Given the fresh fruit and vegetables, El Bolsón’s food exceeds expectations, though it lacks sophistication. Be sure to give up one lunch in favor of snacking at Plaza Pagano’s Feria Artesanal.
Note that most places in Bolsón stay open all day, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
La Salteñita (Avenida Belgrano 515, tel. 02944/49-3749) serves spicy northern empanadas for takeaway. Mitski Cocoa (San Martín 2526, tel. 02944/49-1878) is an ideal breakfast spot for succulent croissants and hot chocolate.
Boulevard (San Martín and Pablo Hube) has morphed into a hybrid Irish-style pub and pizzeria. Otto Tipp (Isla Malvinas and Roca, tel. 02944/49-3700) is more stylishly Teutonic, with free beer samples in addition to pastas and pizzas.
Martín Sheffield (Avenida San Martín 2740, tel. 02944/49-1920) is a welcome presence, with cooked-to-order chicken, Patagonian trout, and lamb, plus local beer on tap. Unusual for Argentina, especially for this part of Argentina, it even prepares credible Mexican tacos.
Packed for dinner, Il Rizzo (Avenida San Martín 2599, tel. 02944/49-1380) is for pizza and pasta. Carlitos (Avenida San Martín 3410, tel. 02944/45-5654) is a parrilla.
Several places have failed in its location, but Pasiones Argentinas (Avenida Belgrano and Beruti, tel. 02944/48-3616) seems off to a good start with a diversity of pizzas (including game toppings such as venison and wild boar), and more elaborate versions of standards such as bife de chorizo. Most entrées fall in the US$6–10 range. It has occasional live jazz or rock bands on weekends.
Jauja (San Martín 2867, tel. 02944/49-2448, US$10–20) may have slipped a notch, but it’s still the best in town. Vivid flower arrangements set the stage for succulent pastas such as gnocchi with a garlic cream sauce, vegetarian dishes such as milanesa de soja (breaded soybean steak), trout with a creamy almond sauce, outstanding homemade bread, and local brews. It’s tobacco-free noon–4 p.m. and 8 p.m.–midnight only.
Ignore Jauja’s in-house desserts, and step just outside to Helados Jauja, one of the country’s top ice creameries, with an almost paralyzing choice of nearly 60 inventive flavors. The author’s longstanding favorite is mate cocido con tres de azúcar (boiled and slightly sweetened mate), though even some Argentines blanch at consuming their favorite bitter infusion in frozen form. Chocolate profundo, a bittersweet chocolate mousse, is also interesting.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition