Argentina’s biggest rival when it comes to steak, Uruguay is firmly on the meat lover’s map. Grilled to perfection over a parrilla, topped with chimichurri and paired with a glass of local tannat – churrasco doesn’t get more Uruguayan than this. For the juiciest cuts in Montevideo, head to one of these top steak houses.
Restaurant, South American, $$$
There are no reservations at this smoky den in posh Punta Carretas, so prepare to get in line. La Pulpería is legendary in Montevideo for its grilled meat – from tender strip steak to rib-eye and everything in between. With just 15 seats, it’s cosy, buzzing with excited chatter. Hanging skulls and horseshoes add to the rustic feel. Order a huge hunk of steak, a mixed salad with onions and a local lager for the full La Pulpería experience. Be warned: you may emerge smelling of woodsmoke at the end of the night, but it’s worth it.
Perched on the Rambla, La Casa Violeta is an upscale steak house frequented by visiting Argentinians – and for good reason. The kitchen serves every cut of meat imaginable, accompanied by a lengthy wine list, packed with Uruguayan grapes. Try the enormous Porterhouse with papas noisette or the entrecôte with a traditional baked potato and Roquefort. The ambience is sophisticated and the service smart, with a view of the Rio de la Plata to match. Before you head out into the night, be sure to have a spoonful of the chocolate mousse.
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If you ask around for the best restaurant in Montevideo, Primuseum is usually at the top of the list. This delightful eatery in Ciudad Vieja has a collection of over 2000 antiques, as well as an exquisite five-course tasting menu of classic Uruguayan cuisine. Baby beef makes an appearance, following a selection of bruschetta, chorizo and cheeses. Intimate and romantic, Primuseum is the perfect choice for a date night. Live tango on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings is the icing on the cake.
Nestled at the heart of leafy Prado, Don Andrés is the perfect place for a leisurely Sunday lunch. Jaw-droppingly enormous tenderloin, rib-eye and sirloin steaks grace the menu, accompanied by crisp fries and sauces that include honey mustard and cherry. If you can squeeze in a dessert, try the homemade flan with dulce de leche. Low lighting, exposed brick and flashes of red lend this place an old-world feel. Antiques line the walls, with the focal point, half a car crashing through the ceiling! After lunch, walk off that steak in Prado’s charming botanical garden – just two blocks north.
If your tummy’s rumbling, jump on a bus to Parrillada Los Dos Patos, north of the city centre. This friendly joint with an open grill serves buttery steaks and mounds of fries by the plateful. Unassuming and decidedly welcoming, this parrilla is where you’ll find the locals. Spend the morning shopping at nearby Nuevocentro before stopping for a bite. The queue is often out the door, so turn up early for lunch to secure a coveted seat at the grill.
For a special occasion, venture out to Carrasco in your glad rags – García is one of Montevideo’s most upmarket parrillas. Starters might be sautéed baby squid or tuna carpaccio with watercress and parmesan. From the wood grill, order García’s trademark ‘baby beef’ or a butter-soft fillet steak with glazed sweet potatoes. There’s an impressive selection of national wines too, from ruby-red tannat to fruity fumé blanc. Service here is attentive, the atmosphere warm and buzzing. When dinner’s done, while away the evening on the sun-kissed terrace with a digestif – or two.
In a list of the best places to find steak in Montevideo, Mercado del Puerto can’t go without a mention. If you’re heading to this meat lover’s paradise, take a seat at El Palenque for the best carne at the market. A fusion of Uruguayan and Spanish flavours, this grill serves paellas and small plates alongside T-bone, short rib and rump steaks. The skewers are well worth a try too. Swing by for a late lunch and a local lager to soak up the port’s bustling atmosphere.