Bar at 1884 Restaurante, Mendoza, Argentina

1884 Restaurante

Set romantically inside the historic Escorihuela winery on the outskirts of town, Francis Mallmann's 1884 Restaurante has dominated Mendoza's culinary landscape for nearly two decades. It is the superstar-chef's longest-running venture, and though his new project in the Uco Valley may be getting all the buzz these days, the original remains a must for Mendoza-bound epicures. Request a table in the blooming interior courtyard, framed by prodigious iron windows (the winery was built in 1884) and sample Mallmann's greatest hits from the parrilla and the clay oven. Our fail-proof order: burnt carrots, salted chicken and blackened stone fruit for dessert.

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Food at  Azafrán, Mendoza, Argentina


This classic dinner spot occupies a former spice depot downtown (its name is the Spanish word for saffron). Flea market curios adorn the walls, braided garlic strands hang from the ceiling and shelves are still lined with bulk spices, specialty condiments and vinegars. Rather than selecting your wine from a list, follow the sommelier to the handsome cellar and choose a bottle directly from the shelves (labels are catalogued by price and varietal). Azafrán is known, fittingly, for its charcuterie, and a variety of curated "picadas" feature smoked meats, local cheeses and artisanal preserves. On the whole, the menu is a touch more grown-up than the atmosphere might suggest, but children are cheerfully accommodated.

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Bar at Bodega La Azul, Mendoza, Argentina

Bodega La Azul

Pull into La Azul's simple yard after visiting a few of its big-league neighbors and marvel at the sheer range of producers in the game on Mendoza's wine frontier. The tiny facility here, which could pass for a glorified garage, is the smallest winery in the area and the only one funded entirely with Argentine capital. For years the proprietors cultivated plums and peaches and sold their grape harvests to major corporations like Trapiche and Catena, but in 2003 they struck out on their own, calling their venture "La Azul" ("the blue one") after the color of the ribbon drawn in the family lottery to determine which plot of land each child would inherit. For what is probably the least pretentious wine-pairing lunch in the valley, head for a table under the pergola at the winery's folksy restaurant.

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Casa de Uco Restaurant

Casa de Uco’s farm-to-table restaurant is infused with a lot of heart from its chef, a Mendoza native, who uses only seasonal ingredients, many of which are grown in the estate’s vegetable garden or sourced from local farmers. The dining room surrounds a crackling fireplace and has views over the vineyards, making for a very warm and romantic setting. If you’re staying at The Vines, it’s worth the 10-minute drive to this property for dinner.

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Food at Katharina, Mendoza, Argentina - Courtesy Entre Cielos


Located in the boutique hotel Entre Cielos, Katharina attracts more than just hotel guests. Its haute cuisine menu is popular with locals who come for a romantic meal with a view of the hotel’s vineyards and the Andes as a backdrop.

Food at Ocho Cepas, Mendoza, Argentina

Ocho Cepas

This delightful little restaurant is set in a house, where living rooms, bedrooms and salons have been stripped of their original furniture and outfitted with dining tables. Located on the corner of a quiet, tree-lined block, Ocho Cepas feels like an insider place, though it’s long been renowned for its excellent menu of Argentine classics.

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Ruca Malen

Cap off a long morning of tastings in Luján with a wine-pairing lunch at Ruca Malen, which provides an excellent introduction to the siesta-inducing tradition (reserve well in advance to guarantee a table). Despite its size, the winery's tiny dining room is luminous and serene, with floor-to-ceiling windows on all four sides to make the most of lovely mountain and vineyard views. The five-course menu, while local through and through, is playful rather than pious. A recent visit began with a salad of quinoa, green olives, tart apples and Chardonnay leaves (a hand-illustrated map of Argentina, complete with guanaco-dotted mountains and hovering eastern rainclouds, gradually materialized underneath as the salad's components disappeared) and ended with deconstructed alfajores (the ubiquitous soft-and-crumbly cornstarch sugar cookies filled with dulce de leche and beloved by generations of Argentine schoolchildren).

Interiors at Siete Fuegos, Mendoza, Argentina

Siete Fuegos

Francis Mallmann, whose 1884 Restaurante put Mendoza on Argentina's culinary map in the mid-90s, has partnered with The Vines Resort & Spa to open Siete Fuegos, where all the theatrics of cooking with fire are readily on display. Here Mallmann's able disciples practice seven distinct techniques of open-flame cooking, and diners are invited to watch. While aficionados will be familiar with the parrilla and the clay oven, few will have witnessed vegetables baked "al rescoldo" (inside a mound of smoldering embers) or salmon roasted "al infiernillo" (on a shelf between two open log fires). Few will have seen an entire quadruped roasted ceremoniously "al asador" (on an iron stake)—a time and labor-intensive undertaking usually reserved for weekend gatherings. Fortunately, in the relative wilderness of the Uco Valley, there is both plenty of time and plenty of wide-open space for leisurely Sunday asados.

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