The Best Argentinian Restaurants In LA
10 spots for sizzling parrilladas, empanadas, and plenty of wine.
While Argentina’s food might not be as well known as the country’s love of tango or fútbol, much like neighboring Peru and Brazil, this South American nation is a varied melting pot – featuring Spanish, Italian, African, and Indigenous influences that stretch way beyond wine and grilled meats. And in LA, you can find plenty of places – from Glendale to Mar Vista – for homemade empanadas and irresistible dulce de leche, along with, yes, great parrillada with peppery chimichurri and excellent wines. Here are 10 fantastic Argentinian spots to get you started.
LALA'S Argentine Grill
With three locations across town, LALA’s is one of the better-known Argentinian restaurants in LA and the kind of place where cheese and pasta are deemed appropriate starters to a hefty steak dinner. We particularly love the provoleta – the bubbling skillet of melted provolone cheese that’s seasoned with oregano and pico de gallo. Besides being a gooey vat of cheese that we want to shamelessly ladle over everything, it isn’t overwhelmingly heavy with the herbal sweetness from the oregano and needed acid from the salsa. If you’d rather both begin and end your meal with meat, go for the smoky morcilla (blood sausage) to start; it has a wonderfully salty, almost metallic aftertaste that’s unique in the best way. For the main event, order the tabla de carnes, which comes with just enough tender skirt steak, filet mignon, New York strip, and sides for two to three people.
Paying a visit to Rincon Argentino can be one of those exhausting experiences where you go in looking for one thing and instead walk out with enough snacks to last you an entire hibernation period. But this small shop in Glendale really has it all, from a stacked wine selection to a great butcher shop, and even pastries like dulce de leche-filled alfajores. Their empanadas are also a must, with their sweet and savory chicken empanada deserving a gold star. These shiny, egg-washed hand pies balance out the savory meat, olives, and hard-boiled egg with the sweetness of raisins and caramelized onions, and they’re nothing short of sublime. Make sure to also try the shop’s fugazzeta, which is Argentina’s answer to stuffed-crust pizza. Besides the generous amounts of ham, cheese, and cooked onions on top, the dough is filled with more ham and cheese, just as it should be.
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Malbec Market is a sandwich counter and hot food bar in Eagle Rock that encourages everyone to sit down with a glass of wine instead of frantically running out the door with a chopped salad in hand. The choripan on baguette is our go-to sandwich with its sharp provolone and chimichurri sauce, but we’re huge fans of their pulpo con chorizo too. This grilled octopus comes tender and nicely charred with a smoky chorizo ragu coating the whole dish. The entraña al Malbec is also delicious, with a thick, agrodolce wine sauce slathered all over the skirt steak. This sauce won’t necessarily replace that lunchtime glass of red, but it’s close enough.
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Mercado Buenos Aires
This Van Nuys spot is more than just a mercado – it’s a full-fledged operation that doubles as a grocer and dining hall for every Argentinian comfort food imaginable. And if the name doesn’t make it obvious, the mural of Lionel Messi watching over you as you scarf down empanadas confirms that this place is as Argentinian as it gets. Those empanadas also happen to be very good and come either baked with a flakey, golden crust or fried for a crispier, more crumbly exterior. Breakfast is also a treat, with the Papa Francisco plate being our go-to – crustless ham and cheese toasties with a fried egg that bursts over top. Dinner at Mercado Buenos Aires isn’t complete without the parrilla completa (ideally for two) that comes with skirt steak, tender short ribs, and some tangy marinated grilled chicken. And whatever you do, don’t leave without a slice of their creamy flan with a scoop of decadent dulce de leche on the side.
Guido's Pizza & Deli
Guido’s is a family-run deli and pizzeria in the heart of the Inland Empire that, needless to say, understands the assignment. Once home to an Italian deli, this now Argentinian-Italian spot makes an excellent milanesa sub with warm, breaded steak and a classic choripan sandwich with spicy Argentinian chorizo drenched in vinegary chimichurri. Pizza also happens to be a pretty big deal in Buenos Aires, and this place specializes in regional pies with toppings like smoked bell peppers, green olives, sliced onions, and Argentinian “muzza” that’s a bit saltier than its Italian counterpart. Make sure to try the fugazzeta with its deep-dish-like crust, grilled onions, and large amounts of muzza both on top and sandwiched inside too.
At first, Carlitos Gardel might seem like the kind of place my, your, or anyone’s grandpa would love. Maybe it’s the white table cloths or dim lighting that reminds us of mob films, but this steakhouse definitely takes us somewhere that’s far, far away from Fairfax. The food here is also classic in the best sense, like their mollejas de tenera. These grilled veal sweetbreads are rich and creamy without being too gamey and come beautifully charred with plenty of lemon to spritz on top. We also like their potato dishes, like the garlic-heavy papas fritas provenzal with tons of fresh parsley or the pillowy gnocchi in ñoquis, a creamy “pink” tomato sauce. But steak is really why you come here, and the entraña is where you should start. This prime skirt steak is thoroughly tenderized so you don’t have to wrestle it with your fork and knife. The lean cut of beef is nicely seasoned with a beautiful ruby red center and just the right amount of char on the edges.
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Now with two locations in DTLA and Koreatown, this fast-casual spot has a straightforward menu of delicious things like grilled asada, pork belly, and Argentinian chorizo with lots of pimentón flavor coming through. These cuts come right off the grill and get plated with the standard side salad, but also some very good rice and beans that round out the salty spread. We also can’t get enough of Aca’s Brazilian pão de queijo that comes out warm and chewy from the oven, or their empanadas that are generously stuffed with everything from gooey cheese and corn to ground beef cooked in savory sofrito.
As the ancient proverb goes: when it comes to empanadas, the more options, the merrier. Culver City’s Empanada’s Place certainly delivers on that promise with nearly 20 hand pies to choose from, each of which come fried until bubbly, golden brown. These crispy empanadas are stuffed to the brim with spicy ground beef, potatoes, or even ricotta with fresh basil and mushrooms. We’d happily spend weeks sampling each one, but their Arabe empanada holds a special place in our hearts. These triangle-shaped turnovers come with a spicy ground beef mixture including tomatoes, onions, and lots of fresh lemon juice that bursts out the moment you bite in.
There’s a lot to like about this Toluca Lake restaurant, like its large outdoor patio, solid wine list, and the wafting smell of wood-fired barbecue that’s tempting enough to win over just about anyone. The tabla de chorizo is usually a good place to start with its mix of morcilla, Argentinian chorizo, pimenton-heavy “red” chorizo, and the thinner parrillera sausage that has a similar smoky flavor but firmer texture. Once you’ve sampled your way through this tabla, upgrade to the tabla mixta for bigger cuts of meat like the rib eye, beef tenderloin, and New York strip. Everything here is served up family-style with salt and chimichurri for easy sharing, and you can taste the difference from the wood-fired smokiness seeping into the beef and constantly tempting you to order a third round of chorizo.