Climbing a big, long mountain like Aconcagua is a perfect excuse to indulge in a big, long feast of calories after the expedition. After all, climbers spend up to 10.000 calories during summit day.
The valleys at the foot of the Andes are well know for its wines, but Mendoza also has a growing gourmet scene, and of course there’s the famed Argentinean beef. Below are ten of our favorite places to visit after an Aconcagua trip (or at any other time, actually).
The way of the Gaucho
You need to have climbed a 7.000m mountain to be able to finish a steak at Don Mario, a classic restaurant in Mendoza. It’s not fancy or with a particularly cool ambience, but the quality is good and the quantity is overwhelming. Prices are mid range. (www.donmario.com.ar)
La Barra and El Patio de Jesús María are two good “parrillas” (typical Argentinean grill), with convenient location in downtown Mendoza. The specialty is of course asado (bbq) and steak, and the prices are also in the mid range. (www.https://la-barra-vinos-carnes.negocio.site y http://patiodejesusmaria.com.ar/)
On the fancier side, the restaurant Casa El Enemigo, created by the winemaker Alejandro Vigil, holds the first place in the list of TripAdvisor’s “Best restaurants in Mendoza”. It is located in an area of vineyards and olive tree plantations, in a genuine rural environment. Argentinean food with a gourmet twist, paired with the renowned wines of Vigil, is the specialty. Casa El Enemigo is on the pricier side too. (https://www.facebook.com/casaElEnemigo)
The restaurant 1884 is one of Mendoza’s more glamorous steakhouses. It is owned by Argentinian celebrity chef and author Francis Mallmann. The slow-cooked lamb is the standout dish. The prices are in the higher part of the scale and you need to make reservations in advance to secure a table. 1884 has an impressive wine list (more than 75 pages long!). (www.1884restaurante.com.ar)
Grill Q, the steak house of the Mendoza Park Hyatt hotel, is another fine place to try meat dishes. The restaurant has a nice atmosphere. The good service and the view to the grill and kitchen add up to its personality. It is located in downtown Mendoza. (www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/argentina/park-hyatt-mendoza-hotel-casino-and-spa)
In the best local tradition
Taking the time to sit down to a long, relaxed meal is a Mendocinian tradition. It is indeed a way to experience the good things of this land; sitting outside in the shade, enjoying the iconic views that combine vineyards and trees -the works of man- and the sheer scale of the mountains -the works of nature-. This identity reflexes in the table. And, of course there’s the local Malbec…
Ojo de Agua Taberna y Parilla is a small restaurant among vineyards that has been getting attention and good reviews. It is a bit far from the city and they do not accept credit cards. But the food, the views and the organic wine make it a great choice for a relaxed lunch. Mid range prices. (www.ojodeagua.ch)
More sophisticated but with a similar philosophy is Espacio Trapiche, the restaurant of the renowned winery Trapiche. In fact, the motto of the house is “Donde el tiempo se detiene”, where time stops. (www.trapiche.com.ar)
If breakfast is your energy-recovering meal, the “café” and restaurant Bute is a great choice in downtown. Good coffee, convenient location and a solid kitchen (as opposite to frozen croissants and a microwave oven). And if you are a Grajales Expeditions costumer, you get special benefits! (https://www.facebook.com/buterestaurante/?rf=328087623982239)
A beer drinker in wine country
Lastly, if you are a beer drinker and find yourself lost in our wine country, here is a place to recover from those long days in the dry, windy slopes, drinking nothing but tea and juice: the Cantina at Maal wines. Yes, it’s a winery, but they do the best craft beer in the region. The beer comes with a price tag, unfortunately. You need to call in advance as they are not always open for visits. (http://www.maalwines.com)
[ Text: Nicolás García / Photos: courtesy by BUTE and Maal Wines]