I feel for all those vegetarian travelers who come to Buenos Aires. Sure, they are going discover wonderfully passionate people with a culture to match, get a healthier heart (!!) from all those antioxidants while wine tasting Argentina’s famous reds, be surrounded by history juxtaposed with the cutting edge on every street of this crazy beautiful city, but we all know that they are going to have a hard time finding much to eat, yes, Buenos Aires is a carnivores paradise. So whenever a (nothing with eyelashes) ‘veggie’ comes to one of our Buenos Aires wine tasting I always try to suggest as many alternatives as possible for them but my number one recommendation is always humita!
Humita is a typical native American pre-Hispanic dish, which can apparently dramatically change in its characteristics and ingredients from country to country, but as I discovered it in Buenos Aires, I can only comment on the delectable concoction that is Argentinean style. Firstly, this is not some sort of complicated refined meal, it is simple, filling and full of sweet flavor. The components are basic; fresh corn, creamed corn, sautéed onions and a soft cheese, with different spices, depending on the region it is being made or personal taste, for example in the North of Argentina humita is a staple in the local diet, so they like to mix it up a bit of choice between savoury, sweet or spicy. All together the ingredients are places into a corn husk and boiled form a thick, creamy dough or paste of cheesy creamed corn goodness.
But of course, we are not in Tucuman, so where can you find the best this traditional Argentinean plate in Buenos Aires?
Las Cabras, Fitz Roy and El Salvador, Palermo Hollywood
The ever popular, colourful and crowded spot, crams diners in to their red wooden tables every night of the week, come rain or shine, inside or out. Not only is the food exceptionally good value for money with gigantic tasty portions and unbelievably low prices (cash payments only!) but they have more to choose from then your average parrilla grill menu, including some of the best corn leaf wrapped humita in town. Las Cabras typically packs in a lot of cheese to their humita, not great for a diet but super tasty and goes down very well as a starter to share.
Las Cholas, Arce 306, Las Canitas,
Las Cholas is the sister restaurant of Las Cabras based in the funky but residential Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Las Canitas (phew las, las, las!). With an identical menu as well as ingredients, making Las Cholas the perfect alternative to hunt down the divine humita if Las Cabras is packed out. Unfortunately, Las Cholas’ atmosphere isn’t as pumping as it’s sisters but you’ll still get some great value tucker!
El Quebracho, Corrientes 4390, Amagro
The less ritzy next door neighbour of Palermo, has a plethora of its own restaurants and bars for good value prices and El Quebracho is one of them. Smack bang of the busy avenue Corrientes, El Quebracho is a breath of fresh air with its warm colours, open doors and with countrified feel as the open brick oven cooks up a mountain of empanadas. Their humita is insanely and wonderfully creamy, with lots of fresh sweet corn, red bell pepper and nutmeg!
Cumana, Rodriguez Pena 1149, Recoleta
If you are stuck downtown, sightseeing in Recoleta or Plaza de Mayo and a sudden need for traditional humita (or Argentinean food for that matter) strikes, then your best bet is the two floor establishment Cumana. Rustic, simple and delicious food for reasonable prices, including their humita seved in cornhusk. But beware….every city slickin’ worker and his friend knows about this joint and it can get incredibly busy, which can prove a little bit too much work for the staff.
La Casaita de Tucuman, Ecuador 1508, Recoleta
Humita isn’t just served in a corn leaf, oh no. Here in Buenos Aires it is a well-known filling for empanadas and delicious they are too. Some of the best homemade humita empanadas in town can be found at La Casita de Tucuman who can deliver so you don’t even need to get off our couch and venture out off our couch and venture out into the cold!
6. Feria de Mataderos, Mataderos
If you are looking for humita in one of the most traditional settings then check out the gaucho (Argentinean cowboy) market, Feria de Mataderos every Sunday in the neighbourhood Mataderos. Great food, great fun!
And the Argentinean wine to order? Well, humita is sweet, delicious, round and thick. For this, the perfect match would Merlot or of course a Malbec, like San Gimignano’s 2010 Malbec Roble: rounded, friendly, fruity, sweet, and just a hint of spice! Yuuuum.