If you travel in Argentina—and are not a vegetarian—you must visit a classic parrilla (grill or, more loosely, steakhouse) at least once to sample Argentinian asado (grilled meat). The hub of the country’s Malbec wine-growing region, Mendoza, is an ideal place to have excellent steak—and wine—outside of Buenos Aires. There are many restaurants and specialized parrillas to choose from in town, so we and our fellow travelers visited several Mendoza parrillas and picked the best.

The best part: the best parrillas also happen to be some of the best restaurants in Mendoza, Argentina.

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Tips for dining at Mendoza parrillas

Before we dig in and take the tour de carne in search of the best steak in Mendoza, let us suggest a few tips for dining at Mendoza steakhouses to make your experience the best it can be.

Menus at Mendoza steakhouses

Menus at Argentinian grill houses are usually extensive and include all of the cow parts. The steak cuts can be a little confusing, from the sheer number to the different body parts of origin to the amount of fat. We find it helpful for each person to order a different cut and rotate the plates.

The most popular cuts of bistec (steak) you’ll see on menus in Mendoza parrillas include:

  • bife de chorizo (AKA bife angosto) = sirloin; big, juicy, and fatty
  • cuadril – rump steak; cheaper but still thick, meaty cut
  • vacío = flank steak; slowly cooked; fatty and chewy
  • ojo de bife = rib eye; smaller in size but chunky in girth; marbled; tasty
  • bife ancho = prime rib; marbled; best with bone for added flavor
  • (tira de) asado = short/spare ribs; not to be confused with asado as a way to grill meat; thin rib strips; best if crispy on the outside
  • bife de lomo – tenderloin; the tastiest, leanest, tenderest, thinnest—and most expensive cut;

[Sources: Lonely Planet‘s “Argentinian steak for beginners” and The Real Argentina‘s “A Meat Lover’s Guide to Beef Cuts in Argentina”]

The equivalent to the question “How do you want it cooked?” is a big decision at a parrilla. Make sure to specify your desired level with your cut order, as the waiter may not always ask, particularly if the restaurant isn’t frequented by tourists.

  • Sangrante = rare; also bien jugoso
  • Jugoso = juicy; medium-rare in some places, rare in others
  • A punto = medium; you can specify a punto pero todavia jugoso (en el centro) = medium but still juicy (in the middle)
  • Cocido = well-done; specify bien cocido if you want it really well done; this option is uncommon in Argentina

If you cut into your steak and see too much pink, it is not rude to ask the mozo (waiter) to have your steak grilled a little more. It gives you more time to enjoy the wine.

At most Argentinian restaurants, the waiter will bring you a bread basket with dips or other accoutrements; expect to be charged 10 to 20 pesos for it, whether you want it or not. According to Argentines, the bread basket is akin to the restaurant’s cover charge (some restaurants list it as cubierto or cover charge). Asking the waiter to not bring the bread, or to take it away, or, god forbid, remove the charge from the bill, is impolite.

As for prices, expect to pay USD50 or more for two meals consisting of beef, sides, and wine.

Wine at Mendoza parrillas

The reds on a parrilla‘s wine list are picked to go well with beef. If you ask for a recommendation from the waiter, they will likely choose the most expensive bottle—perhaps because it’s the best.

Many steakhouse restaurants, in Mendoza and elsewhere, have a dedicated room, often called the wine cellar, whether it’s below ground or not, where the waiter will take you to select your wine. This will be overwhelming. Simply ask the waiter for something good to go with your steak (“algo bueno para acompañar mi bistec“), check the price if you need to, and go with it. It’ll be excellent.

Either way, with Mendoza being a center of the Malbec universe, you are unlikely to have a bad bottle even if you go with the cheapest house wine.

Tipping at Mendoza, Argentina restaurants

Some say most Argentines don’t tip, or they just round up the bill and give a small amount.

Tipping isn’t mandatory or expected in Argentina. Bad service warrants no tip (propina). Tipping 10 percent for great service is a safe guideline.

Whether you pay in cash or by card, always tip in cash. Your bill will not contain a tip line. Hand the tip to the waiter as part of the payment.

Searching for Mendoza restaurants online

As in many other non-English speaking countries, in Mendoza, Argentina local information in English can be hard to come by, limited, or (unfortunately) badly translated. If you need more information that this article can provide and speak even a little bit of Spanish (or can use Google Translate), try searching for “restaurantes en mendoza,” “parrilladas en mendoza,” or “parrilla Mendoza” / “Mendoza parrilla.”

Mendoza parrillas

It is impossible to rank Mendoza steakhouses. Let the appearance on this list of best parrillas Mendoza has to offer suffice as a recommendation. Here are the best steak restaurants in Mendoza in no particular order:

Mendoza parrilla: La Lucia Grill Bar

Many locals tout La Lucia as one of the best parrillas in town. Located in the Aristides nightclub district, the establishment goes for a Hollywood theme with photos of movie starts and film posters plastered everywhere and big-screen TVs blinking. It’s all a little cheesy for a fine dining restaurant, but easy to shut out and focus on what you came for: the beef.

Mendoza parrilla - La Lucia

At La Lucia

La Lucia hits steak perfection with medium-rare lomo: it’s juicy, tender, and bright pink in all the right places without being raw. The ojo de bife is a little too rare in the thick parts.

Mendoza parrillas - La Lucia

The meat at parrilla La Lucia

You can order sides like papas fritas, but you likely won’t need them in addition to the bread.

If you go

Mendoza parrilla: El Patio de Jesús María

Having relocated from an eponymous town near Cordoba in 2000, El Patio de Jesús María found an excellent location on the edge of San Martin park and the Aristides district, with a spacious patio to boot.

The dish to have here is “La tradicional parrilla ‘El Patio’, an all-you-can-eat sampler which features various cuts of beef, pork, and kid, an empanada criolla (filled with lomo beef), sausage, blood sausage, and achuras (offal and other assorted bits). When done, you can ask for more of your favorites—doubtful you’ll have any room left, though.

If you go

Mendoza parrillas: Cordillera Vinos y Fuegos

Cordillera Vinos y Fuegos has great reviews for being one of Mendoza’s best kept secrets, with praise from both foreigners and locals.

All well-justified.

Start with the classy interior. The dining room is sleek, with floor-to-ceiling windows and stylish leather upholstery and tables with real cow-hide inlays.

Mendoza parrillas - Cordillera Vinos y Fuegos

At Cordillera Vinos y Fuegos.

Cordillera’s menu is very simple, perfect for your first parrilla experience: just one page of appetizers, main dishes, beef, and sides.

Instead of a wine list, the waiter will take you to a cellar to pick your bottle. Of course you’ll go with a Malbec—you are in Mendoza after all.

Unusually for a Mendoza restaurant, the bread and accompaniments are free.

As you wait for your steak, the waiter may surprise you with an amuse bouche, such as a piece of roasted pork medallion in an onion sauce.

The steaks come served on wooden planks and with a side of chimichurri, an Argentinian condiment of herbs, vinegar and oil (as all steaks in all of the world should). The beef is flat out amazing (we recommend ojo de bife), if not slightly overcooked vis-a-vis your preferred level of juiciness.

For sides, try the red leaf salad and roasted potatoes as a refreshing change from the usual ensalada mixta (mixed salad) and papas fritas (French fries).

Mendoza parrillas - Cordillera Vinos y Fuegos

At Cordillera Vinos y Fuegos

The warm and friendly (and patient with your bad Spanish) service at Cordillera stands out, particularly if you come early enough to be one of the first guests of the evening.

If you go

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Parrillas in Mendoza, Argentina: El Asadito

El Asadito is another restaurant recommended and beloved by locals that visitors flock to for the authentic asado experience (expect a line out the door at peak times and a bit of a wait for your food). The interior resembles a classic cantina.

Huge portions of meat come with a number of sides, including potatoes, yams, rice, and chips. The appetizer bread will probably suffice to accompany your cut.

El Asadito is also popular for lunch, when lomitos (meat sandwiches) offer great value.

Interestingly, the place also features a vegetarian parrilla, which includes roasted or grilled potatoes, tomatoes, yams, green chillis, onions, and eggplant.

If you go

Mendoza steakhouses: La Barra Vinos & Carnes

La Barra is cozy and inviting, with wooden floors, rustic unfinished wooden tables and chairs, and old photos, wine jugs, and other kitsch decorating the walls — almost like grandma’s house. The service is correspondingly friendly and attentive.

You can order from an a la carte menu or from a list of main dishes with sides, which are slightly cheaper but come in much smaller portions and cheaper meat cuts (the sides are close to abysmal). For one of the pricier steakhouses in Mendoza, this can come as a disappointment.

For the best parrilla experience at La Barra, go with the a la carte menu and get big, thick, juicy cuts of meat on large wooden boards with large, green salads.

As is common in Argentinian restaurants, what can make up for less-than-satisfactory food is wine, for example from the Alta Vista winery, which sits on the popular bike-tour circuit south of town.

Mendoza parrillas

Wine, wine, all the time. From this place, Alta Vista Winery in Mendoza, Argentina. Photo by Kevin Buehler.

Dessert, too, can send you off on a better note; La Barra’s tiramisu is almost perfect.

If you go

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BONUS 1: Mendoza restaurants that are not a parrilla

Mendoza restaurants: Azafran

by Jennifer AKA Dr. J, Sidewalk Safari

Azafran, a restaurant in the heart of Mendoza, offers an upscale and modern dining experience grounded in traditional Argentinian cuisine. Though Azafran is not a traditional parrilla, expect to see lots of meat on the menu.

Mendoza being at the center of Argentina’s wine region, the coolest part about Azafran is the wine cellar (it’s technically not a cellar at all, but a cozy room at the front of the restaurant with exposed brick walls to keep the wines cool). Once you’ve been seated and placed your order, the sommelier will accompany you to the wine cellar to select the perfect bottle of wine to go with your meal. Feel free to heed the sommelier’s recommendations, even for wines, Malbecs included, from outside the Mendoza region.

Best Mendoza restaurants - Azafran

Welcome to Azafran. Photo by Dr. J

Start the meal at Azafran by sharing provoleta, Argentinian grilled cheese served in a skillet. Bread and a small plate of cheese and cured meats will take the edge off your appetite and pair well with the Malbec.

For the main dish, try the risotto or grilled chicken.

The wait staff at Azafran will tempt you with dessert. If you still have any room left, go with panqueque de dulce de leche or simple crème brûlée, which comes with dulce de leche ice cream.

Azafran is a great restaurant for a culinary splurge if you find yourself in Mendoza.

If you go

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BONUS 2: Parrillas near Mendoza, Argentina

Katharina Restaurant, Lujan de Cuyo

by Stefan and Sebastien, Nomadic Boys

Lujan de Cuyo is one of the many villages around Mendoza, famous for its vineyards and wine hotels. The gorgeous Entre Cielos is a luxury wine spa hotel surrounded by vineyards and producing its own grapes. They are also famous in the locality for their Katharina Restaurant.

You’ll love dining here because of the setting overlooking acres of vineyards, outdoor pool, and also the delicious local food. They have all the Argentinian classics like the famous steaks, along with a range of European dishes with a French twist. Also try their fish dishes, particularly the salmon. The Katharina Chocolate cake is to die for!

Mendoza restaurants - Entre Cielos Katharina Restaurant

Salmon at Katharina Restaurant. Photo by Nomadic Boys

The highlight is the array of wines you can try. Lujan de Cuyo is located in the heart of the Malbec country, so you know you’re in for a wine treat here. They produce their own exclusive wine called Marantal, which has won awards and been rated one of the 20 best Malbecs in 2013.

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Mendoza Parillas

23 Responses

  1. Alan Cordle

    I read it all. The meat has no appeal, but the wine sure does.

  2. Emily

    Yes! Thanks Lindsay – I suspect we’ll be in Mendoza in about 2 weeks and so will learn from this post what to do and what to order (or not). We appreciate the price ranges and tip guide…and now let me build up a hankering for yummy steak!

  3. Anne

    That steak looks mouth-watering. Reminds me of a meal I had in Argentina after being in Brazil for a few weeks and being really disappointed by the food. I still talk about my Argentinian steak seven years later!!

  4. Danik

    Loving the look of this restaurant and the steak looks amazing. My lips are already wet looking at this. Great review 🙂

  5. Megan Indoe

    Wow, sounds like you guys ate well in Argentina! I love digging into the local food scene! I don’t blame you for going crazy with empanadas either, they are amazing! The asado you ate made me hungry and I just ate breakfast. We have to make it down there!

  6. Eric || The Bucket List Project

    Hmmmm….Argentinian Steak Houses! I think if I had to choose off this review I would go also for Cordillera Vinos y Fuegos as my first parrilla experience. I love chimichurri sauce also!
    I might pass on La Barra despite the coziness

  7. Nathan

    You had me at beef and wine! The steaks look perfect and the wines sound amazing. I would love try all of these places.

  8. melody pittman

    Gorgeous restaurants and pieces of meat! I do love some South American meats, first for the pure flavor and leanness of the meats, and second for the awesome dipping sauces such as chimichurri. Then you threw in the Malbec…yum, yum, yum. Look like some fantastic eats on your trip! Thanks for sharing.

    • Peter Korchnak

      Thanks, Melody. There’s something special about eating red meat and drinking red wine alongside. Makes for interesting dreams too…

  9. Claire

    Ahh I used to make this mistake too, relying too much on street food and not treating myself to dinner. Now I’ve found a happy compromise that would still let me eat delicious steak like this!!

  10. Genie | Gallivanting Bean

    I’ve been trying to go vegan haha and this post has me craving meat already. Everything looks so savory and delicious. and for $47 that’s crazy

  11. carla abanes

    As someone who lives on vegan meals, I cannot relate about meat meals that I am sure is tasty and delicious and its in Argentina! But sure had fun reading your Argentina travel experience. I look forward to visiting the country too soon!


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