Montevideo offers many options for visitors looking to enjoy a quiet meal. There are also many places where one can mix business with pleasure and hold a successful meeting while enjoying good food and breathtaking views. Here are some of the best places to comfortably conduct business over lunch.
WTC: Tasty Food at the Towers
Montevideo’s WTC is 30 minutes away from Carrasco International Airport and 15 minutes away from the Old Town and City Center, where most financial and commercial activity takes place. The complex includes three towers (WTC 1, WTC 2 and WTC 3) and a large central square with an auditorium. Visitors to WTC Plaza have a choice of several restaurants serving a large variety of meals, from fast food at Burger King to exotic specialties at Asia de Cuba.
At Bamboo, visitors can enjoy a combination of typical Uruguayan flavors with Japanese cuisine. Bamboo is open all day and serves all meals, from breakfast to dinner, making it an ideal spot for a business lunch, dinner or coffee break. Lunch is served from noon to 3 p.m., and the executive menu includes many reasonable options, such as the artichoke salad with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and heart of palm; a delicious pork and penne rigate dish; or the cream tandori chicken with grilled pumpkin and tomatoes. Desserts should not be missed. The passion fruit mousse is a favorite.
Gardenia offers international cuisine, with a touch of Brazil and a bit of Spain thrown into the mix. A restaurant founded by a Brazilian-Spanish couple whose family business included raising lambs in Sao Paulo, Gardenia’s specialties include lamb dishes, appetizers and cocktails. Deals can be made while enjoying a breathtaking view of the Buceo Harbor and the WTC Montevideo towers.
Old Town: Business and Barbecue
The traditional place to combine business and barbecue is the Ciudad Vieja (Old Town) and specifically, the Mercado del Puerto. On the Ciudad Vieja waterfront, the old building hosts a myriad of restaurants specializing in barbecues, with countless parrillas densely packed with meats and veggies cooking, all throughout the Mercado.
Back in 1886 Roldós was a grocery shop. Locals and visitors alike enjoy its trademark medio y medio, a mix of white wine and spumante, as an aperitif. For lunch, sister restaurant Rol2 offers delightful barbecued meat and sausages. Roldós is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A few blocks away from the Mercado del Puerto, an ideal lunch spot is La Corte. Surrounded by fast food places, La Corte offers an excellent alternative with a reasonably priced executive menu including options such as a steak topped with fried onions and mozzarella cheese. Should you be in the mood for a celebrity-inspired dish, you can order the George Bush Milanesa, a dish created in honor of former President Bush, who enjoyed it during his 2007 visit to Uruguay.
For a more elegant option in the Old Town, Rara Avis serves traditional lamb dishes along with more extravagant choices such as the sweetbread and marrow bone risotto or duck magret with grilled baby greens and pepper sauce. In the Teatro Solís building, Rara Avis offers an intimate space where clients can enjoy opera serenades and cool jazz piano numbers, as well as delicious food. It has been the choice of Mercosur presidents in their visits to Uruguay.
Punta Carretas: Wine and Dine on the Waterfront
Punta Carretas gets its name from sailors worried about Punta Brava, a tip that caused several shipwrecks, and from the shape of the rocks when seen from sea, which resembled wagons (“carretas” in Spanish). Visited almost exclusively by fishermen and washerwomen in the 19th century, the neighborhood between Pocitos and Parque Rodó was home to a penitentiary in the 20th century. Now the site is a typical upper-middle-class neighborhood, complete with a shopping mall. Punta Carretas attracts tourists with its promènade, five-star hotels, the lighthouse and many shops, bars and restaurants.
Francis , located on Luis de la Torre, a quiet street in Punta Carretas, is an excellent choice for a business lunch. Initially the restaurant specialized in fish and seafood, which is found at most eateries in the area, offering an exquisite dish of squid and caramelized onions with parsley vinaigrette, an astonishing paella and a tempting calamari with tartar sauce. Recently it added a barbecue, thus expanding the grilled meat options. A favorite salad is the Spanish cured ham with flambé pears, arugula and roquefort cheese, and crème brûlée is an absolute must when time for dessert comes. With its relaxing atmosphere, Francis is a great choice for executives with gourmet tastes.
A few blocks from the Sheraton hotel, and on the seafront itself, a literature classic gives its name to another spot for those looking for a venue for a productive and pleasant business lunch. El Viejo y el Mar, named after Hemingway’s classic The Old Man and the Sea, serves seafood dishes in a room decorated with dock lines, paintings of regattas and sea lamps. Visitors can enjoy meals and cool drinks from the outdoor patio while watching the ships sail in.
Pat Antuña Yarza is a freelance writer and translator based in Montevideo. Mom to three and a relentless juggler, she writes copy for digital agencies and creative studios as well as news and culture magazines. With an MA in Cinema & TV Production and 10-plus years’ experience in translation and advertising, she also runs a team of 30 audiovisual translators and blogs on media & subtitling at www.widdmedia.com. She loves films, advertising, music and parenting. You can follow Pat on Twitter @datcopypat.