I am always open to culinary experiences and no matter what country you’re visiting it’s always fascinating to explore the local cuisine from the traditional to how it is evolving into more contemporary style eating. And this was certainly the case in Montevideo. I’ve already covered the Mercado del Puerto a huge not-to-be-missed tourist attraction where the “asado” (barbecue) is king. So now I’m going to show you a pictorial of my favourite cafes and restaurants.
Let’s start with my favourite cafes
The vintage Cafe Brasilero opened its doors in 1877 in the Old Town of Montevideo. I stopped by one day mid-morning for a cappuccino and a croissant, both were very good. Here, they serve the cappuccino in the traditional way, in a glass see through cup (with handle) and when you get it, you can see the distinct line between the coffee and milk.
Within this cafe you’ll find old style wooden tables and chairs, framed photos on the walls, and a dark wood counter at the back with a giant mirror above – very atmospheric.
The well known Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano frequented this cafe — there is a photo of him at the front of the cafe. He wrote the famous book Open Veins of Latin America published in 1971. In the book he analyses the history of South America, describing the effects of European and US exploitation. It’s a book I look forward to reading.
Club Brasileiro is located right next door to the Gaucho and Money Museum on 18 de Julio Avenue, one of the most busy, bustling streets of Montevideo, lined with shops, restaurants and hotels. It is along this street that I observed a good variety of the old style architecture of Montevideo.
To get to Brasileiro on the second floor you have to take a cage elevator, I just knew when I stepped into it that I was going to encounter another atmospheric cafe on the second floor – I wasn’t disappointed.
I’ve tried several restaurants for supper and found an interesting mix of styles from Sin Pretensiones (without pretension)which offers Vegan and Vegetarian options, it’s a restaurant that reminded me of the Wild Oat in Ottawa, a restaurant with a laid back atmosphere, very welcoming and featuring an eclectic mix of old style vintage tables and chairs, it’s a restaurant with atmosphere plus. The food is what I would describe as “from scratch” prepared on site as it is ordered with a home-made feel. They offer breakfast, and lunch and early dinners of pizzas, quiche, pastas risotto and fish meat dishes as well. It is located in the Old City, where many of my choices of eateries are found.
Another amazing restaurant not far from my hotel in the Old city was La Petite Cuisine. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera with me the evening I ate there, and I wish I had. The service was excellent and attentive, and the risotto that I had as my main course with vegetables was superb. They offered home-made bread as an appetizer with herbed butter and a choice of olive oil. When I passed on dessert (the meal was very substantial), they offered me a small dish of their homemade ice cream.
Bar Tabare is what I would call a more traditional restaurant that is found in the Punta Carretas area of Montevideo. This restaurant is located quite a distance from my Hotel Axsur in the Old City and the reason I chose it is because I had just finished a walking tour of the area with http://www.curiosofreetour.com.uy and decided to try a restaurant in the area since I was already there, and it had also been recommended by the friendly waiters at Brasilero (who happened to work at Tabare!).
No wonder this restaurant has atmosphere. It was opened in 1919 by Alfredo Gonzalez, and was a typical mix of businesses of that era — a bar, but also a storeroom and meeting place for fishermen. It recreated itself in 1993 as a bar and restaurant and was named one of the top 100 bars in the world. Many artifacts from its past remain as part of the restaurant so it felt like a museum as I wandered around taking many photos before sitting down for dinner.