What to Eat in Montevideo, Uruguay

South America is known for its delicious foods including steak, empanadas, dulche de leche, ceviches, and yerba mate.   On this trip we indulged in so much, except for yerba mate; a tea that’s a staple in the South American diet. We saw people walking in the streets sipping on yerba mate everywhere we went, but we did not see it available on any of the restaurant or cafe menus.  That’s all right though, we brought some home with us.

This is a chivito sandwich, the national dish of Uruguay made with a piece of chicken, fried egg, tomato, mozzarella cheese and usually a piece of bacon. Excuse the red film; this happened because I took the photo without the flash while sitting under red umbrellas on the patio.

If you love steak, you’ll be in love with asado in Uruguay.  Asado is all about the fire, the grill and the meat.  Some people call it bbq, but many South Americans prefer not to hear you reference it this way.  We had a good portion at Puerto Madero, the steakhouse near the World Trade Center.  The steak was juicy and served with fries as a side.  The spring weather was nice this day, yet the patio was empty. For most people this would be a bad sign for the restaurant, but we like to give business to the small companies that don’t have a ton of advertising.  The owner was so kind to take his time to show us the menu, we couldn’t help but take a seat at his restaurant and we were so pleased that we did.

After this awesome meal we took a walk in the area (Pocitos) and stumbled upon the charming cafe, The Lab.  The coffee and treats were perfect and probably the best dessert I had in this country.

When you visit Punte Del Este, choose piazzarella.  This restaurant gets their dough flown in from Italy.  The pizza was like no other and my husband who normally gets heartburn (acid reflux) from pizza didn’t have it at all. It must be something about the sauce.
We arrived at this restaurant by fluke and absolutely enjoyed it.

Inmigrantes is a local gastropub that opened up about 3 months ago.  I think we were the only tourists in the place as the location is tucked away in a neighborhood with not much else around.  When we arrived the place was packed, the DJ was spinning the beats and every seat in the place was filled. The kitchen was busy and the wait staff were running tables with a little stress and class at the same time.  Our food took a while, but it was worth the wait and the hospitality made up for every minute we thought they had forgotten about us.  At the time of writing this article, the restaurant accepts cash and debit only.

A fritatta style dish with potatoes, egg, and cheese. Uber delicious!
Empanadas made with pulled beef

Our final meal was in Montevideo at La Otra for asado.  We were thrilled to learn that Anthony Bourdain’s team ate at this restaurant and it will be featured on Parts Unknown in 2018.  So you’re getting our review about this quaint spot first!  We arrived for lunch closer to 4pm, which I would not recommend you going at that hour because the staff seemed exhausted by a hectic afternoon lunch rush. By the time our food arrived we were so hungry, we dived in before taking pictures of the ribs. I give the food 5 out 5 stars.

A few tips for you when dining in Uruguay.

  1. Tip anywhere from 10% and above.
  2. Ask the restaurant before you sit down if they accept credit cards. There are two taxes totaling 22%, but if you are a foreigner using Visa or Mastercard there is no tax for you.
  3. Some restaurants have a sitting fee for each person on top of your bill.  It is written on the menu and on your bill as Cubiertos, which means cutlery in English.IMG_9056

Why You Should Add Uruguay to Your South American Travel

Uruguay is a little laid back country with a ton of charm.  I liked this country more than I expected I would.  Before the trip was complete I was already thinking this is a country I would love to come back to.  I traveled with my husband and my sister and we flew from Miami to Montevideo.  Since my husband uses TMobile (which includes South America in the plan) it was easy to get an Uber from the airport right into the city center for about $30USD.  We stayed at My Suites in the upscale neigborhood called Pocitos and from there it was easy to walk around and catch an Uber for about $5USD for anywhere local that we wanted to visit.  There are so many things that I can say about Uruguay, but for this post let me give you the key reasons why I think you should add this country to your list of places to visit.

  1. Uruguay is one of the safest countries to visit in South America.  We walked around in the day and at night and always felt comfortable as we toured around the city streets.  Of course we were in a group of three, which may have helped, but from what I noticed as long as you exercise caution you likely have nothing to worry about even if you are traveling alone.  This country has a good economy and most people live a very good life, in fact the World Bank labeled this place as a high income country.
  2. Uruguay has a blend of cultures.  The influence of Spanish, Portuguese and Italian is upon this nation and there is also an African presence.  If you are around on Saturday afternoon, you can catch a group of people drumming in front of the City Hall. We missed this as we were in Punte Del Este.
  3. The beaches and gorgeous coastline.  If you have time take a trip out to Punte Del Este and other cities outside of Montevideo to see how beautiful the coastline really is.  There are too many beaches to choose from in Uruguay and surprisingly good surf in Punte Del Este. I don’t know anything about surfing, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been that surprised anyway.  To get there, take a bus from Tres Cruces terminal. The cost is $18USD each way and I recommend that you buy your tickets a day in advance to ensure that you get a seat.  The bus allows people to stand, but you don’t want to be standing for 2 hours.
  4. Great food.  There is a vast selection of restaurants to choose from for asado, pizza, chivito, cafes and even nice fast food joints.  I will do a food post soon about all the food we experienced, including the restaurant La Otra. We later found out Anthony Bourdain visited two weeks ago for his show Parts Unknown set to air in 2018.
  5. Kind people.  Spanish is the main language spoken, however you will be able to get around even if you don’t know any Spanish.  Some people speak English and will do as much as they can to welcome you to their country.  We met one woman in the market who spent about 10 minutes telling us about Uruguay and that racism does not exist there.  She went on to say that Uruguayans have an African population and they want to see more Africans because there are few.  She spoke about the history and the culture and she was so proud to share her experience with us.  I always like to talk to locals to get a feel for how they live.
  6. This place is laid back.  There seems to be no stress here.
  7. The architecture.  Visit the Old City, also known as Cuidad Veija, to take in the beautiful old structures.  Make sure to go up to the 22nd floor of the Montevideo City Hall where you can take in a view of the city for free.
  8. The largest outdoor market. If you love to find unique bargains in markets, then you will want to spend an entire Sunday at the Tristan Narvaja.  Here you will find antiques, food, clothing, and art. This is the most popular market in the entire country.

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