There’s hardly ever a food tour of ours where a guest doesn’t mention how surprised they are by how late dinnertime is in Argentina. Most restaurants in Buenos Aires do not open until 8 pm at the earliest, and it’s not uncommon to begin dinner as late as 10 or 11 pm. So the question we always get is, “how do Argentines survive between lunch and such a late dinner?” The answer is merienda.
Similar to in Spain or Italy, it is normal in Argentina to have a merienda, a light meal in the late afternoon, typically around 5 or 6 pm. Traditional merienda foods are similar to breakfast or teatime foods, facturas (pastries, especially medialunas), toast, small sandwiches, or a piece of cake. Along with the food, merienda is always paired with mate, tea, juice or coffee. When walking around Buenos Aires in the late afternoon you will notice the cafes very busy in the late afternoon, since merienda is a great excuse to get together with friends.
While you might be accustomed to eating dinner around the time Argentines are enjoying their merienda, we encourage you to try out the local dining times while visiting Buenos Aires since it is an important part of the social life of the country.