La Barra, Uruguay
Surfer-town la Barra
North of Punta del Este is La Barra, another quiet village that is slowly being transformed by Punta’s growing international importance.
Its landmark Puente Leonel Viera, an undulating bridge that spans the Rio Maldonado, is nicknamed puente de la risa (the bridge of laughter) for the giddy sensation one gets walking across it.
Originally a surfer-haven popular for its consistent waves, La Barra’s main beach became a hangout for bikini-wearing models that eventually led to a name change.
Chic boutiques, cafe bars, and hot night clubs may change names and venues each season, but one staple, popular for its savvy music, is Crobar, attracting big-name DJs.
In the center of La Barra, Tequila Bar is a favorite for the well-heeled reveler. For most of the year Tequila Bar is just a vacant storefront on the main drag of La Barra. But by early December, it morphs into the hottest lounge and dance club in Uruguay.
While it’s no more than a cozy, single-floor club with red-and-black booths, its top-notch, model-set crowd is accepted only through a strict door policy that keeps tourists and teenagers away. Unlike its sister-club in Buenos Aires, the beach-outpost of this slick chain is still in its prime.
The music pulsates with vintage electronic music, Latin tracks and global beats. During peak season, between Christmas and New Year’s, arrive early with some eye-candy to secure prompt entry.
Bikini Beach Bar (Buddha Bar), a beachside tiki-hut and sushi bar, is located on Bikini Beach. The boldly colored modernist architecture with large outdoor patio is friendly to bare feet and well-tanned bodies. The open-air bar serves mixed cocktails and South American specialties while the kitchen rolls out platters of fresh cut-sushi and sashimi. Mostly only popular by day and late-afternoons, holiday weekends bring out DJs spinning until all hours of the morning for revelers.
Here along the Punta del Este coast, fish and seafood are specialties particularly mejillones (mussels), rabas (squid), chipirones (baby squid), and corvina (sea bass).
Set in the heart of La Barra, is Baby Gouda, kitsch and cool with a Moroccan twist. The colorful deli stocks an excellent spread of olives, cheeses, and fresh salmon. The adjoining restaurant serves simple but tasty food.
Cafe Flo just a few steps down the street is a popular place for lunch serving delicious sandwiches with Prosciutto di Parma, Bresaola and Cheese and other fresh ingredients.
At El Franchute, chef/owner Laurent Laine presents French classics on a prix-fixe menu thats updated daily depending on seasonal ingredients. Reservations are necessary since there are only a few tables available in a private setting.
Punta’s newest and most luxurious Hotel Fasano Las Piedras in La Barra is a concentration of 32 minimalist style concrete and stone bungalows, designed by architect Isay Weinfeld, sprawling over 1200 acres of La Barra’s acacia and lavender dotted hillsides. Please call or e-mail us if you want to buy a home in La Barra.
Isay Weinfeld designed Bungalow at the Fasano Hotel in La Barra
Compiled and Edited by Pamela Bieri