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The Best Food in Patagonia

Fine dining is hardly the first activity that comes to mind when one daydreams about Patagonia, yet night after night, I found fantastic food awaiting us. Once we arrived, we were in the hands of Christian, our G Adventures guide.

After six seasons of leading tour groups in the region, he knew all the best restaurants and thus began my quest to find the best food in Patagonia.

Restaurant: Fuegia Bistro, Av San Martin 493, El Chalten, Argentina
My Dish: Pasta cushions filled with chicken, mozzarella and tomato
Cost: 52 Argentine Pesos ($12)

Pasta cushions filled with chicken, mozzarella and tomato
Pasta cushions filled with chicken, mozzarella and tomato 

After our chilly hike around Fitz Roy Mountain, we all enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of Fuegia. I realize pasta is hardly a regional dish, but I needed a break from the copious amounts of meat I'd eaten my first few nights in Buenos Aires.

The homemade pasta was stuffed with deliciousness—chicken, mozzarella, and tomato, to be more specific. As you can see in the photo, they were big ravioli and beautifully presented with tomato sauce, olive oil, and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Restaurant: La Tapera Resto & Bar, Av. Antonio Rojo and Cabo Garcia, El Chalten, Argentina
My Dish: Trout with a citric sauce and vegetables
Cost: 76 Argentine Pesos ($17)

Trout with a citric sauce and vegetables
Trout with a citric sauce and vegetables
Fresh bread and pumpkin mash
Fresh bread and pumpkin mash

For our second night in El Chalten, after a ridiculously awesome day of ice climbing on Viedma Glacier, we headed to La Tapera. The atmosphere inside was warm and welcoming, thanks partly to an open fireplace near our table.

I've had good trout throughout the Andes, from Colombia to Peru, so I decided to try it in Argentina, too. This evening, it was fine, though if I could go back in time, I'd have picked something different.

Sholken Negra microbrew
Sholken Negra microbrew at a new bar that just opened up in El Calafate

Restaurant: Don Pichon, Puerto Deseado 242, El Calafate, Argentina
My Dish: Patagonian lamb with Calafate sauce and roast vegetables
Cost: 80 Argentine Pesos ($18)

Patagonian lamb with Calafate sauce and roast vegetables
Patagonian lamb with Calafate sauce and roast vegetables

Patagonia is as well-known for lamb as New Zealand, where I ordered it on Christmas Eve in 2007. On our second evening in El Calafate, I felt good after a gorgeous day at Perito Moreno Glacier.

The lamb at Don Pichon blew away that Christmas Eve rack of lamb and any other lamb I've ever eaten. It was perfectly cooked and bathed in Calafate sauce, made from a local berry of the same name.

Despite all the bone and fat, I was able to carve off some succulent bites of pure meat. Christian recommended we pick up the bones with our hands, but I didn't want to make a mess. The sides included what I think were two kinds of potatoes, one regular and one sweet, as well as a few crispy French Fries.

Restaurant: Cangrejo Rojo, Avenida Santiago Bueras 782, Puerto Natales, Chile
My Dish: King Crab chowder
Cost: 4,500 Chile Pesos ($9)

King Crab
King crab chowder

This was my favorite meal in Patagonia, likely one I'll never forget. Yea, it was that heavenly. Cangrejo Rojo (Red Crab) is a new restaurant opened by a married couple. According to Christian, it was only being frequented by locals, partly due to its location away from the city center.

The king crab is a regional specialty, and I was excited to try it. I was pleased the chef/owner prepared it as a chowder, so we didn't have to deal with breaking shells.

The chowder was decadent. I don't even want to think about how much cream and butter he used. There was plenty of crab meat, too. The dish was rich and creamy yet somewhat light at the same time.

Restaurant: Angelica's Restaurant, Bulnes 501, Puerto Natales, Chile
My Dish: Sea bass with a white cream sauce and vegetables
Cost: 7,800 Chile Pesos ($16)

Pappillote style Sea Bass
Papillote-style sea bass

After three days of hiking and two nights of camping in Torres del Paine National Park, we returned to Puerto Natales. At Angelica's, I opted for the “sea bass” prepared in aluminum foil, with vegetables and a cream sauce. It was perhaps my second favorite dish of the trip. The white fish was tender, and the cream sauce was a rich complement.

I posted a photo on Facebook indicating it was a “Chilean sea bass,” and my buddy Brendan quickly pointed out I was eating an endangered fish. In the back of my mind, I was aware that Chilean sea bass is considered off-limits, but I saw sea bass listed no less than three times on the menu.

The next day, I mentioned it to Christian, who is from Chile. He said sea bass is a term used to describe a variety of fish. Because the menu wasn't more specific and I didn't ask the waitress, I'll never know if it was the Chilean variety, known as Patagonian toothfish, fished in the waters of Antarctica.

As I'm writing this, I searched Google. I found a fact sheet by the U.S. Department of Commerce stating that the Chilean Sea Bass is not endangered. However, illegal fishing is a continuing threat to the population.

Cerveza Beagle
Cerveza Beagle

Restaurant: Maria Lola Resto, Deloqui 1048, Ushuaia, Argentina
My Dish: Salmon Caprese
Cost: 84 Argentine Pesos ($19)

Salmon Capresse
Salmon Caprese: pink salmon prepared in a delicate Caprese sauce with basil, mozzarella cheese, and fresh tomatoes served with buttered steamed potatoes

I followed Christian's lead at Maria Lola, ordering the Salmon Capresse during our first dinner in Ushuaia. I was worried the cheese might overpower the salmon, but the combination worked well. That said, I doubt I'll ever order mozzarella-smothered fish again.

Restaurant: El Almacen de Ramos General, Maipu 749, Ushuaia, Argentina
My Dish: White fish in a lemon sauce with potatoes
Cost: 85 Argentine Pesos ($19)

White fish in a lemon sauce
White fish in a lemon sauce with potatoes

After taking a scenic flight in the skies above Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel, I returned to town and grabbed a solo lunch at Ramos General. The place is a local and tourist favorite, and I could see why once I entered. The restaurant is decorated with wall-to-wall antiques, and the atmosphere is befitting of a city at the end of the Earth.

I ordered a taste test of the local Cape Horn beers and was surprised by the beautiful white fish in lemon sauce. It was my third favorite meal of the trip.

Cape Horn microbrew
Cape Horn microbrew (from left): Rubia, Tostada, y Negra

I had a chocolate mousse for dessert, but as you've seen, desserts weren't a big part of my meals. I rarely had room for them after the appetizers, main courses, and wine or beer accompanying the dishes.

Restaurant: Kuar Resto Bar, Av. Perito Moreno 2232, Ushuaia, Argentina
My Dish: Parmesan King Crab, cream fresh tomatoes, and parmesan cheese
Cost: 115 Argentine Pesos ($26)

Parmesan King Crab, cream fresh tomatoes, and parmesan cheese
Parmesan King Crab, cream fresh tomatoes, and parmesan cheese

Once again, King Crab is a specialty at the end of the world, and I wanted to go out in style. Given the location and the amount of tourism the city sees, everything is more expensive in Ushuaia.

This chowder was very heavy on the crab meat and heavier overall than the one I'd had in Puerto Natales, probably on account of the cheese. I overdosed on King Crab and couldn't finish. Between two great crab dishes, I preferred the one in Puerto Natales.

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Disclosure: This Patagonia tour is in partnership with G Adventures. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Ruth (Tanama Tales)

Wednesday 23rd of May 2012

I would have overdosed eating king crab too. But I would give the other dishes a chance ;0)

Dave

Wednesday 23rd of May 2012

Yes, today in Santiago I tried swordfish at the Central Market, but I need to try the king crab chowder again before I leave this country for the 2nd time!

Audrey | That Backpacker

Monday 16th of April 2012

MMMmm! These look so good! So different from the meals that you find in Bs As or even the northern provinces.

ciaRaysabeL (@cosmicais)

Friday 13th of April 2012

Ooohhh... These look so yummy! :D

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