Mendoza’s restaurant scene has always been dispersed. Some places are both food and entertainment venues, so check the Entertainment section as well. There are also fine restaurants in Chacras de Coria, which has a separate listing below, and in many vineyards in Luján de Cuyo and Maipú.
For lunch on a budget or for picnic fixin’s, the best and most diverse option is Mercado Central (Avenida Las Heras and Patricias Mendocinas), dating from 1883; a warren of stalls sell groceries and first-class fast food, including empanadas, pizza, and sandwiches.
For a sandwich on downtown’s shaded sidewalks, along with cold draft beer, try La Cervecería (Sarmiento 63) or any of several others nearby.
Tasca La Plaza (Montevideo 117, tel. 0261/423-3466) is a small, informal Spanish-style restaurant with youthful energy, decent lunch specials, and very fine desserts. El Mesón Español (Montevideo 244, tel. 0261/429-6175) is a more traditional Spanish locale.
Praga (Leonidas Aguirre 413, tel. 0261/425-9585, dinner daily Sun.–Fri.) has earned a reputation for its seafood specialties. The Damajuana hostel’s Chano (Arístides Villanueva 282, tel. 0261/425-5858) is remarkably stylish and lively, with variations on standard Argentine dishes.
Parrillas are numerous. Among the good choices for beef-eaters are Boccadoro (Mitre 1976, tel. 0261/425-5056); Arturito (Chile 1515, tel. 0261/425-1489); and the more upmarket Facundo (Avenida Sarmiento 641, tel. 0261/420-2866), which has attractive outdoor seating.
Relocated from Chacras de Coria, down the block from the Diplomatic Suites, Flora (Belgrano 1069, tel. 0261/420-4322) serves a diverse menu ranging from light but filling salads to hearty dishes like lamb-stuffed sorrentinos in a Malbec sauce (US$9); the bread and accompanying pâté, embellished with almonds and raisins, merits special mention. Beware the desserts, which are good but too big for most single diners.
Open daily for lunch and dinner, La Albahaca (Espejo 659, tel. 0261/438-0041) has an excellent kitchen for both magnificently presented antipasti and specialties such as ravioli with a shrimp sauce (US$10), risotto, and trout. The dessert menu lacks imagination, though.
Reincarnated on its original site, years after a fire forced its temporary relocation, the once-modest La Marchigiana (Patricias Mendocinas 1550, tel. 0261/423-0751, www.marchigiana.com.ar) has become a contemporary-design restaurant with high ceilings, recessed lighting, and modern furnishings. The style changes, though, haven’t altered its unpretentious Italian kitchen, unexpectedly democratic ambience, and outstanding service. It’s pricier than the standard Italo-Argentine fare, but well worth the small difference.
In Godoy Cruz’s Escorihuela winery courtyard, celebrity chef Francis Mallman’s 1884 (Belgrano 1188, tel. 0261/424-2698, francism [at] nysnet [dot] com [dot] ar) is Mendoza’s prestige dining experience, with gourmet versions of regional dishes such as kid goat from Malargüe as well as a diversity of tapas-style appetizers. Diners sit in contemporary high-backed chairs or on long sofas with pillows for support in a room with high ceilings and burned-reddish walls. It’s expensive by Argentine standards, with entrées in the US$15–25 range, but food of this quality would cost triple that in North America or Europe. Unaffected by the Escorihuela fire that destroyed much of the winery, it has a diverse wine list from many area wineries, ranging from cheap to extravagant. The service is unobtrusively impeccable, and reservations are advisable; it’s open for lunch and dinner daily except in January, when it is open for lunch only.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition