We managed to visit Mendoza two times during the Argentina leg of our trip. The first time was a little break from our work placement in San Rafael that our hosts suggested. The second time, was on our way from Salta to Bariloche as a 3 day stop over. The drive to Mendoza (from either direction), you get to see the expanse of the Andes on the Chilean border, and the views are just breathtaking. Mendoza is Argentina’s most important wine region and one of the top 10 wine regions of the world. We were eager to find out what the city had to offer…
Where we stayed;
Bohemia Boutique Hotel – Granaderos 954, M5500BSC Mendoza
This hotel has the perfect air of comfort and sophistication, with a pretty garden complete with an azure pool. The rooms were clean and relaxing, and the breakfast had a great selection for the morning. The staff were friendly and happy to recommend places all over the city for us to try. The area around our hotel was very picturesque and modern, and offered a lot to a young couple like ourselves. A few streets away was the hub of trendy bars and restaurants on Avenue Aristides Villanueva that were very lively. I couldn’t recommend this place enough.
Quinta Rufina Bnb – Rufino Ortega 142, M5500 Mendoza
This Bnb was a short walk from our original hotel we stayed at on the first visit. Large comfortable studio rooms, with a more antique style of decor and double doors leading into the en-suite bathroom. The rooms had big smart TV’s with… wait for it… NETFLIX! I could’ve stayed in bed watching Breaking Bad all day. Located even closer to Avenue Aristides Villanueva than before, but at the other end, so great access to restaurants and bars. This Bnb has really beautiful communal chill out places, but I must confess I never sampled the breakfast, due to not being able to get up before 10am.
What we ate;
Josefina – ARÍSTIDES VILLANUEVA 165, M5500 Mendoza
Wandering down this avenue, we found a contemporary restaurant with large square windows and glass roof. After having a cortado and a black coffee, we decided to stay for another 3 hours for a lunch of beetroot ravioli with cream cheese and black bean filling, a humongous grilled salad, passion fruit] pavlova and cinnamon, custard and banana tart. The flavours were all very cutting edge (especially for Argentina!) and after our visit, I googled the restaurant and found it was one of the top rated places in the city. What a find!!
Praga – Julio Leonidas Aguirre 413, M5500 Mendoza
I’d heard a few whispers about this place being a ‘hidden gem’ and the ‘best seafood restaurant in Mendoza’ while I was researching the city. Situated across a small plaza, the restaurant was very picturesque. We had our choice of tables and opted for the seats outside under the stars. The wine list was impressive and separated by bodega, we sampled the garlic fried octopus tentacles, Australian potatoes, trout, and more ravioli for me (I’m not a seafood fan). The waiter was attentive and friendly; we left stuffed and suitably wined.
Burgery – Av. Arístides Villanueva 209, M5500EOU Mendoza
This place probably surprised me most of all. Instagram-y burgers galore here, and this was another place we stumbled upon without prior research. We stopped for some beers and drank them outside in the sunshine, before venturing inside for burgers and fries. I had the double patty cheese burger, and Tom had the Tijuana on the promise it would be spicy. The servers behind the bar were friendly and cool, one of the girl was from New York, and we swapped travel stories. Great for a quick bite, or a beer and chill.
Ana Bistro – Av. Juan B. Justo 136, M5500DQC Mendoza
A little research during breakfast into the area around me, I found the perfect little cafe. Ana Bistro is run by two French brothers who decided to bring their cuisine from Paris to Mendoza. The place was very beautiful, adorned with walls of white roses in the garden, with different areas of the restaurant, some seats were inside, there were also tables on the patio, and some in an inside-outside room. We sat outside as it was very sunny, and still feeling stuffed from the hotel breakfast, decided on black coffee and a raspberry coulee fruit salad (the other items on the brunch menu looked incredible though, I wish I had been hungrier!).
(Cafe Patricia is great for Chocotorta, and Bute is great for cocktails!^^^)
What we did;
City tour – Calle Patricias Mendocinas 1100, Mendoza
The free walking tour goes 11am every day, and is offered in English and Spanish. I love touching down into a new city and booking onto a tour, so I can learn exactly how that city was shaped into what it is today, from the mouth of a local. The tour is about two hours, hosted by Diego who’s give you an insight into the cities history, for example, how the city was split across several points due to earthquakes!
Parque General San Martin – Calle Los Platanos, Mendoza M5502IYA, Argentina
This park is seriously massive – standing at 865-acres – its so big, its home to a football stadium, a zoo, a lake, a nature reserve and a hill called ‘The Hill of Glory’. You enter the park through beautiful, large, ornate gates (seen pictured) and can stroll through the greenery for a few hours amongst 300 different types of trees and plants. Outside the park, the houses are grand and colonial, built with, one would imagine, super successful vineyard money! The park was originally created by architect Carlos Thays as a way of allowing the city to breathe, filter the air and cool down as it was swept into the city from the desert. Always good to get a breath of fresh air.
Tiempo de Spa (Time Spa) – Granaderos 1245, M5500 Mendoza
So I booked into another spa, trust me, if you had just endured multiple 25+ hour coach journeys, you’d need a massage too ;). The girls here are very friendly, and accommodate you well if you haven’t brushed up on your Spanish spa lingo. I was greeted with a welcoming tea or coffee (I chose strawberry tea, yummy!) then supplied with white robe, slippers and towel, and my own personal staff member waited outside so she could show me to my treatment room. A luxurious hour later of Swedish massage, I was then treated to a diamond microdermabrasion to really get the long haul bus trip out of my pores. Afterwards a lunch of finger sandwiches, lemon cake, cherry jelly, more tea, and a detoxing lemon, mint and ginger juice. I’ll always have time for Tiempo de Spa whenever I’m in Mendoza.
What I wish we did also;
Hotel & Spa Termas Cacheuta – Ruta Provincial 82, Km 38, M5507 Luján de Cuyo
On paper, this place looks totally dreamy! Turquoise rock pools and streams nestled in surrounding mountains, the pictures look Utopian, and I know you’re all beside yourselves with wonder of how I resisted such a lux landing. Reading the reviews, my little bubble of excitement deflated, as lots of the recent guests complained that although it was beautiful it was overpriced, dirty, overcrowded, and rude staff. Not very relaxing, so I gave it a miss!
Wine Mountain Tours – all over
Mendoza hosts a lot of wine tours that take you high up into the mountains or to local surrounding bodegas: bike tours, private luxury coach tours, hop-on hop-off bus tours, tours with lunch included… the list goes on! After coming to Argentina, I immediately started my love affair with good red wines, but I have valid reason why I didn’t go on any of the tours. As part of my want to immerse myself in the country’s culture, I am taking part in various volunteer roles – the one at the time being working on a finca (vineyard) that grew malbec and shiraz grapes (along with peaches and plums too!). So for 4 weeks I lived on a finca and saw grapes every single day, and didn’t need to see them on a different finca! Also, our hosts were downright wonderful and took us on our own tours of local San Rafael bodegas so we could personally meet the owners and have 1 on 1 tours. I love the non-touristic authentic experience!
I really enjoyed Mendoza, it’s a good blend of large open spaces and elegance – very Italian at times. Hidden away in the shadows of the Andes, most of the time you feel like you are on a film set, as it is leafy, uncrowded and beautiful. I found the restaurant scene to be very up to date, compared with the rest of Argentina, which impressed me! It’s a great hub in the centre of Argentina, and if you are travelling past, I urge you to rest and recuperate for a few days in Mendoza.