Es Mercat

The best fish & seafood restaurant in Montevideo

This is a Guru’Guay Top Pick

Guru’Guay only recommends businesses and service providers in Uruguay that we absolutely love, who love what they do and demonstrate constant quality.

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Hand on heart. The Guru’Guay will wager that this is the best fish and seafood restaurant in Montevideo.

Since a writer from National Geographic called it “the most satisfying I’ve had anywhere in the world”, the star-turn at Es Mercat is the pulpo (octopus). The Vacation Rental Show raved about the “seared merluza negra with golden crackling skin” (South Atlantic sea bass) seasoned solely with rock salt—regulars bring the chef unique salts back from their world travels.

In our experience, the trick to having the best culinary experience at Es Mercat is to have the owner Facundo—he who looks like one of the three musketeers—choose what to serve for you.

For two, he’ll generally recommend a couple of appetisers and one main course as main dishes are large enough to share.

A chef from Texas told me that he was so blown away by the food that by the time his main course arrived, “my eyes filled up”.

If you’re an old timer and wondering where Roberto and Lili, his joyous Swiss sidekick, are—they’re just around the corner in El Otro (Es Mercat)—a new cafe bar, also well worth checking out.

Bring an appetite.  Credit and debit cards are accepted.

Es Mercat is dedicated to seafood, but not necessarily to it being local. The cod comes from Portugal, the toothfish from the deep waters off the southernmost tip of the continent, and the octopus from whichever ever supplier meets [their] exacting standards. None of it tastes like it’s travelled far, however. The meaty octopus tentacle I’m served — seasoned with healthy pinches of rock salt and paprika, its little suckers singed on an open flame — is the most satisfying I’ve had anywhere in the world.

There are some restaurants in the world that you just walk through the door and almost immediately get smacked in the face with the realisation that this is going to be memory food (Watch the segment on Es Mercat — and feel your eyes fill up!)


Es Mercat
Colón 1550 esq. Piedras, Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo

To reserve a table, email Facundo at or call +598 2917 0169

Opening hours

Lunch: Wed-Sunday noon till 4 p.m.
Dinner: Wed-Saturday 8.00 till 11.30 p.m. (kitchen closes) 

Photos: Miguel Angel Canale

15 Responses

  1. Wonderful restaurant. We did wonder about the meaning of “es” in this context. Looking up Catalan articles, pronouns, adjectives and verbs, we found nothing that seemed to fit.

  2. This is the best fish restaurant ever. A father and son affair cooking the freshest and best tasting fish that you will ever have the chance to eat. The location is great with a number of small bars to visit either before or after dinner. Walking distance from the Alma Hotel.

  3. Dear Karen,

    I realise that I am in danger of becoming a Guru’Guay groupie but, having just had lunch on our final full day, flying out tomorrow morning, I wanted to thank you in particular for a suggestion.

    Supper at Es Mercat last night was wonderful. The restaurant was packed despite our eating at the very non-Uruguayan hour of 8pm and the meal justified the fullness. Brilliant fish, much enjoyed.

    Your books have been a constant companion over the last fortnight and have made the navigation of this wonderful country and its customs so much easier.

    Thanks for all your help.

    1. I LOVE having a good groupie! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, John. And kudos to Es Mercat. — Karen

  4. We visited, at your suggestion, Es Mercat, 3 times! Most fabulous restaurant along with its fabulous owners. (Yes, when we told them you had recommended this, we did get special treatment! 😁) Of the many wonderful experiences we had visiting Uruguay, especially Montevideo, Es Mercat is way up there on our list of favorites! It is a MUST for any traveler! The ambiance is perfection; the chef and the staff are fantastic. DO try any of the fresh fish/seafood dinners–not to be missed! Thinking about their food makes my mouth water, even from afar. They are a treasure! Check them out! You will NOT be disappointed! But don’t forget to say that Karen referred you to be treated like semi-royalty!

    1. I was at Es Mercat’s new restaurant (El Otro), just around the corner from the place you went, last night, to celebrate my son’s birthday. The new place specialises in tapas but the Es Mercat favourites (the octopus!) are still on the menu. We asked Roberto to send us out whatever he wanted. Bacalao croquettes, fresh prawn empanadas (it’s prawn season in Rocha), Spanish omelette, Patagonian trout—and of course, we insisted on a portion of octopus…. ahhhh. Lili and Roberto came out to join us and brought champagne. We met a couple from Mexico who own a bar in Tristan Narvaja (Montevideo) and a mezcal distillery in Mexico! A memorable time is guaranteed at Es Mercat for sure. Thanks for sharing your experience, Julie! — Karen

  5. I was in Montevideo last month and now at work….and had a random memory of the dinner I had at Es Mercat….and how delicious it was. Highly recommend! Even thinking of it in the United States!!!

  6. Our very favorite restaurant in Montevideo – and we were there 5 weeks to try a lot of places! Great food, service & vibe. :}~

    [This comment was added to Guru’Guay’s old site on 11/01/2019]

  7. In a city where it is difficult to find a non-meat meal, Es Mercat stood up to the challenge with a wonderfully grilled and fresh whole sea bass. The service was outstanding with the wait-staff and chef treating us like family and hugging us as we left. Don’t miss this wonderful restaurant!

    [This comment was added to Guru’Guay’s old site on 23/10/2018]

  8. We had our third visit last night and Es Mercat never fails to deliver !

    Roberto and Lili are very welcoming made us feel right at home.

    Roberto whisked us up a tasting platter of a little of everything from the menu (not listed as a menu item, so ask, if they can they will) with some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever taste.

    Great atmosphere and excellent wine recommendations.

    I can’t recommend this place highly enough !

    [This comment was added to Guru’Guay’s old site on 06/10/2018]

  9. The Guru’Guay recommendations are spot on! This place is amazing and makes you feel so welcome. Upon the recommendation of the Guru’Guay, we asked for the Chef’s recommendations. We had an amazing meal: yellowtail ceviche, Black Sea Bass, grilled octopus, Balleno Tannat vino, coffee ice cream cake, espresso…..mmmmm

    [This comment was added to Guru’Guay’s old site on 28/08/2018]

  10. Been there twice now and planning to return. The merluza negra was absolutely delicious – the best fish I’ve had in a while – as was the grilled octopus…and don’t even get me started on the fresh baked bread! It’s also got a great vibe. Highly recommended!

    [This comment was added to Guru’Guay’s old site on 27/04/2018]

  11. We will be there in late Dec. around Christmas. I hope that this place is open, can’t wait to taste the fish, I am true fish lover. A meal for two with a glass of wine, how much should I expect to pay?


    Dear Ray, you’ll have seen I recommend having Roberto choose the menu for you and that for two he usually chooses two appetizers and a shared main course such as sea bass? Well that plus wine each should set you back about 1000 pesos each. The current exchange rate is about 28 pesos to the dollar. Es Mercat usually stays open for the holidays so you should be in luck! Do write a review here once you have been! All the best, Karen

    [This comment was added to Guru’Guay’s old site on 16/09/2017]

  12. The dinner in “Es Mercat“ was incredible. A big THANK YOU to Facundo Connio for this delicious experience. We enjoyed it very much and would love to come again!

    [This comment was added to Guru’Guay’s old site on 21/07/2017]

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