Bars and Cafes in Montevideo

Introduction

In Uruguay, almost all bars serve food, so the distinction between restaurant and bar is less clear than in some other countries.

Many locals in Montevideo eat their breakfast in a café, often a croissant (medialuna) which is generally served filled with ham and cheese. A coffee with frothed milk on top is a cortado.

When pizzas are served in cafes, they are usually thick-crust pizza slices freshly baked in a charcoal oven. Pizza has a tomato topping but no cheese; muzarella is a cheese pizza with the only fainest smear of tomato. Fainá, meanwhile, is a cornmeal/chickpea crust baked in the pizza oven and served with pepper. It’s something of an acquired taste. Oddly enough, round pizzas are called pizzetas in Uruguay.

Cafes usually serve a large selection of desserts generally displayed in brightly-lit cabinets. These are usually not prepared on the premises.

Try a chivito, the Uruguayan take on the humble steak sandwich and a café classic. Order it canadiense (“Canadian") and it will arrive piled high with a topping of bacon, fried egg, grilled peppers, lettuce and tomato.

You will find reviews of ten popular bars and restaurants here. While we don’t particularly recommend any of the pubs just below the World Trade Centre in Pocitos, we do include one here for the sake of comparison (Barba Roja). What we left out: The beautiful Café Brasilero in the Old Town which is closed at the time of writing; the Baar Fun Fun in a quiet section at the edge of the Old Town (and a great late­night option if you want to hear tango music, but the area is sadly unsafe at night); and the famous and venerable El Hacha a few blocks from the Mercado del Puerto (we prefer Roldós).