By Majo Lois
Far away from the typical image of Montevideo as a city with nothing to offer in terms of gastronomy, today Uruguay’s capital city has become much more sophisticated and has grown at the pace that locals’ and foreigners’ palates demand. Below, find a list of some of Montevideo’s best and under-the-radar restaurants where you can enjoy and indulge in the best that the city has to offer.
This is the ideal place to enjoy fusion-style dishes, with influences ranging from Malasia, Europe, China and South America. A cozy environment and seating for 60 between the cellar and main dining room highlight the unique experience.
Right in the middle of Ciudad Vieja, in an emblematic building, La Corte’s cuisine is defined by its owners’ good taste. The menu changes regularly to keep up a surprise factor. The wine list is great, service spot-on, and the atmosphere is great for a night on the town.
Housed in the mythical Teatro Solís, the space was formerly home to another exemplary restaurant, El Aguila. Now Rara Avis serves a thoughtful, Mediterranean-inspired menu with an exceptional wine list, perfect for enjoying at both lunch and dinner.
With more than 20 years behind them which, in the Montevideo market is an achievement, Café Misterio is the perfect place for tourists to relish or for locals to simply enjoy a great night out. With a menu that never disappoints, and a cocktail list to match, the magic continues to shine.
Hugo Soca leads Bistro Sucré Salé, a high-end French kitchen in an unforgettable space, the Alianza Francesa building. With breakfast, brunch, and lunch, they offer croissants, pains au chocolate, and other delicious French-inspired plates.
A favorite on any gastronomic tour of the capital city, Sacramento offers three different seating options: cellar, dining room, and deck. They also offer a menu that combines the best of the ubiquitous parilla with scratch-cooking in a rustic-chic environment.
El Viejo y El Mar
Montevideo has a fantastic coastline, though it’s rarely exploited by restaurants that look towards the river. El Viejo y El Mar is one of the few restaurants that has managed to capture the magic of eating on the banks of the river. The menu embodies a variety of locally-sourced fish and seafood products, fantastic handmade pastas and elegant desserts.
San Mauritzio Gourmet
Only recently opened, Italian chef Mauro Caccianiga has developed an exceptionally Italian menu, with a strong focus on the Piedmont region. Dishes include a crudo di Parma con bocconcini, tagliatelle al ragú, as well as a dessert menu that includes a 10-piece tasting option.
After 11 years of forming a strong presence in the Punta Carretas neighborhood, Francis recently opened a second location in Carrasco. With a large menu, the restaurant is ideal for business lunches and events.
Steak House Dakota
This is the first restaurant with a focus on the hip “parilla a la Americana,” offering new cuts and presentations to the local market. Recently opened, Dakota forms part of the new line of Dazzler Hotels.
Simple, without tricks or pretension, noted for having the best parrilla in the city (the rib eye is highly recommended), La Pulpería is a steak house with a charisma all its own. Though it’s small, always full, and not always the most comfortable, you’ll be sitting grill-side, which is worth every moment.
With a bistrot environment, great taste and attentive service, Francis Mallmann-disciple Lucía Soria’s menu doesn’t disappoint. Her soups, pastas and desserts are simple and homemade, but all recommended.
Doña Ines Dulces Tentaciones
A patisserie of the highest level, Doña Ines is a place where every last detail is cared for. With a relaxed, quiet environment, enjoy the menu of teas and sweets, as well as service that is widely talked about.
As the name suggests, this is a small space with bar-only eating because there’s no other space. With a strong French influence, and a chef who’s from France as well, they offer 5-star dishes at affordable prices.
It’s said that you can eat the best of the sea here. The owner personally selects the fish and seafood from the port and brings them back to cook. Menus and plates change daily, based on the market.
Without a doubt, this is the perfect place to get the utterly Uruguayan chivito. With more than 100 grams of beef accompanied by french fries, vegetables and pan, it’s the highlight of the menu.
Bar Tasende has a magic all its own, with a mixture of being located in a 19th century building with other bistrots, as well as a marvelous antique environment. They also have a secret: the perfect recipe for ‘pizza al tacho,’ a pizza with no sauce, only cheese, that’s made a la minute.
Portuguese cuisine takes center stage at this simple restaurant without pretension, serving up hearty plates made of recipes taken straight off the boat and adapted to Uruguay’s markets.
Bar Santa Catalina
A bar with the best in classic Uruguayan fare, you’d think grandma was back in the kitchen cooking. They offer big portions, big flavors, and great quality. The waiters might not be as well-versed as in other spots around town, but service is good and you’ll leave full.
It’s been said that you can find the best empanadas in the city here, stuffed full and with a lot of different varieties. Located in the Mercado del Puerto, there’s even a bar next door. Both are highly recommended.
La Cocina De Pedro
With a great atmosphere and affordable prices, the menu is ample and full of delicious pastas and risottos. The personable staff brings to life the simple-chic locale, worthy of a round of applause.
Around the Puerto del Buceo, El Italiano is known for their seafood dishes, where just out the doorstep you’ll see the boats delivering the fresh catch. With a rustic, family-friendly environment perfect for the weekends, El Italiano is not to be missed, especially on sunny days when you can enjoy the patio.
Confitería 25 De Mayo
Located in the heart of the financial district, this bakery has continued to reinvent itself and continually improve its service. Their delicious breads are widely known and their sweets are classic and utterly affordable.
Montevideo is missing a great sandwich shop. And, while Benicio doesn’t focus solely on lunch between two slices of bread, they do have some fantastic sandwich offerings. The vegetarian sandwiches are great, and the salads are always full of unexpected surprises.
With a feminine touch and a Parisian feel, you won’t find a better place for a simple lunch or a great tea. Between vintage furnishings and cute wallpaper, you can enjoy a great selection of tea or an offering of gourmet sandwiches, as well as delicious dessert options.
Mix and mingle with local diners and fishermen just off the boat in this Korean eatery. Serving up authentic Korean dishes, this under-the-radar must offers high quality at a great price.