The Best of Bariloche: ONA Eco Espacio 0

Bariloche, also known as Argentina’s lakes region, offers incredible views of bright blue lakes alongside impressive mountain ranges.  It’s a go-to destination for skiers in the winter, but it’s also a hot spot in the summer for those seeking beautiful hikes, an array of water activities, picnics atop mountains and quiet lakeside beaches.

The city center may be losing its former small town charm as more hostels and modern hotels have set up shop in recent years, but more tourists means more restaurants.  However, in this case, more restaurants means an even wider range of food establishments from which to choose.  One can find everything from high-end traditional parillas to hip cervecerias artesanales (craft micro-breweries) to eco-friendly vegan restaurants.  In fact, in this relatively small city, 1600 km from Buenos Aires, there were four excellent vegan/vegetarian restaurants along with a vegan bakery and an organic vegan-oriented grocery store.  Shocking, huh?  I thought so, too!

The best of the best was ONA Eco Espacio: Cocina Saludable, a small café about 6 km from Bariloche’s city center.  Though not entirely vegan, most items on the menu can be prepared vegan.

Argentina Dec 17, 2013, 7-27 PM

Owned and operated by Sandy, ONA is the kind of place where as soon as you walk through the front door, you feel like you’ve entered someone’s hip, eco-friendly lakeside home.  All of the food is prepared in the open concept kitchen directly behind the bar, and if you take a moment to watch Sandy or the other chefs prepare the food, you’ll notice that they handle the ingredients with great care.  Their calm, yet intentional approach permeates throughout the entire restaurant, prompting guests to stick around after the completion of their meal, just to enjoy the warm and welcoming ambiance.  If you like to travel, get ready to swap stories with Sandy.

From the outside:

Argentina Dec 17, 2013, 7-49 PM

Argentina Dec 17, 2013, 7-48 PM

From the inside:

Argentina Dec 17, 2013, 7-03 PM

Argentina Dec 18, 2013, 6-57 PM

Argentina Dec 18, 2013, 6-48 PM

Argentina Dec 17, 2013, 7-02 PM

The menu is simple, yet varied, and even after multiple meals at ONA, we still hadn’t ordered the same dish more than once.  There are the standard items, such as a veggie burgers and whole-wheat pizzas, but there are always two to three “specials” each night that vary throughout the week.

Argentina Dec 17, 2013, 6-49 PM

Sandy kicks off every meal with star-shaped whole wheat rolls alongside two different dips made from peas, lentils, carrots or chick peas.  The rolls are fresh out of the oven and have the perfect chewy texture combined with a subtle touch of rosemary.

Argentina Dec 17, 2013, 6-58 PM

Sandy’s mantra is that fresh, organic food shouldn’t require much seasoning or heat in order for it to taste great.  Whenever possible, she sources ingredients from local growers in Bariloche.  And in some cases, the produce comes directly from the backyard gardens of nearby neighbors!

Here is a visual summary of our many delicious meals at ONA.

Croquetas de batata, acelga y zanaoria (sweet potato, kale and carrot) y ensalada:

Croquetas batata, aciega y zananoria y ensaladasa

Wok de vegetales con trigo:

Wok de vegetales con trigo

Tallarines de pimento, curry al aceite de herbas:

Argentina Dec 17, 2013, 7-08 PM

Lentil burger topped with raw cabbage and carrot slaw:

Argentina Dec 18, 2013, 12-26 PM

Vegan empanadas made with chickpea flour:

Argentina Dec 18, 2013, 12-27 PM

Batata rellena y ensalada (stuffed sweet potato and salad):

Argentina Dec 18, 2013, 6-59 PM

Open-faced carrot burger topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and drizzled with pesto:

Open-faced carrot burger topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and pesto

Layers of kale, squash, eggplant and zucchini (sans fromage!) paired with oven roasted tomatoes:

Layers of kale, squash, eggplant and zuchinni paired with oven roasted tomatoes

Semifredo con frutilla y cacao:

Argentina Dec 17, 2013, 7-30 PM

Here are the details:

Address: Av. Bustillo, km 6.126, 8400 San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9am – 12am
Phone: 54 294 444-3009