Bariloche is a very recreational city because of its location at the beautiful Lake Nahuel Huapi and at the foot of the Andes Mountains. The lake and area look and feel very much like Lake Tahoe in California. The mountains are more dramatic than Tahoe, but when we look out from our window at the Design Suites, we think of Tahoe. It is off-season in Bariloche but when winter comes the area will be jammed with ski enthusiasts. Bariloche has the largest ski resort area in South America. During the summer months there are beaches for sunbathing and many opportunities for trekking and fishing.
In the town, the shops center around tourism and you find plenty of souvenir shops and restaurants of all types. There are also lots of chocolate shops, for Bariloche is the chocolate capital of South America. These are big stores with all types of chocolate for sale and packaged so the tourist can easily take them home. The town even has a chocolate museum.
When in Bariloche, as we are told by several people, you must eat at Bariloche Alberto’s. There are five of these restaurants spread out in the area. On our second night we tried one of Alberto’s restaurants. Once seated, the chef comes to your table and asks which cut of meat you want and how you want it cooked. You can also have chicken, but who has chicken when you can have beautiful beef from grass-fed cattle? You have a choice of half a cut or a full cut. Half is plenty. Back at the grill, the chef cooks your order and you can go watch if you like. We are lucky tonight because none other the than owner himself is there to make sure things are running smoothly. We think his name is Alberto but someone else tells us the owner named the restaurant after his dog. We will call him Don Alberto anyway. Alberto is a happy man and talks happily to employees and customers. The dinner is wonderful and half the fun is the entire experience. This is both a local and tourist hangout and the restaurant is jammed with customers, many families with children arriving around 10PM on a school night. Oh yes, the price is also very good, about $30 a couple including vino. Warning: Never overdose on the Chimichurri sauce as I did.
There are also good quality leather goods for sale in Bariloche, and I strike gold with a purchase of some very cool leather slip-on shoes. The shoes are soft and comfortable and cost a mere $60, reduced from $70 after a bit of bargaining. The Argentine peso is weakening daily against the dollar and that is just fine with us.
One of the places in Bariloche that is a “must visit”is the Llao Llao Hotel. The historic hotel sits up on a hill located between Lake Nahuel Huapi and Moreno Lake. The hotel offers one of the most spectacular views anywhere in the world. We stopped in for lunch and enjoyed a beautiful day and the wonderful scenery. We thought the food was just okay but the views made it all a worthwhile outing.