Guide to Uruguay's remarkable food scene

  • Morcilla

    Morcilla are blood sausages that can be found in a savory version with nuts and olives, or a characteristic sweet version that may contain raisins. Morcilla can be grilled as a main course or served as a starter with a garnish, bread or cheese. Try it at lunch paired with tannat at Bodega Artesana.

    Photo courtesy of Jill Barth

  • Cheese and charcuterie

    Uruguay is the land of cattle. While known for excellent beef, the grass-fed, free-range dairy cows produce top-notch cheese, an excellent match for the local sausage and salami. The best place to discover a plate like this is at the family wineries scattered around the country. A few nibbles make the perfect pairing for Uruguayan tannat and sauvignon blanc, two food-friendly varieties that thrive in Uruguay.

    Photo courtesy of Jill Barth

  • Olives and olive oil

    Uruguay is the source for exquisite olive oil, served readily with warm breads and drizzled on dishes from garden-fresh greens to sizzling wood-fired steak. Some of the country's best comes from Colinas de Garzón situated close to the Atlantic Coast near José Ignacio and Punta del Este. Renowned chef Francis Mallmann cooks exclusively with Colinas de Garzón extra virgin olive oil at his Hotel & Restaurant Garzón. 

    Photo courtesy of Jill Barth

  • Rosca de chicharrones

    Rosca de chicharrones is a bread made with pork cracklings crafted from fat set aside by local butchers. The seared fat is blended into the bread dough, into which distinct cuts and folds form a shape that flowers when sliced. Especially delicious when cooked over a fire, this hearty treat is found in home kitchens around the country.

    Photo courtesy of Jill Barth

  • Bubbly hot cheese

    There are baked versions and grilled versions, but however it brings the heat, expect to become hooked on bubbly cheese in Uruguay. Provoleta, for example, is a hunk of Provolone cheese grilled over fire. It can be embellished with herbs and spices and is typically served with slices of crusty bread. Other versions include a blend of cheeses baked in various vessels for serving and enjoying. Try the Provoleta at Los Leños in Montevideo, where everything is gluten-free and packed with flavor.

    Photo courtesy of Jill Barth

  • Polanco Caviar

    Polanco Caviar is made in Uruguay under the strictest standards. A family operation since the start, Polanco has intentionally bred sturgeon to be raised in the Rincón del Bonete Reservoir, on the Rio Negro in Uruguay, where they swim in cages against the current until they are fully mature. Sustainable and humane, Polanco produces world-class caviar that is treasured by chefs and connoisseurs around the world. Look for it on sale at Viña Eden winery to get your own tin of this delicacy.

    Photo courtesy of Jill Barth

  • Dulce de leche

    Dulce de leche is everywhere in Uruguay. As a condiment option at breakfast, as a topping on dessert, as an element in coffees and confections. Why not? Dulce de leche is considered a regional treasure in Uruguay and Argentina, in the cultural zone they share around the Río de la Plata. Made from a process of caramelizing milk, it bears a resemblance in texture and taste to caramel. You can find it in most shops and restaurants, but it is especially divine when served warm alongside the cool chill of flan. Try this version at the restaurant at Pizzorno Family Estates.

    Photo courtesy of Jill Barth

  • Quince jelly

    Fresh off the tree, a quince looks similar to a bright yellow pear when ready to eat. Around Uruguay, it's prepared as a jelly-like substance called dulce de membrillo, often layered in slices with white cheese. This is known as Martin Fierro, often crafted with manchego. The dessert is so famous there are even riffs on the old classic, such as Bodega Bouza's ephemeral  soufflé hiding molten quince, into which one dollops a spoonful of cool, fresh mascarpone cheese.

    Photo courtesy of Jill Barth

  • Parrilla

    It’s called parrilla and it’s everywhere. In pure form, this is simply meat grilled over fire, but many manifestations are part of what make dining in Uruguay unique. Experience parrilla al aire libre, in open air, or at restaurants and establishments such as wineries and family homes. Tira de asado (short ribs), beef, lamb, fish, octopus and vegetables are common fare. For one of Uruguay’s most engaging experiences, book a spot at beach icon La Huella in José Ignacio, famous for "sea, earth and fire."

    Photo courtesy of Jill Barth

  • Fresh seafood

    Uruguay is a small nation, but it's blessed with over 400 miles of coastline populated with fishing villages. While this South American country is famous for star-studded beaches, the fish markets and restaurants here are world-class when it comes to fresh fish, shellfish and prawns. Try the corvina negra at Jacinto in Montevideo, the project of Uruguayan Master Chef Lucía Soria.

    Photo courtesy of Jill Barth


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