me her enormous outdoor wood oven where she makes her empanadas and her specialty, suckling pig. I was salivating.

Amazing Woodoven, Terrible Photo (Sorry!)

Then came the empanadas. In exchange for 25 pesos (£4) she gave us a paper wrapped parcel which I could not wait to open. In side were twelve gorgeous wood blistered empanadas, about half the size of their bigger Buenos Aires cousins, filled with the traditional Mendocian filling of beef, onion and eggs. Some use olives too but not these ones. apparently that is something the younger people do.

I wondered if we had over egged it, 12 empanadas for 2. I quickly discovered I had no trouble demolishing my 6. The crisp roasted pastry, incredibly savoury and with a gorgeous bite from pork lard, encased a rich gorgeous beef, onion and finely chopped egg filling.

Sadly, and appropriately, the recipe is secret. But, wow, another trip highlight. How will I ever leave Argentina? (I shouldn’t tempt that volcano).

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Eating Buenos Aires: Pizza, Fugazzetta & Empanadas at El Cuartito

So you’re in Buenos Aires. Well, you’ve got to eat like a Porteño and go get yourself some pizza. You weren’t expecting that now, were you?

El Cuartito has been making pizza in downtown Buenos Aires since 1934. Not just any ole pizza, they serve the pizza peculiar to Buenos Aires, the fugazzetta (or fugazza con queso).

Fugazzetta at El Cuartito

Why pizza? There was a huge influx of Italian immigrants, particularly from Genoa in the 19th and 20th centuries to Argentina. Now, 25 million Argentines are of Italian descent (that is up to 60% of the total population). So, this naturally has had an enormous influence. There are Italian restaurants and pizzerias all over Buenos Aires, and El Cuartito is one of the old standards.

El Cuartito

Why go?

It’s brusque, big and noisy and fun. Bustling and joyful, I loved it. Eat at the counter or queue for a table. Either way, you will be having a proper local experience.

El Cuartito

The fugazetta is a slightly insane extremely rich deep cheese and onion pizza. If you eat a whole one I will clap you on the back and then call the ambulance. A couple of slices though, particularly at the end of the night, is heavenly. You haven’t been to Buenos Aires if you haven’t tried the fugazzetta.

El Cuartito

Empanadas are very good. Try the spicy beef one and the jamon y queso one.

El Cuartito

They serve fainá, a traditional chickpea based flatbread. You have to try that too.

El Cuartito

So go, and love it as much as I did. And don’t make the same mistake as me, have the dulce de leche flan. The fugazzetta and empanadas floored me and I couldn’t face it. In my defence, I had had a big lunch and dinner!

El Cuartito, Talcahuano 937, Buenos Aires, Argentina