Isidora: dine and admire the port in Punta del Este

At Isidora they want to please you without any molecular or gastronomic fuss. The food is genuine and tasty, which is the opposite approach from its neighbouring restaurant (no naming here), where we were sent by our hotel (Fasano) concierge at first. Either the concierge does not understand good food or the owner must be his friend.
Dismayed, we peeked into Isidora and were immediately greeted by a friendly waiter who seated us to a table of our liking – that is what I call attentive and pleasant service! The choice is wide and vegetarian-friendly.
Fried cheese with chutney
You can start with a hearty plate such as the Fried cheese served with a small green salad and sweet chutney. The Italian style cheese from a local farm was delicious, tender and gooey enough, so it was very amusing to watch the happy face of my fiancée wrapped in the sticky strings of this surely delicious cheese. I had a taste and must confirm it was like my favorite childhood dish (and of many Czech kids and still of some adults), the “Smažený sýr“. My mum was harassed every Saturday, since it was the one day of the week we could choose the items of our lunch (Sundays we were tortured with a rabbit that to our father’s disdain me and my sister despised), to make this delicacy for us.
The Panfried squids with spices and vegetables were also tasty. Not too chewy, but rather cooked just enough to be enjoyably munched by our youthful strong teeth (I am not sure how I would manage them having my grandmother’s teeth). A lovely dish, ideally paired with a refreshing and fruity Albariño by the popular Uruguayan producer Bouza, that we ordered.
Pan fried local fish
Another great choice from the main courses was on the olive oil Pan fried local fish served with fresh herbs and grilled vegetables. It is a healthy choice, although the fish is big so fills one up noticeably. The white fish was similar to a Mediterranean sea bass or sea bream. It had a soft texture, was not flaky, but also had quite a lot of bones. The later took so much of my effort that I felt like I have worked the calories from the fish out leaving some space for something sweet.
My chocolate addiction widened my pupils when I peaked at the deserts offer. The Dark Chocolate Volcano is like a spell for me, I don’t care if they serve it with an ok ice cream or fresh cream, unless my plate contains the rich cup-shaped cocoa cake exploding with liquid dark chocolate once your spoon dives into it. I should write a poem about this passion of mine mentioning the best edible volcanoes I have relished so far. I might post it once my creative fluids overflow with chocolate. Nevertheless, at Isidora the chocolate sweet heaven was perfect and I would recommend it to any choco-obsessed maniac like me.
Dark chocolate volcano
The atmosphere is casual, friendly, comfortable and red all around you. Red walls and chairs add a jolly and festive feel to this spacious restaurant. Young, old, families and couples – anyone dines at Isidora ( just oligarchs probably swam across the Atlantic). You can wear jeans and t-shirt and you will be fine. Enjoying the food and friendly service with wine seems to be the main mission of this restaurant.
Bouza white Albariño wine from Uruguay
Drinks: The wine list is interesting if you are eager to explore the local wines. We went for a bottle of well-priced Albariño 2010 from Bouza, one of the most popular and reliable producers ow wine from Uruguay. It was quite low in alcohol, fruity, aromatic and ideal with seafood, fish as well as on its own as a cocktail.
If you rather prefer something proven, then go for a bottle of white or red Malbec from Argentina. The later is great with meat and accomplishes the Chocolate Volcano perfectly. The prices at Isidora are very reasonable so do not hesitate to order any wine your palate desires since the mark-up is not bad.
Cuisine: International, seafood
Visit: December 2012
Price: Medium (Convenient location in the town centre that does not just “milk” tourists but serves good food with amiable service).
Opening hours: Daily from 11am. Open even off-the-season.
Address: Harbours Rambla & 21 st. street, Punta del Este, Uruguay.
Contact: Tel: + (598) 42 44 96 46; email:

La Huella: the best beach dining at Punta del Este

La Huella beach view
Bohemian, rustic and trendy, La Huella is one of the most desirable restaurants in the area of Punta del Este and for that it attracts anyone in-the-know. The blend of international celebrities next to great vibe and delicious food seeking travelers and local villas owners takes care of entertainment. A definite people watching place.
The restaurant is located right on the beach, so I would not recommend ladies to wear super-thin heels either for the comfort reasons as well as looking out-of-the-place. Imagine St Tropez 20-30 years ago, sandy dunes and Le Club 55 – the hotspot of the rich and famous for decades and you will get La Huella. Its chill-out ambiance, rustic wooden bar with chess-pieces peaking over your head, open kitchen and grill back room and large terrace facing the beach will transfer even the sturdiest workaholic into the realm of nostalgic dreams. Beach clothes and shorts during lunch are fine – long pants and mosquito spray in the evening if you sit outside.
Bar at La Huella
The bar area invites for a cocktail before or after your meal. The selection of wines from South America is good and the wine waiter is willing to advise you. We went purely Uruguayan with a green and fresh tasting Sauvignon Blanc 1oo Años and later a red blend of Tempranillo with the local tannic Tannat from Bouza, one of the most famous producers in the country. The Sauvignon Blanc was perfect for a light lunch drinking, the red blend was perhaps too rich and heavy, but drinkable with the steak and it inspired me to order the Chocolate Volcano twice!
Sandy entrance to La Huella
The food is focused on fresh, authentic and tasty ingredients. I have eaten at La Huella twice. After three out of the three people, recommended me eating here, and questioning “Where would you eat around Punta del Este on your birthday?” always yield “La Huella”, I knew this place must be outstanding. Perhaps I was biased. After all the bottles of wines I consumed there it is entirely possible as I tend to like everything after three glasses of this god-blessed liquid, but I am sure about one thing: You must eat there at least once when in Uruguay. The food is a mix of Peruvian, Argentine and Uruguayan cuisines. Fresh and mostly local ingredients are used in preparation and the cooks try to make the plates look cool.
From the peruvian fare I loved the White fish ceviche s well as the Potato causa filled like lasagne with a creamy layer of salmon, mayonnaise and onions. Both were authentic, no fuss and simply delicious.
Potato causaWhite fish ceviche
Warm goat cheese saladCheese pizetta
Another great starter is the Warm goat cheese salad. Bitter and limey roquette with crisp tomato balance the milky and fatty cheese with a fire burned coating served on a crunchy bread bun.  The only disappointment was the squid appetizer with beetroot sauce, the sauce was the problem as it did not match the squids at all – too much creativity can kill a dish often and my previous experience at another restaurant in Uruguay confirmed that they generally need to figure out beetroot quite a bit.
La Huella can do pizza very well! If you continue in a starter marathon then get the Goat cheese pizzetta on a thin crisp oval dough as it is not just a great companion to wine but also a perfect crispy snack to share. They get seasonal seafood so if they got the White clams that I have ordered try them as they are really fresh, juicy and palate pleasing. Perfect with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc!
Seafood as well as meat dishes are the restaurant’s strengths. From the main courses I can recommend any steak as the meat is local, without hormones, just grass-fed, wild-nature raised and above all super tasty. The wood-fired grill throws a magic spell of yumminess on each meat that passes its heating throat. The grilled fish is also good, but to my taste the meat is better. After all living in Mediterranean can turn anyone in a fierce fish critic especially if you have the privilege of eating at our friend’s restaurant Le Bacon in Cap d’Antibes.
Literary, the cherry on the cake are the desserts. I might not look like that but I had two desserts on my own here – the Chocolate Volcano is an absolute indulgent blast that keeps your energy fired up until early hours and I had it replayed twice. The cacao-based cake hides a liquid secret. As your spoon cuts through the cake a stream of dark chocolate runs out. I am seduced, each time my nose detects the warm rich chocolate scent!
Price: Medium to high (La Huella is perhaps the most popular dining spot in the entire Punte del Este, so it can charge what it wants, although it is not over the top and the food as well as the service end up being a great value for money).
 Out of season only for lunch, from mid-December till April also for dinner. Call and reserve a table ahead.
 Playa Brava, José Ignacio, Uruguay.
 +(59) 8 4867 5432

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