The List 2013

thelist2012Every year we pull together some of our favourite recommendations for Mendoza so you know where to go when you are new in town.

GovindaVeggie-might

It can be a tough life for a vegetarian in Argentina. Only a couple years ago if you said you were a vegetarian people would offer you chicken or ham instead. Nowadays though you can pick up veggie bites in a lot of takeaway/pay per kilo places in the city open weekday lunchtimes, or you can visit one of the most established herbivore haunts in Mendoza, Go Vinda, open from 7am till midnight everyday (from 9am Sundays). With a great garden patio, funky décor and unusual veggie dishes including curried everything and salads coming out your ears. Grab a ginger tea and feel a bit Zen for a while.

Go Vinda, San Martin 948, Godoy Cruz

 

el mercadito cortesia amanda barnes3Pulsing to a different beat

Aristides still remains the busiest night spot in town, but last year a new resto-bar took the crown as the coolest in town. El Mercadito is run by three friends and it lets the good times roll with healthy meals – including big salads, which are a rarity here – antioxidant juices, decent brekkie, fresh cocktails and a top music mix. Spend an evening here and you’ll hear a few beats from across the pond and leave with a light stomach and a few stars brightening up your vision.

El Mercadito, Aristides 521

 

Where the magic happens

anna_bistro

Actually just before the magic happens, or maybe as a treat after. Either way, Anna Bistro and its stunning fairy lit garden is still the sexiest spot for a date. Some seriously boozy cocktails, French speaking waiters and indulgent desserts are sure to do most of the work for you. All you need to remember is your cheque book and the way to the boudoir.

Anna Bistro, Juan B Justo 161

 

I do like a bit of art with my wine!

This home restaurant by art merchant Gonzalo Cuervo is one of the best digs in town for good wine, good company and great art. Whether you want to settle in for tapas or a five course dinner with paired wine, Gonzalo will welcome you into his home and introduce you to Argentina, its culture and its stunning world of modern art. A very friendly experience indeed.

Ituzaingo, cocina@ituzaingoresto.com.ar, 15 666 5778

 

Rastas and rum

There’s one spot that still gets its fair share of diversity. Mendoza’s become pretty homogenous in the past years with many bars offering the same David Guetta mix and mini-skirted, long haired brunettes gracing every dance floor. But there’s one place that sticks to its own style: psychedelic reggae and rastas. Only open in the Summer, Gira Mundo is on a completely different orbit. Cross the bridge from mountain getaway Cachueta (1hr from the city) and enter into a world of dirty long hair, knee pumping dance moves and a football field of plastic fernet cups – all aptly lit with coloured fairy lights.

Gira Mundo, Cacheuta

 

Lomito love

New Year’s Day this year was tainted by a day of mourning for Mendoza as the city’s infamous and best lomito bar was burnt to the ground in a fire. After just over a month, Barloa reopened to the relief of everyone who understands the importance of a decent steak sandwich. Nice to know the owners haven’t changed their style though, Maradona has been dusted off and is back on the wall alongside Mother Mary again.

Barloa, San Martin 300 corner of Morales, Las Heras

 

pizza lomoThe ultimate Argentine combo: Pizza Lomo

Everyone knows Argentina is all about pizza and parilla but have you tried Argentina’s ultimate fusion food? The pizza lomo. Yes, you heard right, a pizza and lomo (steak), in fact three pizzas with two lomos sandwiched between. Definitely indulgent – one is enough for 10 people – and ultimately Argentine.

 

Just like Mum cooked it

That’s if your Mum was Argentine. This intimate restaurant is all about food cooked as if you were at home. Hearty empanadas, sizzling asado and warming Argentine classics are also served alongside big open sandwiches and a good wine list ready to make your cheeks flush. Try some Argentine favorites in the kitchen and make yourself feel at home.

La Patrona, 9 de Julio 656
spa 2A Spa Darling?

Sometimes you just need to shut yourself up, get naked and wash away all your thoughts. Entre Cielos is the place to do it. The first hammam in South America, this is a seriously luxury version of what a real Turkish hammam is – the temperature is right, but you get to do the entire circuit in private (or with your friend/s). Sweat, scrub and wash all your stress away. Finish off with an olive oil foam massage for the ultimate relax. www.entrecielos.com

Entre Cielos, Guardia Vieja 1998, Vistalba

 

A one-stop shop to impress

There aren’t many places that can offer you 5 star dining, a luxurious spa, a colorful casino, an art gallery and a bed… apart from a hotel. Mendoza’s premier hotel, The Park Hyatt, is the one stop for impressing someone special in your life. A gleaming white heritage building on Plaza Independencia, this is a real attraction for the city and you can bet that you won’t be disappointed by the grub either. Check out Bistro M for some seriously flavourful European style dishes including their new Autumn/Winter menu of seafood stew, calamari in salsa pomodoro, black cod on a truffle mash and delectable desserts that will stick (to your hips) and in your memory for a couple days. The wine list is also surely the longest in the city. Or try the man-pleasing Grill Q with the biggest empanadas in town, big juicy steaks and fine parilla dining that will make all carnivores salivate.

Park Hyatt (Bistro M and Grill Q), Chile 1124

 

Virtual wine travel

Maybe you don’t have the time to travel the country’s diverse wine regions, or maybe you just don’t have the impetus. Either way – you can see hundreds of wines from around Argentina from the comfort of one armchair at The Vines of Mendoza. With boutique wineries as well as big players you can try wines by the glass, bottle or in themed wine flights to get to know your way around this stunning wine producing country without moving from the city center. You can even learn how to make your own blend of wine in their special blending lab where a sommelier will take you through the steps while enjoying plenty to glug on throughout the experience.

The Vines of Mendoza, Belgrano 1194

 

 

Cooking like a true Campesino!

If you want to take away some serious kitchen skills from your stay in Argentina then Ceibo restaurant by Plaza Italia can help you out. Book yourself into their afternoon cooking clinics where you’ll learn all the staples of true Argentine cuisine in a few hours of fun cooking, eating and of course drinking plenty of the local juice. Run by a local chef and sommelier duo, you won’t just learn the art of asado, clay ovens, ‘al disco’ and empanada making but it’s also a cultural class in argentina – learn how local people really eat, drink and think and finish off the day tasting some of Argentine tobacco with fun cocktails. The restaurant also offers some of the tastiest empanadas in town and a wine cellar to die for.  Ceibo, 25 de Mayo 871

Heaven’s Kitchen

Still reigning as the top Trip Advisor attraction in Chacras, you know this is good. In this luxury, boutique hotel in leafy Chacras 15 mins outside of the city centre, chef Cristina Brino cooks up a storm with guests a you learn some quintessential Argentine dishes: empanadas, steak with chimichurri and barbequed fruit while drinking some of Adelgisa’s top notch organic wine. A relaxed, luxury approach to traditional Argentine cooking, using a clay oven and an open fire. Get stuck in and chop, knead and BBQ, or simply sit back with a glass of wine and let Cristina do most of the cooking for you – it’s up to you. Finca Adalgisa, Pueyrredon 2222

 

Que chivito rico!

Chivo (or kid goat) is one of the delicacies in Argentina that you can’t miss out on while you are here. Succulent, tasty and fantastically gaucho – Florentino is one of our favourite joints for serving up this yummy little goat. Stacked up on a round of soft, seasoned polenta you really can’t go wrong at any time of year with this. Also make sure to try some of the creative salads and yummy homemade breads at this arty restaurant right in front of Plaza Italia – a real gem in Mendoza.

Florentino, Montevideo 675

 

chef munA taste of Asia in Argentina

It was with a fair bit of buzz that South Korean chef ‘Chef Mun’ arrived in Mendoza last year. For all of us foreigners craving a little bit of spice in our lives, Chef Mun has managed to bring that flair here. His winery style five-course lunches and dinners offered at the new Bodega Casarena in Lujan offer not only great sushi and seriously good soups, but some adventurous pairings that will keep your palate engaged. Pinot Noir and Tuna sushi and Malbec with wasabi steak just to name a couple. Come ready for a slice of Asia with the bonus of Argentine wine.

Chef Mun, Bodega Casarena, Brandsen 505, Lujan de Cuyo

 

Good Marketing

Second hand chic: Chacras Plaza Market

Everyone loves a good rummage through trinkets and knickknacks. Sunday morning is a scavengers delight at Plaza Chacras for their antiques and quirky gifts. Whether you need a silver spoon, an old phone or some of grandma’s clip-on earrings – it’s all there, and usually accompanied by a glorious sunny morning.

Bolivian bargains: Ugarteche Market

If your market tastes are more about bargain hunting, then the Bolivian market in Ugarteche on a Sunday morning will be to your hearts delight. Ever wondered how people survive soaring inflation and stiff prices? They shop here. Whether it is second hand or fallen off of the back of a truck, you probably aren’t going to mind as the price is right. Try one of the spicy soups while you are here too.

 

MANZANO-ENCABEZADOGaucho delight: Manzano Historico

Haven’t had your fill of Argentine cowboys yet? Head down to the Manzano Historico in Uco Valley on a weekend and you are sure to spot a fair few. Packed with locals and wafting with smoke from asados on every corner, this is the real deal. Buckle up, jump on the back of a horse and throw on your poncho as you ride about town with the real men of Argentina – the gaucho.

 

In search of a proper pub?

Sometimes you just want to sit back at a real pub, chat to some locals and get a decent plate of grub – Mendoza’s longest serving Irish pub is the place to do it. Believe Irish Pub is run by expat Kelly and her Argentine husband Gonzalo who know that a good pub atmosphere requires friendly faces, a decent pint and big plates of food to soak up the booze. The place can get pretty packed at the weekends and is a favourite for foreigners and locals throughout the week.

Believe Irish Pub, Colon y Espana 241.

 

All things sweet

If you want to get your mitts on something naughty but nice head up to Brillat Savarin, one of the city’s top patisseries. Run by French chefs they know how to make a perfect croissant and their multi coloured collection of macaroons isn’t bad either. They also create some delicious breads and yummy chocolates.

Brillat Savarin, Juan B Justo 135.

By Amanda Barnes

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