On our trip to Montevideo, we feasted on Uruguay cuisine. Some of the Montevideo food we ate was so good that we ate it twice (a rarity for us, as we usually like to try as many different local dishes as possible!). Most of our meals were devoured at the Montevideo market, Mercado del Puerto, where we dined on huge portions of Uruguayan meat dishes accompanied by local beer. After sampling an abundance of fare, we ranked our choices for the best things to eat in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Uruguay Traditional Food
Uruguayan cuisine has been heavily influenced from other countries – most prominently by Spain, Italy and Portugal. In the Age of Discovery and colonization, these countries brought their gastronomy with them. As a result, much of the Uruguay typical food is rooted elsewhere, but has evolved into something that is uniquely their own.
About Uruguay Food
Our top recommendations for food in Montevideo are the best things we ate in Uruguay. Unfortunately, we don’t have any tips for vegetarians. Although it is not impossible to find meatless Montevideo, Uruguay food, we weren’t seeking it out during our trip. It’s also important to note that Uruguay food and drinks are not as affordable as we thought they would be. Uruguay main dishes at restaurants often cost around $15 USD, which was higher than we expected.
Things to Eat in Montevideo
Without further ado, our Montevideo, Uruguay favorite food list…
#1 Chivito Sandwich
The Chivito is the Uruguay National Dish…and it’s utterly amazing! The classic Uruguay sandwich is rarely contained within two pieces of bread. Instead, the contents are layered in a heaping pile on a plate, spilling over the sides – and it requires a fork and knife to consume it.
The ‘sandwich’ portion of the meal is stacked with beef, ham, bacon and cheese…and then topped with a fried egg and sometimes olives for extra flair. Typically, an assortment of ‘sides’ – fries, potato salad and mixed greens – will be buried beneath the Goliath sandwich. When it comes to Uruguay famous food, the Chivito is – by far – the most unique and an absolute must-try for visitors!
#2 Uruguayan Grill Parilla
Uruguayan barbecue meat is a Montevideo specialty – and it’s delicious. Just watching the meat being prepared is a fascinating adventure in the Uruguay culinary scene. At both markets and restaurants, grills – called parilla in Uruguay – are covered in thick cuts of beef, coiled pork and vegetables. The meat sizzles over glowing coals, sending a tantalizing scent into the air that is simply irresistible.
The meat is often served as a main meal, but smaller portions of meat from the grill are popular Uruguay appetizers. Our favored grilled meat in Montevideo is chorizo, which is ground pork sausage that has been seasoned with garlic, salt and peppers.
#3 Uruguayan Pizza
Pizza may have been introduced to South America by Italians, but Uruguayan Pizza has its own flair. Rather than a circular pie, pizza in Uruguay is square. There are numerous choices when it comes to toppings, many of which are meat products, like pancetta.
While in Uruguay, we loved eating empanadas as a quick lunch or snack on-the-go. Empanadas are a great budget option for eating in Montevideo. The small dough pouches are prepared with an assortment of fillings. Most common are carne (meat) and jamon y queso (ham and cheese), but we tried empanadas with egg, chicken and pancetta, too.
However, not all empanadas are savory; sweet empanadas filled with fruit or chocolate and are popular Uruguay desserts. Empanadas are often found in bakeries, but there are entire shops dedicated solely to empanadas.
When it comes to Uruguay drinks, none are as iconic as Mate. The caffeine-laden drink is made with yerba mate leaves that are steeped in a thermos of hot water. The liquid is then poured into a special mug and is consumed with a metal straw. Locals are often spotted walking through the city while carrying the thermos in the crook of their arm, the mug in one hand and their mobile phone in the other. As one of the most popular drinks in Uruguay, it’s a must-try in Montevideo!
Best Restaurants in Montevideo, Uruguay
As we previously mentioned, our favorite place to eat in Montevideo was at Mercado del Puerto, which features numerous restaurants. The choices made it easy for us to have an appetizer at one place and then try a meal at another spot. However, visitors looking for the best restaurants in Montevideo can seek out the best spots by reading reviews on TripAdvisor.
Our top tips for your trip to Montevideo
Now that you know what to eat in Montevideo, we have a few more tips for your trip!
Montevideo Food and Wine Experience
Learn about the local culinary scene from a professional guide on a Montevideo Food and Wine experience. Travel to a nearby winery for tastings then indulge in a typical 3-course meal at the vineyard. Learn more about this tour!
Where To Stay in Montevideo
We think Barrio Sur is the best area to stay in Montevideo. The district is near the city center, Ciudad Vieja and the coast. During our Montevideo visit, we stayed in mid-range accommodations at Hotel Iberia (where the rooms were clean and the staff was friendly).
There are numerous options when it comes to Montevideo hotels, which are priced for a range of budgets. We recommend you start your search for accommodations in Montevideo on Booking.com – like we do!
Top Tips for Your Trip
- Montevideo is a walkable city…but only if you have the right shoes! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia and Skechers. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell.
- It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city! Make sure to have a good city map.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
We Want To Know: What is your favorite thing to eat in Montevideo? What other Uruguay cuisine would you add to our list of must-try dishes? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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