The best beach restaurant on the planet is not in St. Tropez or on the Amalfi coast, but in a small town on the Uruguayan coast called JOSÉ IGNACIO.
Jose Ignacio Restaurants.
You can revel in the smell of roasting meat long before you listen to the bossa nova music or see the chimneys sticking out of the thatched roof. When La Huella finally emerges among the sand dunes of Playa Brava in José Ignacio, it looks like a bohemian pirate ship or a warren of dining rooms and open kitchens, all made of wood and canvas. Inside, a massive iron grill casts a glow on diners toasting icy caipiroskas. Everyone seems relaxed and happy.
Welcome to La Huella, the most idyllic restaurant by the sea in the world
“We are a parador, a simple beach restaurant with simple food,” says Alejandro Morales, the chef at La Huella. Is La Huella a simple restaurant? How many simple beach restaurants bake their own bread, partner with organic farms to grow their vegetables, and publish a cookbook?
The owners of La Huella -Martín Pittaluga, Gustavo Barbero and Guzmán Artagaveytia- opened the restaurant many years ago. The idea was to feed tourists on vacation during the summer and the people of José Ignacio all year round. Shortly thereafter, boutique hotels, luxury sports cars, and fashionable celebrity began to descend on the sleepy fishing village. Over the years, the trio have brought their expertise in European and South American restaurants: an ecosystem that is as much a way of life as it is a place for good food.
Jose Ignacio Restaurant «La Huella» The restaurant at the end of the world
During January, Morales and his team of 40 cooks serve up to 1.000 tapas a day at a frantic pace, but during the off-season, the team travels abroad to seek ideas, and we see that in his kitchen. Morales learned how to make paella in Spain and seafood pasta in Italy, La Huella’s bread technique is from the Tartine bakery in San Francisco, and the idea for organic farms came from Chez Panisse. This crossroads of culinary traditions attracts diners from all over the world.
Vacationing American chefs looking for that kind of laid-back atmosphere have begun to pick up tales of La Huella and bohemian José Ignacio: “Everything at La Huella is magical, magical, magical,” says Frank Falcinelli, celebrity chef of the Frankies Spuntino empire in New York City: “I haven’t seen anything at that level or as great. There is no place like La Huella in the world.”
Morales is a master of the asado – the South American tradition of cooking meat over an open fire – and even considers that Uruguayans “have been barbecuers since we were born.” Grilling meat is a ritual and has its secrets that only the grill knows. La Huella’s asado is delicious and is served in a progressive order: first the sausage, then the casings, and finally the most precious cuts. Better if it is accompanied by the relaxing powers of the Malbecs or the intense Tannat. But, as good as the meat is, the seafood at La Huella is even better and is not to be missed.
La Huella is much more than a restaurant on the beach, it is a small paradise to enjoy culinary pleasures but also the relaxed atmosphere of José Ignacio. LuxuryPunta recommends this gift for your palate and your well-being.