Food in Uruguay: meat, meat, and meat

Uruguaj a jedlo: mäso, mäso, a mäso

Diet of Uruguayan

Uruguay has the highest number of cows per capita in the world, so naturally, they became carnivores. Life of vegetarians and vegans in this country is challenging. From Argentina they took over delicacies like pasta, pizza or dulce de leche, but also have their own meals. Usually with meat.

Typical food

Asado – Piece of cow on gril, usually ribs, supplemented by sausages or other parts from animal, and veggies suitable for gril. Never call asado barbecue. It’s just not right.

I did not try asado in Uruguay, but if you like to eat a lot of meat, you should have asado rather than some burger.

asado in mercado del puerto
asado in mercado del puerto
best chivito in montevideo

Chivito – Typical Uruguayan sandwich garnished with slices of beef, bacon, cheese, tomato, lettuce, olives, hard-boiled egg and mayo which always goes with fries. The portion is huge, and you can split it between two of you.

pizza in punta del diablo
Argentineans took pizza from Italians, and Uruguayans from Argentineans.

Steak Steak – Like in Argentina, one of the traditional meals.

Fish and seafood – You will probably spend most of the time by the river or ocean, and this is your chance to eat a lot of its creatures, or buy them fresh on the market and cook them in your hostel or airbnb.

pot of paella
tiny squid in paella
Paella and baby squid
cooked fish from fish market
Fish I bought on fish market in port and cooked in the hostel.
fish market with seafood
One euro was approximately 50 pesos. I think very affordable.

Churros – Sweet dessert with all toppings possible. The most popular churro is with dulce de leche which is widely used in Argentina and Uruguay.

churro from mercado ferrando
XXL Churro from Mercado Ferrando
mcdonalds mcflurry with dulce de leche
This ice cream is from McDonald’s and proves dulce de leche theory.

Drinks

Mate – Dry yerba leaves in mate with a straw called “bombilla”. First, you need to wet the leaves with water and shape a small mountain (la montañita) on one side of mate. After 10 minutes use warm water and pour it slowly along the bombilla (never use hot water because you will burn the leaves). Uruguayans will be happy to share mate with you, and you should be happy to accept and drink the whole sip. NEVER and NEVER wipe bombilla. You will offend the person who gave you mate. If you don’t want to drink after someone, say that you don’t like mate and everything will be alright.

Medio y Medio – Drink which consists half of sparkling wine, and half of white wine.

grappa miel in flask

Typical alcoholic drink is “Grappa miel” – grappa with honey. Its taste is not bad but after few shots you’ll have enough. Grappa miel in grocery stores has usually 25%.

shot of grappa miel

Where to go to eat?

Mercado del Puerto

In the past this market was selling point for meat and other production. Nowadays it covers restaurants with typical Uruguayan food including asado. Expect this place to be crowded, it’s in the old town and on the list of top 10 places in Montevideo.

Where to have chivitos?

The best chivito in Montevideo is in Pizzería y Bar Sarandí, close to Plaza Zabala. That time it cost 300 pesos = 6,40€, and the portion was very generous. If you will continue walk down the same street, on the corner is restaurant Álvarez, where is reputedly the best vegetarian chivito with aubergine.

Mercado Ferrando

Another market hiding excellent food. Unlike Mercado del Puerto, here you will find street food and gourmet delicacies. I chose restaurant Putaparió offering menu with main dish, garnish and a drink. I went for quesadilla with salad and it was delicious. It cost me 350 pesos – 7,50€.

vegetarian quesadilla
Crispy baked quesadilla with butternut squash, spinach, and mushrooms.

Other recommended places

  • Café Brasilero – the oldest cafe in Montevideo
  • Roble – vegetarian restaurant
  • Markety (e.g. Acevedo Díaz Street) – street market where you can buy kilograms of fresh healthy vegetables and fruit, some sweets, fish, and seafood for lower prices than in supermarket, and cook yourself.
  • Fish market in Punta del Este port – cheap and fresh fish and seafood
  • Food on beach – in Punta del Diablo I recommend vegan burger made by my surf instructor Federico
market on the street
dinner in colonia del sacramento

Soňa.

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