Although small in size, Montevideo is a culturally rich and vibrant city that leads its visitors from the grand boulevards with their numerous cafés and bookshops to the Ciudad Vieja (old town) with its restaurants and labyrinthine alleyways. The tasty Uruguayan cuisine on offer around every corner also makes Montevideo a great foodie destination. These top ten restaurants showcase the best of Uruguay’s traditional cuisine and its interaction with international influences.
Given that Uruguayans are the world’s biggest consumers of meat, it is no wonder that they have achieved excellence in the art of meat cooking, grilling and sizzling. One of the traditional ways to prepare meat in Uruguay is with the parilla, a huge grill that is placed directly on the fire. Parilla is also the name of the wildly popular Uruguayan steakhouses – and La Pulperia is the best parilla in Montevideo, with a simple menu and unrivalled quality of meat. The restaurant is open for dinner and has only two sittings throughout the night, but is a mandatory stop for all meat lovers who visit Montevideo.
Doña Inés Dulces Tentaciones
Doña Inés Dulces Tentaciones is a tiny pastry shop and café in the Pocitos neighborhood. The venue offers a wide variety of homemade cakes, from traditional American-style cupcakes and cookies to muffins, dulche de leche and scones. This pastry shop also serves what is arguably the best coffee in Montevideo as well as a selection of teas. The sumptuous treats, to be enjoyed in the café’s white and rose-decorated interior, are complemented by friendly service and a cute, homey atmosphere. Doña Inés Dulces Tentaciones is the perfect place to stop for a sweet treat while sightseeing in Montevideo.
, +598 2708 0349
The first thing that catches the eye when entering this restaurant are the beautiful centuries-old stone walls and chequered marble floors. The building that is home to La Silenciosa was an 18th-century Jesuit convent and, before finally becoming a restaurant, it was converted into a prestigious fashion house. The food is delicious, from the homemade pasta to French-inspired meat and fish dishes. La Silenciosa offers its diners an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy a meal surrounded by the traces of Montevideo’s rich and winding history.
Ituzaingo 1426, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2915 9409
At El Tinkal, guests can enjoy a delicious sandwich and a beer while admiring the beautiful sunset from Montevideo’s grand promenade. The traditional Uruguayan sandwiches served at El Tinkal are called chivitos and are as simple as they are tasty. Filled with sliced churrasco beef, mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonnaise and a choice of other ingredients, they are filled with a variety of flavors that go together in perfect harmony. El Tinkal is Montevideo’s prime venue to taste this Uruguayan specialty.
Emilio Frugoni 853, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2418 4705
Bistró Sucré Salé
Bistró Sucré Salé offers a taste of France in the heart of central Montevideo – more specifically, in the beautiful, historical building of the Alliance Francaise. The fountain-and-iron gazebo in the courtyard, the songs of Edith Piaf and the smell of freshly baked croissants create a delightful ambience that transports diners to another continent. Bistró Sucré Salé is open for breakfast, lunch and brunch on weekends and offers a completely different experience from all other restaurants in Montevideo. The delicate balance of flavors, its warm and welcoming atmosphere and Italian-quality espresso make Bistró Sucré Salé an experience to enjoy.
Boulevard Artigas 1271 esquina Charrua, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2402 7779
La Cocina de Pedro
This lovely restaurant nestled in the neighborhood of Palermo offers a truly gourmet experience. La Cocina de Pedro is characterized by minimal chic décor and the beautiful open-plan kitchen it is named after. La Cocina’s menu boasts an incredible variety of dishes and flavors, and breathes sophistication. At La Cocina de Pedro, diners can taste impeccably executed staple dishes of Uruguayan cuisine such as parrilla meat and tortillas or try one of their many pastas, risottos, fish, salads and gourmet sandwiches. La Cocina is one of the culinary highlights of Barrio Palermo and, indeed, Montevideo itself.
Av Gonzalo Ramírez 1483, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2413 7453
El Mercado del Puerto is one of the main gastronomic destinations for the citizens of Montevideo and tourists alike. While the market is simply overflowing with stands that serve parilla-grilled meat, one of the best places to eat is Empanadas Carolina. Empanadas are a typical Latin American dish made with fried or oven-baked dough filled with spiced meat. This family-run business serves the most delicious empanadas in town. There is often a very long line and the wait might take up to 20-30 minutes but no one should leave Montevideo before tasting these excellent empanadas.
This charming restaurant can be found in the old town of Montevideo and it is hands-down the best seafood restaurant of the city. As one of the kind waitresses will explain, the menu is written solely on chalkboards as it changes every day – printed menus are not necessary. The owner and head chef of Es Mercat believes in utilizing exclusively fresh products for his dishes and it is only after his daily trip to the Puerto del Buceo, the city’s best fish market, that he decides what to serve that day. Es Mercat offers excellent food, meticulous presentation and a wonderful atmosphere, making it the best bet for a delicious fish-based meal in Montevideo.
Colon 1550, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2917 0169
Tandory is the quintessential fusion restaurant. Chef Gabriel Coquel will take you on a tour around the world with his incredible dishes. It is no easy feat to achieve excellence in so many types of cuisine, but Chef Coquel has mastered the culinary art from the four corners of the earth. The menu offers Malaysian, European, Chinese and South American dishes but the safest bet is to ask the chef himself what he recommends for the night. This small and eclectic restaurant wins guests over with the delicious food and the charisma of its owner.
Ramon Masini esq. Libertad, Montevideo, Uruguay, +598 2709 6616
Bouza Bodega Boutique
Just 20 minutes outside of Montevideo is Bouza Bodega Boutique, one of Uruguay’s best wineries. The property was originally a small farm, and was refurbished and reinvented as an elegant wine venue in 2002. The experience at Bouza Bodega Boutique starts with a tour of the family’s classic car collection, more than 30 vehicles representative of the models driven in Uruguay in the 1920s. The tour continues with a walk through the vineyard, the fermentation rooms and the cellars, and ends in the dining hall. After the informative tour, guests are shown to their tables where they are presented with a selection of fine wines paired with platters of cheese and cured meats. With its excellent selection of wines and bucolic atmosphere, Bouza is the ideal destination for a day trip in the Uruguayan countryside.
By Oreste Giorgio Spinelli