Ushuaia had always been an expensive place to eat, but the 2001–2002 peso collapse reined in prices. That said, the financially challenged should look for tenedor libre specials, or be cautious with extras like dessert and coffee.
The Hotel Cap Polonio’s Marcopolo (San Martín 730, tel. 02901/430001) 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 (Av. San Martín 602, tel. 02901/423676) is a popular meeting place with similar offerings, plus sandwiches for late-afternoon tea.
Open for lunch only weekdays, but with Saturday evening hours, Pizzería El Turco (San Martín 1440, tel. 02901/424711) is moderately priced, but it lacks the diversity of the slightly more expensive Opíparo (Av. Maipú 1255, tel. 02901/434022), which also serves pasta dishes. Well-established Barcleit 1912 (Fadul 148, tel. 02901/433105) has fallen a step behind other pizzerias.
One of Ushuaia’s finest, Tante Sara (San Martín 137, tel./fax 02901/435005) serves outstanding pasta with a broad selection of imaginative sauces, as well as pizza, but the kitchen and service can both be slow and it’s become noisier. Most entrées, such as ravioli with king crab, fall into the US$5–7 range, with sauces extra. For breakfast, coffee, sandwiches, and desserts, try their Café-Bar Tanta Sara (San Martín 701, tel. 02901/423912).
In an artfully restored historic house, Bodegón Fueguino (San Martín 859, tel. 02901/431972) specializes in Fuegian lamb for around US$8, but it also has seafood, tangy beef empanadas, and good desserts.
Barcito Ideal (San Martín 393, tel. 02901/437860) always seems to draw crowds to its US$8 tenedor libre buffet. La Rueda (San Martín 193, tel. 02901/436540) charges slightly more for its own buffet parrillada. Nearby La Estancia (San Martín 253, tel. 02901/436540) and El Fogón Gaucho (San Martín 237, tel. 02901/430100) have similar fare. Moustacchio (Av. San Martín 298, tel. 02901/423308) stresses seafood but also serves beef and other meats.
Ushuaia has better fish and seafood than almost any other Argentine provincial city. La Casa de los Mariscos (San Martín 232, tel. 02901/421928) specializes in centolla (king crab) but also has many other fish and shellfish options in the US$5–10 range. Looking like a Buenos Aires antiques shop, tango-themed Volver (Av. Maipú 37, tel. 02901/423977) falls short of its potential—the fish and seafood dishes, such as abadejo al ajillo (US$7) and king crab soup (US$4) are disappointingly bland. With a 30-year history, Tante Nina (Gobernador Godoy 15, tel. 02901/432444) focuses on Fuegian fish and seafood but also serves Patagonian lamb and “homely pasta.”
Other possibilities include El Náutico (Av. Maipú and Belgrano, tel. 02901/430415), where entrées start around US$5.50, and Tía Elvira (Av. Maipú 349, tel. 02901/424725), where four-course dinners cost around US$10–12.
Kaupé (Roca 470, tel. 02901/422704), with an exclusively (and exclusive) à la carte menu, has specialties such as king crab (US$12), exquisite lemon ice cream, carpaccio, and wine by the glass. Even post-devaluation, a meal here costs upwards of US$25, but it’s worth the splurge.
Equally top-of-the-line—literally and geographically—is the dining-with-a-panoramic-view at Chez Manu (Luis Martial 2135, tel. 02901/423253), immediately below Hotel del Glaciar. Using local ingredients such as king crab and lamb, the French-run restaurant is the place for an elaborate meal at equally elaborate prices: US$25 and up. Along with Kaupé, this is one Ushuaia restaurant with food to match its views.
Hotel Antártida’s Amaranto Bistrot (Rivadavia 172, tel. 02901/435761) has visions of joining that elite group. While it’s promising and there are many intriguingly cosmopolitan menu items, it’s not there yet—but it’s also cheaper than either Chez Manu or Kaupé.
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. 02901/421185) is Ushuaia’s best new restaurant. Items such as Fuegian trout (US$12) and a wild boar sandwich with gruyère and red peppers on a braided roll (US$5) suggest the menu’s diversity, and the bar serves mixed drinks for US$3 each. Open for lunch and dinner, it’s closed Monday.
Helados Gadget (Av. San Martín 621) has all the conventional Argentine ice-cream flavors—exceptional in their own right—but also incorporates regional specialties such as calafate and, occasionally, rhubarb.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition