Hot, hearty, and delicious: Argentina’s very own locro

This typical corn, beans, pumpkin, and beef stew is mandatory on national holidays like May 25, so hurry up and make a reservation!

A nation-founding holiday is coming, and that means one thing: Locro!

A typical Argentine dish, locro is the mandatory meal to celebrate Argentina’s May Revolution of 1810 and subsequent first independent government. No self-respecting local restaurant can go through the Semana de Mayo (May Week) without offering a locro on their menu. It’s like celebrating Thanksgiving without a turkey: impossible.

The recipe has its slight variations, but you can basically describe a decent locro as a corn, beans, and pumpkin stew with a range of meats that includes sausage, pork, bacon, and beef. It’s hot, hearty, strong, and delicious, and usually served with a glass of red wine and a beef empanada, because…well, this is Argentina.   

According to Argentine chef Agustin Winkelman, the secret of cooking a locro is doing it really slow, and it demands a lot of attention. Not stirring it correctly can result in burning the dish and completely change the way it tastes: so, if you’re cooking it at home, beware. 

The origins of locro 

Locro’s origins are tainted with the Spanish invasions, economic crisis, Argentine pride, and a united working class. According to food scholar Carina Perticone, locro —  from the Quechua word ruqru — is a dish with roots that spread throughout the Andes region. It’s not necessarily an Incan dish — as its actual origin remains uncertain — but it’s associated with places that have a history of corn culture.

According to records, locro first emerged in Buenos Aires’ rural areas in the 1820s. It didn’t reach the city until the 1840s but was still considered a specifically rural dish, according to the recipe in the first Argentine cookbook, which was published in 1888, and written under a pseudonym by Susana Torres de Castex. 

Its status as a national holiday dish is quite recent, approximately 60 years old — before that, the typical Argentine food was barbecue beef ribs, or asado. The locro trend started in the 1960s, with the boom of folklore music and a cultural search for national identity. Trade unions brought it to the mainstream with the big soup-kitchen stews they organized for International Workers’ Day: it was cheaper than asado, but still patriotic. The dish went on and spread onto other national holidays, such as May 25th or July 9 (Independence Day), making it a current food classic.

If you’re looking to have some locro on May 25th, we highly recommend the following spots:

  • El Refuerzo (Chacabuco 860, San Telmo)
  • Pulpería Quilapán (Defensa 1344, San Telmo)
  • El Peron Peron (Lavalleja 1388, Palermo)
  • Santa Evita (Julián Alvarez 1479, Palermo)
  • La Morada Regional (Larrea 1336, Recoleta)
  • La Paceña (Echeverria 2570, Belgrano)
  • For a vegan option, you can also try Casa Munay (Gorriti 5996, Palermo)

As it is a highly demanded dish during national holidays, restaurants preparing locro tend to ask for reservations, even for take-out orders. So, if you’re planning on trying the most Argentine food there is, make your reservation quickly.

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