Home. Comfort. Passion. These are just three of the many words which come to mind as you step foot into this cosy vegetarian restaurant. As all veggie spots, Cúrcuma also serves vegan dishes as well as creatively adapting the vegetarian options into purely plant-based meals. Located on the side street of Sarmiento, only two blocks away from the hustle and bustle of Avenida Corrientes, Cúrcuma is easily accesible yet manages to maintain it’s tranquility and keep it’s name as a “hidden gem”.
“The name of our restaurant ‘Cúrcuma’ comes from the orange spice (The Spanish word for ‘turmeric’). It’s not something which Argentinians are very familiar with, plus, we use it a lot in our kitchen” – Florenciana, Head Chef and one of the owners of Cúrcuma Restaurant.
This relaxed bistro is owned by two Argentinian sisters, Florenciana and Sabrina Rodriguez who set up Cúrcuma back in 2013. Having studied the master of cooking and spending time living in Ecuador, these girls decided to combine their foreign gastronomical experiences from their travels through South America and Europe, and interpret these into one Argentinian vegetarian cuisine. Even though her intake of meat and dairy was very minimal, the youngest of the two sisters, Florenciana, became vegetarian with the start up of their their restaurant four years ago and has not cooked with meat since. Sabrina however, still remains a carnivore, along with their co-workers, yet states that through their restaurant she has grown to appreciate both vegetarian and vegan food alike. “We want to show people (mainly Argentinians) that it is possible to eat vegan or vegetarian without eating salad, rice or pasta, hence why we don’t have these options on our menu” claims Florenciana. “After my culinary experiences, I decided to use my imagination and investigate with different flavours and provide a unique experience for both our carnivorous and herbivorous customers”.
It is clear to see that these hospitable and extremely passionate sisters consider their workspace as a laboratory and not a kitchen. Although they have a fixed menu, which is modified every three to four months, not everything always goes to plan when purchasing locally-sourced organic products. This means that the dishes need to be altered, and it all depends on whether the fresh fruit and vegetables are available during that specific time of the year. So, if your veggie pizza is lacking a topping or two, just remember that it’s probably not best to be eating it anyway.
With their positive attitude to healthy living and the concept of respecting our bodies, the menu consists of neither fried nor shop-bought products. As each and every meal is prepared upon order, therefore a taste of warmth and freshness can be experienced with every bite. From the bun on your burger to the mayonnaise on your baked potatoes, and the coconut milk in your coffee to the vegan cheese on your pizza, every ingredient is lovingly home-made in the open kitchen.
The current fixed menu consists of starters and mains, whilst desserts are presented upon request. Appetisers include vegan beetroot rosties, baked potato wedges with a vegan dip, bruschetta with caramelised onions and mushrooms, and tapas made from wholegrain bread topped with baked plantain and vegan cheese. Mushroom risotto, gnocchi, lentil hamburger with lemon and ginger bread, cocoa bread sandwich and a variety of pizzas are some of the dishes which can be found under the main meals. Each meal, except for the gnocchi, can be modified by adding/removing dairy products whilst the mozzarella on the pizza can be switched for paparella (vegan cheese made using boiled potatoes – click here to find out how to make it at home).
Upon arrival, each table is given a complimentary vegan appetiser which consists of a freshly baked aubergine and sun-dried tomato oat cracker topped with vegan pesto and coriander. These are presented as a welcome snack for clients as the other dishes do take a while to make their way from the kitchen onto the tables. Nevertheless, this comes as no surprise when dining out at an all-fresh restaurant. The preparation time and slightly higher-end prices are undoubtedly reflected through every mouthful.
I had the pleasure of tasting the ‘Rosti de Remolacha‘, a beetroot cracker generously smothered in hummus, green leaves, vegan pesto and tenderly grilled tomatoes. The cracker itself is fairly rigid however it is recommended to eat straight out of the oven to go a little easier on the teeth. The beetroot adds a bright purple tint which intensifies this colourful masterpiece, whilst the crunchy bright green mixed leaves combined with the fresh salsa and succulent tomatoes create an explosion of flavour. A very popular dish at Cúrcuma and the perfect portion size to share, this starter leaves enough space for the main to follow.
Have you ever had a wrap and finished the ingredients inside before realising you have enough left overs to make another mini wrap? Well not in this restaurant. The wholegrain tortilla served as a main course here at Cúrcuma is extremely delicate and thin, used only as an instrument to keep the ingredients together. Within, you can find hummus, lettuce, grated carrots, olives, cabbage and coriander served with a side of fluffy baked potato slices. In Argentina, it is usually difficult to find any wheat-based products without milk, hence we can see why Cúrcuma is named as one of the best vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Buenos Aires . This very simple yet mouthwatering main dish is the perfect balance between a light yet filling meal.
As no meal is complete without a sweet course, the chocolate and orange mousse tart is highly recommended. The crumbly peanut base layered with a cold ice-cream textured cocoa mousse is every vegan’s After Eight dream. This refreshing tart is is topped with dried coconut flakes and fresh mint leaves; the perfect end to the perfect meal.
“We wanted to combine culture, music, gastronomy and personality into one place”
Previously, this house stood as a printing shop for many years which was then rented and converted into a Russian restaurant. Florenciana and Sabrina used the remains from these businesses as the base for their interior design ideas. This can be seen through the paper decorations placed inside the wooden tables, the porcelain ornaments and the washed-out vintage piano sitting in the corner by the windowsill. Painted yellow on the outside and every other colour possible on the inside, the interior is filled with fairly lights, unique lampshades and vintage furniture. The limited amount of seating proves their motives of being personal with the customers and making sure that each person leaves more than content with the food and the service, whilst the open-kitchen set up enables any willing customers to inspect how their food is made. Plus, this also means that the mouthwatering aromas of each dish can easily make their way across the room and into every inhale you take.
In addition to the incomparable food and ‘buena onda’, Cúrcuma invites the public to wine and dine whilst being entertained by a live band. These take place every Friday and Saturday evening so be sure not to miss these chilled nights. Every other day of the week, diners can tuck into their vegan/vegetarian meals and enjoy the company of international records varying from 60’s to the 90’s.
Whether you’re a vegan, a vegetarian or a carnivore, or simply enjoy good food, you are warmly welcomed into an all-natural and home-cooked dining experience in the heart of Buenos Aires. So, what are you waiting for?
Address: Sarmiento 3865, Almagro, CABA, Argentina
Contact number: +54 11 4862-7272
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 8pm – 2am