The Best Ice Cream in Buenos Aires

Gringo in Buenos AiresFood, Food & Drink7 Comments

 

Summers in Buenos Aires are long, hot and humid. Many porteños pack up and head to the beaches of Mar del Plata and Punta del Este. However, scores remain, painstakingly sweating their way through the blazing temperatures in search of an air-conditioned refuge. While a cold beer can help to beat the heat, there is nothing quite like a scoop, or bowl, of Argentine ice cream to cool you down.

Ice cream is fundamental to Argentine culture and credits its existence to Italian immigration during the 19th century. The Italians brought with them two aspects of ice cream culture: 1) gelato, and 2) the ice cream parlor, locally known as the heladería. Over the years, family descendants have tinkered with recipes and created their own unique style of ice cream, the helado. Its thick yet light consistency falls somewhere between a traditional gelato and hard-frozen ice cream.

Similar to the parrilla, there is an heladería on seemingly every corner in Buenos Aires. And, even if you don’t consider yourself an ice cream fan, it won’t be long before you find yourself popping down to your local shop at 11 p.m. on a Tuesday night or phoning for delivery after a dinner party.

Classic Argentine Ice Cream Flavors

When setting foot inside any heladería in Argentina, you’ll notice a common theme: plenty of chocolate and abundant dulce de leche (similar to caramel). Argentines can’t seem to live without either when it comes to ice cream, and it’s not uncommon for them to berate those who opt for a traditional vanilla.

The classics are chocolate con almendras (almonds), chocolate suiza (chocolate chip with dulce de leche), mousse de chocolate, chocolate amargo (bitter), dulce de leche con almendras and dulce de leche con brownie. Then there are fruits such as cherry, lemon, mango, melon, pineapple and strawberry. You’ll also encounter shop specialties, which can be anything from banana split to Malbec y frutos rojos (Malbec and berries) to queso mascarpone con frutos rojos (mascarpone cheese and berries).

Best Places to Eat Ice Cream

Everybody has an opinion of the city’s best heladería, so it’s your job to go out and investigate until you find the one for you. Two chains – Freddo (freddo.com.ar) and Persicco (facebook.com/heladeriapersicco) – dominate the ice cream scene, both of which offer top-quality products, including specialist kosher and gluten-free ice cream. Freddo is the bigger of the two and has around 30 branches, varying from hole-in-the-wall takeout spots to shopping mall stands and bright cafes. Freddo offers a dozen chocolate flavors, several varieties of dulce de leche and unusual options such as maracuyá cheesecake (passion fruit) and berries with Malbec. Persicco is a family-run company whose parlors are stylishly decorated. You’ll find all of your classic flavors plus soy-based ice cream. Persicco is your friend on weekends, as it provides a delivery service until 4 a.m. Another chain is Un’Altra Volta, which is similar to Persicco though slightly more upmarket.

If you’re more of a traditionalist, check out Cadore (heladeriacadore.com.ar, Corrientes 1695). This family-run business began in northern Italy back in 1881 and set up shop in Buenos Aires in 1957. There are almost 50 flavors to choose from, so take your time and be sure to ask for tasters (and don’t miss out on the famed dulce de leche). Because it’s situated in the heart of the theater district, Cadore is a popular post-theater location. Also historic is AM Scannapieco (Nazca 5274), which opened in Palermo in 1938 and recently relocated to Villa Pueyrredón. It’s a bit far from the tourist trail but worth the trip to taste ice cream made using the same machines and recipes that were used the day it opened.

For anyone who finds themselves in the Belgrano area, Furchi (Cabildo 1508) competes for the title of the barrio’s best. This friendly parlor opened in 1959 and prides itself on low-fat ice cream (just 6-10%, for you statisticians). Choose from more than 60 flavors, including the unusual ananá con perejil (pineapple with parsley) and fresco y batata (mascarpone cheese and sweet potato). While the chains mentioned above are all over Palermo, Fratello (heladeriafratello.com, Coronel Díaz 1521) offers something different. It’s a cozy barrio parlor with a pleasant, and covered, outdoor seating area. Indulge in a gluttonous Tramontana: thick cream, dulce de leche and chocolate-dipped biscuits – one of more than 50 flavors. There’s another location a few blocks away on Plaza Güemes.

Finally, if you’re ever in the Palermo Chico area, go to Jauja (heladosjauja.com.ar, Cerviño 3901), an artisanal parlor from El Bolsón, Patagonia. Worth trying are the chocolate arabé (almonds, walnuts, peanut praline, raisins and rum) and the maqui, which is a native Patagonian fruit. Be warned, though: Jauja is famous for being extremely sweet.

7 Comments on “The Best Ice Cream in Buenos Aires”

  1. Nyar

    If you want to taste the best ice cream in Buenos Aires, try Arkakao. Is the creamiest cream you will ever put in your mouth. People say is so soft because they prepare limited quantities daily, not saving it in the freezer like other ice cream parlors do… search for it, it’s like a completely different thing.

  2. Hector

    I’d like to add a few points, especially for people visiting Argentina. General point should apply to all, though some of my comments on flavors would probably apply to north americans. I bet Europeans have Sambayon ice cream.

    As for myself, I only ever order the smallest size cone since I hit-and-run heladerias during my rounds and don’t want to be weighed down with a liter of cream in my belly while I trek the next two miles to wherever I go next. You will USUALLY get 2 scoops on one cone and you can pick and choose your heart’s desire. If the price of the cone is less than 10 or 12 pesos (november 2014), you might only get the one scoop. If you order the cheap cone, it may be worthwhile to ask “uno o dos gustos?” (one or two flavors (with corresponding numbers of fingers up)) just to clear the air and at which point, you may want to fork over the other pesos to get that second scoop if you desire.

    Most heladerias offer helados “de crema” and helados “de agua” — essentially, “of cream” (ice cream) and “of water” (sorbet). Most of the chocolates, dulce de leche and such are ice creams made with dairy. Most of the straight up fruit flavors, “cherry, lemon, mango, melon, pineapple and strawberry” are sorbet’s made with little to no dairy. So, if you are lactose intolerant or just want something cool and sweet without a ton of milk fat, ask for “helados de agua” (they are usually segregated on the menu anyway).

    Many heladerias offer to bathe your cone in hot molten chocolate. Allow me to repeat: “Hot, Molten, Chocolate.” Yum. If you see a steel hot pot on the counter somewhere, chances are that’s full of hot. molten. chocolate. and for a few pesos more, they will dunk your cone into it. Yes. Do it. It’s worth it (maybe not for sorbets). Get additional napkins. It’s called “bañar en chocolate” or “bathe/dunk in chocolate”. You don’t need a translator for this.. just.. say…. “chocolate, please” while pointing at the hot pot and they will get the picture.

    As for flavors…
    — A “banana split” is not your North American banana split sundae (though, you can find places that will serve one to you). In Argentina, a banana split is a very simple dessert: a peeled banana on a plate topped with dulce de leche (you can order it in some restaurants). The ice cream is just that: banana(-flavored?) ice cream swirled with dulce de leche (sometimes chocolate swirls).
    — “Sambayon” is egg nog. Which, seriously, why is egg nog ice cream not a thing in the US and Canada? It’s as awesome as it sounds.
    — Quinotos al Whiskey. The US has Rum Raisin. Here we have kumquats and whiskey. Kumquats, if you’ve never tried them, are like tiny bitter little oranges that are tough to eat unless you add lots of sugar either in the form of marmalade (delicious) or ice cream (also delicious). Add in some booze and it’s extra special delicious. While rum raisin in North America is pretty Shirley Temple because of kids, I don’t know if there is actual booze in quinotos al whiskey. I’ve never gotten smashed on ice cream before and the amount of cream I’d need to eat to do so puts it off my list of things to try before I die, or list of things to try that might make me die. So.. I dunno.. ask your server? I never bothered to.
    — “Tiramisu” ought to be a home run as an ice cream flavor and you’ll see it on almost every menu. It is a home run (or gooooooooolllllll) if you can find it done well. Sadly it sucks in most places. I expect the lady fingers to be all over the place like tumorous cookie dough in Ben and Jerry’s with a heavy dose of coffee and chocolate swirl. But it’s usually just bits of cakey dough with some nondescript sweet coffee-ish/chocolate-ish ice cream. If the free sample doesn’t wow you, skip it.
    — Candy bar flavors. Just like you can get “Snickers” or “Reese’s” flavored ice cream in the states, you can get local candy bar flavored ice creams here in Argentina. I often find Marroc, Mantecol, and … er… another one that also starts with an “M”…. damn, I forget. I’ll occasionally go for Mantecol (like Butterfinger peanut butter filling, but not crackly/crunchy). Other than the occasional Mantecol jag, candy bars aren’t really my thing and I can’t vouch for the whorthwhileness of them.

    I never go through Belgrano or Palermo, so I can’t speak for the recommendations here. I think the most popular and most numerous franchise in Argentina is Grido. It’s like the Baskin Robbins of Argentina. I can’t opine on Grido, since what I see through the windows looks like cheap crap on a cone. Another franchise I see a lot of is Faricci (28 franchises). My brother likes Faricci and I don’t. Their ice cream has that.. i dunno.. guar gum or xantham gum, or one of those additives that makes their ice cream feel funny. It tastes OK (a little too sweet for me), but it doesn’t quite feel right, not like frozen cream ought to feel.. and that was a revelation for me. Try some good Argentine ice cream, then try a spoonful of the stuff in a box you find at your grocer’s freezer section and you’l feel the world of difference…Faricci’s belongs to the grocer’s box, imo.

    My favorite is Heladeria Castellon in San Cristobal on the corner of Independencia and Matheu. It’s a stretch to recommend to tourists since its out of the way. Their tiramisu sucks, but that’s par for the course. Their candy bar flavors and banana split are just ok. They do make their ice cream with the basic ingredients and without additives and you can feel it on your tongue when you start eating. Yum. there’s another good place on the corner of Jujuy and Belgrano… not as good, but it’s pretty ok in the neighborhood… Heladeria Vergano… or something. Those two are the best I’ve found on a stretch between Once and San Juan/Entre Rios.

    God damnit…. I want ice cream now.

  3. Erica

    I really like “el vesubio” in corrientes by 9 de julio. The first heladeria (since 1905)

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