After ten years running Es Mercat, which we wager is Montevideo’s best fish restaurant, Chef Roberto Connio was ready for a new challenge. But “we didn’t want to go too far away”. So, in December 2021, Swiss sidekick Lili Zech and he “left our baby in good hands (son Facundo’s)” and moved just around the corner to open up El Otro Es Mercat—‘The Other Es Mercat’—a Galician-inspired restaurant and tapas bar for seafood and fish lovers.
Known by the locals simply as El Otro, the restaurant is on the pedestrian street seconds from the port. The vibe is as congenial as always and a chair at the long, long antique bar is the ideal spot to strike up a conversation with both locals and foreigners.
Of course, it wouldn’t be ‘the other’ if there was no smoky grilled octopus, but at El Otro, there’s a new star of the show—bacalao,—salt cod—served in a myriad of styles.
The secret of Es Mercat’s success, besides the cooking and the laid-back atmosphere, has always been Roberto’s tireless pursuit of the very best quality seafood from the port and the Uruguay coastline. However, a tapas menu affords Roberto a new flexibility to serve his and Lili’s personal favourites. I know you’re dying for the tips. So, besides bacalao, shrimp empanaditas and crab croquettes, their preferred dishes include two egg dishes—tortilla española (Spanish omelette in the best tradition) and huevos rotos.
What you should know
Tapas and portions menu Like in Spain, you can choose a full plate (porción) or small plate (tapa) of most items. Each tapa is abundant—two and I’m stuffed.
Vegetarians and vegans Fabian the second chef is borderline vegan and the whole team loves to serve vegan and vegetarian. Just tell them your preferences.
Wine, coffee and desserts 95% of the carefully curated wine list is Uruguayan. There are plans to open a wine store in-house next season. The desserts and high quality coffee are notable.
Great service in multiple languages Staff speak English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, French and Italian at a pinch. They’re delighted to talk you through the chalkboard menu (updated most days as fresh produce arrives) in your language.
The heart of a brand-new gastronomy hub El Otro is at the centre of Distrito B—a fledgling hub for the great food and producers who’ve set up shop at the intersection of Perez Castellano and Piedras streets. Tero craft beer and Piwo icecream are just two of the many local producers from Distrito B and beyond used by El Otro.
Flexible opening hours I’ve arrived at El Otro at 10:30 for a breakfast bagel and found it closed. I’ve also passed by late at night and the house in full swing. Contact Lili the day before if you plan to go bang on opening time (this is relaxed Uruguay after all).
El Otro Es Mercat
Pérez Castellano 1526, Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo
Reservations: (+598) 2914 7078
Or call Lili on +598 560 278 or contact her via Instagram.
Guru’Guay readers love to meet Roberto and Lili personally. Roberto is in the restaurant most days and Lili on weekends but she told us, “if someone wants to meet us, send me a WhatsApp, because we want to meet you too” ❤️
Summer schedule till Easter
Open daily 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thu-Sat 11 a.m. to midnight.
El Otro is available for events. If your party numbers ten or more, they’ll be delighted to open up for you outside of regular hours.
Photos: Adrián Echeverriaga
We ate lunch at El Otro very soon after it’s opening. I ordered the salt cod (bacalao) which is a fish I have enjoyed many times. It was terrible. Why? I have to believe Roberto was not in the kitchen that day, because whoever cooked it forgot to rinse the salt off. It would have sent anyone’s blood pressure to the moon. I had my companion try some and he too found the same. However, never fear, for having eaten often at Es Mercat I know the food will be and I am sure excellent. My was a one off experience. I will be sure to eat there again soon.
Oh my goodness, Kenneth. Did you let Roberto and Lili know (afterwards I mean)? I’ll make sure they are alerted and am grateful that you’ve had amazing experiences with them previously to know that this must have been a very unfortunate one-off. Thank you for sharing — Karen
No, I did not, and I should have said something, but didn’t. That would have been the best option. My bad. Like you said, just an unfortunate rare occurrence. I have no doubt the food is excellent there and I shall be back.
There is an interesting article in the NYT about customer reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp. Many are fake (both the good and bad). This is unfair to the owners. Best to speak up then and there if there is a legitimate concern.
Ay nooo, I’m so sorry to hear that Kenneth!
Before it’s ready to eat, the bacalao undergoes a long process of various days of de-salting so my only guess would be that it came from the wrong box. As you are saying, mistakes can happen, even when they shouldn’t.
We are always happy to replace any dish that’s not up to quality and we would never charge for such. It is crucial that we are advised though.
I hope you’ll come visit again soon so we can make up for it!
Please see my posted reply to Karen. I was a bit late in posting it. No worries. I will be back as I know your food is quite excellent from the many meals I have enjoyed at Es Mercat. My kindest regards.
We visited Montevideo in early 2020 just before things were closed down. Karen Higgs recommended Mercat. This restaurant serves the best fish that we have had anywhere in the world! Cannot wait to try Otro. Mouth waters thinking it…no kidding.