Mendoza is a small, cozy Argentine city set against the Andes. It is home to four central plazas that define the downtown, where at any time of day you’ll see Mendocinos taking the time to sit and talk, and drink mate, that ubiquitous herbal drink that many Argentines would not be caught without.
But most importantly, Mendoza is the jumping off point to some of Argentina’s best wine regions, including three areas that are near the city, Maipú, Luján de Cuyo, and the Uco Valley. And as every great winelover knows, where there is good wine, there is often good food. Mendoza does not disappoint, and here are 11 of Upscape’s favorite restaurants, with plenty to choose from in the city itself, just outside of the city, and at some of our favorite wineries, where you can make a more leisurely stop in your explorations of this storied area, which many consider to be the “Napa of Argentina.”
Restaurants In or Close To Mendoza
This Francis Mallman (of Chef’s Table fame, and one of Argentina’s best-known chefs) was founded in 1996. Amid its fine decor, including purple walls which represent Mendoza’s strong wine tradition, guests come to experience Argentine food. The menu here represents the fusion of European settlers’ food with that of the Incan and other indigenous peoples. Particularly popular are the appetizer longastine “sandwich,” and many cuts of meat, which is fall-off-the-bone tender in typical Mallman style. With a 600-label long wine list, you’d be hard-pressed not to find a wine you adore. 1884 is located in Godoy Cruz, a short drive from the center of Mendoza.
This country chic restaurant in Mendoza serves up reimagined traditional regional food, using techniques and ingredients from around the world, serving lamb to octopus and everything in between. Though it is not exclusively Argentine, its large menu is popular with both locals and visitors. They have 500 wines on their wine list, and can arrange for a meal in their enviable winecellar as well. Azafrán is located in the city of Mendoza.
This homey restaurant in Mendoza aims for simplicity and quality, which it transmits in its simple but tasty breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. It is at once Argentine, South American and international in scope. While it does serve meat, it’s vegetarian friendly and vegetable heavy menu can be a nice break if you’re looking for lighter fare. Pasta is popular, with local cheeses, meats and vegetables rounding out the meals. María Antonieta is located in the city of Mendoza.
A Little Farther Afield
Casa Vigil El Enemigo
One location of this restaurant is located inside a mall, which might not be your first guess for fine dining, but when in Rome (or in this case, Mendoza), do as the locals do, and try this spot. It is known around town (and the world) for its wine pairings, including many versions of Mendoza’s signature wine which is Malbec, which pairs particularly well with some short-ribs they have on the menu. It is also known for its skilled waitstaff who deliver personalized service. Casa Vigil El Enemigo Palmares is a 35-minute drive outside of Mendoza, and is well worth the trip. There is also a restaurant of the same name at their winery, if your travels happen to take you that way.
This pocket-sized restaurant seats only 18 diners, and is committed to innovation, and bringing the best available local products (hand selected by the chef himself) to the table. They do a seasonal and tasting menu, and include local flavors such as ham and lamb. Food is plated artfully, but never at the cost of quality or quantity. Brindillas is located in Luján de Cuyo (one of the main wine areas) and is about a 25 minute drive from Mendoza.
Restaurants at Wineries in Luján de Cuyo
Osadía de Crear
While there are two restaurants onsite at the Susana Balbo restaurant, we suggest their Osadía de Crear, which has two gourmet tasting menus. One tasting menu travels from west to east, traversing the country from the mountains to the ocean, and the other is a Mendocino locavore menu, with nearly all products coming from within 100 km of the restaurant. Here they use signature wines from the winery for pairings. Food is innovative yet relies on the regionality of the offer as the foundation for every menu. Osadía de Crear is located in Luján de Cuyo.
This restaurant at the Bodgega Lagarde winery specializes in regional cooking with local ingredients, and is known for its many different cooking techniques, including over an open fire, over coals, in ovens, etc. There are three and six-course meals, which highlight the flavors and colors of each season, for example in the fall reflecting the color palette of the changing vine leaves in the colors on diners’ plates, with wines to match. Goat yogurt, touches of pistachios and the ubiquitous Argentine steaks all make an appearance on the menu. Fogón Lagarde is located in Luján de Cuyo.
Casarena Bodega y Restaurante
The Casarena winery and restaurant offers a multi-course meals with unlimited Casarena wine. The chef, Lucas Bustos, is an expert in Andean food, and in addition to using many different cooking methods for the meats they serve, they use traditional ingredients and recipes, including one for bone marrow croquettes, that are considered top-notch. Casarena is located in Luján de Cuyo.
Restaurants at Wineries in Valle de Uco
Espacio Monteviejo is the winery restaurant here, at this family-run winery. They bring out the best in simplicity with traditional food from Mendoza. Meals center around grilled meat that comes out sizzling with cooked peppers and onions, though they can also cater to vegetarians, with pairings to match. The restaurant has a spectacular view over the vineyards and the mountains behind.
Monteviejo is located in Valle del Uco.
Diamandes, whose name is a play on the words diamond and Andes, is a French-owed winery in the Uco Valley, a member of the Clos de Siete group. The winery is known for its design by a local architect, which, though linear, respects the environment in scale, shape, and materials. So, too does their restaurant, Diams, respect the origin and history of the family and the area, with locally-grown, organic products and Argentine food with a subtle French flair. Meals are multi-course and come with wine pairings, and everyone raves about the risotto at the restaurant at Bodega Diamandes, which is located in Valle de Uco.
Andeluna is another of our favorites with a great view of the Andes. Their restaurant is unique in that it offers two totally different kinds of meals, one for the more adventurous, international eater, with dishes like an avocado gazpacho or trout served on a nest of noodles, or a full Argentine meal, starting with an empanada and moving on to that quintessential Argentine dish, skirt steak. Both come with wine pairings, and they even offer a cheese, nut and dried fruit plate in the lounge, and a special menu just for kids. Andeluna is located in the Uco Valley.