When it comes to epicurean renown, the small South American country of Uruguay is often overlooked on many lists, but don’t count them out just yet. With a diverse array of influences throughout the years, Uruguayan cuisine is making a name for itself in various ways. And it just so happens you can find many of these culinary marvels in Montevideo.
Mercado del Puerto
This is a great place to get to know the local cuisine and keep moving and shopping. El Mercado del Puerto is not a restaurant, but rather a collection of food vendors and other market goods, so you can sample everything from parilla-grilled meat to mouthwatering empanadas. Over at the fish corner, you can watch locals sell and buy fresh-caught fish as they prepare to take home the catch of the day for their dinner. Stop at one of the restaurants in this area to sample the seafood for yourself. If you like to snack and browse at the same time, you can do so at your leisure at El Mercado’s flea market.
For a local spot that perfectly balances literary ventures, savory cuisine and intriguing architecture, check out Escaramuza Libros. It manages to combine cozy coffee shop vibes with the discerning taste of fine dining. Including menu items like beet pie with goat cheese, it’s a culinary adventure set amid an artsy atmosphere filled with local talents. Escaramuza takes your cuisine experience to the next level with a secret garden terrace for al fresco dining that’s perfect on a mild day.
Within the bounds of Ciudad Vieja stands Jacinto, an eatery owned and run by MasterChef judge Lucía Soria. It’s a restaurant that’s putting Montevideo on the map with special lunch and dinner menus. The dishes are simple but packed with flavor, and made with seasonal ingredients, making this an adventurous dining experience, as you can sample different meals at different times of the year. Renowned for innovative cuisine and presentation, you will want to make sure to grab a bite here while visiting the city.
The Chivito Sandwich
No matter where you go in Uruguay, you will find and have to try their national dish, the Chivito sandwich. A classic among the locals, this hearty sandwich consists of thin beef steak, bacon, ham and cheese served atop two buttered buns. Sitting on top is often a fried egg or slices of hard-boiled egg, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, and sometimes green olives for a little flair.
With so much savory goodness going on, it’s only a sandwich in the sense that it’s served with buns. You’ll need a knife and fork to dig into this Uruguayan delicacy. Plus, it’s served with fries, potato salad or mixed greens on the side for a complete, local culinary experience.