Culinary Journey: Salta + Cafayate + Purmamarca

The drive: Jujuy, Purmamarca, and the Salt flat is a must-do if you are heading to the Salta area.

There is something about the ingredients in this Northern part of Argentina that makes simple local dishes a whole lot tastier than the city. 

This area is surrounded by the abundance of goat cheese, salads of quinoa, loads of empanadas, humitas/tamales, and gritty, juicy, wild meats and fresh seafood. And of course there are the fabulous wines in Cafayate, excellent beef in Salta City, and realizing that mexican-salsa is their version of chimichurri here. 

lots of goats

mexican-salsa version of their chimichurri

lots of wines

the many tamales, empanadas and salads we consumed

the abundance of quinoa + goat cheese

Salta City

If you ask me what I’ll remember from the city, this is what I’ll most likely say: sitting outside at Jovi Dos restaurant on that afternoon slowly devouring the gigantic charred crispy pacu fish along with a bottle of torrontes; exclaiming at the best hunk of beef I’ve had so far in this country at El Charrua while I spoon mouthfuls of delicious locro into my mouth, and then drooling over the seafood paella filled with mussels, calamari, and shrimps sitting right across from me; and devouring 24 empanadas from the not-so-inviting-ambiance of Cafe Tobias Empanadas with a good ole’ bottle of dark Salta beer. The rest is just a blur of dishes, and tourist places that drowns out my appreciation of the actual food.

Our first meal: grilled pacu

the cold dark beer

the good hunk of beef

gorgeous locro

Santa Finca Anita

This is the place to shake off the crusty-dusty shoes and rejuvenate for a few days after the long impressive drives up to Jujuy, and just before heading down to the wineries of Cafayate. The country-side rustic estancia serves home cooked meals made by the mothers; the men took us around the farm, giving us some taste of their outstanding goat cheese, and providing an awesome organic 2+ hours horseback ride up to the lake. Leave wi-fi behind, stock up on insect repellent, and get some movies and books to lounge by their terrace and pool. Their super affordable slow-cooked meals change daily; big salads can be ordered upon request (amazing), and their dulce de leche mousse cannot be missed (Duff ate 4). Their empanadas are one of the best we’ve had: dripping melted goat cheese paired with their homemade hot sauce. If you are lucky, it could be the day when the family is doing an asado.

saddling up

the food at Finca Santa Anita: savory crepe

the best empanada. ever.

gaspingly good dulce de leche mousse

the cheeses from their goat farm- no need to go to the farm in Cafayate

impressive polenta casserole with olives, bits of beef and dried plums

breakfast in the morning: eggs can be ordered upon request


  • Take a drive up to Finca Las Nubes for the view; get some empanadas in the garden with a glass of something. Don’t get sucked into the 1 hour (yawning) wine tour and the not-so-impressive wines. 
  • The wine-tasting experience at El Esteco. Choose a series of tastings from their three tiers: 50 pesos for 6 tasting glasses.
  • Pop by the boutique Bodega Nanni as they boast to be one of the only few places to do organic wines. The Bodega is nice but wine is okay. 
  • Go across Bodega Nanni and ask for a quick tasting at El Transito. We like their very affordable reserve blend and 2009 Malbec.
  • Not enough? Go a few streets down to El Provenir for some Torrontes. Picturesque bodega and blends.
  • Definitely drive up to Yacochuya Norte and to Dominos Molinos and linger over their wines as well as the breathe-taking view. Love their Cab and Malbec 2010. The other bodega, San Pedro doesn’t give tastings but have great wines and a free tour.
  • Chato’s Wine Bar. The local owner relieves you of figuring out what bodegas to go to by offering a mix-and-match (knowledgable) flights to tryout, as well as wine by glasses, and bottles. Picadas are also available to curb a bad hangover.
  • Terruno Gourmet is the #1 (only) place to go for a special night out: romantic ambiance, superb wine service, and the only gourmet-ish food. Great tender lamb fillet and flaky salmon.
  • El Rancho for some delicious clay-baked rabbit; get some delicious clay-baked goat at La Carreta de Don Olegario. Stray away from the norm of pasta, and carne. 
  • Torrontes and Cabernet gelatos at Healderia Miranda. Yes folks – Ice Cream Wine. Need I say more?

the famous visit to the winery: las nubes

wine tasting at the city: Chato's Wine Bar

el provenir

the bodegas

san pedro's wine

'gourmet food': grilled salmon at Terruno

wine gelatos

Hotels Highlight

  • Legado Mitico Salta makes the stay in Salta City extremely enjoyable: located a few blocks from downtown, beautiful hotel grounds, big rooms, and excellent breakfast buffet.
  • Killa Cafayate has fairy-tale like buildings, located a few blocks from the plaza and bodegas and is run by super-friendly sisters. They have a good enough spread of breakfast- wait until 9am for them to load up on the delicious facturas they buy from the local panaderia.
  • Have 1-2 days in Salta after the trip? Get away from downtown and stay in the boutique Hotel Kkala. Homemade waffles, eggs upon order on top of the spread of breakfast buffet. Get the room with a jacuzzi and hang out at the pool.

hotel breakfast

killa hotel

mm coffee

hotel breakfast #2





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show hide 7 comments

FrancesRenHuang - April 18, 2012 - 2:34 pm

That means, next time I’m up there- you’ll have to show me around for some wine tasting. Btw- Love your passion and website.

FrancesRenHuang - April 18, 2012 - 2:33 pm

It is one of the best driving trip we’ve had so far. We love love the area. Glad you guys love it as well. Where did you guys go for emapandas?

Iqbal - April 17, 2012 - 1:29 pm

What beautiful photographs! Having just returned from a trip to Purmamarca, Salta and Tilcara (and the Salt Plains) this brought back very nice memories! For us the fried empanadas in Purmamarca were the nicest, if not the naughtiest.

Vine Connections - April 16, 2012 - 9:32 am

We disagree about the wines from Finca Las Nubes (give them another shot), but these pictures are gorgeous!!!

FrancesRenHuang - April 13, 2012 - 5:48 pm

Tell me how it goes! :) Hope you have a fabulous trip!

Cory - April 13, 2012 - 1:46 pm

Awesome and perfect timing. Just waking up to my first day in Salta.

Back in Action | La Panza Porteña - April 21, 2012 - 1:54 pm

[…] vicariously through The Lost Asian on her recent trip up to Salta. I only wish I could save up enough moola to recreate a culinary […]

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