In our Dame series, resident fatty and food writer Kevin Vaughn rounds up three of his favorites for a particular theme. In celebration of Independence Day, he takes a moment to look up from his bowl of locro and tackles three iconic Argentine dishes.

Fried Beef Empanadas at El Gauchito | Avenida Independencia 414, San Telmo

Owner Roberto Ormeño hails from La Rioja, a mountainous region where cactus and carob trees jut upwards from the arid, sandy soil. And his empanada recipe doesn’t stray far from the family. Beef is thinly chopped alongside small wedges of potato and leafy green onion, the latter, according to Ormeño, is what gives it a Riojano signature. All is cooked down in a cumin and cayenne rich stock that drips auburn red once the flakey dough has been compromised. The house suggestion is to split off just enough of the tip to stuff it with a house hot sauce. And I say hot sauce in porteño speak. It is an oil-based sauce prepared with crushed red pepper and more green onion, the level of spice changes from one visit to the next, but is usually just enough to add an extra layer of chubby to the already buttery dough. Check out the full article here.

Muzza a la piedra at Jaimito | Virrey Liniers 709, Boedo

The pizza de muzza is tossed thin and arrives to the table with a delightful perfume of molten cheese that stretches and pulls as each slice is removed from the over-sized round. The edges brown and crunch under every bite. It is cooked just right so that the cheese that rests around the crust turns into auburn brown flakes like molten lava that rest atop balloons of dough. A Pollock-stroke of brick red tomato sauce is swirled around the unctuous, wonderfully chewy cheese around the center and is heightened by soft bursts of salt from the pitted green olives. It all vanishes so quickly that you are glad the pizzas come oversized, barely able to fit inside a standard pizza box. Be sure to top it off with a flan mixto. Check the full article here.

Lentejas a la Española at La Vermutería | Lavalle 3780, Almagro

Winter calls for steaming bowls of lentil stew. Each and every neighborhood cafeteria seems to have their own spin on the homely midyear treat. La Vermutería is a small neighborhood bar with rotating lunch specials heavy on the Gallego influence. Grab the lentejas a la española, a densely red stew is prepared with chorizo colorado and thick slabs of braised pork belly. It is cooked low so that the lentils remain slightly al dente rather than a muddy mush which happens when lentils are cooked too quickly. The aroma is immediately arresting—grandma’s house type stuff—the kind of smell that calms you before you even walk into the house.