Mate (pronounced ma-tay) is a traditional drink of Argentina. It is an herbal infusion that tastes most similar to bitter green tea. If you visit Buenos Aires you will most likely see people walking around with thermoses full of hot water and a mate, the cup you use to drink the tea from. Clients on our Buenos Aires food tours often ask where they can taste mate, because like steak and Malbec, it is an important part of the country’s food and drink. The drink is special because it comes with a lot of customs in regards to how it is served and shared, and one of them is that it is almost never consumed at cafés or restaurants, but instead at home, the office or at the park. Actually, one of my favorite parts of road trips in Argentina is sharing mate between everyone in the car! There are a few cafes around Buenos Aires to try mate though:
- Las Cholas/Las Cabras (Arce 306/Fitz Roy 1795) – Palermo
This parrilla has two locations in Buenos Aires, one in Las Cañitas, where we have one of our food tour routes, and the other in Palermo Hollywood.
- Nonna Bianca (Estados Unidos 425) – San Telmo
This small ice cream shop in San Telmo offers mate, as well as mate flavored ice cream! A nice treat is that you get to keep the mate, bombilla and bag of yerba mate.
- Buy your own mate kit – If you want to be like a local you can buy your own mate kit and go to one of the beautiful parks around the city. Mates are sold at almost every home goods shop, but they are also widely available at markets such as the San Telmo Fair, Recoleta Fair and the Feria de Mataderos. The essential parts of a mate kit are the mate, most traditionally made of a dried gourd, yerba mate, the tealeaves, a bombilla, a metal straw with a filter on the bottom, and hot water. Make sure you know how to properly prepare and drink mate though! The video below explains the basics.