Around the World in Houston: Discovering Argentina

around-the-world-in-houston-argentina
Photo courtesy of Tango & Malbec

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences. Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

This week, we’re putting the spotlight on Argentina. The eighth largest country in the world and the second largest in Latin America, it’s no surprise this vibrant region is well represented in Houston. Experience the Buenos Aires lifestyle via empanadas, tango dancing, arts and more.

Annual Festivals & Cultural Events

  • Houston Latin Fest – Celebrate Latin heritage through music, dance, art, food, and drink at this multi-cultural festival. The 2017 event is set for Sunday, October 15 in Downtown.
  • Houston Latino Film Festival – Enjoy cinema without borders at this non-profit film festival, which screens films from all over Latin America, as well as Spain, Portugal, and the U.S.

Museums & Cultural Organizations

  • Casa Argentina de Houston – With a mission of promoting the culture and traditions of Argentina and Latin America, as well as helping charities, this local non-profit puts on music and tango concerts, theatre productions, sporting events, and historical celebrations of Argentinean culture throughout the year.
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – Explore the artworks of a number of Argentinean artists at the Museum of Fine Arts, including Santiago Cucullu, Analia Saban, and Sebastián Gordín.
  • Talento Bilingüe de Houston – Located in the East End, this bilingual, non-profit cultural center strives to enhance Houston’s Latino arts experience through collaboration, education, and preservation.
  • Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice – Known as HACER for short, this Rice University student group sponsors social and cultural events.
  • GCSW Hispanic Student Association at the University of Houston – The Hispanic Student Association of the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work represents a community of students committed to the principles of empowerment, solidarity, and social justice for Hispanics.

Argentinean Food & Drink

Restaurants

  • 5411 Empanadas – It’s all about empanadas at this Downtown tunnel hideaway, which feeds a hungry crowd during breakfast and lunch crowd on Monday through Friday. Get the baked goodies stuffed with deliciousness like Malbec beef, chorizo and patatas, and sweet corn.
  • Américas and Churrascos – Get chimichurri-slathered steaks, empanadas stuffed with raisin-studded beef and pan roasted shrimp, and dulce de leche alfajores at these trendy Latin American gems. And be sure to check these spots out for brunch and happy hour, too.
  • Andes Cafe – This colorful East End kitchen spans the lands of South America, meaning you can find authentic and delicious Argentinean specialties like churrasco steak frites, choripan sandwiches, morcilla (blood sausage), and dulce de leche sponge cake
  • Argentina Cafe – A little piece of Argentina in the heart of the Galleria, this café starts off bright and early with huevos revueltos (scrambled eggs) and toasted sandwiches de miga, with other offerings including homemade potato gnocchi, lomito plates, and pizzas topped with Argentinean sausage. Check out sibling eateries Che Inka Restaurant and the coming-soon Empanada Factory to further enhance your Argentine experience.
  • Batanga – This Downtown hangout offers Latin American tapas and exotic drinks, with live music and a killer patio to boot. Hit it to share plates of grilled beef skewers, yucca frites, and chicken empanadas.
  • The Original Marini’s Empanada House – With two locations in town, Marini’s has become a Houston cult favorite. Visit for flaky empanadas loaded with everything from diced salami and raisins to fig, mozzarella, and walnuts. While you’re there, pick up some chimichurri and dulce de leche by the jar.
  • Pampa Grill & Market – You’ll find seriously good Argentinean steaks, milanesas, meats from the parrilla, choripanes, sweet and savory empanadas, provoletas and more at this family-run grill and market. Pick up some morcilla to go from the small market section.
  • Patagonia Grill and Cafe – An elegant Argentine steakhouse experience can be had at this unassuming strip center spot. Start with a glass (or bottle) of wine and some chorizo criollo and grilled provoleta, then move on to porcini ravioles, grilled trout a la parrilla, and tira de asado (short ribs).
  • Saldivia’s South American Grill – The flavors of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay are on display here, as are the sounds (catch live tango and folklore music on Saturday nights).
  • Sal Y Pimienta Kitchen – Wines from Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay mix and mingle alongside Italian, French and Californian numbers at this trendy South American kitchen. Sip some while you dine on creamed corn empanadas, charcuterie, and cheeses from Argentina, Italy, and Spain, stuffed canelones, beef Milanese, and mollejas a la crema (veal sweetbreads in cream sauce).

Grocery Stores & Bakeries/Sweet Shops

  • Fiesta Mart – Pick up yerba mate, the national drink of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Southern Brazil, along with other Latin American specialty items.
  • Manena’s Pastry Shop and Deli – Get savory foods like sandwiches de miga, ham and cheese croissants, and empanadas alongside house-made sweets, including flan, tres leches, dulce de leche rolls, and alfajores.

Nightlife

  • Club Tropicana – Dance the night away to Latin music at this popular nightclub, which hosts musical acts, DJs, and specials like ladies night.
  • Tango & Malbec – Part Argentinean steakhouse, part sultry tango and wine bar, this Galleria-area favorite makes for the ultimate date night experience. Hit it to sip malbec, nosh on fresh ceviche, crispy mollejas, and tender steaks from the parrilla, and check out special events, including live Latin guitar, dance classes, professional tango dancing and more.

Language Classes, Education Centers, Groups & Meet-Ups

  • Habla Houston – Learn to speak Spanish through weekly classes, interactive meetups and more.
  • Houston Argentine Tango School – With classes held at the Continental MECA (Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts) building in the Sawyer Heights area, this tango school offers an escape from the daily grind and intro into a creative movement. Beginner, midway, and advanced lessons are available.
  • Houston Tango – Join a vibrant community of tango enthusiasts with this local Facebook group, which covers everything from dance workshops to tango shoe pop-ups.
  • Latin Women’s Initiative – This nonprofit organization strives to make difference in the lives of Latin women and their families by providing both financial and volunteer support to several local nonprofit organizations in the Houston community.
  • Spanish over Coffee – Brush up on your Spanish language skills with all-level classes that help you learn through conversation. Program experiences include dinner parties, game nights, scavenger hunts, and grocery shopping.
  • Argentine Tango Club at Rice University – This Rice student organization teaches and promotes tango and Latin American culture, with group lessons for all levels and social dance parties.

Other Notables

  • BBVA Compass Stadium – Fútbol fans can get their fix at this EaDo soccer stadium, home to both the Houston Dynamo and the Houston Dash.