Uruguayan cuisine is best known for its mouth-watering, meat-heavy dishes; its dark, spicy wines and one-of-a-kind chivito. You’ll find the capital, Montevideo, stuffed with the country’s best Uruguayan restaurants. Here’s a guide to our favorites.
You’ll have no trouble sniffing out good food in Montevideo, with its numerous neighborhood bars, restaurants and marketplaces. One of the first foods you’re sure to taste is chivito – Uruguay’ national and most famous dish. Legend has it that a chef was asked to prepare a sandwich with goat’s meat, but he didn’t have any, so he made a sandwich with the ingredients he could find in the kitchen. There, chivito, or ‘little goat’ in English, was born – a monstrously flavorsome sandwich packed with slices of beef, ham, melted cheese, tomatoes, olives and mayonnaise.
Uruguay is also known for its asados (barbeques). Slivers of beef, pork and chicken sizzle away to perfection over wood fires. There are also heaps of dreamy pasta dishes due to much immigration from Italy. Homemade gnocchi and ravioli are served up with creamy and rich sauces. In short, for lovers of food, Montevideo is not to be missed.
Montevideo al Sur Uruguayan restaurant (Photo: Montevideo al Sur)Montevideo al Sur
This charming eatery is located in a historic building in Montevideo’s south neighborhood. It originally opened its doors in the 1930s, and as the owners have changed through the years, most of the original backdrop has not. You can still see the fine details from some of the original decor, like the tile work that lines the walls, the wood and marble countertops and the antique cash register.
Not only is the ambience interesting in itself, their inventive menu is filled with the staples of quintessential Uruguayan cuisine, plus more modern takes on it. They serve up a chivito canadiense – chivito with egg and bacon included – as if this classic sandwich wasn’t stuffed with enough deliciousness already. Another delight on their menu is their take on provolone fundido. They serve their melted provolone cheese with a hibiscus and crunchy onion chutney – sweet and savory perfection in every bite!
This enchanting boutique hotel, located in the Carrasco neighborhood of Montevideo, is home to one of the city’s best restaurants for local Uruguayan food. This garden oasis was originally built as a beach house in 1925, then converted into a quant hotel and restaurant.
The gardens yield themselves as the perfect sanctuary to enjoy a cup of tea alongside one of their scrumptious desserts, or a glass of wine while you unwind from the day. They also offer a diverse lunch and dinner menu, only featuring local and seasonal ingredients. As the menu changes seasonally, you can’t always know what to expect, but one thing is for certain, much passion for Uruguayan culture and ingredients goes into each dish.
In the summer months, you’re likely to see the chef in the gardens barbequing a spread of succulent meats, in true Uruguayan style.
Av. Bolivia 1323
Lo De Silverio Parrillada
This barbeque heaven is located in the Villa Dolores neighborhood, also known as Parque Batlle. The corner bar stands out with its eclectic outdoor murals and tables nestled under arches of trees. Inside the restaurant you feel as if you are entering someone’s home, with the photographs, paintings and unique artifacts that hang on the wall. You can smell the sweet smells of beef, pork and chicken as it cooks over a burning wood fire.
Lo De Silverio has become a local hotspot for the people of Montevideo to come and enjoy traditional Uruguayan barbeque in a cozy atmosphere. Not only do they dish out heaps of succulent, smokey meats, they also serve homemade gnocchi and ravioli, plus a long list of luscious desserts.
Alejo Rosell y Rius 1655
La Chacra del Puerto
This restaurant is located inside the historic Mercado del Puerto. This open market was built in the 1860s and was a place for locals to do their daily shopping for fruits, vegetables and meats. Now it is still a bustling marketplace, with the added value of a few restaurants and bars. La Chacra del Puerto is one of these iconic spots.
The restaurant opened its doors in 2003 and has become a hotspot for locals and tourists alike. Here you can choose to dine directly at the bar and watch as the chefs hurry around the kitchen, grilling up fresh meats and stuffing homemade pasta with tasty, savory fillings. You can also choose to sit at one of their few tables and take in the ambience of the marketplace while the attentive and helpful staff serve you a deep glass of fine Uruguayan wine alongside a mouth-watering meal.
Mercado del Puerto, Piedras
Primusuem is a one-of-a-kind restaurant. Located in a 1870s mansion in the old town of Montevideo, this unique eatery is home to over 3,000 antiques and puts on a highly esteemed live tango show. Primusuem pride themselves on providing quality Uruguayan gastronomy, wine and culture, all swirled together to make your evening simply unforgettable.
The walls of the restaurant are bedecked with peculiar and distinctive trinkets, from lanterns and coffee makers to wrenches and toy cars. Tango shows go on throughout the evening hours, with live instrumentation and dancers dressed in traditional attire as they sway their bodies to and fro with sensational emotion. The ambience here vibrates with passion and tradition and the food is simply first-class. They provide a seasonal menu that only offers the freshest of ingredients. They have plenty of tasty meat options as well as multiple tempting choices for vegetarians, such as the sorrentinos with wild mushrooms, ricotta and ginger or the eggplant, zucchini and roasted tomato lasagna.
Calle Perez Castellano 1389
El Tío Bistro
Upon entering El Tío Bistro, you feel right at home with the warm hospitality and cozy ambience. The restaurant itself is located in the courtyard of the owner’s home and isn’t visible from the street, making for a romantic and enchanting setting. The menu changes monthly but every month the menu stands out with something special and unique. All dishes are made with love, as the owners put it, and you can taste it in every bite of their home-cooked meals.
The menu always includes a few appetizers, homemade pasta options, and a few meat dishes as well. The menu also includes a long list of some of Uruguay’s best desserts, so be sure to save room for something sweet after your exceptional dinner. The service, atmosphere, and superb food make it easy to spend hours in El Tío Bistro, to fully savour the experience. They are only open from Thursday to Saturday, so it is highly advised to make a reservation prior to visiting.
La Tira Parrillita
This unimposing corner in the neighborhood of Palermo is home to some of Montevideo’s best barbeque. Situated on the corner of Durazno St. and Magallanes sits La Tira Parrillita. If you didn’t know it was there, you might walk right past this tiny restaurant, but the heaps of happy customers at tables spread along the corner, and the scent of grilling meats, might tip you off.
The restaurant is simple, and that makes it all the more special. Pale blue walls with painted monarch butterflies wrap the corner and a few tables are strewn out along the sidewalk with just a simple window for ordering everything the menu has to offer: sink your teeth into perfectly cooked steak, chorizo, stuffed grilled potatoes and fresh, crunchy salads. This corner bistro has become a favorite among locals – people from the neighborhood come together to enjoy great food, each other’s company and on weekends, concerts with local musicians. La Tira is an ideal place to rub shoulders with the locals of Montevideo and eat like royalty while you’re at it!