(Published in the June/July 2012 edition of Wine Republic)
It’s come to that time of year again where we give you some of our top tips in Mendoza, our ´list´ of what, or what not, to do here. All opinions are completely personal to the writer and should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Where to take your Mother-in-law (CO)
Before you get married: To impress your future mother-in-law take her to the warm, handsome surroundings of Grill Q in the Park Hyatt. Succulent beef, top rated Malbecs and prompt service will melt the heart of even the coldest chaperone. Pretend you are on first name terms with every waiter and make sure you pick up the tab, just this once. Grill Q, Chile 1124, (261) 441 1234
After you get married: Mendocinos yearning for the sea means they make a Sunday pilgrimage to the scruffy beaches of El Carrizal, a large, artificial lake with some down-at-heel parrillas and restaurants. If the mother-in-law gets too much, stick her on one of the fishing barges available for hire and pay the boat captain to keep her out on the lake until the sun goes down and it is time to go home. El Carrizal, Route 16, Rivadavia
Where to bring your arty type: Teatro el Taller (MH)
Are you looking to show your arty friend just how “down” you are with the underground theatre scene? Take them to Teatro el Taller, a community theatre located in the 6ta barrio. Constructed by local theatre crews, this black box theatre is the epitome of communal creativity. Inspiring performances dazzle an eclectic crowd. Teatro el Taller, Granaderos 1964. (261) 420 3056
Where to bring your Birkenstock-loving hippie:
Organic Farmer’s Market (MH)
Make your hemp-clad friend smile by taking them to the Saturday Organic Farmer’s Market on Av. Bolougne Sur Mer. You can find anything vegetable shaped, the juiciest organic tomatoes you’ve ever seen and fresh honey. Avenue Bolougne Sur Mer in front of Barrio Cano.
Finca Ogawa (MH)
If you are looking to head out of town to quench your thirst for organic food, check out Valle de Uco’s Finca Ogawa. Help yourself picking at a blossoming garden of veggies and salads, and tuck into the raspberry bushes. Take your green fingered friend to the organic market every first Sunday. www.fincaogawa.com
Where to bring your gringo mates for cheesy dance floor filling classics: Por Aca (AB)
There’s only one way to end a night out for gringos in Mendoza city… on the floor of Por Aca. Whether you end up falling on it, lying on it or are one of the fortunate few who can still stand up dancing on it at the end of the night, this is the beer spattered, fag butt scattered floor to be on. Seriously cheesy music and regretful hook-ups guaranteed. So bad, it’s good. Por Aca, Aristides Villanueva 557.
Where to die on a Sunday morning: Aloe Verde (GH)
The grungy, slimy, deep green hovel hole named Aloe Verde is the ‘after’ after the after spot. One of the only joints that will serve you beer long after all of the boliches (clubs) have closed, you’re guaranteed to find it teaming mess of unsavory characters. If the man guarding the door tells you it’s closed, he’s lying. You’re just in seriously bad shape and he’s doing you a favor. Aloe Verde, San Juan 1122
Where to take an innocent first date: Juegetes Rabiosos (GH)
Make her you think you like her for her personality, and spend an innocent evening at bar Juegetes Rabiosos. Serving an average slew of beer and cocktails, they also have a game menu to choose from. Boardgames, pictionary, Jenga, card games, the list goes on… This place gets seriously packed on Thursdays and weekends all year round. Goes to show you that even the locals are fed up with Rock Nacional and mediocre dance moves. Juan B Justo 836, or Arizú 502 (Godoy Cruz).
Where to go for hair of the dog: Moe’s Bar (CO)
It is midmorning on a Tuesday and your hangover has forced you out of bed and in search of the only cure for beer flue – more beer. Stop for some barley pop at Mendoza´s most unassuming hole-in-the-wall – Moe’s Bar. It is actually just a kiosk with some seating – a typical “business upfront, party out the back” kind of dive. Its loud and boisterous student clientele means it keeps the most uncivilized hours. La Taberna de Moe, Catamarca 22
Where to bring your green goddess: Go Vinda (MH)
Offering over 60 homemade vegetarian options, Go Vinda is just the place to bring your salad munching, soya brunching friends. Spoil her with a unique spread of Argentine green cuisine made with a Buddhist philosophy. All together now: Ommmmm. San Martín 948, Godoy Cruz. 424 3799.
Where to bring your wine lover:
The Vines (AB)
With dozens of wines by the glass, this is the place to bring your wine lover to get their afternoon cap on. Swirling your way through a wine flight or taking advantage of the happy hour, either way only the true wine lovers will be able to walk out standing! Pop into the Wednesday Winemaker’s Night to grill an oenologist on their wine knowledge, or quietly chug back nice wine in the corner. On the corner of Agustín Alvarez and Belgrano
Rojos & Elegantes (AB)
This cute wine shop in the 5ta barrio is full of different boutique wines and unique little gifts. On Thursday nights they host the perfect wine diva night – a wine tasting led by hunky sommelier Luis Mantegini. Pueyrredon 217. 428 1277
Where to get your local garb: General La Paz (GH)
Hit up General La Paz street, an avenue boggled down with street vendors, shops and indoor markets peddling mediocre quality Argentine styles, from those pants that make you look like your wearing a weighted-down diaper, to the unexplicably popular A+ tee-shirts. General La Paz (north of city).
Where to take your hedonistic pleasure seeker: Entre Cielos (AB)
Sometimes being on holiday is more about not doing things, than doing things. The best place in Mendoza not to do anything is at Entre Cielos spa. Languidly laze by the warm pool and saunter between the different hammam rooms to completely warm up and chill out. Guardia Vieja 1998, Vistalba www.entrecielos.com
Where to take a Boy Racer (CO)
You only have to lie in bed at 3am on a weekend in Mendoza City Center to realize this is a city of moronic petrol heads. The roar of car engines, growl of exhausts and screeching of tyres are caused by tiny, souped up Fiat 126s that race up and down the deserted streets. Parque San Martin is notorious for nocturnal drag racing and idiotic car spinning black tarmac donuts rings. If burning rubber is your thing, take a spin out to Mendoza’s very own hot rod race track called Picadas de Lujan (next to the Route 40) with drag racing every Sunday at 3pm. www.autoracingmendoza.com.ar
Where to take your techno tart: Al Sur (AB)
If you know someone who wants to get their glitter on and shake that bootie all night long, take them to Al Sur. The boliche (club) to be in on a Saturday night, it gets crowded as the techno tarts all pour in at 2 or 3am, and roll back out at 6 or 7. If you are a lady, make sure to wear as little and as tight as possible; if you are a guy, get ready to splash your cash. Al Sur, Ruta Panamericana s/n, Chacras
Where to take that Urban Cowboy: La Alejandra (CO)
Mendoza´s only true dude ranch is a beautiful, rugged estancia called La Alejandra and is located in the wild green Andean valley of Valle Carreras, one hour south west of Mendoza city. Wild exteriors, warm interiors and a genuine gaucho vibe should have all urban cowboys chomping at the bit to stay there.
Where to fall in love with a gaucho: Manzano Historico (AB)
There are a few things that are on every woman’s checklist: look better than all your friends on your wedding day, buy a pair of Christian Louboutins and kiss a cowboy. Where can you catch a cute cowboy in Mendoza? The guapo gauchos are in the Manzano Historico in Valle de Uco. Ride into the rural settlement on a Sunday afternoon and with gauchos up to your eyeballs you can let your cowgirl fantasies run wild. Yeehaa! Manzano Historico, Tunuyan
Tired of dry humping on your parent’s couch? La Prive (GH)
Love them our hate them, the Argentine love hotel, or telo, is an indispensable part of local culture. Often young sweethearts who live at home sometimes till their 30’s, pass years of their relationship stealing sex in guilt ridden, pay-by-the-hour motels where a free drink, condom, lube, and porno galore are all included in the price. If you’re really trying to woo your lady, take her to the most exclusive telo in town, Le Prive, where its erotic themed suites will have you and your partner role playing in no time. 9 de Julio and Accesso Este, Guaymallen
Where to take that Nervous Nora: Palmares Shopping Centre (CO)
Mendoza maybe one of the safest cities in South America but that doesn´t mean bad stuff never happens. If you have an old aunt in town who can´t help clutch her handbag and give everybody suspicious looks, calm her nerves by taking her to Mendoza´s plushest gated community and mall – Palmares, 20 minutes south of the City Center.
Where to take the Big Lebowski: San Martin Bowling (CO)
Its bowling, but not as you know it. The pins are miniature and are racked by a courageous alley guy dodging bowling balls thrown by a diverse collection of locals in an old-style, canteen like setting. San Martin Bowling is located right in the city center and has a bar and café to help steel your nerves and strengthen your stamina between shots. San Martin.
Where to take your biking buddy: (AB)
Stabilisers Simon: San Martin Park
If you are still a bit wobbly on your wheels but still want to feel the air rustle through your hair, head to San Martin Park. Almost as big as the city, you can cycle in peace around the numerous paths. Hire a bike from the city centre and turn Queen on in your Walkman: I want to ride my bicycle… www.bikecooltours.com.ar
Daredevil Darren: Cacheuta
If you want a bit more adrenaline on your wheels, head up to the mountains in Cacheuta. Do a round route from the city or get your wife to drop you at the top while you take the bending roads back to civilization. Watch out for the notoriously bad drivers here!
Where to get your Rod out: Estancia San Pablo (CO)
Estancia San Pablo offers a private river that flows through a valley that runs the whole way to Chile. Set in a 40,000 hectare Valle de Uco ranch with cattle and puma, the river is undoubtedly the best spot to fly fish wild rainbow trout in Mendoza, before retiring to a 5-bedroom under a spectacular night sky. www.estanciasanpablo.com.ar
Where to your ankle biting, snog monsters: Neverland (CO)
A child´s boredom threshold is notoriously low, especially when dragged around a bunch of wineries with nothing to offer junior but crackers and cheese. When their tantrum level has become unbearable, take them to the indoor playground known as Neverland in the mall known as Mendoza Shopping. Fun rides, arcade games and bouncy castles will soon erase all memories of their wine tour trauma. www.neverland.com.ar
Where to take your penny pinching foodie: Nameless Peruvian Restaurant (AB)
‘No tengo plata, pero tengo hambre’ should be the pop song for those of us who earn the ever inflating Argentine peso, but still want to get their chops around something rico. One spot that will sate your hambre (hunger) and alleviate your internal accountant is the brashly lit Peruvian joint tucked behind Alameda. No printed menu, seriously good ceviche, spicy fish broth and cheesy Peruvian pop all add to the cheap charm. Corrientes on the corner of Rioja.
Where to take your lomo lover: Barloa (AB)
It is the quintessential Argentine experience: sat ouside chugging beer with locals, listening to some God-awful reggaeton and dribbling copiously over a juicy steak sandwich (lomo). Barloa was opened by a former boxer and has that rough and ready appeal with minimal decor apart from the two portraits inside: Jesus and Maradona. San Martin 300, Las Heras.
Where to take her on her Hen night: La Reserva (AB)
Your friend is getting married but to be honest you’ve probably all had enough of men leering at you from the streets and nightclubs, you’re best bet for a girl’s night out is gay club La Reserva. Suitably darkly lit, the big male stripper with coloured contact lenses and drag queen hostess’ are sure to make it a night to remember, for better or worse! La Reserva, Rivadavia 32.
Where to take a homesick gringo: Believe Irish Pub (GH)
Take a homesick friend to Believe Irish Pub where the imported beers will have them forgetting they’ve ever left home. Besides the extra-terrestrial green light all year round, the rustic wooden furniture and English banter would fit right in on any dark Irish alley. Believe Irish Pub, Colon 241
Where to bring your Adrenaline Junkie: Argentina Rafting (MH)
Looking for an adventure that makes you remember you are alive? Argentina Rafting can give you your thrills… Check out their Adrenaline Circuit for two hours of battling Class III- IV white water rapids, followed by an hour zip-lining 60m above the Potrerillos dam. www.argentinarafting.com
Where to take sweet toothed Sandra: (AB)
This brand new patisserie is the first and probably only in Mendoza that makes true French delicacies. With a chef taken from the homeland, here you can find real chocolate eclairs (as well as a dulce de leche Argentine version), perfect pastries and individual gateauxs. Keep your belt loops firmly untied and indulge in a sweet-toothed moment. Open everyday.
Ladies who lunch: Farrah (AB)
If you want a lunch with the ladies, this all women owned restaurant is the idea spot. In a large converted house in the tranquil 5ta section, the colorfully decorated restaurant sports a huge terrace, nice winelist and fun dishes including something called ‘the last temptation’. Farrah, Paso de los Andes 1006. 423 9981.
Where to bring your Horsey Friend: Las Lechuzas (CO)
Wine tasting on a saddle can be a little difficult, especially after the third tasting. Finca Las Lechuzas have pioneered the idea of visiting wineries on horseback with great success. Located in prime Malbec country called Agrelo, this luxury vineyard ranch has beautiful horses to suit all types and is within easy reach of some of Argentina´s most prestigious wineries. The four legged beasts wait outside with your own personal gaucho whilst you tour the facilities and taste the wine. Contact Trout & Wine to book, Espejo 266, 425 5613
Where to take your gourmet guru: Nadia (OF)
Simply one of the most delicious gourmet experiences in the city, Spanish chef Nadia Heron’s restaurant serves us five courses of creative dishes with a strong emphasis on using local and seasonal produce. Attractive, tasty and an intimate environment – this will get any foodie’s juices flowing. Italia 6055, Chacras. 496 1731.
Where to take your hungry John for a walk on the wildside: Ituzaingo (AB)
There are multiple reasons to try out Ituzaingo’s closed doors restaurant: the good food, fun atmosphere, eccentric host, awesome music selection and, for some, it’s the colorful neighbors that leave the biggest impression – Ituzaingo is in the bohemian red light district! Eating here is a unique and recommended experience. www.ituzaingoresto.com.ar or call 15 666 5778
Where to get your Goat on: Florentino (CO)
It is hard to believe that there are more goats in Mendoza than people. They all live out there in the great sprawling bush. Kid goat is thus the local delicacy and an unforgettable culinary experience if you find the right restaurant that does it well. One such restaurant is Florentino on Plaza Italia which brings a gourmet twist to a very traditional dish. Florentino, Montevideo 675
Where to take your rustic food lover:
Out in the country: Casa de Campo (GH)
Forget all that lomo and pizza and get back to the roots of Cuyo cooking at Casa de Campo located in the heart of the wine region in Maipu. Their jolly owner will serve you up hearty portions of local fare like their clay-oven-roasted rabbit. Relax into genuinely flavourful food with no pretentions of being something it isn’t. Urquiza 1516, Coquimbito, Maipu.
In the city: La Patrona (AB)
You still want a flavour of genuine Argentine, but in an urban setting? La Patrona serves up some of the more traditional Argentine fare in the city centre. Tuck into classic cuts of roast meat and don’t underestimate the power of the open sandwich. La Patrona, 9 de Julio 656
By Amanda Barnes (AB), Charlie O’Malley (CO), Gwynne Hogan (GH) and Molly Hetz (MH)
Published in the June/July 2012 edition of Wine Republic