When it comes to gastronomy, Argentina is famous for two things: succulent beef and lip-smacking wine, and what a combination they make, be it in the sophisticated restaurants of Buenos Aires or rustic-style amongst the exquisite rural scenery to be found in the Mendoza region.
Buenos Aires has a thriving dining scene that just seems to be getting better and better. Head to an old school Parrilla (barbecue restaurant), such as the acclaimed Don Julio in Palermo Soho, for spectacular beef cooked in an open kitchen on an iron grill. Smartly dressed, knowledgeable waiters meander attentively amongst the wooden tables, the exposed brick walls – lined with hundreds of bottles of wine – creating a traditional ambience befitting of a divine menu and excellent wine cellar. The increasing global trend for Puertas Cerradas (‘closed door’, supper club restaurants) continues apace in Buenos Aires, Portenos and discerning tourists with gourmand tendencies favouring a number of charismatic dining venues in the private homes of talented, hospitable chefs – reservations essential. Set, multi-course tasting menus for a small number of guests are served communal style, allowing for a dinner party ambience and interesting conversation with strangers – Casa Saltshaker has a fantastic reputation in the Recoleta Quarter. For a more avante garde experience, try Tarquino, where a former El Bulli chef re-imagines Argentinian classics in an elegant, contemporary dining room.
Mendoza is a region famous for its wine, including malbec, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, with snow-capped Andes mountains giving way to a lush floor of irrigated land replete with acres of productive vines and a micro climate conducive to making great wines. While staying in an idyllically positioned luxury adobe, such as Cavas Wine Lodge, you can tour its own vineyard and exploring wineries in the surrounding area, visit a garagista – the wine equivalent of a micro brewery – and enjoy wine-tasting and rustic-style dining at family or chef-run restaurants along the way. Additionally, Bodega Lopez (established in 1898) offers complimentary tours and wine-tastings. It also boasts a fascinating museum housing artefacts such as beautifully restored trucks, wooden presses and French oak casks.