UPDATED DECEMBER 2019
Ushuaia may be the world’s southernmost city and certainly feels remote and isolated yet this very colourful city – the Argentinian base point for Antarctic expedition cruises and tours of Tierra del Fuego – offers a surprisingly wonderful range of restaurants. Boasting a fusion of international, regional and South American cuisines at very reasonable prices, Ushuaia’s foodie offerings are all within walking distance of the city centre. So, whether you’re staying in town or one of the few delightful ski lodges on the outskirts, you’ll find plenty of options to satiate that famed Patagonian hunger.
Let’s first introduce you to the best highlights of Patagonian cuisine and then we’ll guide you to some of the best-rated spots to grab a delicious bite in Ushuaia.
Ushuaia – the heart and core of Patagonian cuisine
Patagonian cuisine is a distinct regional variance of South American food, one that showcases its unique history and fusion of cultures. This southern region has always stood out from the rest of the continent, primarily because it received waves of immigrants from European countries aside from Spain and Italy, where they primarily originated, in the north. Down south, you’ll find clusters of settlements boasting, German, Swiss, English, Scottish and Welsh ancestry too and that’s why in Patagonia, and Ushuaia, you’ll find schnitzels, scones and fondues on restaurant menus, alongside national dishes like parrilla and empanadas. This isn’t a modern ‘touristy’ gimmick at all but rather an inherent part of local, Patagonian cuisine.
Who ever thought that you’d find almost the whole world at the end of the world?
In Ushuaia, local dishes are centred around the most ubiquitous locally-sourced ingredients, namely South Atlantic King Crab, cod and amazing mussels, as well as Patagonian lamb from the steppe farms (perhaps the most distinctive and delicious local meat option) and sensational river trout. Being such an important commercial point, Ushuaia boasts a wider array of Patagonian cuisines than any other so here you can literally feast your way through all of southern South America.
Ushuaia Food Guide – Best Places to Feast
The following are tried (retried) and tested foodie institutions in Ushuaia, which we’ve gathered from our own experiences and those of our clients. We’re offering a lovely range of budgets too, from high-end white tablecloth gems to more rustic joints for less but equally delicious expensive meals. And do note that our choices are not in any specific order of preference because, when it comes to mouth-watering food in Ushuaia, we don’t play favourites.
We love them all equally.
Fancy a splurge meal in Ushuaia? This is one of the few stellar haute-cuisine options in Ushuaia, that comes with those famed white table cloths, lil’ candles, gorgeous views overlooking the harbour and one of the most unique versions of centolla natural you’ll ever find. This outstanding King Crab pie is a Patagonian classic and, usually, served as a saucy stew topped with toasted cheese and breadcrumbs. Now, centolla is drop-dead-gorgeous at any time but, at Kaupe, it is deconstructed (natural) and served with the sauce on the side. We love this! It gives you the chance to really taste the intense flavour of Patagonian King Crab before deciding just how much sauce to slather over the top. Start with the scallop ceviche, end with an Argentinian marquise floating on a dulce de leche sauce that is out of this world.
This is one of those joints that soon becomes everyone’s go-to-at-anytime fave, and who could blame them? Revered primarily for its array of drool-worthy pastries and hot chocolates (try the submarino), Ramos also boasts a great choice of lighter meals like soups, sandwiches, quiche and salads, as well as crispy beer on tap and a consistently local crowd. Travelling to Ushuaia with a group of people and dreading having to satisfy all their taste buds? Pin this spot on your map, it’ll seriously take that headache out of your hands, with plenty of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options to boot. What’s more, this former general store just has a gorgeous vibe, a throwback to the good ol’ Ushuaian days with rustic décor and the very warm welcome from the staff.
Consistently rated among the top 3 restaurants in Ushuaia for the past decade, Kalma Resto is that #1 choice for that special occasion meal, be it a birthday, wedding anniversary or ‘I survived the Polar plunge!’ meal. The colourful presentation and kaleidoscope of local ingredients continue to elicit 5* reviews from all our guests and the stunning degustation menu also means that you can taste a variety of specialties in the one, totally unforgettable meals. You’ll need to reserve your spot weeks in advance, and you’ll need to ignore the Instagram foodies who line up, every night, hoping for a last-minute spot. It ain’t happening!
What is happening is your.tastebuds.blown.com
A super unassuming joint that dishes out some of the most scrumptious pizzas in Ushuaia. When you see how many pizzerias are in town, you’ll really appreciate the tip. A perfect choice after a full-day on the glacier/sightseeing boat/hiking trip when you just want to stuff your face with deliciously crusty and cheesy pizza in a casual local joint, without spending a fortune or waiting in line. Also the best take-away choice, in our opinion, if you’d rather eat this whilst donning your pjs. Oh, and you may just want to grab a couple of home-made empanadas for starters.
This is comfort food at its Ushuaian best.
On a corner of Avenue Maipu and overlooking the ships leaving for the Antarctic Peninsula, Casimiro is a fab choice for carnivorous (and ravenous) adventurers. Local Patagonian lamb (cordero), BBQed to perfection over an open flame and served alongside an array of side dishes. You’ll also find other meat on the menu but the lamb is this guys’ speciality. Note that portions are very generous and, usually, a cordero for two can easily feed four.
Kuar is a couple of kms out of the city centre but it’s an easy and very lovely walk along the Beagle Channel if you have time. The restaurant offers stunning views (so cab it if it’s cold) and a very relaxing atmosphere, simply a great dining-out option in Ushuaia. Fish is a specialty here, so opt for the King Crab and black cod (merluza negra) although there’s also excellent steak on the menu for the non-pescatarian among you. This is a very cosy place that suits couples, families and groups equally well.
The southernmost Irish pub in the world is surely deserving of a visit? Great selection of pub grub, a fantastic range of beers (including the local Beagle brew) and super close to the centre of town so it’s convenient as well. A lively mix of locals and tourists hang out until way past midnight (like an unofficial Ushuaia curfew for most joints) so it’s a casual, fun and great place to have a few drinks, which also happens to serve excellent meals.
What more could you want?
Ovejitas de la Patagonia
Chocoholics unite (in Ushuaia!) for we have found the most delectable, addictive and downright best chocolate shop in town. We’re talking all things chocolatey, gooey and sinful here, including hand-made chocolates, cakes, ice-creams, puddings and so much more. Plenty of other flavours as well (the lemon pudding and alfajores are to die for) and a host of hot drinks (lovely artisanal teas) to help you wash down all the cake.
Maria Lola Resto
Another exceptional ‘all-rounder’ Ushuaia food option, Maria Lola offers a little of everything that makes Patagonian cuisine so very delectable. From melt-in-your-mouth crab linguini to make nonna proud to a host of Asian-inspired delights (the cod sashimi is unreal), a full seafood degustation menu and even fantastic lamb shanks, all complemented by sensational desserts, the menu is a crowd-pleaser, every single time. The restaurant is just two blocks back from the harbour but on a steep hill. Take a cab there (but walk back) and enjoy the startling views.
La Cabana Casa de Te
This sweet little tea-house has been a favourite of ours for years and we’re chuffed to know it’s still going strong. La Cabana is a ridiculously charming little café that just happens to be genially located en-route to the Martial Glacier (a stop is a must on the way back ) AND makes the most eye-watering submarinos in Ushuaia. Take the glass of steaming hot milk, dunk that chocolate bar all the way in, wait (im)patiently, stir and delight your taste buds. Good menu selection for a full lunch as well.
El Viejo Marino
One of the most popular places in Ushuaia for centolla, or king crab, is El Viejo Marino. Freshly caught whole crab are one of the most popular delicacies in the region, so our best advice is to get here early! Delicious crab is worth the wait though, and El Viejo Marino offers some of the best in town (as does Volver, just a few doors down).
Written by David Jensen, the founding Chairman of Mawson’s Huts Foundation which he established in 1997 expressly to conserve the historic huts at Cape Denison. He was born in New Zealand where he began his career in journalism. In 2008 he became CEO to run the Foundation full-time to raise funds for the project. David was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1999 for his work on Mawson’s Huts. To visit the website of the Mawson’s Huts Foundation click here.
Updated, December 2019 by Laura Pattara and April 2023 by Katie Dundas.