Women used to wash laundry in the now-absent Arroyo de los Pocitos, but the upper class realized the potential of its pristine beach. Pocitos became part of the city in 1886, & soon after trolleys bought hundreds of visitors to the first beach restaurant & hotel. Elite summer vacation homes characterized the area during early stages of development, becoming a mini-Mar del Plata.
Eventually more permanent residences grew in number, thanks to efforts by construction firm Bello y Reborati in the 1920’s. Many of their houses remain standing in Pocitos, but modern times also brought modern buildings —lots of high-rise apartment towers along the beachfront.
Boulevard España shoots straight up the hill from the beach in Pocitos. The first time I saw this street I couldn’t believe how funky & how surprisingly well the houses work together. Tons of different styles on every block: Beaux-Arts, Art Nouveau herons, Art Deco, Neocolonial, tiled domes… a great mix:
Side streets seemed promising, & I happened upon more fantastic houses like the Villa Los Claveles (what a gate!), the Italian embassy (formerly Casa Towers) & some fantastic Art Nouveau tilework:
After reading so many rave reviews about one of Montevideo’s better restaurants, we checked out Tandory. I have mixed feelings about the overall experience, but the appetizer of kokotxas were just about as good as any I’ve had in the Basque Country. And the gigantic pork knuckle could not have been more perfectly cooked. That said, the barbecue sauce tasted too sweet/too commercial, & Darío’s gnocchi were wonderfully light but again the sauce lacked flavor. I’d certainly recommended it but can’t say it was one of my best-ever dining experiences.
Finally, just next to Pocitos sits another natural inlet, Buceo, with the marina & its own mini-beach. Darío & I ate a picnic lunch in the grass here one day, enjoying the gorgeous views:
One of the major shopping centers is nearby… super cramped & unremarkable. However, it has a giant Tienda Inglesa supermarket in the basement with lots of excellent prepared food for that beach picnic. And a women’s clothing store that got me in trouble with mall security for taking a photo. But how could I resist??
Tip: The best way to explore the expansive coastline of Montevideo as well as get a nice overview of the city’s architecture is to hop on the D1 bus. Running from the edge of the Ciudad Vieja all the way out to Carrasco, spend 30 pesos/USD 1.60 for some spectacular views. If leaving from Plaza Independencia, be sure to sit on the right side of the bus!
Montevideo series: First impressions • Ciudad Vieja • Avenida 18 de Julio • Pocitos • Cementerio Central • Palacio Legislativo • La Aguada • Parque Rodó • El Prado • Final thoughts