Playa Vik in José Ignacio, Uruguay

For our absolutely final meal on our very last day we had lunch at Playa Vik, the other beachside Vik hotel with the most insanely beautiful infinity pool in the history of existence:

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When that is your view while you eat, it basically doesn’t even matter how good the food is.

Like our lunch at Estancia Vik, we had a set menu and they brought out all the food for us to share family style.

Bread:

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Normal and fine.

Salad:

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Delicious, with huge chunks of brie.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes:

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So perfect.

Roasted Vegetables:

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Great.

Pork:

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My family enjoyed.

For dessert my mom and Adam got the brownie with coffee ice cream:

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A really nice sized portion for a lunch dessert.

While Austin and I got a fruit plate:

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Great variety.

They also have a menu you can order off of that is not the set menu, but I was fine sticking with the prepared menu they had for us. Overall, everything was perfectly good and the crazy beautiful setting made it amazing.

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El Abrazo in Manantiales, Uruguay

For our final dinner in Uruguay we ate at El Abrazo (which means “the hug”). It was a meal we all absolutely loved.

First they brought out delicious bread and crackers with this amazing ricotta dip with mint and roasted almonds:

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So addicting.

To start, my dad and I ordered, what else? Chipirones/Squid/Cuttlefish:

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This was great and I especially loved the crispy corn on the side.

My mom and Austin made up a green salad not on the menu:

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My dad and Adam ordered the Salad with Blue Cheese:

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They enjoyed.

Andrew ordered the Ceviche:

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He thought this was just okay, but Nathalie thought it was really good.

Nathalie got the Tomato Soup:

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She especially loved the brie crostini that came with that she used to dip in the soup.

For the main course, Austin and I got the Fish of the Day, which was Corvina Negra:

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Austin hated this but I absolutely loved it. I thought it was flavorful and I loved the seedy crust on top. I also especially liked the spinach on the side.

Nathalie got the Flank Steak: DSC02397

She really liked this and loved the corn that came on the side.

My mom and Adam shared the Seafood Fideua (paella made with noodles instead of rice):

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This was soooo delicious! If you come here, make sure someone at the table orders this so you can try.

Andrew got the Rack of Lamb:

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He liked this.

My dad got the Pork:

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He LOVED this and everyone at the table who tried it agreed that it was incredible. Apparently a must order for pork lovers.

For dessert, my mom, Austin and I got the Grilled Fruit with Mascarpone….and everyone in my family watched me take a picture of it….and then that picture did not exist on my camera…. So frustrating, especially because this was the most delicious/my favorite fruit dessert of the trip!

Adam and Nathalie got the Chocolate Mousse:

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And they said this was their favorite dessert of the trip!

Overall, super amazing meal and great ambiance too. One of the highlights of our trip and a must visit!

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O’Farrell in Manantiales, Uruguay

For lunch one day my parents and I went back to Manantiales, just the three of us. It was New Year’s Eve day and we had no clue what to expect with such a non-Uruguayan name for a restaurant, but we were pleasantly surprised by what we found.

First they brought out a taster of Rockfish:

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So fresh and sweet. Loved this.

They brought out bread and hummus as well:

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Super warm and delicious. Each type was better than the last.

My mom got the Lemonade:

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So great.

To start, I got the Pea Soup:

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Loved.

My mom asked for a green salad (not on menu):

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For my main course and my dad’s appetizer, we both got the Squid:

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SOOO delicous, the perfect dish.

My mom got the Pizza:

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She absolutely loved this.

My dad got the Fish of the Day with Truffle Mashed Potatoes:

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He also loved this.

We passed on dessert, but they brought us this tower of treats anyway:

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So great, especially the little almond clusters.

Overall, a truly perfect meal where everything was absolutely delicious. Weirdly we were the only people in the entire restaurant- maybe because it was almost New Years? Anyways, we all loved O’Farrell’s and I definitely recommend!

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Almacén El Palmar in José Ignacio, Uruguay

The last dinner we ate in José Ignacio was at Almacén El Palmar.

They brought us bread:

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Fine, the crackers were the best part.

My mom, dad and I all got the Pumpkin Soup to start:

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Pretty good.

Nathalie and Austin got the Green Salad:

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Normal and simple.

Charlie got the Croque Baguette:

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He liked this.

Andrew got the Empanadas:

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He thought these were horrible and tasted like they came out of the freezer.

For my main course, I ordered the ceviche, and my dad and Adam also got this to start:

 

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Not my favorite. Way too oniony.

My dad and Nathalie got the Fish of the Day with vegetables:

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They thought this was too salty.

Austin got the Chicken and replaced the side of potatoes with grilled vegetables:

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She liked all of this.

My mom got the Seafood Salad:

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She thought this was too salty.

Adam and Charlie got the Lamb Curry:

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Brave choice, but they enjoyed.

Andrew got the Pork:

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He thought this was okay.

For dessert, Austin, Nathalie and I got the Fruit Plate:

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Fine.

Adam got the Chocolate Lava Cake:

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Not the best ever, but good.

Andrew got the Creme Brûlée:

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Fine.

Overall, this was hands down our least favorite meal of the trip. For starters, we were seated outside, where it was very cold, on the most uncomfortable benches ever created. None of the food was spectacular and a bunch of it we just didn’t like at all. It certainly wasn’t horrible, but with such great dining options in José Ignacio and the surrounding areas, I can’t say I recommend Almacén El Palmar.
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Freddo vs Volta in various towns in Uruguay

On the day we went to Manantiales for lunch, my dad told us that there were two ice cream places we could try after our main meal. At the time, we thought the ice cream shops were specific to this town, but later learned that they have more locations throughout Uruguay. Anyways, because ice cream is my family’s religion, we did the logical thing and decided to try each place right after the other.

Our first stop was Freddo.

I went for the Dulce de Leche light:

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Loved this. I loved the dulce de leche flavor and the fact that I could trick myself into believing I was making a healthier choice….

My dad and Adam went for regular Dulce de Leche:

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Andrew went for Dulce de Leche with chocolate chips:

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And my mom and Nathalie got Chocolate with toasted almonds:

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All the dulce de leche flavors were beloved, while my mom and Nathalie’s pick, not so much. Nathalie thought the ice cream was too icy and the almonds were stale.

Next stop, Volta.

I didn’t think I could handle another ice cream, so I went for passionfruit sorbet:

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Fine, nothing special.

My dad and Adam logically had to try Dulce de Leche again to compare:

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I tried it from both places and I found this one to be much less flavorful, so much so I could have even guessed that it was vanilla. It also tasted a lot creamier.

My mom got Chocolate with chocolate chips and Turron:

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Her flavors were a lot better at Volta than at Freddo.

Overall, there was no clear consensus over which was really the better ice cream place. My take is that for any dulce de leche themed flavor you should go to Freddo, and for a bigger selection and other flavors, Volta. But probably don’t try both at once, as every single member of my family who participated in this challenge ended the day with a headache and a stomachache. Oh well.

Freddo:

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Volta:

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La Linda in Manantiales, Uruguay

In order to explore another area, we went to La Linda for lunch one day. We loved Manantiales and this restaurant; it felt like a Uruguayan version of Huckleberry.

To drink, I ordered a pitcher of Mint, Unsweetened Lemonade, Nathalie got a pitcher as well, but hers had ginger:

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I found this lemonade to be too watery for me.

My Dad made his own smoothie with blueberries strawberries and banana:

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He thought this was just okay as the banana flavor was too strong.

Adam ordered the Smoothie of the Day, with melon, orange juice and banana:

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He liked his.

They brought us this bread which was fine:

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For our actual meal, Adam and I both ordered the Quinoa, avocado, onion and corn salad with coriander:

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This was simple and light, and hit the spot exactly.

My mom ordered the Vegetable (Spinach) Pie which had an egg in the middle:

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She LOVED this.

Charlie got the Meat Empanadas:

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He enjoyed these.

My dad and Austin ordered the Lentil and pumpkin salad with goat cheese and arugula:

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They both loved this.

Austin also got a fruit plate:

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Beautiful!

Nathalie got the Goat Cheese, with tomatoes, cucumbers and olives:

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She liked this.

Andrew ordered the Veal Sandwich:

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He thought the meat was good, but the sandwich had no condiments so it was kind of dry.

Overall, this was a fun, casual and trendy spot. We all appreciated the lighter lunch options, versus the three course feasts we had been eating for other meals. We decided to get ice cream after so we didn’t try their desserts, but they all looked really great. I definitely recommend coming here for something simple and casual.

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La Olada in José Ignacio, Uruguay

We had another great meal at La Olada, a restaurant with some wonderful interpretations of the usual Uruguayan dishes as well as the spot for the first of several Fassbender/Vikander sightings throughout the trip.

They brought bread to start:

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I only tried the whole wheat one, but it was sweet and very good.

To start, Nathalie, my mom and I all ordered the Squash, filled with arugula and goat cheese:

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This was soooo wonderful! It was insanely filling and flavorful and I was so full after this. I’m definitely tempted to try to recreate this at home because it was so, so great and relatively simple.

Austin got the Mixed Salad:

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Normal.

Charlie and Adam got the Whole Wheat Pizza with goat cheese, grilled tomato and arugula:

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They absolutely raved about this. If you haven’t noticed, in Uruguay they have pizza at pretty much every restaurant and my family tended to order it every. single. time. Well, without a doubt everyone who tried this agreed that this was the best pizza of the trip.

Andrew got the regular Pizza:

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Same sentiments for this one, best of the trip.

For the main course, my mom and I ordered (and my dad did as well for his appetizer), the Chipirones/Grilled Squid/Cuttlefish, with tomato and avocado: DSC02359

The sad part is I probably would have thought this was the best of the trip, I loved the mix of tomato and avocado and I thought it was cooked perfectly, however my dad, mom and I all found the dish to be SANDY! Ugh. It wasn’t totally ruined but that still definitely took a lot of the joy out of it.

Austin, Adam and Nathalie got the Lamb Stew with sweet potato:

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They all thought this was really good.

Charlie got the Lamb Chops:

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He thought these were delicious.

Andrew got the Beef Entrecôte:

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He decided here that he just doesn’t like the grass-fed beef, but that’s not really a fault of the dish.

My dad got the fish of the day, Sea Bass:

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He loved this. He thought it was light and nicely cooked, and he appreciated the grilled vegetables.

I was too full for dessert, but other people went for it.

Charlie got the Dulce de Leche Flan:

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Just pure dulce de leche, wow. Totally amazing.

Nathalie got Chocolate Ice Cream:

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She also thought this one had an odd texture, like frosting.

Adam got the “Death by Chocolate” which was like a chocolate mousse over a nut/cookie bottom:

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I was way too full by this point to try but it was a big hit at the table. Everyone loved it.

Overall, La Olada was a great meal. LOVED the squash appetizer and my family is still talking about the pizza. It was too bad that our squid was sandy because everything else was quite delicious. Definitely recommend.

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Estancia Vik in José Ignacio, Uruguay

While in Uruguay we stayed at the hotel Bahia Vik, but there are two more nearby Vik properties: Playa Vik, which is also right on the beach, and Estancia Vik, which is in the countryside, and somewhere you can go to horseback ride or kayak on the river.

Anyways, we decided to spend one day there and eat lunch there, and this was the set menu we had:

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Normal bread:

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Grilled fish:

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Really tender.

Grilled vegetables (ordered without cheese):

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Always a hit with this family.

Quinoa salad (apparently instead of the cabbage salad):

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Simple and good.

Green salad:

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With really fresh citrus.

Steak:

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The rest of my family enjoyed.

And for dessert, every single one of us chose the baked apple, served with apple sorbet:IMG_1115

Such a perfect, light dessert to have at lunchtime.

Overall, this was a totally good meal, nothing exceptional, but perfectly enjoyable. We all enjoyed the day we spent at Estancia Vik, and I highly recommend going there to see it- because it’s beautiful, interesting and unlike many other hotels. However, I’m glad we didn’t stay there because not being located near the beach when you’re actually near the beach would be too annoying.

Francis Mallmann’s El Garzón in Garzón, Uruguay

Writing a post like this is a reminder of why I even keep this blog. Because despite its famed Argentine chef, Francis Mallmann, El Garzón is located in the smallest town in the middle of nowhere in Uruguay, and I don’t even know how anyone would think to go here. The term hidden gem must have been invented to describe this place, I’m certain of it.

To get there, we drove about 40 minutes from our already somewhat obscure town of José Ignacio, and we found this restaurant that is beautifully decorated, like a countryside home, and serves incredible food: my favorite of the entire trip.

They first served us this complimentary drink:

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Don’t ask me what it was, but I actually liked it. Proof this restaurant is magical or what?

Then they brought homemade bread with beet dip, olives and almonds:

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Everything in here was good, but the sourdough was insane; the best sourdough I’ve ever had.

To start, Nathalie, Austin and I ordered the Zucchini Salad, mint, lemon zest, toasted almond flakes and parmesan:

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Like zoodles! LOVED this.

My mom ordered the Burnt Tangerine Salad, endive salad, anchovies and cheddar:

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She had no clue what this would be like but ended up liking it.

My dad got the Giant Langoustine a la plancha, Monticulo potatoes and herb salad:

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He thought this was good.

Adam and Andrew got the Pizza a la brasa, burnt orange, arugula, mint, red onion,black olives and pecorino:

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Such cool flavors in here and amazing crust, which is no surprise because of that amazing bread.

For the main course, my dad and I both ordered the Hake, gremolata and grilled seasonal vegetables:

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I’ve gotten pretty tired of ordering plain white fish, but this totally turned it around for me. This was so buttery and simple and perfect. Wow.

Nathalie ordered the Salmon, with crushed potatoes and summer salad:

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The presentation of this was really cool (you can’t quite tell but the salmon is on a sort of stand, rather than a normal plate). And Nathalie really enjoyed this, especially the salad.

My mom, Adam, Andrew and Austin ordered the Ribe eye with chimichurri, with side of tomato, onion, arugula and domino potatoes:

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There were mixed reviews of this. Because this meat is from Uruguay and totally grass fed, they admitted that they weren’t so into that texture of meat. Some thought it was too tough. Some admitted that objectively the meat was great, but personally not their favorite.

For dessert, Austin and I ordered the Burnt fruit made in the wood fire oven, amaretto, mascarpone and mint:

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SOOOOOOOOOO good.

Nathalie ordered Chocolate Ice Cream:

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This was the weirdest thing ever! It did not have the texture of ice cream at all. It was cold, but tasted more like frosting or mousse. We all freaked out over it.

Adam got the Profiteroles:

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This was served in such a cool way, they basically had a tin of profiteroles and they scooped some out right on to his plate. But taste-wise, this was totally normal, and delicious.

This was hands down my favorite meal of the trip because I was obsessed with all three of my courses and I loved the random location and the beautiful vibe of the restaurant. However, this meal was not universally beloved by my family. Some of them took issue with the chef’s main cooking technique, which is essentially burning food on purpose. And the steak dish which was ordered by over half the table wasn’t loved by all. Regardless, El Garzón is a dining experience not to be missed, just because it’s so different and random, and I personally think you’ll have a stellar meal.

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La Huella in José Ignacio, Uruguay

If you tell anyone who has been to or lived in José Ignacio that you are going there, without a doubt they will tell you that you must eat at La Huella (as they pronounce it, LA WAY-JA) every single day. I was so excited to eat at a place I had heard so much about, but equally skeptical that we would want to eat there every day of our trip.

We went there for lunch the second day of our trip and we shared, a Margherita pizza:

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This was good, not amazing.

Ceviche:

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Good.

Spicy roll (salmon):

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Shrimp and avocado roll:

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Both rolls, simple and fresh.

French fries:

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Great.

Smashed potatoes:

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Randomly so amazing.

They also brought bread and dips but I didn’t try them:

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Nathalie and I both ordered this amazing lemonade, that tasted more like limeade:

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Love.

Austin and I both ordered the Chipirones/Grilled Cuttlefish/Squid:

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My go-to. Yummy and simple.

Adam, Natahlie and my dad all ordered the fish of the day:

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This was absolutely huge, but great and they all loved it.

Andrew ordered the Rice with shrimp:

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He raved about this.

Austin and my mom both got a green salad:

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Austin ordered a side of the grilled vegetables.

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AMAZING. You must order this. These were out of these world. We had such great vegetables everywhere we went in Uruguay but these stand out to me as the best.

For dessert I got the Grilled peaches with mascarpone:

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Super sweet, but delicious.

My mom got the Pavlova with passionfruit:

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Light and delicious.

Adam got the Dulce de Leche Volcano/Lava Cake:

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I mean, wow, duh. Super rich, but heavenly.

Overall, everyone in my family absolutely loved La Huella and we totally understood the hype. Especially because it’s located right on the beach; the combination of the simple, delicious food and the unbeatable location is beyond enjoyable. However, now that our trip is over, I’m so not convinced this is somewhere we would want to go every day…We had so many wonderful meals in Uruguay and La Huella was only one of them.

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