But read on, and I’ll help you get aclimatised.
Restaurant opening hours
Breakfast* – around 9am until about 11am. Though it is possible to find some restaurants in more commercial neighbourhoods like Ciudad Vieja and Centro opening around 7.30am. Hotel restaurants of course open early.
Lunch – from 12 noon until 3pm. The locals will arrive at 1pm so to avoid waiting for a table arrive before then. Most restaurants stop serving by 3.30 or 4pm.
Dinner – from 8pm till closing. Uruguayans typically go out for dinner at 9.30 mid-week and even as late as 11pm on weekends. So you can get served from 8pm but expect to be the only people in the place for the next couple of hours! Closing hours in a popular restaurant midweek may be about 1am and later on weekends.
Restaurant schedules – check Facebook
In Uruguay, restaurants and shops tend to use Facebook for their marketing. So if you want to check up on opening times of a given restaurant rather than TripAdvisor, visit their Facebook page which they are much more likely to keep updated.
Do I need to make a reservation at a restaurant in Montevideo?
Very few restaurants will even take reservations—perhaps because of the nation’s infamous lack of punctuality. So if you want to get a table straight away at a popular place, get there before the locals ie by noon for lunch or 8pm for dinner and problem solved.
You may be surprised to hear, given the late dining hours that the typical Uruguayan work day is 9am till 5pm with just an hour break for lunch.
So how do they do it, these Uruguayans? How can they eat dinner so late?
The secret is that on their way home from work they’ll typically stop off at a bakery or fancier confiteria (a cake shop – they don’t usually sell bread) to pick up something for their merienda (tea-time).
This is typically bizcochos (savoury pastries) or masitas (sweet ones), which they’ll scarf down with mate or coffee. Then they’ll take an hour-long nap. And then it’s time for dinner!
Masitas – your secret weapon in your quest to stay up late
When in Rome…
While you’re in Montevideo, I’d definitely recommend you get into the same habit—wicked early evening snack, delicious siesta, decadently-late dinner—that way you can take advantage of all the shows and music, which also start 9pm at the earliest and often much later.
At the seaside, restaurants may open earlier. Il Tano in Punta del Diablo, thinking of families, opens from 6.30pm in the summertime.
- Tax-free eating For foreign visitors to Uruguay, if you pay with a credit card in restaurants you get the 22% VAT tax back
- Eating breakfast in the historic cafes of Ciudad Vieja (the Old City)
Cover photo: dinner at Casa Flor
Following a textbook harvest, experts and winemakers are heralding Uruguay wines of 2020 as some of the best in decades, reports sommelier Adriana Rossi.
One in every three bottles of wine produced in Uruguay is a Tannat. What does Uruguay’s flagship wine taste like? Here’s a guide to get started, by locals.
We wager Es Mercat is the very best fish and seafood restaurant in the whole of Montevideo. Ask the chef to choose what you eat, for the best experience.
The food scene in New York City had turned Javier’s head. Would Montevideo mean having to trade great food for the luxury of time and money to enjoy it?
The best traditional food in Uruguay between the airport and the beach. Chivito, seafood and salads, all locally sourced — & veggies from their garden.
Your chance to taste some of the best Uruguay wines at the hand of one of the top three wine-makers in Uruguay at his home and winery minutes from downtown.
Native Uruguay cuisine in Montevideo. Special events include monthly expeditions to El Prado park to identify local plants–and after you get to taste them.
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A French bistro with probably the longest wine list in the city and multiple by-the-glass choices is one of the best new Montevideo restaurants by far.
One of the best seafood restaurants in Punta del Diablo & open all year round. Family-run, it’s minutes from the ocean & specialises in home-made pastas.
Typical Uruguay foods — chivito, tira de asado, pamplona, torta frita, alfajor, dulce de leche… We go through each one, what it is and how you say it.
One in three bottles of Uruguay wine is a Tannat. Yes, Uruguayans LOVE this red. Nowadays there’s a Tannat for every occasion. We celebrate the Top Tannats.