Although the 2001–2002 peso collapse briefly reined in prices, they’ve since rebounded, and there are some truly expensive dining choices in Ushuaia; the financially challenged should look for tenedor libre specials, or be cautious with extras like dessert and coffee.
Hotel Cap Polonio’s Marcopolo (San Martín 730, tel. 02901/43-0001) is a café-restaurant that serves excellent coffee, chocolate, and croissants for breakfast—try the submarino for a cold morning’s pickup. Café de la Esquina (Avenida San Martín 602, tel. 02901/42-3676) is a popular meeting place with similar offerings, as well as sandwiches for late-afternoon tea.
Open for lunch only on weekdays, but with Saturday evening hours, Pizzería El Turco (San Martín 1440, tel. 02901/42-4711) is good and moderately priced but lacks variety. Well-established Barcleit 1912 (Fadul 148, tel. 02901/43-3105, lunch and dinner daily) has fallen a step behind some of the other pizzerias but also offers a variety of moderately priced short orders.
In luminous quarters, Tante Sara (San Martín 175, tel. 02901/42-4118, lunch and dinner daily) made its name in sweets and snacks, which are still abundant, but it also produces a limited menu of well-crafted lunch and dinner dishes such as a rib eye with a malbec sauce (US$11). For breakfast, coffee, sandwiches, and desserts, try its Café-Bar Tante Sara (San Martín 701, tel. 02901/42-3912).
Formerly part of Tante Sara, now under new ownership, 137 Pizza & Pasta (San Martín 137, tel./fax 02901/43-5005, lunch and dinner daily) still sets the pace in diverse pastas with a broad selection of imaginative sauces, as well as pizza. Most entrées, such as ravioli with king crab, fall into the US$7–10 range, with sauces extra.
Facing the waterfront, Ramos Generales (Maipú 749, tel. 02901/42-4317, www.ramosgeneralesushuaia.com, noon–11 p.m. daily, US$8–15) is a bar and restaurant that re-creates a pioneer general store with humor and museum-quality artifacts. It may romanticize the era, but its snacks (including sandwiches) and sweets reinforce the style to make it a must for any Ushuaia visitor. The menu is not elaborate, but the quality is outstanding.
Also in an artfully restored historic house, Bodegón Fueguino (San Martín 859, tel. 02901/43-1972, lunch and dinner daily) specializes in Fuegian lamb, prepared in a variety of styles for around US$10, but it also has seafood dishes, tangy beef empanadas, and good desserts.
La Rueda (San Martín 193, tel. 02901/43-6540, lunch and dinner daily) charges only slightly more for its own buffet parrillada. The well-established Moustacchio (Avenida San Martín 298, tel. 02901/42-3308, lunch and dinner daily) stresses seafood but also serves beef and other meats.
Ushuaia has a wider choice of seafood restaurants than almost any other Argentine provincial city. La Casa de los Mariscos (San Martín 232, tel. 02901/42-1928, lunch and dinner daily) specializes in centolla (king crab) but has many other fish and shellfish options in the US$10–15 range. Looking like a Buenos Aires antique shop housed in a classic Magellanic residence, tango-themed Volver (Avenida Maipú 37, tel. 02901/42-3977, lunch and dinner daily) doesn’t quite achieve its potential—the fish and seafood dishes can be disappointingly bland.
With a 30-year history and portside views, Tante Nina (Gobernador Godoy 15, tel. 02901/43-2444, www.tanteninarestaurant.com.ar, lunch and dinner daily) focuses on Fuegian fish and seafood; the food is fine and the service is efficient, but the ambience feels institutional. Chicho’s (Rivadavia 72, tel. 02901/42-3469, lunch and dinner daily) also handles large crowds efficiently, serving dishes such as king crab (US$16), hake (US$16), and Fuegian trout stuffed with crab and shrimp (US$12).
Other possibilities include the El Náutico (Avenida Maipú and Belgrano, tel. 02901/43-0415, lunch and dinner daily), where entrées start around US$10–12; Tía Elvira (Avenida Maipú 349, tel. 02901/42-4725); and
Kaupé (Roca 470, tel. 02901/42-2704, lunch and dinner daily), which serves an exclusively (and exclusive) à la carte menu. Kaupé has specialties such as king crab, exquisite lemon ice cream, carpaccio, and wine by the glass. Even post-devaluation, a full meal here can cost well upwards of US$35 pp, but some knowledgeable locals suggest the menu has stagnated.
Equally top-of-the-line—both literally and geographically—is the dining room with a panoramic view at Chez Manu (Luis Martial 2135, tel. 02901/42-3253, lunch and dinner daily), immediately below Hotel del Glaciar. Using local ingredients such as king crab and lamb, the French-run restaurant is the place for a truly elaborate meal at equally elaborate prices: US$30 and up. This is one Ushuaia restaurant with food to match its views, although portions are on the small side.
On a promontory, in a recycled building that once transmitted Argentina’s first-ever color TV program—the 1978 World Cup— María Lola (Deloqui 1048, tel. 02901/42-1185, www.marialolaresto.com.ar) may be Ushuaia’s best restaurant, period. For items ranging from relatively simple but delicate pastas to more elaborate dishes such as stir-fried Patagonian lamb with vegetables, prices range US$10–25. The bar serves a diversity of mixed drinks at moderate prices. Open for lunch and dinner, it’s closed Monday.
In bright new quarters, Helados Gadget (Avenida San Martín 1256, tel. 02901/43-4864) has all the conventional Argentine ice cream flavors—good enough in their own right—but also incorporates regional specialties such as calafate and, occasionally, rhubarb.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition