Argentina’s Uco Valley: Where to Eat and Drink
A year after his first daring six-week pop-up, when he transferred everything apart from the kitchen sink from Tegui in Buenos Aires, to convert a biodynamic vineyard in Mendoza (no gas connection) into a romantic outdoor dining destination, chef Germán Martitegui returns to Argentina’s biggest wine-producing region for a second season.
Sourcing and foraging for products strictly from the province, the second edition of Tegui at SuperUco opened in February, 2019 at the Michelini family’s winery. Talking about the original idea, Martitegui says: “We wanted to go somewhere where we admired the people, to a family whose members are also our friends and whose work ethic we identify with. We also wanted to prove there are great products in Argentina. And of course, travelling with the entire Tegui team for the first time was a total adventure.
“Returning to Mendoza in February means we’re united by our friendship with the Michelinis, with plenty of affection for the province, remembering the great times we had last year and with the urge to do our best. And, knowing the place this time around means we can make sure the experience is even better. Everything was perfect last year and I swore I wouldn’t come back – but that makes the challenge even bigger.”
Yes, Martitegui’s elaborate pop-up experience that’s timed to coincide with the setting sun is absolutely a dining must during the popular vendimia (grape harvest) season, but while visiting the Uco Valley, be sure to check out some of these other restaurants and cellar doors.
There’s nothing like a languid lunch paired with a bodega’s best vintages (and a driver); these are some of the newest to open across Uco Valley. After a decade at O. Fournier, Spanish chef Nadia Harón has moved to Bodega Monteviejo in Vista Flores, Uco Valley, to offer tapas and Mediterranean cuisine.
Diam’s Bistro & Bar à Vins
Handily next door and within the same Clos de Los Siete winery complex, the Bonnie family of DiamAndes has opened their vineyard-side home to create Diam’s Bistro & Bar à Vins, where chef Santiago Orozco serves a seven-course menu using ingredients grown in their organic garden: the vichyssoise is particularly delicious.
Casa de Uco
Casa de Uco is half hotel, half winery. Check into its restaurant, which sources many vegetables from its organic garden. Start with sweetbreads, cauliflower purée, orange and gremolata, then follow it up with Uco Valley trout with carrot puré, braised fennel and salsa verde.
Around the established winery restaurants around Uco Valley, you’ll find majestic views of the Andes almost every which way your turn (as long as it’s west). Book lunch at Piedra Infinita at Zuccardi Valle de Uco in Paraje Altamira; work up an appetite on a bodega tour before enjoying chef Matías Aldasoro’s menu who sources ingredients such as goat kid locally.
For a more casual dining experience, try family-run La Azul near Tupungato, where Argentine standards such as empanadas and asado (barbecue) are particularly exquisite.
For a lighter meal, try Domaine Bousquet charcuterie for a bit of French chic, while Espacio Killka at Salentein serves up a three-course lunch with smoked pork shoulder and vineyard vistas.
While tasting rooms usually focus on a single winery’s labels in Mendoza, two recently-opened cellar doors in Uco Valley offer a wide selection of vintages as well as tasty bites to eat. Cundo in Paraje Altamira stocks a roundup of labels such as Finca Suárez, Finca La Igriega and Finca Beth that are produced in that geographical indication (IG) as well as a tempting charcuterie menu.
The empanadas at BarSette in Tupungato are best paired with vintages such as the Livverá Bequignol 2018.
With three restaurants to his name around Mendoza, Chef’s Table star Francis Mallmann deserves his own dining category. For quick yet delicious pizza prepared in a clay oven – a collaboration with wife Vanina Chimeno – head to Orégano in Mendoza city.
1884 + Siete Fuegos
For fine winery dining, book dinner at 1884 at Escorihuela Gascón; and for vineyard-side lunches with an Andes vista, Siete Fuegos at The Vines of Mendoza Resort & Spa in Uco Valley is a must.
Invariably you’ll refuel in Mendoza city on your way to or from the airport, so check out these top-rated spots. For clay-oven roasted kid and other classic dishes from the province, stop by for a cocktail followed by dinner at Siete Cocinas. Azafrán offers up local charcuterie, tasty risottos, and a stunning wine cellar and is a great downtown option that’s open daily.