Food and wine go together like travel and a passport and in Mendoza you’ll find the combo at every turn. In a wine-producing country like Argentina, it’s seen as a God-given right to have wine with your meal.
When going to Argentina to explore wineries, food inevitably becomes part of the experience. Food in Argentina is such a part of their culture that you encounter it everywhere you go. Whether in a family situation, at a business meeting, or traveling on holiday, the food is an essential part of the experience.
Wine lovers coming to Mendoza may not have as many restaurants to choose from as in Buenos Aires. That’s kind of a blessing, however, since the choices aren’t so overwhelming that you get paralyzed.
For some insider advice, we asked Mark Davis of Tango Tours to pick some of the best restaurants in Argentina’s primary wine region. His company sets up tour itineraries for upscale travelers looking to do a luxury wine tour with special access to the best vineyards in Mendoza – and the best meals. Here are a few of his top choices.
1884 – Francis Mallmann
Francis Mallmann is by most accounts the best-known chef in Argentina and his tentacles extend to Garzon in Uruguay as well. I had the pleasure of dining here more than a decade ago after the locals kept recommending it and it has been going strong now for more than 20 years. The name 1884 is an homage to the building itself, which is a grand structure from the glory days of Argentina. The menu here is Argentine all the way, with grilled meats from over an open fire, bread and empanadas cooked in a beehive oven, and lots of outdoor space for enjoying the temperate weather. Website here, in Spanish only.
Siete Fuegos Asado
Another Mallmann creation, Siete Fuegos is located at the Vines Resort and Spa. Whatever you wear may come out smelling like smoke here in the open air “Seven Fires Barbecue.” They will accommodate fish lovers and vegetarians, though most diners are happy to just have some grilled vegetables with their slabs of meat. Everything is expertly prepared by men tending the flames and coals. See more info here.
Bodega Ruca Malen Restaurant
The Ruca Malen winery opened in 1999 and soon started winning awards. The restaurant launched in 2004 and was one of the first to offer multi-course tasting menus. All the ingredients used in the kitchen are produced in Mendoza and an on-site garden supplies vegetables and aromatic herbs. The menu here changes regularly according to what is in season and you get a great view of mountains over the grape vines. See more at the company website.
Andeluna Cellars Private Dining
You can’t roll up to this winery and order dinner: that has to be booked as part of a private tour. Davis likes to include lunch here on winery tours to give visitors an exclusive experience in a great setting with Andes views. With the chef preparing a tasting menu where each course is paired with the perfect wine, it’s a visit you’ll want to savor.
Here are a few others that consistently come out on top with foreign visitors:
This is a top choice for wine lovers, with an impressive collection of 500+ labels from all over Argentina. They have most everything available from Argentina, so if you tasted something you liked on a tour, you can order it here with dinner. The Azafran chefs aren’t purists when it comes to the menu. They often use Argentina cooking as a springboard, but find inspiration from around the world. See the website for more.
If you start getting tired of Argentine food or just want to see how the local wine pairs with other cuisines, get cozy at Ana Bistro, established in 2006. The romantic garden setting is a big plus while you sip Malbec with dishes from Franch, the Mediterranean or other “patchwork” places around the globe. See lots of great photos on the Spanish-only website.
Restaurant Maria Antoinette
If you’re the kind of person who wants to look at a menu before making a commitment, this is one of the few Mendoza restaurants that posts one online in Spanish and English for all three meals. You’ll find lots of well-prepared meat and fish on the menu, but also small plates, salads, and plates of pasta. It’s another attractive space in a city that has plenty of good ones and prices are reasonable.
There are plenty more to choose from of course and in this spread-out area, it can make sense to choose your dinner spot based on where you’re staying. This is especially true in Argentina, where restaurants are busier at midnight than they are at 8:30. Here are the most popular Mendoza fine dining restaurants with TripAdvisor readers who have enough time on their hands to write reviews.