Montevideo al SurHistoric bar & cafe
If you’re looking for a traditional Montevidean cafe-bar with a community-feel, good honest food, great cocktails and a friendly vibe, this is your place. It may even become your local.
Bar Montevideo al Sur came into existence almost a hundred years ago on a corner in the iconic neighbourhood of Barrio Sur—the cradle of carnival. At the outset, the bar was a general store selling wine in demijohns out of the basement. Over the years it had just two owners, except for a brief period when urban legend has it, given its location opposite the offices of the intelligence services, it was rented as a surveillance post for the Tupamaro guerillas. The bar was still in its original shape—with an Italian marble counter, antique pine shelving and drygoods cabinets and blue and yellow Portuguese tiling—when, in 2019, thirtysomething cousins Martin and Joaquin learned it was on the market and they could fulfil their dream of owning a classic Montevideo bar.
It’s important for Martin and Joaquin that Montevideo al Sur plays an active role in the community, as the bar has done traditionally. They cater to a multigenerational public including many neighbours. When I went by during the pandemic a sign offered help to neighbours in need. It’s also a hang-out for musicians including Jaime Roos and candombe icon and local, El Lobo Nunez (read about when Mick Jagger visited El Lobo), and was the location for the final scene of Kusturica’s ode to former president Pepe Mujica (he sat at table 3).
What you should know
- Food is primarily traditional Uruguayan at an affordable price—plus seasonal tapas. We found the main dishes comforting and abundant, while the cocktails were sophisticated and very well-made. At midday the traditional savoury tarts—think broccoli and spinach—with a side salad really hit the spot.
- “American” breakfast The breakfast menu offers this. We haven’t had a chance to try it yet—let us know!
- The bar is open—“like bars used to be”— all day and caters to different generations. Whatever time you go you’ll feel welcome. However in the evenings after nine it does get very busy and service, especially outside, can be slow.
- Live music and other cultural events several days a week including poetry readings, book launches as well as Monday night jazz and live music on Fridays and Saturdays at midday.
- The bar has outdoor seating and inside the big art-deco style windows afford good ventilation.
- It’s pet friendly Indy, Joaquin’s charming mutt, is conveniently Instagramable against the brown and cream tiles.
Montevideo al Sur
Paraguay 1150, Montevideo
Contact Joaquín and Martín via WhatsApp +598 97 178 809 or Instagram
Cocktails apx. 250 pesos
Tapas apx. 350 pesos
Chivito 400 pesos (what is a chivito?)
Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. and until 2 a.m. on weekends
Sundays open for lunch only