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The 18 Essential Montevideo Restaurants

All the best eats in Uruguay's picturesque capital

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"Less visited than its cosmopolitan competitor over the river, Buenos Aires, Montevideo has charm in spades and a dining scene that’s getting more exciting by the month," says Uruguay-based travel writer Nell McShane Wulfhart. While the laid-back capital city is still somewhat under the radar of American tourists, it's a popular destination for Argentinians and Brazilians, who come to enjoy the architecture, beaches, and chilled-out vibe.

When it comes to dining, meat lovers are in for a treat. "Eating in Montevideo means going hard on the steak: This is a city that loves barbecue more than almost anything, and the ratio of beef quality to price means you’ll be tempted to get steak every single night," says McShane Wulfhart.

But, as in all things, at Montevideo restaurants, you get what you pay for. "While there’s no such thing as very cheap food in Montevideo, there aren’t too many places with astronomical prices either — most restaurants are somewhere in the middle," says McShane Wulfhart. "You can eat a mediocre sandwich for $10, but you’re better off forking over a few extra dollars and dining on some grass-fed beef at a steakhouse or sampling some creative pastas."

Here now, in geographic order, the 18 places that define dining in Montevideo.

Editor’s Note: Eater is not updating international maps at this time given disruptions to global travel during the COVID-19 crisis.

Price per person, excluding alcohol
$ = Under 400 pesos (15 USD)
$$ = 400-800 pesos (15-30 USD )
$$$ = 800-1,400 pesos (30-50 USD )
$$$$ = 1,400 pesos and up (50 USD and up)

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. La Fonda

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Calle Perez Castellano 1442
11000 Montevideo, Uruguay
+598 2917 1559
Visit Website

Restaurants in the Ciudad Vieja neighborhood are often closed on Sundays, which is a quiet day in the city, but this little hideaway is the perfect spot for a lazy weekend lunch. The dreadlocked cooks churn out strands of fresh pasta on small silver machines, while trays of roasted veggies just out of the oven wait to be served. The menu is tiny — just a few items every day — but the ambience is welcoming and on sunny days, you’ll have the street nearly to yourself when you sit at an outdoor table. [$$]

2. Jacinto

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Sarandí 349
11000 Montevideo, Uruguay
+598 2915 2731
Visit Website

Chef Lucía Soria, a protege of Argentina’s celebrity chef Francis Mallmann, has her own place in Montevideo’s Ciudad Vieja. Open all day long, the beautiful space is the perfect spot for taking a break while exploring the neighborhood. Soria’s food is healthy and market-driven, and she makes the best salads in Uruguay using top-notch ingredients like arugula, burrata, goat cheese, and grapes. The small plates on the dinner menu — shrimp empanadas, grilled squid with radish and tomatoes, and inventive toasts made with campo-style bread from the restaurant’s bakery — are incredibly moreish. [$$$]

3. Toledo

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Calle Cerrito 499
11000 Montevideo, Uruguay
+598 2915 3006
Visit Website

Toledo’s apothecary-style wooden cabinets and intimate ambiance set this small corner restaurant apart; plus, its tapas menu is unlike anything else in the city. Traditional Spanish tapas, including tortillas with chorizo and croquettes, are supplemented by more creative dishes, like a smoked salmon and potato salad studded with capers, chicken confit with sweet potato puree, and a runny egg breaded with cornflakes and served on mushroom foam. It’s only open for lunch, but if you have a large group, you can arrange a private dinner. [$$$]

4. Estrecho

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Sarandí 460
11000 Montevideo, Uruguay
+598 2915 6107
Visit Website

Arrive before 1 p.m. or after 2:30 p.m. to snag a bar stool at this small restaurant. At lunchtime, the place fills up with office workers and tourists coming for the creative plates handed over by the friendly, English-speaking staff working behind the long bar. The daily menu is made up of just a handful of dishes, which might include a paprika chicken with truffled polenta and dried tomato pesto, or the classic Uruguayan steak sandwich, the chivito, prepared with upgraded ingredients like filet mignon, arugula, coriander chimichurri, and a poached egg, and served deconstructed on a plate rather than a roll. Desserts, like a caramelized pear tart with pink pepper and creme brulee ice cream, are always inventive and not to be missed. [$-$$]

5. Oslo

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Oslo is a pop-up brunch weekend event that appears in different venues around town; when it launched in 2015 it was one of the first to offer the all-you-can-eat brunch format that’s become a trend in the city. Rather than an a la carte menu, everyone buys a ticket and gets all the coffee, juice, and baked goods they can eat; the menu changes all the time, but you might find fresh-baked scones, apple and pumpkin crumble, and a Norwegian-influenced flatbread. The ticket also includes a heartier dish, like eggs baked with mushrooms, and there are usually some creative salads, too. The “help yourself” set-up encourages lingering on a lazy weekend morning. [$$]

[Note: No fixed address, check the Facebook page to see where pop-up is taking place.]

6. El Mingus

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San Salvador 1952
Montevideo, Montevideo
(+59) 824-109342
Visit Website

This restobar, with its high ceilings, shuttered windows, and shabby-chic style is the ideal mid-week chill spot. The crowd of 20- and 30-somethings ride their bikes here for the reasonably priced menu of pastas, soups, sandwiches, and snacks; the wine list of local vintages and the gin-based cocktails; and the laid-back vibe. Stop by Tuesday evenings for jazz jam sessions, and don’t leave without sampling the grappamiel, a honey-infused grappa that they make in-house [$]

7. Escaramuza

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Dr. Pablo de María 1185
11200 Montevideo, Uruguay
+598 2401 3475
Visit Website

A gorgeous, high-ceilinged bookstore with colorful tiled floors forms the entrance to this charming cafe, tailor-made for a quiet midmorning coffee and snack or a late afternoon craft beer (note that tables fill up rapidly at lunchtime). The simple menu offers spinach tarts, homemade soups, and sandwiches on bread that is dense and moist (a rarity in a city that prefers the airy baguette), plus a generous selection of desserts, like carrot cake and brownies. The spacious garden is a romantic spot for dinner under the trees. [$-$$]

8. Baker's Bar

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Pablo De Maria 1198
Montevideo, Montevideo
(+59) 897-457260
Visit Website

While the craft beer scene in Montevideo is on the rise, a decent cocktail can still be hard to find. Baker’s, on an unremarkable corner in the mostly residential Cordón neighborhood, makes the best cocktails in town and fills up with a hip young crowd almost every night (you can reserve a table in advance, though). The Grito de Ascencio, a gin concoction with grapefruit juice, tonic, cucumber, and bitters, and the Me Mataste, with Aperol, white wine, ginger syrup, and passionfruit, are two standouts. [$]

+598 91 654 227
Visit Website

Chef Martín Lavecchia honed his skills in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe before opening FOC in his native Uruguay, and the result is the city’s most sophisticated dining experience. Lavecchia offers a five-course tasting menu (dinner only) that’s a good value, as well as an a la carte menu and a daily lunch special. The plating is playful (your food might appear on a rock or a piece of slate) but always elegant, and the chef makes the most of inventive techniques like cooking eggs at low temperatures (try them in the salad of fresh greens, Spanish ham, and potato chips). [$$$-$$$$]

10. La Pulpería

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Lagunillas
11300 Montevideo, Uruguay
+598 2710 8657
Visit Website

It’s all about the parilla (the grill) in Uruguay, where every local has something to say about grass-fed steak cuts and barbecuing techniques. La Pulperia is an old-fashioned parilla and does things the traditional way, roasting the meat over wood that burns until it becomes glowing coals. On a wintry day, arrive early to grab a seat facing the fire at this tiny spot and be mesmerized by the rack of sizzling steaks, sausages, and sweetbreads (along with pans of melted provolone cheese). The asador (the guy cooking the meat) here is a master. If you have to wait for a table, order up a bottle of medio y medio (half sparkling wine, half white wine) to sip outside as you wait. [$$]

11. Tona Hugo Soca

Copy Link

Chances are good that Tona chef Hugo Soca will pop by your table at some point during your meal. This hands-on chef has an eye for detail that encompasses everything from the three types of bread that appear when you sit down to the industrial-chic copper lampshades that create the restaurant’s homey atmosphere. The menu is a testament to the hearty, old-fashioned food made by Soca’s grandmother, like meatballs, crossed with some international influences. Rather than fill pasta with meat or ham and cheese, like most local spots, here the cooks stuff sorrentino with roast eggplant and ricotta fill the ravioli with carrot, giving these Uruguayan favorites a modern — and much healthier — update. [$$-$$$]

12. Montevideo Beer Company

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Bulevar España 2614
11300 Montevideo, Uruguay
+598 2716 6218
Visit Website

A recent arrival on the bar scene, this airy spot has a beer garden with communal tables that are packed nearly every night during the summer and a menu of the country’s best craft beer — it’s a one stop shop for an overview of the nascent Uruguayan artisanal beer landscape. The Cabesas IPA is one of the top choices, as is anything by Volcanica. They also do a decent burger and fries and show soccer games when the Uruguayan national team is playing. [$]

13. La Otra Parrilla

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Tomás Diago 758
Montevideo, Montevideo
(+59) 827-113006
Visit Website

The ultimate neighborhood parrilla, this corner spot is popular with locals and a few tourists who have sniffed out its top-notch cuts of beef and house-made chimichurri. Be prepared for laid-back and occasionally forgetful service, but it’s always with a smile, and the perfectly cooked entraña (skirt steak) is totally worth having to remind the server to bring the check. There’s also a good wine list with some top Uruguayan vintages, and the house-made flan (with a dollop of the ever-present dulce de leche) is one of the best in the city. [$$-$$$]

14. La Dulcería de Xime Torres

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Jaime Zudáñez 2855
11300 Montevideo, Uruguay
+598 2710 8010
Visit Website

Ximena Torres is a celebrity chef who’s often seen on local TV, and her eponymous patisserie has the most sophisticated and delicious sweet treats in the city. Hand-made chocolates, moist apple and cinnamon sponge cake, cupcakes topped with dulce de leche and fluffy Italian meringue, raspberry macarons — everything is deftly made and beautifully presented. This country loves sweets, and a carb- and sugar-heavy afternoon tea is common. Stop by around 5 p.m. for the full experience. [$]

15. La Cigale

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Roque Graseras 845
11300 Montevideo, Uruguay
+598 2710 8942
Visit Website

Ice cream is a year-round indulgence in Uruguay, and one of the most popular chains, La Cigale, also happens to be the best. There are locations in almost every neighborhood, some of them dating back decades, and the ice cream is reliably creamy and high-quality. The passionfruit and mascarpone, peach and port, and dulce de leche and walnut flavors are the most unusual, but you can’t go wrong with plain chocolate or a strawberry sorbet. The shop in Pocitos is across the street from the Rambla, the promenade where locals stroll, walk, and bike by the river. [$]

16. Expreso Pocitos

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Juan Benito Blanco
Montevideo, Montevideo
(598) 708-0496

A landmark restaurant that’s been around since 1910, Expreso was renovated in late 2016, replacing its retro tables and beautiful wooden fixtures with something that looks more like the interior of an Olive Garden. Still, this is where to go for one of the best chivitos in the city. This hot steak sandwich, when ordered canadiense-style — as it should be — is composed of a gut-busting roll stuffed with steak, ham, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, hearts of palm, and olives. The chivito is the signature sandwich of Uruguay (and it also makes a great post-drinking meal that’ll cut your chances of a hangover way, way down). [$]

17. The Lab Coffee Roasters

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Av. Dr. Luis Alberto de Herrera 1057
11300 Montevideo, Uruguay
+598 2622 8748
Visit Website

Yerba mate is the caffeinated drink of choice in Uruguay, so the third-wave coffee movement hasn’t made much of a mark here. If you’re jonesing for a proper pour over, The Lab is the spot: a small house in Buceo with the city’s best coffee, made with locally roasted beans. The laptop set tends to take over the tables here, but there’s a second floor with more seats where you can sip your cold brew and update your Instagram in peace using the free Wi-Fi. [$]

18. El Italiano

Copy Link
Alejo Rodriguez
Montevideo, Montevideo
(+59) 826-234958

Be prepared to wait for a table on summer weekends at El Italiano, a seafood spot by the water (although you have to walk around to the back of the restaurant to see it). The slew of outdoor tables, shaded by umbrellas, are filled with families and groups of friends feasting on grilled corvina, calamari, and octopus along with a bottle or two of albariño from an Uruguayan vineyard. [$$-$$$]

1. La Fonda

Calle Perez Castellano 1442, 11000 Montevideo, Uruguay

Restaurants in the Ciudad Vieja neighborhood are often closed on Sundays, which is a quiet day in the city, but this little hideaway is the perfect spot for a lazy weekend lunch. The dreadlocked cooks churn out strands of fresh pasta on small silver machines, while trays of roasted veggies just out of the oven wait to be served. The menu is tiny — just a few items every day — but the ambience is welcoming and on sunny days, you’ll have the street nearly to yourself when you sit at an outdoor table. [$$]

Calle Perez Castellano 1442
11000 Montevideo, Uruguay

2. Jacinto

Sarandí 349, 11000 Montevideo, Uruguay

Chef Lucía Soria, a protege of Argentina’s celebrity chef Francis Mallmann, has her own place in Montevideo’s Ciudad Vieja. Open all day long, the beautiful space is the perfect spot for taking a break while exploring the neighborhood. Soria’s food is healthy and market-driven, and she makes the best salads in Uruguay using top-notch ingredients like arugula, burrata, goat cheese, and grapes. The small plates on the dinner menu — shrimp empanadas, grilled squid with radish and tomatoes, and inventive toasts made with campo-style bread from the restaurant’s bakery — are incredibly moreish. [$$$]

Sarandí 349
11000 Montevideo, Uruguay

3. Toledo

Calle Cerrito 499, 11000 Montevideo, Uruguay

Toledo’s apothecary-style wooden cabinets and intimate ambiance set this small corner restaurant apart; plus, its tapas menu is unlike anything else in the city. Traditional Spanish tapas, including tortillas with chorizo and croquettes, are supplemented by more creative dishes, like a smoked salmon and potato salad studded with capers, chicken confit with sweet potato puree, and a runny egg breaded with cornflakes and served on mushroom foam. It’s only open for lunch, but if you have a large group, you can arrange a private dinner. [$$$]

Calle Cerrito 499
11000 Montevideo, Uruguay

4. Estrecho

Sarandí 460, 11000 Montevideo, Uruguay

Arrive before 1 p.m. or after 2:30 p.m. to snag a bar stool at this small restaurant. At lunchtime, the place fills up with office workers and tourists coming for the creative plates handed over by the friendly, English-speaking staff working behind the long bar. The daily menu is made up of just a handful of dishes, which might include a paprika chicken with truffled polenta and dried tomato pesto, or the classic Uruguayan steak sandwich, the chivito, prepared with upgraded ingredients like filet mignon, arugula, coriander chimichurri, and a poached egg, and served deconstructed on a plate rather than a roll. Desserts, like a caramelized pear tart with pink pepper and creme brulee ice cream, are always inventive and not to be missed. [$-$$]

Sarandí 460
11000 Montevideo, Uruguay

5. Oslo

Oslo is a pop-up brunch weekend event that appears in different venues around town; when it launched in 2015 it was one of the first to offer the all-you-can-eat brunch format that’s become a trend in the city. Rather than an a la carte menu, everyone buys a ticket and gets all the coffee, juice, and baked goods they can eat; the menu changes all the time, but you might find fresh-baked scones, apple and pumpkin crumble, and a Norwegian-influenced flatbread. The ticket also includes a heartier dish, like eggs baked with mushrooms, and there are usually some creative salads, too. The “help yourself” set-up encourages lingering on a lazy weekend morning. [$$]

[Note: No fixed address, check the Facebook page to see where pop-up is taking place.]

6. El Mingus

San Salvador 1952, Montevideo, Montevideo

This restobar, with its high ceilings, shuttered windows, and shabby-chic style is the ideal mid-week chill spot. The crowd of 20- and 30-somethings ride their bikes here for the reasonably priced menu of pastas, soups, sandwiches, and snacks; the wine list of local vintages and the gin-based cocktails; and the laid-back vibe. Stop by Tuesday evenings for jazz jam sessions, and don’t leave without sampling the grappamiel, a honey-infused grappa that they make in-house [$]

San Salvador 1952
Montevideo, Montevideo

7. Escaramuza

Dr. Pablo de María 1185, 11200 Montevideo, Uruguay

A gorgeous, high-ceilinged bookstore with colorful tiled floors forms the entrance to this charming cafe, tailor-made for a quiet midmorning coffee and snack or a late afternoon craft beer (note that tables fill up rapidly at lunchtime). The simple menu offers spinach tarts, homemade soups, and sandwiches on bread that is dense and moist (a rarity in a city that prefers the airy baguette), plus a generous selection of desserts, like carrot cake and brownies. The spacious garden is a romantic spot for dinner under the trees. [$-$$]

Dr. Pablo de María 1185
11200 Montevideo, Uruguay

8. Baker's Bar

Pablo De Maria 1198, Montevideo, Montevideo

While the craft beer scene in Montevideo is on the rise, a decent cocktail can still be hard to find. Baker’s, on an unremarkable corner in the mostly residential Cordón neighborhood, makes the best cocktails in town and fills up with a hip young crowd almost every night (you can reserve a table in advance, though). The Grito de Ascencio, a gin concoction with grapefruit juice, tonic, cucumber, and bitters, and the Me Mataste, with Aperol, white wine, ginger syrup, and passionfruit, are two standouts. [$]

Pablo De Maria 1198
Montevideo, Montevideo

9. FOC

Chef Martín Lavecchia honed his skills in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe before opening FOC in his native Uruguay, and the result is the city’s most sophisticated dining experience. Lavecchia offers a five-course tasting menu (dinner only) that’s a good value, as well as an a la carte menu and a daily lunch special. The plating is playful (your food might appear on a rock or a piece of slate) but always elegant, and the chef makes the most of inventive techniques like cooking eggs at low temperatures (try them in the salad of fresh greens, Spanish ham, and potato chips). [$$$-$$$$]

10. La Pulpería

Lagunillas, 11300 Montevideo, Uruguay

It’s all about the parilla (the grill) in Uruguay, where every local has something to say about grass-fed steak cuts and barbecuing techniques. La Pulperia is an old-fashioned parilla and does things the traditional way, roasting the meat over wood that burns until it becomes glowing coals. On a wintry day, arrive early to grab a seat facing the fire at this tiny spot and be mesmerized by the rack of sizzling steaks, sausages, and sweetbreads (along with pans of melted provolone cheese). The asador (the guy cooking the meat) here is a master. If you have to wait for a table, order up a bottle of medio y medio (half sparkling wine, half white wine) to sip outside as you wait. [$$]

Lagunillas
11300 Montevideo, Uruguay

11. Tona Hugo Soca

Montevideo, Montevideo

Chances are good that Tona chef Hugo Soca will pop by your table at some point during your meal. This hands-on chef has an eye for detail that encompasses everything from the three types of bread that appear when you sit down to the industrial-chic copper lampshades that create the restaurant’s homey atmosphere. The menu is a testament to the hearty, old-fashioned food made by Soca’s grandmother, like meatballs, crossed with some international influences. Rather than fill pasta with meat or ham and cheese, like most local spots, here the cooks stuff sorrentino with roast eggplant and ricotta fill the ravioli with carrot, giving these Uruguayan favorites a modern — and much healthier — update. [$$-$$$]

12. Montevideo Beer Company

Bulevar España 2614, 11300 Montevideo, Uruguay

A recent arrival on the bar scene, this airy spot has a beer garden with communal tables that are packed nearly every night during the summer and a menu of the country’s best craft beer — it’s a one stop shop for an overview of the nascent Uruguayan artisanal beer landscape. The Cabesas IPA is one of the top choices, as is anything by Volcanica. They also do a decent burger and fries and show soccer games when the Uruguayan national team is playing. [$]

Bulevar España 2614
11300 Montevideo, Uruguay

13. La Otra Parrilla

Tomás Diago 758, Montevideo, Montevideo

The ultimate neighborhood parrilla, this corner spot is popular with locals and a few tourists who have sniffed out its top-notch cuts of beef and house-made chimichurri. Be prepared for laid-back and occasionally forgetful service, but it’s always with a smile, and the perfectly cooked entraña (skirt steak) is totally worth having to remind the server to bring the check. There’s also a good wine list with some top Uruguayan vintages, and the house-made flan (with a dollop of the ever-present dulce de leche) is one of the best in the city. [$$-$$$]

Tomás Diago 758
Montevideo, Montevideo

14. La Dulcería de Xime Torres

Jaime Zudáñez 2855, 11300 Montevideo, Uruguay

Ximena Torres is a celebrity chef who’s often seen on local TV, and her eponymous patisserie has the most sophisticated and delicious sweet treats in the city. Hand-made chocolates, moist apple and cinnamon sponge cake, cupcakes topped with dulce de leche and fluffy Italian meringue, raspberry macarons — everything is deftly made and beautifully presented. This country loves sweets, and a carb- and sugar-heavy afternoon tea is common. Stop by around 5 p.m. for the full experience. [$]

Jaime Zudáñez 2855
11300 Montevideo, Uruguay

15. La Cigale

Roque Graseras 845, 11300 Montevideo, Uruguay

Ice cream is a year-round indulgence in Uruguay, and one of the most popular chains, La Cigale, also happens to be the best. There are locations in almost every neighborhood, some of them dating back decades, and the ice cream is reliably creamy and high-quality. The passionfruit and mascarpone, peach and port, and dulce de leche and walnut flavors are the most unusual, but you can’t go wrong with plain chocolate or a strawberry sorbet. The shop in Pocitos is across the street from the Rambla, the promenade where locals stroll, walk, and bike by the river. [$]

Roque Graseras 845
11300 Montevideo, Uruguay

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16. Expreso Pocitos

Juan Benito Blanco, Montevideo, Montevideo

A landmark restaurant that’s been around since 1910, Expreso was renovated in late 2016, replacing its retro tables and beautiful wooden fixtures with something that looks more like the interior of an Olive Garden. Still, this is where to go for one of the best chivitos in the city. This hot steak sandwich, when ordered canadiense-style — as it should be — is composed of a gut-busting roll stuffed with steak, ham, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, hearts of palm, and olives. The chivito is the signature sandwich of Uruguay (and it also makes a great post-drinking meal that’ll cut your chances of a hangover way, way down). [$]

Juan Benito Blanco
Montevideo, Montevideo

17. The Lab Coffee Roasters

Av. Dr. Luis Alberto de Herrera 1057, 11300 Montevideo, Uruguay

Yerba mate is the caffeinated drink of choice in Uruguay, so the third-wave coffee movement hasn’t made much of a mark here. If you’re jonesing for a proper pour over, The Lab is the spot: a small house in Buceo with the city’s best coffee, made with locally roasted beans. The laptop set tends to take over the tables here, but there’s a second floor with more seats where you can sip your cold brew and update your Instagram in peace using the free Wi-Fi. [$]

Av. Dr. Luis Alberto de Herrera 1057
11300 Montevideo, Uruguay

18. El Italiano

Alejo Rodriguez, Montevideo, Montevideo

Be prepared to wait for a table on summer weekends at El Italiano, a seafood spot by the water (although you have to walk around to the back of the restaurant to see it). The slew of outdoor tables, shaded by umbrellas, are filled with families and groups of friends feasting on grilled corvina, calamari, and octopus along with a bottle or two of albariño from an Uruguayan vineyard. [$$-$$$]

Alejo Rodriguez
Montevideo, Montevideo

Related Maps