While del Río might play down empanadas at Siete Cocinas, it’s true that Mendoza boasts some of the best in the world—particularly at El Ceibo, a rustic, cozy space in front of the Plaza Italia. There, Maria Eugenia Loria is the sommelier, and her husband, Mauricio García, is chef. “At first, we wanted to open a tea salon,” says Loria, “but gradually we began putting together a restaurant focused on rescuing our indigenous food and moving it to the city.” Although García has an exceptional hand with meat—do not miss the cordero al disco, a lamb stew so deeply flavorful and fragrant you can smell it down the street—the highlights on the menu are the empanadas, small and imaginatively filled pastries. Start with an order of empanadas de morcilla, just to calibrate the hand of the chef. Then move on to something a little lighter, but equally profound in flavor, like the rabbit braised with onions. And don’t miss the ossobuco empanada, with tender beef filling framed by the slight sweetness imbued by braising in malbec. To accompany such masterpieces, Loria has focused her offerings on local wines, from classics, such as Carmelo Patti’s Luján de Cuyo Malbec, to more modern versions, like El Enemigo, a malbec from winemaker Alejandro Vigil in Gualtallary.
Calle 25 de Mayo 871, Mendoza, Argentina
is the author of Descorchados, an annual guide to the wines of South America, and covers Chile for W&S.
This story appears in the print issue of February 2015.
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