The beauty of Mendoza goes beyond the stunning world class Malbec wine production. With fine wine comes fine food. And with more than 1,500 wineries in this wine regions, there is plenty of opportunity to indulge in its savory cuisine on the traditional grills while relaxing in world class resorts. And with its rich gaucho history, the tradition of the Argentine cowboy lives on. In this article, Bubbly Tourist continues to rank the top reasons why you should visit Mendoza in this must see region of Argentina.
1. Partake in Argentine grilled food
One should never visit Argentina without experiencing their beef and/or vegetables cooked on the grill. In fact, grilling is the only way they'll cook it. There are many different types of grills each with its unique focus on cooking and Argentina is very proud of this. If you are looking to order a cut of steak in Mendoza, try the ojo de bife also known as rib-eye steak. It is a thick, well-marbled steak that is cooked over high heat. Ojo de Bife is typically finished with a tangy chimichurri sauce as seen in the photo below. The full potential of this steak can be obtained only by cooking it on the parrilla. The tasty buttery flavor comes from the fat between the muscles of the meat. When cooked on the parilla, it becomes infinitely tender, and the flavor is mind blowingly gorgeous! And of course, pair it with grilled corn, tomatoes, garlic or other local produce like peppers to truly make the meal memorable.
2. Eat at a world class restaurant and resort of Mendoza while chilling and savoring your wine
Located an hour outside of the city of Mendoza is the Siete Fuegos (7 fires) restaurant. This amazing restaurant was started by Francis Mallman and is located inside the beautiful Vines of Mendoza resort which is hidden within its vineyards at the base of the Andes. At the restaurant, there are seven types of grills from which you can explore and order your meal. The food is incredible and the resort is absolutely divine. Each room has incredible views of the surrounding vineyards with firepits on the porches. Anyone seeking peace and quiet in an absolutely gorgeous setting with views of the vineyards and the Andes as their backdrop, should stay here. It is a beautiful resort with first-class amenities. Highly recommended! Click here if you're interested in experiencing zen from our room.
3. Experience dance culture and tradition
As one would expect in Mendoza, culture begins, but does not end, with wine. Wine tradition is so important here that since 1936, the province has celebrated the Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (Grape Harvest Festival), which is considered by National Geographic as one of the five most important festivities in the world and the second most important harvest festivity in the world. It is celebrated between the last Sunday in February and the first Saturday in March. The festivities include tastings, parades as the Vía Blanca or the Carrusel, the election of the Queen of the Grape Harvest and musical shows where, of course, tango is danced. But there is also another more traditional style of dancing - one based upon the gaucho - called the malambo, a 400-year-old Argentine dance with roots in gaucho dueling. Based on the culture of 17th-century South American gauchos, or cowboys, the malambo was born as a contest of strength and agility. Its signature move is the intense footwork, inspired by the rhythm of galloping horses, as seen in the photo / video below.
4. Try the best empanadas and share a mate
Just about every country makes their own empanada, but in South America, it is a staple and Argentina's empanadas are arguably the most renowned in the world. Consisting of a filling wrapped in dough, an empanada makes a great meal or snack on the go. Since Argentina is a beef loving country, the most traditional empanadas includes combination of beef, onions, peppers, olives, and hard-boiled egg. However, there are nearly countless empanada fillings, from savory chicken, fish, or cheese, to sweet empanadas filled with fruit. One cool fact about the empanadas in Argentina is that the crimping around the edges of the empanada identifies its filling. As for drink, mate (pronounced mah tay) tea has been a part of Argentine culture for centuries, with a rich historic significance. The cultural value of mate goes beyond its caffeine boost and unique flavor. This tea is a symbol of hospitality and companionship, representing the welcoming spirit of the Argentine people. It also has a social significance of sharing amongst friends, family, and colleagues. It is served counter clockwise (against time) via a shared gourd, called a bombilla, and a shared straw.
5. Live like a king but spend like a pauper
The Argentinians have a saying that there are two certainties in life: death and the de-valuation of the peso. Although somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the ever declining value of the peso is a fact. What that means is that things are very cheap and even cheaper when you pay in pesos. The best way to get the most pesos for your dollar/pound/euro is to bring lots of home country cash and then exchange it at a "blue market" currency exchange location called a "cambio" (change) when you need it. Yes, this is completely legal. There are a few cambios in Mendoza and even more in Buenos Aires. Bubbly Tourist recommends exchanging currency for pesos in Buenos Aires where the rates are better than Mendoza. Keep in mind that the peso is continuously devaluing so an exchange rate at the end of the week may be higher than it is at the beginning of the week like it was for us. So, only exchange some of your currency when you arrive and then some later in the week. Regardless of the exchange rate at the cambio, it will be a much better deal than your credit card. When Bubbly Tourist was there it was on the order of 20-30% more pesos for your money at the cambios than with your credit card. It is perhaps less safe carrying cash but it is a simple way to have your money go much further. Pro tip: if you're already in Argentina and need more home currency to exchange for pesos, you can go to a Western Union location and have cash wired to you.
Bubbly Tourist Bon Voyage!