Estación Penitente

Magical hill-top restaurant

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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Overlooking the Sierras de Minas in Uruguay, with views reminiscent of Greece, Estacion Penitente serves up traditional cooking including Uruguayan BBQ & wild boar.

Estación Penitente is an enchanting hill-top restaurant housed within three restored 1950s-era train cars. It’s set in the Sierras de Minas, Uruguay, a rolling hill region studded with rocks and olive groves. Under two hours from Montevideo and less from Punta del Este, you’ll enjoy superb views and homemade, locally-sourced Uruguayan cuisine.

In 2009 owners Sara and Gonzalo decided to move their family to the country and choose Minas. Their first stop was to this property, a location popular with visitors as an incredible place to shoot photos. Instantly they fell in love, knowing it was where they wanted to create something special. At first they were told they couldn’t buy the land because the deed had been tied up in difficult litigation for the last ten years. Yet when Gonzalo called the court, as if by a miracle, the case had just been resolved that very same day.

The transportation and restoration of three vintage railway wagons was no mean feat. The idea for the cars came via a friend, who insisted Gonzalo come see them at an auction. In spite of having gone out of curiosity, he realised immediately he had to buy them and use them somehow. The logistics were another issue altogether. It would take almost six months just to find movers to transport the cars to the hilltop. And another two years, to design and build the working restaurant. But it was SOOO worth it.

What you should know

In keeping with the owners’ belief in sustainability, all materials used in the building are reclaimed and food is sourced from local producers.

They only accept cash or bank transfer. No credit or debit cards.

What they serve

Traditional parrilla—as Uruguayan BBQ is called—featuring self-produced beef, lamb and wild boar (jabalí), clay oven dishes, homemade bread and fresh pastas. A children’s menu is available.

What’s close by (Minas, Uruguay)

The restaurant is near the entrance to Parque Salto del Penitente, a popular destination featuring a waterfall.

Where to stay

The owners have a boutique hotel and spa nearby. There are charming accommodations around Villa Serrana, an artist’s community further down the main highway. It’s a short drive from Minas, the capital of Lavalleja.

Contact

Estación Penitente
Ruta 8, Km. 134, Minas Uruguay.

It’s about 140 km from Montevideo and 100 km from Punta del Este.

Call or WhatsApp Sara and Gonzalo on +598 99 195 392 / +598 92 748 275 or write to them at estacionpenitente@gmail.com

Opening times

Weekends and some holidays for lunch and teatime.

They plan to be open on weekdays in the near future so watch this space. They also host private events with a maximum capacity of 150.

Photos: Federico Moreira / Estación Penitente

5 Responses

  1. La verdad que es un lugar encantador, el restaurant ubicado entre las sierras minuanas a 4 km del parque salto del penitente y a 5 km de ruta 8 Brigadier Juan Antonio Lavalleja. Hoy tuve la oportunidad de conocer este lugar con mi familia incluido mi padre para celebrar su dia y fue una experiencia única sobre todos para ellos que fue como volver aquellos años donde el tren era el medio de transporte que se empleaba para transportar a los pasajeros desde Montevideo al interior del Uruguay. Muy buena atención por parte de los dueños&empleados, me pareció muy buena la relación calidad precio considerando que el costo son 1400 pesos por persona y 900 los niños. Yo pedí cordero a las brasas que vino acompañado con papas, boniatos y zapallo asados al horno de barro, mi padre eligió lo mismo y después hubo cazuela de porotos y tallarines caseros. La comida abundante y hecha en el momento. Lo que si no hacen son ensaladas de verduras(tomate, lechuga, rucula) Lo que si me gusto es que tratan de ser amigos con la naturaleza, utilizan electricidad renovable a través del panel solar causando el menor impacto con la naturaleza. Se puede abonar en efectivo, tarjeta de debito o transferencia bancaria. Altamente recomendable y es la excusa perfecta para salir los fines de semana por fuera de Montevideo ya que esta a 1 hora de viaje al igual que de Punta del Este

  2. Thank you for sharing about this gem. We visited last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. My favorite part were the spectacular views. Will definitely be back!

    1. Oh my goodness, the views are indeed incredible, Emily! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Great place for kids too, right?

  3. Excellent restaurant with beautiful views!! Very nice and attentive staff. Fantastic selection of appetizers, main courses, and desserts. Highly recommend!

    [This comment was added to Guru’Guay’s old site on 18/12/2018]

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