We had read some good reviews of ‘New Time’, a café in the city of Salta. It was easy to find on our first visit, being located at the main square ‘Plaza 9 de Julio’. The two storey café has an excellent terrace, which is overlooking the square with its trees and offers great views of the cabildo and (further away) even the Cerro San Bernardo.
‘New Time’ became our favourite spot in Salta and we enjoyed on the (sunny) terrace, sipping our ‘cafe cortado’, watching local people and schoolchildren passing by; every now and then friendly turning away one of the shoeshine boys.
Service was great and fast and staff was courteous and friendly.
We had several ‘cafe cortados’ with a ‘medias lunas’ and later on a lunch (empanadas !!) and one evening even a diner. Although not ‘haute cuisine’ our pasta meal was tasteful and very affordable (for the two of us we paid incl. a glass of wine just 45 pesos). For us as north-western Europeans it was quite convenient having diner rather early in the evening, before we went ‘home’ San Lorenzo.
Mercado Municipal is a good choice if you're looking for a budget meal in Salta. The always busy market has a wide range of restaurants offering cheap, good value lunch deals. Most of the customers are locals shopping or working in the market, and the prices are aimed at locals, not tourists.
We shared a huge pizza and a 1.5 litres of lemonade for 8 pesos (under 3USD). And this was by no means the best deal available but the pizza did look and taste very good!
Rinconada is an excellent Parrilla (steak-house) in Salta, with good prices and, most importantly, delicious food.
We visited the restaurant when we met up with fellow Travelbloggers Russ & Trish, who were living and working in Salta. They suggested we met in this restaurant, and a great choice it turned out, as we had a fantastic meal, with one of the largest steaks I had eaten in Argentina so far (and they do like the steaks big in this country!).
Ruth and I shared a bife de chorizo grande, a dish probably best shared unless you are Argentinian, with a side dish of salad, 1/2 a litre of wine and a baguette for "starters".
There is no shortage of cafes on Plaza 9 de Julio, Salta's main square, but our favourite by far was New Time Cafe, on the southwest corner.
The food and drinks are good value, the cafe is full of locals, and from the terrace there are good views of the square and of the mountains overlooking the city.
Salta was our main base for exploring the northwest and we visited the town on 3 different occasions during our time in Argentina - and each time we returned to New Time for breakfast.
Their coffee, freshly-squeezed orange juice, water, and 2 medialunes (small croissants) deal -all for 5 pesos - is hard to beat.
After tasting lots of empanadas (and I mean it) we finally found the real ones in Salteñas, a favourite among local people .This nice family-run restaurant offers the real empanada in Salta. To tell whether an empanada is good or not you are supposed to take a bite and look inside, if you see nothing but potatoes it’s not good, however in Salteñas you enjoy a mixture of meat, peppers, onions and potatoes in the right proportion. As we were having lunch there, local people who found the restaurant full started to come with their own pots from home to have them filled with locro (another traditional food); we had never seen anything like this before. The decoration is really unique, wooden chairs and tables and ornaments made with cardon (a kind of cactus) ...and they speak English. It is definitely an off the beaten track gem.
Favorite Dish: Después de probar un montón de empanadas finalmente encontramos las verdaderas empanadas en Salteñas . Es un restaurante familiar ( te explican todo y son muy muy agradables) en el que puedes probar la empanada típica bien hecha, para saber si es buena o no tienes que mirar dentro , si está lleno de patatas no es buena, tiene que tener carne, pimiento , cebolla y patatas bien combinado. Además a este sitio va gente con los pucheros de casa para que se los llenen de locro , nunca había visto algo así. La decoración es bonita , con cardón.
This is my personal favorite in Salta. It also seems to be the same for many here, since so many people bring their distinguished guests here. I won't mention the famous American movie star I ran into here (really!) The atmosphere is delightfully old world and the gaucho-dressed waiters are most entertaining.
Favorite Dish: Without doubt, the carbonada, a type of stew. While I wish they would hold off on the salt a bit, the dish is excellent.
The food choices here, especially the salads, are very commendable although not as varied as in other restaurants. What you get, though, is a chance to enjoy your meal in one of the most beautiful plazas in the whole world, watching the glow of the sunset on the Cathedral and enjoying watching the joyful people of this city use this magnificent park. Once the lights all come on the whole scene is simply magical. Enjoy!
More information on other restaurants at my very unofficial website on Salta:
This restaurant is situated in a old house with a old charming atmosphere...nice tables with old wooden chairs...The owner is a very sympathic man with a black beard....and its name suits him very wel : Don José!!! He welcomed us personnaly, took my chair to let me seat, gave us a empanada for free as entry and always took care of us, asking if everything was OK...
And the food was delicious!!!!!
When in Argentina, everyone says you must try the parrilla. In Salta there seemto be many restaurants touting these platters of mixed meats. We saw several sidewalk signs advertising the parrilla special of the day. We went into one of the cheaper ones.
It was a local place with no other tourists. The waiter was typically very friendly. The interior was quite nice with air conditioning and cloth napkins. The bathroom was also typical in that it was very clean, had toilet paper, but no toilet seat and no paper hand towels (dont forget to carry those handiwipes!).
When the parrilla for two arrived it was a platter filled with several pounds of meat placed on a brazier of hot coals. It contained chicken, 2 kinds of sausage, pork chops, some beef and 2-3 things that I could not recognize. I tasted everything, not wanting to know what some of it was. I finally recognized the grilled intestine, but couldnt figure out some of the other stuff (innards of some kind).
A friend told us later that we should order the parrilla 'especial' if we want better cuts of meat and no guts.
The mixed grill was 12P/$4US, a very nice salad was 5P/$1.65US and drinks (a liter of Manzana whatever that was---very good) for 3.7P/$1.20. A big and mostly good lunch for about $6.
Our hotel recommended the Dona Salta as a good restaurant serving typical food. The interior was nice but not fancy. The service was friendly and fast. At that time (2:00PM), they had a lot of business (all local, no other tourists). In a bid to be international, some of the menu was in English (one item was listed as "veal guts" which put me off a bit).
As usual, we ordered too much. Bowels of a local stew (locro), drinks, french fries and a mixed salad. Cost was less than $7US/20.5 Pesos. We were stuffed, the food was good and it was inexpensive. A good afternoon!
Favorite Dish: The 'locro' was very good and different from anything we had ever had. It was a very hearty stew. There were many variations of it on the menu. Some with meat; some without.