Francis Mallman is Argentina’s most identifiable chefs. His signature restaurant, 1884, in Mendoza is the preeminent restaurant for meat in the world’s most preeminent meat country. His book, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, is basically the bible of cooking Argentine meat. The emphasis on the food here is rustic. Many dishes are cooked over an open fire or in a clay oven. Mallman gravitates not toward the European influenced kitchens of Buenos Aires, but the gaucho ways of Patagonia and beyond. Many come here with high expectations of fine cuisine, but some leave disappointed, as they don’t completely understand the chef’s ideology. This is cuisine that can be traced to the very heart and soul of Argentina. It’s presented beautifully, but don’t expect molecular gastronomy here or tiny bite size dishes with foams.
The food is earthy and seasonally based. In fact the menu changes every two weeks. It utilizes Mendoza’s rich cornucopia of produce to pair with the meat and wine. It’s the perfect trifecta. A recent visit saw a salad of roasted pumpkin and a perfectly cooked and seasoned Ojo de Bife (Rib Eye) with chimmichurri over crispy Andean potatoes. Service is proper but not stuffy. The restaurant tends to attract a considerable amount of gringos. Prices are reasonable for the quality and celebrity and are on par with most bodega lunches in Mendoza. Portions are big and hearty and are paired with a wine list that extends to 75 pages (probably more by the time I finish writing this).
1884 is set in a corner of the Escorihuela bodega, in the Godoy Cruz neighborhood just outside of the center of Mendoza (a cab can get you there in 15 minutes). Upon entering the Romanesque building you find the narrow bar area to the right and a large garden area with a few tables to the left. You can sit for a drink at either section while waiting for your table to open up (reservations are a must). In the garden courtyard you can watch the chefs stoke the wood fired grill and clay oven and slice up beautiful cuts of flesh. The restaurant is the most iconic Mendoza food experience.
Francis Mallman 1884 Restaurante
Tel: 261 424 2698
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.