Mendoza is Argentina's top destination for food lovers. Restaurants here are known around the world, and the food -- fresh, local, creative, and very tasty -- will certainly be a highlight of your trip. As in the rest of Argentina, Mendocinos dine late. Breakfasts of coffee and pastries are served from around 7:30 to 10:30am. Lunch is generally a leisurely meal, running from 1 to 3pm. Restaurants don't usually open for dinner until 8:30pm, and they don't get busy until 10pm. How can you survive? If you must dine before 9pm, stick to hotel-lobby restaurants, which usually open earlier. Or, do as the locals do: Indulge in an afternoon siesta, then satiate your 6pm hunger with a coffee and snack at one of the city's many lovely outdoor cafes. We highly recommend that you soak up the atmosphere at a Mendoza cafe. There are dozens of cafes with outdoor patios along the Sarmiento Peatonal pedestrian street, where the people-watching is world-class. At Arístides Villanueva 209, try La Dulcería de la Abuela (tel. 261/423-5885) for delicious sweets. For something funky, Kato Café, Emilio Civit 556 (tel. 261/425-7000), is artsy and hip. And for the classically elegant Mendocino cafe, nothing comes close to Vía Civit, Emilio Civit 277 (tel. 261/429-8529). That can be followed by a stroll through the plazas and maybe a stop at a wine bar. Come 9:30 or 10pm, you'll be ready to head out for dinner.
Even if you are staying in the center of town, make at least one trip out to a restaurant in the suburb of Godoy Cruz or in the wine areas, where some of the best cuisine is to be had at restaurants such as La Bourgogne and Terruños.
Take Flight -- If you're visiting Mendoza and want to sample as much wine from as many wineries as possible, then take a flight! A flight of wines, that is. The Vines of Mendoza, Espejo 567 (tel. 261/438-1031), was the first collective tasting room in the region. Led by charming and bilingual wine experts, tastings include daily samples of some of Argentina's finest -- and hardest to find -- boutique wines. On Wednesday nights, a local winemaker presents his best vino tinto, and on Fridays, it's about bubbly champagne. The indoor terrace is cozy. They've just opened shop inside the Park Hyatt Hotel. Likewise, Wine Club Republic (tel. 261/15-541-3892 [cell]), meets every Monday at 7pm at the Marcelino Wine Store, at the corner of Benegas and Zapata. It's open to the public, but reservations are required. Both are great places to meet and mingle with expats, other travelers, and local wine lovers.
The Real Scoop -- Mendocinos love ice cream, and they have some of the best in a country passionate for the stuff. There are heladerías on most every street. The best in town is Helados Ferruccio Soppelsa (tel. 261/422-9000), run by a family of immigrants from the Italian Dolomites. The classics are dulce de leche, tiramisu, and strawberry and cream. And check out the vino-inspired flavors such as pineapple with Voignier, vanilla with Malbec, and peach with Syrah. They have more than a dozen locations in the Mendoza area, but it's fun to join the local families who gather in the evening at the busy shop on the corner of Belgrano and Sarmiento/Civit. There's also one on the northwest corner of the Plaza Independencia, another at the Palmares Mall, and a new one in Chacras de Coria's main square.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.