After a ten hour bus ride from Santiago to Mendoza, with a 2am border crossing, we were not only exhausted– we were hungry!
So we stand there. I scratch my head. Shane strokes his chin. What do people eat in Argentina when they get hungry?
Beef! And to drink? Red wine! (Malbec to be exact.)
So we go to this place right on the main drag there in the pedestrian zone on Avenida Sarmiento just a few blocks off the main Plaza Independencia where they have all the craft vendors (too expensive for me to buy anything). I forget the name of the restaurant, because let’s just say the beef and wine were less than memorable. The beef was chewy / stringy, and the wine was sour!
I look happy enough though don’t I? For the moment anyway…
I’ve got my filet, green salad, and we split a bottle of Santa Julia malbec. Even Shane looks reasonably happy with his sirloin.
We were not happy when the bill arrived for $55 USD. We never spend $55 dollars (a small fortune) on dinner in the US. As budget backpackers, we had failed miserably in terms of spending money, AND the food experience at that particular restaurant was C+ range.
A lot of reasonable people calmly explained to me that if I wanted a good Argetinian wine and a good Argentinian steak that I needed to have spent more money at a fancier restaurant. They explained that I had dined at a very average restaurant and therefore should not have had such high expectations. Alas, I guess beef and wine are not meant for me.
Good thing I had Chef Shane with me to doctor up some really delectable tasty delights for the other forty or so nights on our adventure. For 3 or 4 bucks per person each night, he made us all kinds of pasta, rice, sausage, and salad dishes. The grocery store / supermarket prices (at Carrefour in particular) were usually the same as in the US or a step more expensive.
I suppose the moral of the story for ALL of the blog posts to follow about Argentina (I have quite a handful of blog posts planned regarding the beautiful natural sights and scenery throughout all of Argentina), is that in terms of looking for great places to take pictures, traveling throughout Argentina is like winning the lottery, but when it came to looking for food that I could afford, I struggled on a daily basis throughout this trip. I concede that I am unbelievably cheap when it comes to my budgets for my backpacking trips, and if any of the readers are aware of any particularly good food deals in any part of Argentina, I invite the description of those foods in the comment boxes and look forward to trying them out if I ever happen to have the opportunity of visiting beautiful Argentina again.
From what I can gather from my own experiences, Argentina might not currently be the best destination for backpackers on strict budgets (their economy was doing better- as compared to when the Lonely Planet “Argentina” had been written- when I was there, which is never good news for the backpacker!), but if anyone has information regarding backpacker deals (in this case not only in terms of food but in terms of other expenses), please let me know.