Touted by the New York Times, Shakira and every other celebrity that has made the Jose Ignacio pilgrimage down Ruta 10 looking for that unlit fish-shaped sign with name washed-out from sun and rain. From there it's a ride down a rough gravel road that feels like somewhere a hit-man might go to dump the body until a flashlight and valet, still a rarity in South America, point you to your parking space at Marismo. Only open by night, a magical open-air dining room is tucked inside a pine forest with Robinson Crusoe architecture mixed with a sexy South American lackadaisical vibe. Guests are seated at wooden picnic tables dressed up with heavy porcelain and white napkins with chatty staff that's quick with the wine and poisoned with beauty simply enhanced by a dangerously large bonfire and misused pronouns.
Food at Marismo is a study of simple coastal Uruguayan cuisine derived from an open-flame parilla resulting in crispy grilled dishes of meat, seafood and vegetable. Grilled calamari arrives looking more like grilled octopus, a single thick leg with tentacle glistening of lemon and local olive oil. Salads are two-handed in size; a medley of local farm-fresh ingredients that is unadventurous with its balsamic dressing. Main course is all about meat, preferably the slow-roasted lamb presented on layer a risotto or potatoes varying between massive or miniscule in overall size depending on how busy the restaurant is on the night of your visit.
Legendary eatery outside Jose Ignacio offers fabled seaside dining room minutes from Punta del Este with cut-throat reservation policy that isn’t afraid to turn away a famous face.