Food in Uruguay
Uruguayan cuisine is characteristic of temperate nations, with a high butter, fat, and grain content and a low spice content. Because to the large Italian immigrant population, it has a significant Italian impact. If you are from the Mediterranean, you will find it bland, but if you are from Northern Europe, Russia, or the United States, you will adjust quickly.
As of May 2014, breakfast for four people (a liter of fruit juice and two packets of biscuits) may be purchased for as low as UYU100 at a supermarket, a dish of fast food costs about the same, and dinners in sit-down restaurants typically begin at UYU300.
There are many public markets where you may purchase a wide variety of meat. Vegetarians can find ravioli almost everywhere.
Empanadas (hand-sized meat or cheese pies) are a great portable, cheap, and tasty snack or lunch. You can readily find them at numerous corner bakeries.
Uruguay has historically been a ranching nation, with cattle outnumbering humans by more than two-to-one, and as a result, superb (and reasonably priced) steaks are available. Chivito, a heart-attack-on-a-plate sandwich (some guidebooks call it a “cholesterol bomb”) consisting of grilled tenderloin steak, tomato, lettuce, onion, eggs (hard-boiled and then sliced), ham, bacon, mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise, and fries, is a must-order. Chivito comes in two varieties. The traditional version, al pan, is served “on bread” and appears like a hamburger placed on a platter. When eaten al plato, it is similar to a hamburger but without the bread and frequently with additional veggies.
Asado is a traditional Uruguayan barbecue consisting of grilled meats (beef short ribs, sausage, blood sausage, sweetbreads, and other offal) over wood embers. Almost every Uruguayan knows how to prepare it, and many versions can be found on most restaurant menus. Try it in the “Mercado del Puerto” market in Montevideo’s harbor district for a more authentic experience. Because many of the European immigrants to the region surrounding Rio de la Plata arrived from Italy a century ago, Italian foods have a particular place in the local cuisine, sometimes with a local touch. The local cousin of the Central European schnitzel, Milanesa, is cooked with beef rather than pork and is also available as a sandwich.
Uruguay, with its extensive coastline, also has an abundance of seafood and fish. Brotola, the most frequently served fish, may be recognizable to those from North America, where it is known as hake.
Desserts include dulce de leche, a kind of caramel prepared with sweetened milk, which may be found in anything from ice cream to alfajores (dulce de leche-filled cookie sandwiches) or Ricardito, a popular Uruguayan delicacy (available in all supermarkets).
Drinks in Uruguay
Yerba Mate is commonly consumed on the streets, but it is difficult to get in restaurants. Because everyone on the street has their own cup and thermos bottle, it is unlikely that anybody would order it at a café or restaurant if it were available. It’s possible that you’ll have to purchase a package and create your own. Drinking gourds come in a broad variety of prices, from inexpensive to super-luxe silver and horn. Yerba Mate is a popular social beverage. If you are with a group of Uruguayans, they will most likely give you some; but, be aware that it may be bitter. It will make everyone pleased if you try some.
Uruguay is increasingly becoming known for its high-quality wines, particularly those produced from the Tannat grape.
Alcohol is reasonably priced. Beer is often sold in big, 1l bottles for as little as UYU50. Pilsen and Patricia are the most widely available brands, with Zillertal a distant third. Imports are also accessible, although more Uruguayan brands are likely to exist but are difficult to locate.
Whisky is the most popular strong alcoholic beverage in Uruguay, with several well-known brands such as Johnnie Walker being produced under license. In a supermarket, a 1l bottle of the lowest brands costs just UYU250.