Dulce de Leche and Early Morning Dips: An Insider Guide to Punta del Este with Beachwear Brand Casa Raki

Thu, 8 August 2019

Beachwear brand Casa Raki is inspired by the Uruguayan coast and a long-lasting relationship with the sea.

Running along a rural stretch of coastline, Punta del Este oozes with understated glamour. Hippy enclaves and remote beaches draw people to this Uruguayan beachtown – among them, Josefina Alazraki Theo, founder of beachwear brand Casa Raki.

Josefina spent most of her childhood on the Uruguayan coast in Punta del Este. Though now based in London, she has maintained her long-lasting relationship with the sea.

Over a late-morning coffee, Josefina elucidates on Punta del Este’s beach culture, sustainable swimwear (her’s is crafted from Econyl, a regenerated nylon yarn made from recycled fishing nets and ocean waste), family holiday rituals and where to find the best dulce de leche in the city.

The best day to arrive in town is…

Around 27 December, enough time to enjoy the beach before New Year’s madness.

Which is the best hotel to stay at?

Casa Suaya Hotel Boutique if you want to be in the country or Posada Paraiso if you’re after something more bohemian and chilled.

Where are the best spots for shopping in Punta del Este?

José Ignacio has some amazing boutiques. My favourite is Panorama, a great sustainably minded store that stocks products by South American designers. In La Barra there are some amazing homeware shops too.

Must-visit markets…

Once a month, those who live in the neighbourhood organise a market in Manantiales where you can find antiques and some great gems. The artisanal market in Gorlero is great for those with kids.

Favourite city districts worth exploring…

José Ignacio; Garzón for a day tour to the vineyard and the local town; La Pedrera for its natural beauty.

Where’s good for lunch?

Parador La Huella is the most amazing place for lunch, there is great music and it’s usually packed. The food is outstanding; don’t leave without trying the volcán de dulce de leche.

How about a romantic dinner?

Marismo serves great food, plus the setting is very rustic and cool – the owner hand-built all the furniture in the restaurant using wood from the surrounding property. I also love La Susana – a great option with a little adventure involved, as it’s only accessible by boat. Your journey finishes in this beautiful candle-lit beach shack; the food is wonderful too.

Other food spots to try…

Mostrador Santa Teresita is a great buffet-style restaurant owned by Fernando Trocca who is regarded as one of the best Argentinian chefs. I love every single thing on its menu.

For after-dinner drinks head to…

No Me Olvides, a local pizzeria in Manantiales owned by Nico Palacios. There is nothing not to love about this place. It’s run by the coolest surfers in town, you get amazing drinks and the music never stops. In January it gets so busy that tables end up blocking all the street and people stay dancing there all night.

Where should we head post-party?

Where else but the beach when it is right in front of you?! Head there with friends and find a spot. This is the best part of Uruguay, the coasts are just immense.

How do you spend your Sundays here?

With my family – the tradition extends from Argentina to the Uruguayan coasts. We always have lunch in our house and we just stay chatting and drinking coffee until the sun starts setting. We’ll then head to the beach around 5pm to drink maté and see the sunset.

For Sunday brunch book a table at…

Brunch is not really a tradition here (bare in mind you party till very late and only wake up around midday), but if you do wake up early and want an early breakfast/ lunch I would head to La Linda bakery in Manantiales – it’s a beautiful space with some great light-lunch options.

One place only locals know about…

Newly opened restaurant La Oveja Negra owned by chef Juan Peralta Ramos. He’s been doing some amazing stuff in the area in the past few years, but finally he has opened this restaurant where you can eat his delicious earth-cooked food. You will find only local’s here; this is the type of place you would only hear about from friends of friends.

Where should we explore beyond the city?

Don’t leave without going on a horse ride through the countryside, and visit Lapataia if, like me, you’re a fan of dulce de leche. Garzón town is totally worth the trip.

What’s the city’s dress code?

Very bohemian and very relaxed. We all enjoy getting dressed to go out, but in the most effortless way. There’s lots of cotton dresses, linen and fresh fabrics during the day, and soft wool ponchos at night if you are going to be close to the seaside. It’s not really a heels place, and that is what I love the most.

One book to read before we go…

Any of the South American masters. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Marquez is the most beautiful book ever written in my opinion. It says a lot about the spirit of the country.

What key pieces do you always pack when travelling?

All my Casa Raki bikinis and swimsuits, of course, as I spend most of the time on the beach. Also sliders – I have at least two or three pairs that I wear a lot in Uruguay. I think it’s vital to have comfortable shoes so you can walk around town and keep up with the long hours of partying at night. I have designed a small ready-to-wear capsule, available in October, full of soft, easy, linen pieces that are comfortable enough for daytime but sexy enough to transition to night – perfect for Punta del Este.

A souvenir to bring home…

Dulce de leche – nothing beats the Uruguayan one. If you have a little extra space left in your case, I highly recommend bringing back Tannat wine by Bodega Garzón.

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