Mendoza feels like Buenos Aires’ leafy and laid-back little cousin – a bustling city of wide streets, green plazas, and cosmopolitan vibes. In the surrounding region, you’ll come across rugged mountain peaks, rolling vineyards, and arguably the best wines in Argentina.
It’s true that the name Mendoza is synonymous with viticulture. And while vino rightly steals the show here, it’s worth pointing out that the food scene is just as good. From traditional parrillas and urban cafes, to world-class bodegas beyond the city centre, here’s the rundown on the best places to eat and drink in Mendoza.
Where to drink the vino
With over 1000 wineries in Mendoza Province, where do you even begin? Don’t fret – the best place to start is in one of three main regions outside the city: Luján de Cuyo, Maipu, or Valle de Uco. If you’ve got the time, pick one area a day and hit up around three to four wineries. You can do this at your own pace with a private driver, or book in a bike or bus tour from the city. The second option is a fun and easy way to enjoy wine tasting – particularly if you haven’t done it before.
If you’re short on time and would rather experience the cream of the crop, make sure you reserve a tasting and table in advance. In Luján de Cuyo, the award-winning Bodega Ruca Malen is the place to go. Delicious malbec aside, the five-course degustation served in their sunny solarium is worth the visit alone. Other stunning wineries in the area include Terrazas de los Andes and Bodega Carmelo Patti. In Maipu, the best of the bunch would have to be Familia Zuccardi, Trapiche, and Lopez, while further afield in the Uco Valley, you can’t go past The Vines of Mendoza.
Where to feel classy
Not surprisingly, the restaurants in Mendoza city are often overshadowed by the surrounding wineries. But after all that swilling and chilling, you still have to eat. And for connoisseurs of fine food, Mendoza certainly knows how to cater.
Loved by locals and tourists alike, Azafrán is a must for any serious foodie. The cuisine is inspired by regional cooking, yet dishes are reinterpreted using techniques and flavours from around the world. Instead of choosing from a wine list, you’ll also get to pick your own drop from their impressive wine cellar. Another fine-dining favourite is the rustic and legendary 1884 Restaurant Francis Mallman. Booking here is essential, thanks to the beautiful garden and innovative menu. Using local ingredients, the focus here is on clay-oven cooking and grilled meats and fish.
Argentinian food aside, María Antonieta in downtown Mendoza is the place to indulge in modern French, while Bistro M at Park Hyatt dishes up delicious Italian fare based on local ingredients.
Where to get your foodie fix
From oje de bife (rib eye) to bife de lomo (tenderloin), Argentinians know how to cook a good steak. And while Buenos Aires takes the cake for best parrillas in Argentina, Mendoza isn’t far behind at all.
First up is Don Mario. Mention that you want to eat steak in Mendoza and this is the place you’ll be recommended every time. The classic parrilla dishes up a no frills meat-eating experience. The steaks are big, the service is efficient, and the wine is delicious. It’s simple. Just make sure you start with the provoleta – provolone cheese fried in a cast iron skillet on the stove.
Another favourite is Cordillera Vinos y Fuegos. Served on rustic chopping boards, the meat here is downright mouth-watering. Combined with its open kitchen, great wine selection and amazing service, feasting at this small parrilla is an absolute must. Other delicious options include La Lucia Grill & Bar, La Barra, and El Patio Jesus Maria.
Where to get your caffeine
Like in Buenos Aires, the people in Mendoza take their coffee seriously. With most cafes offering outdoor seating, it’s impossible not to sit down, grab your favourite brew, and soak in the city’s charm.
Top of the list would have to be Bröd, a sleek and hip bakery café in the centre of town. The coffee here will easily wake you up each morning, as will their impressive selection of fresh pastries and bread.
If you’re looking for a Mendoza staple, head over to Chacras de Coria where you’ll find Jebbs café. With a big outdoor seating area and a counter lined with pastries and sandwiches, don’t be surprised if you spend a couple of hours sipping and reading the day away. The two other cafes to try out include Silla 14 and Tea and Company. Simply rotate between all four in one glorious, caffeine-filled loop.
Got an appetite to experience Argentina’s foodie scene? Check out a few of our favourites.
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