Weekend Getaway – Punta del Este

This year, 1 in 3 days are either holidays or weekends here in Argentina. Oh Cristina, you know how to pull at the voting strings of your electorate – give them insane amounts of time off! Oui. Next month there are three long weekends alone (I love April) – how do you plan to take advantage? Pack those bags and head east – Punta del Este in the off-season is a dream.

I’ve been going to Punta for about four years, and while I don’t necessarily think it’s the “St. Tropez of South America,” there’s just something about it that is dear to my little corazón. And my favorite part of a trip to Punta is making sure we hit up my favorite places to eat while we’re there. (Side note: the first photo is of a little cheese & fig plate at View Point, another amazeballs spot for a rooftop cocktail & dins in downtown Punta)

First and foremost – La Huella, in José Ignacio. You can’t really miss it since it’s located right at the entrance to the beach there, and in high-season the line snakes along the sand; tables are highly-coveted and notoriously hard to get unless you camp out around 11am for lunch. It’s still open on weekends long after the season has wound down, though, and the food is really excellent. Grilled fish, fresh soups and salads, and even decent sushi. I love lounging out on the wooden deck, people-watching/eavesdropping, and chugging some Torrontés as the day passes on.

If we’re in Manantiales, we’ll leave Bikini Beach for an easy lunch at Cactus & Pescados. Another Punta classic, though the only worthwhile tables are those out on the patio, overlooking the ocean. Otherwise, it’s a bit dark and gloomy for my taste. Order up some rabas and the mixed seafood grill for two, and watch the wannabe models scurry about in their teeny-tiny bikinis. “Who on Earth wears multiple long necklaces to the beach?!”, you will wonder.

Sipan opened up its PDE location a couple of years ago, and I think it’s my favorite location of all (lightyears beyond the grungy original down on Calle Paraguay). Not much needs to be said about the food – incredible ceviche, fresh fresh fresh seafood all-around, heaping portions of Peruvian rice & beans, and a great atmosphere. I dream of the spicy seafood tacu tacu. Snag a seat at the bar and see the bartender in action, shaking up a storm of potent potables (took me a while to figure that one out from ‘Celebrity Jeopardy’).

If you’re down near the harbor, you have to go to Guappa or Il Baretto. We had Christmas dinner at Il Baretto a couple of years ago and HOLY SMOKES we ordered seconds of a few mains because they were so good (happy birthday, Jesus!). You won’t get an ocean view, but it doesn’t really matter since your face will be on the plate at all times, not to mention this lovely backyard that sets a great scene. Excellent Italian in a cozy atmosphere with really great flavor, something that isn’t always a guarantee in Punta.

Where do you like to eat when you’re on vacation in Argentina or Uruguay?

Photo Credits: Oasis Collections, Destemperados, Sipan, Il Baretto

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