GLOBAL SHOPPING HAUNTS : MONTEVIDEO
The Uruguayan capital city is as fresh and calm as the Río Plata that snakes along its banks. Hop a three-hour ferry over the river from Buenos Aires and enjoy Montevideo’s sunny beaches, the traditional port preserved in the Ciudád Vieja (Old City) and, of course, a bustling shopping scene full of local and imported fashions as diverse as the city itself.
Across the street from the Koisuko boutique in Pocitos, this shoe boutique carries its own label, as well as a handful of UK and Brazilian labels such as Schutz, Bertie, and Dumond. In the summertime, you’ll find a dazzling collection of kitten heels and peep-toe flats, while the winter ushers in serious boots and everyday heels in classic shapes and a variety of accented colors. Expect impeccable texture combinations, as well as a selection of no-nonsense purses.
Wares Women’s shoes, bags, and belts.
Price Range Wedges from UR$2390 to studded thigh-high leather boots (UR$4900)
Go for The house-label cowboy boots (UR$4800)
Cavia 3087, Pocitos
If your trip to South America means putting off Spain for another year, stop by Frau for the best of both local and Spanish names. In this bright store, find eco-fabric knits and purses from Don Baez (from UR$1400), Cecilia Berthet’s unique paper-thin, batik-dyed leather necklaces (from UR$590), and lightweight wool pieces in vibrant prints by Lavand, a Spanish label.
Wares Casual and formal women’s wear and accessories
Price Range Jewelry from (UR$500), most separates around UR$2900.
Go for Intense—yet intensely wearable—futuristic dresses by Spanish label Ve Neno En La Piel (UR$3900).
Rincón 605, Ciudád Vieja
Monday-Friday, 10am – 7pm; Saturday, 10am-1pm
FERIA DE TRISTAN NARVAJA
Since all the stores are closed on Sundays, spend the morning at the city’s most famous outdoor market. Here, you can find puppies and peacocks, fireworks and fishing gear, and everything in-between. Locals do their grocery shopping among the produce vendors, and cheese and meat trucks hawk their wares from inside vehicles. The fair boasts a wide variety of antiques as well, from box cameras to furniture.
Wares Mostly anything you could imagine.
Price Range Varies.
Go for Antique jewelry, vintage photos for do-it-yourself postcards, old-school housewares from ashtrays to juice glasses.
18 de Julio and Tristan Narvaja
Sunday, 6am – 3pm
This year-old boutique is the flagship store for its young designer, who lovingly creates each piece, from the jackets to the hairpieces. Her exciting designs range from 80s glam to 40s-era tailoring, doused with shocking colors and unexpected fabrics, from sleeveless wool hoodies lined with neon pink sport jersey to a combination leather-and-lycra strapless dress.
Wares Women’s wear and accessories.
Price Range From scrunchies (UR$100) to dresses (UR$1990)
Go for Anything purple, as well as the dresses and skirts incorporating the designer’s hand-painted silk fabrics.
Solano Garcia 2587, Punta Carretas
Monday-Friday, 2-8pm; Saturday 12-8pm
If you love stores organized by color, stop by Gaby Weinn’s new store in Pocitos. This women’s line retails everything from an immaculate line of jeans to winter jackets and party dresses. The mainly cotton and knit collection uses prints and sequins sparingly for a dramatic effect that is sure to last.
Wares Contemporary women’s wear and accessories.
Price Range Light cotton hoodies (UR$390) to cropped leather motorcycle jackets (UR$3590)
Go for Strapless party dresses (UR$2490), hooded mohair cardigans (UR$2190), heavy cotton military coats in a variety of staple colors (UR$1890-$2890).
21 de Setiembre 2995, Pocitos
Monday-Friday, 10:30am-7pm; Saturday, 10am-6pm
Part bookstore, part boutique, part design store, part gallery, and part café, La Pasionaria occupies two floors of an old building in the Ciudád Vieja. The second-floor boutique showcases a handful of exciting local designers, as well as an all-plastic shoe line from Melissa, a Brazilian label featuring guest designers like Vivienne Westwood (UR$2350). The bookstore carries a selection of art and fashion photography volumes, while the design store stocks a variety of paper goods, serving utensils, and body products by Paréntesis.
Wares Art objects, books, women’s wear, lingerie, and accessories.
Price Range Fabric pins (UR$155) to Ana Livini felted “slow fashion” coats (UR$7900).
Go for Carolina de Cunto painted wallets, Paulina Gross wrap-cardigans and lightweight cowl-neck dresses (UR$1300).
Reconquista 587, Ciudád Vieja
Monday-Friday, 10am-7pm; Saturday 12-6pm
Off a quiet side street in Barrio Sur, this two-year-old boutique carries the handmade Mutate label for men, as well as a handful of favorite Uruguayan women’s designers. The men’s line draws inspiration from the comic hero Tintin, Hergé’s globe-trotting journalist, and includes everything for a young adventurer, from soft leather satchels to tapered wool pants. Ladies can choose from a selection of both vintage and new purses and accessories, from Paula Mattini wool chokers to Laurel printed berets.
Wares Men and women’s clothes, shoes, accessories, and furniture.
Price Range Long-sleeve tees (UR$900) to coats (UR$4300)
Go for Pedro Castillo shoes for both men and women (UR$2500), Penny Lane purses (from UR$1200)
Cebollatí 1326, Barrio Sur
If you want to bury yourself in the lingua franca, stop by Oriente Occidente, an appropriately musty bookstore in Ciudád Vieja. The venerable proprietor, Julio Moses, has been in the book business for almost 40 years, and he stocks everything from dusty copies of Galeano and Cortazár to pulp novels in English for your long flight home.
Wares Books, used and new.
Price Range Poetry paperbacks from UR$15 to antique history books (US$50).
Go for Anything leather-bound—or ask Julio for a recommendation!
Rincón 609, Ciudád Vieja
This funky shop is stocked with one-of-a-kind street fashions from a pair of young, local designers. The Ropa Verde line focuses on natural fabrics, stamped with sweet prints, while the Niña Bien line incorporates more denim and nylons. The handmade pieces showcase an appreciation for vibrant craftsmanship using an array of techniques. Go bold or get out.
Wares Urban women’s wear and accessories
Price Range Accessories from UR$180 to reconstructed jackets (UR$3400)
Go for The painted nylon miniskirts (UR$980) and printed coats (from UR$1590)
Pedro Berro 1245, Pocitos
Mondays, 2-8pm; Tuesday-Friday, 12-8pm; Saturday, 12-7pm
When you’ve had enough of the Punta Carretas Shopping across the way, relax at this airy boutique just down the street. Here, you’ll find an exciting mix of international designs as well as unique pieces from the store’s own line, designed by Veronica Maisonnave. If you can’t find that dreamy silk dress or flirty date blouse you’ve been looking for…then you’re not looking hard enough.
Wares Designer women’s clothing, jewelry, and shoes
Price Range Leather ankle boots (UR$2690) to velvet-hanger dresses by Maria Cruz (UR$4680)
Go for The designer’s printed jackets and dresses, provocative enough to be conversation pieces but classic enough to be worn for decades.
Solano Garcia 2547
Monday-Friday, 11am-8pm; Saturday, 11am-6pm
Although located just across the street from Teatro Solís, the fifteen-year-old Café Bacacay has retained a distinctly neighborhood vibe, thanks largely in part to the amiable staff. The kitchen is almost always open, serving up everything from delicious salads, hot sandwiches, ginger beef, and a selection of cakes for your afternoon coffee.
Try The majority of the loyal lunch crowd puts their trust in the daily special, displayed prominently on the chalkboard above the kitchen. If you’re having a pre-theater snack, go for the two-person picada (UR$210) and a mojito con albahaca (basil).
Bacacay 1306, Ciudád Vieja
Mon-Friday, 9am – close (usually around 2 am); Saturday, 10 am – close
In a preserved colonial home, this café in Pocitos serves up sweets, perfect for any time of day. If you haven’t yet tried the ubiquitous alfajores, try the housemade cookies with maicena (corn flour) or chocolate. Otherwise, go for the cakes! At UR$115 a slice, you and a friend can get two and share.
Try the luscious but light Diciembre 83, a chocolate creation with walnuts and mousse, or the Gateau de Frutillas, with chantilly cream and berries.
Ellauri 1067, Pocitos
Daily, 10:30am – midnight
You’ll find the national dish of Uruguay—chivitos—everywhere, but the two best places to get them are the no-frills joints Chiviteria Marcos and Chivitos Lo de Pepe. Served al pan (on bread) or al plato (plated, usually on a bed of fries), chivitos combine everything you could want any time of day: a flank steak, at least one kind of ham, cheese, and egg. If that’s not enough meat for you, get a pollitos sauce, a mayonnaise-based topping with chunks of chicken.
Chivitos Lo De Pepe
885A Roque Graseras, Pocitos
Daily except holidays, 11-1am
Juan Alberta de Herrera and 26 de Marzo, Buceo
Sunday-Thursday, 12pm-1am; Friday-Saturday, 12pm-2am
Put yourself into a carnivorous coma with the locals at this popular Pocitos parilla. Watch the spectacle of the giant grill from a seat at the counter, or go with friends to sample all the different cuts of meat served by a casually attractive waitstaff.
Try Although you’ll be tempted to gorge yourself on the garlic- and onion-saturated spreads served with the bread, go for a chorizo starter (UR$60), and then continue to gorge on picanha (UR$300), and grilled vegetable brochettes (UR$160).
Tomás Diago 758, Pocitos
Daily, 12-3:30 pm, 8pm-close
One of Montevideo’s most lauded—and priciest—restaurants, Montecristo serves contemporary dinners in the dramatic setting of a century-old castle—the Castillo Pittamiglio just off the Rambla. The menu favors seafood and traditional dishes, artfully presented, with a smattering of exotic spices. Try to get a table inside from the main courtyard, where lushly decorated spaces add to the romance.
Try The brótola con manteca negra, a type of fish cooked in black butter, or the traditional espinazo, a simmering stew of pork spine finished with mushrooms and tomatoes.
Francisco Vidal 638
Cala di Volpe
All 72 rooms in this boutique hotel take advantage of its beachfront location, offering vistas of the river. Its lobby dining area wraps around the corner, providing a perfect place to enjoy a meal or a few cocktails after a day of exploring (the hotel arranges tours of the city as well as excursions to nearby beaches) or sweating it out in the sauna.
Rambla Mahatma Gandhi y Parva Domus
A throwback to a 1950’s seaside retreat, the Ermitage Hotel has retained its old-school charm, with pleasant rooms and a friendly staff to match. Just a block away from the beach, half of its 90 rooms have views of the Río Plata. Enjoy breakfast in the sweeping dining room before heading out for the day, and take in a soccer match in the updated lobby while looking out into the quiet street.
Juan Benito Blanco 783, Pocitos
NH Hotel Columbia
This NH Hotel hugs the Río Plata in the Ciudád Vieja part of the city. If you opt for one of the 136 rooms without a river view, you can still enjoy the view from the sunny terrace, where a small pool and workout facilities are available. The sleek second-floor restaurant and bar serves contemporary cuisine with sweeping coastal views, also a great spot for pre- or post-theater cocktails.
Rambla Gran Bretaña 473
Rates From US$132
This charming century-old hotel is located on a busy pedestrian thoroughfare in the Ciudád Vieja. The Plaza Fuerte has been carefully restored to preserve its original features—like its brass-and-iron elevator, floor tiles, and stained-glass skylights. The hotel’s 20 rooms range from standard first-floor rooms to the executive suites on the fourth. The roof deck bar is open to the public most evenings, but hotel guests can take enjoy their breakfast there as well.
Bartolomé Mitre 1361, Ciudád Vieja
Rates From US$56 (Standard) to US$150 (Capital Suite)
The cozy Plaza Pocitos is set to celebrate its tenth year catering mainly to business travelers. The hotel is equipped with a fitness center, sauna, and solarium for those who aren’t getting enough exercise and sun, as well as parking, should you want to rent a car and drive up the coast to Punta del Este.
Juan Benito Blanco 640, Pocitos