When you think about Argentine food, you immediately think about big juicy steaks. Buenos Aires offers many excellent steakhouses, or parrillas as they are called locally. However, when you travel outside the capital, you’ll find some great places to eat as well. In San Carlos de Bariloche for example, located in the Northern part of Patagonia, I find a great restaurant where I returned multiple times to enjoy a beautiful piece of meat. This restaurant is called Alto el Fuego.
San Carlos de Bariloche, or Bariloche as most people call this mountain town, is mainly a tourist destination. Many outdoor activities attracts both national – as foreign tourists all year round. It is also the main destination for highschool students who visit the town for a week to do everything that is forbidden at home. Because it is very crowded and touristy most restaurants in the center lack a certain atmosphere and quality. The lack of regular customers probably makes the staff complacent. “Why bother, tomorrow there will be new people…”.
However, there are definitely a couple of very nice places in this town to have a great meal. I do like La Esquina, a low key restaurant located at the corner (surprise, surprise…) next to the main plaza. They serve nice food in a relaxed setting. However, if you want something a little bit more special, Alto el Fuego is guaranteed to deliver. Located a little bit out of sight, you have to know about it to end up there. I first ended up here after a guided backcountry skitrip and the guide, Jorge Kozulj, took us all to this restaurant. Ever since, I have returned multiple times.
The restaurant looks almost like a private holiday retreat built in Scandinavian style, from the outside. When you enter the restaurant, you’ll soon notice the decoration has a lot of character as well. A lot of wood is used and the feel is very homely. A good first impression is important, but in the end the most imporant is, of course, the food…
The menu of Alto el Fuego is small. They offer around 10 dishes of meat from the barbecue, or Parilla. You can add French fries or potatoes and if you really insist, you can get a trout too. While you wait for the meat to be served, you’ll get some very nice bread with different sauces to try. As always, I ordered lomo which is the equivalent of tenderloin as we know it in the Northern hemisphere. It is a tenderloin though of superb quality (read: extremely tender) and of huge proportions. On top of that it comes at a small portion of the price one would have to pay in Europe or the US for a similar piece of meat. Prices have gone up in Argentina in recent years but it is still very affordable.
The first time I had dinner at Alto el Fuego my lomo was served as one big chunk of meat, impressive. It must have been at least half a kilo. The following times the same dish was presented in a different way, three seperate pieces of lomo instead of one. It was the same quality of food although I have to admit that one big piece of meat is just a pleasure to look at!
Service is also very good at Alto el Fuego. Two very nice waitresses (one of them definitely was my favourite…) pay attention to all guests and work very hard. When things become too busy the main cook offers a helping hand which is nice to see. A delicious meal, together with a drink and a tip, will cost you between 100 and 150 pesos, which is around 10 to 15 euros at the time of writing.
In case you’ll find yourself in Bariloche, make sure to pay this restaurant a visit at least once! Enjoy!
20 de Febrero 451, San Carlos de Bariloche