On February 25, 2017, I received my acceptance letter to the University of Belgrano, South America's top university. I was ecstatic. I could finally meet my aunt in Buenos Aires, finish my Spanish minor and experience new adventures. Although I was excited to connect with family and receive a top-notch education, I was most excited to try the bueno comida in Buenos Aires.

Known as the "meat capital of the world," I was nervous I would not find many options as a vegetarian. However, finding the best vegetarian eats of Buenos Aires was easy and delicioso! With the help of my vegetarian house mom, the website Pick Up The Fork, and Google Translate, I compiled a list of my favorite Argentinian classics.

1. Gelato

beer, pizza, wine
Karina Arnold

Morning, noon, and night, you will find Argentines enjoying gelato, a creamy ice cream treat. Local favorite spots include Freddo, Volta and Lucciano's. The busiest hours are after dinner time (around 10 pm) or after school, when children dressed in plaid uniforms, knee-high socks and ties scoop into 1/2 gallon-sized, Styrofoam bowls. Popular flavors include dulce de leche, frutilla (strawberry) or chocolate Oreo. 

2. Mate 

espresso, coffee, tea
Karina Arnold

Mate is a local herb grown and ground to make this strong, bitter, caffeinated tea. Locals carry around warm canteens and a mate cup for a pick-me-up, rather than the typical black coffee. This drink is solely made at home, and it's easy to make mate yourself.

3. Malbec

salad, wine, bread, vegetable
Karina Arnold

Malbec is a traditional red wine made from grapes grown in the Pampas, or grasslands of Patagonia. Order a copa de vino with dinner or during a happy hour special. Stick to the red wines while visiting Argentina because reds are their specialty. Argentines love their wine, and as a result, literally every store, cafe or restaurant sells wine. 

4. Empanadas

cheese, pastry
Karina Arnold

Empanadas are warm, fried pockets of endless possibilities. Argentine chefs stuff these flakey, pastry pockets with meat, cheese, spinach, vegetables and/or potatoes. Like pizza, Argentines order these savory snacks like pizza: stored in a box and delivered to your door. With numerous delivery services and storefronts, you can find an empanada seller within seconds of your location.

5. Pho and Ramen 

soup, noodle, ramen
Karina Arnold

Pho-sho order pho while in Buenos Aires. Argentina is home to over 220,000 Asian immigrants. I currently live in Barrio Chino, which is the Asian district of Buenos Aires. Barrio Chino is full of family-owned noodle houses. If you feel like ballin’ out, head to Fukuro Noodle Bar, the highest ranked noodle house in South America. 

6. Tartines 

Karina Arnold

This breakfast and lunch staple is the mother of all quiches. Like empanadas, there are various flavors, shapes and sizes. I love warms tartines with calabaza (pumpkin) or espinaca (spinach). Baked with eggs and topped with cheese (or in my picture, pureed beets), tartines make you forget frittatas. La Pain Quotidienwhich has locations in America, has very tasty tarts. Like empanadas, tartines are a classic menu item in Buenos Aires. 

7. Dulce De Leche

chocolate mousse, cake, whipped cream, ice, mousse, cream, chocolate
Karina Arnold

This sweet syrup runs through the veins of all Argentinians. God-forbid you tell an Argentine that it tastes like caramel; they will get offended. This candy coating makes its way onto brownies with mascarpone or drizzled over waffles and berries. Dulce de leche tastes and looks similar to melted taffy. You can buy this at any Argentine grocery store (in the peanut butter isle), or order it as a dessert at any restaurant. 

8. Submarino

espresso, coffee, pizza, tea, cake
Karina Arnold

After drinking a submarino, regular hot chocolate will no longer suffice. Ordering a submarino involves a tall glass of warm, frothy milk served with a six-inch nougat of rich chocolate. Dunk, swirl, and enjoy this drink at any local cafe in Buenos Aires. Popular chain cafes serving submarinos include Café Martinez, Bonafide and my personal favorite, Havanna.  

9. Pizza

salami, pepperoni, pizza
Karina Arnold

Over 63% of Argentinians are of Italian descent, which influences the local cuisine. Pasta, calzone, and pizza parlors light up the streets of Buenos Aires with their neon red signs. Unlike most American pizzas, Argentine pizzas have little sauce and use fresh toppings to create flavor. The melted base layer of cheese holds ingredients like sliced tomatoes, arugula, onions and olives to the dough. Consult Pick up the Fork for great, locally owned pizza joints, or look for the chain Kentucky Pizza to satisfy your American pizza cravings abroad. 

10. Toastados 

bacon, egg
Karina Arnold

“Glorified toast,” or open-faced bread loaded with toppings. Unlike Americans, Argentines enjoy their toast with hummus, veggies, melted mozzarella, smoked salmon, capers, or poached eggs. My personal favorite spot is La Pain Quotidienwhich has locations in America. 

11. Alfajores 

peanut butter, peanut, butter, cream, chocolate
Karina Arnold

These cookie sandwiches are Argentina’s claim to fame. Alfajores consist of two shortbread cookies (generally vanilla, but they can be chocolate flavored) stuck together by dulce de leche. Often, pastry chefs get creative and coat the alfajore with dark, white or milk chocolate and sprinkle nuts or coconut flakes on top. You can find these at every pastelería, or pastry shop. Havanna Café also sells amazing flavor combinations including lemon and strawberry. 

gastronomy, toast, alcohol, wine
Karina Arnold

Buenos Aires has wined and dined me well. The foods I have eaten vary from pastry to pasta, but they all have one thing in common: community. A typical Argentine meal can last from two to four hours. Argentines love to eat slow and eat well. For me, the conversations I have had at dinner are as rich and satisfying as the food.

Dinners with my house mom and roommate are filled with laughter, gossip (or chisme), and updates of our days. The number one lesson I have taken away from Argentina: food is best enjoyed with friends. Salud!