What time do people eat in Uruguay

Dinner time in Uruguay is ...10pm??!! Revealed - Your secret weapon in the quest to make it alive to dinner in Montevideo.
By Karen A Higgs
Last updated on June 30, 2023
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Mealtimes in Uruguay and restaurant opening hours are similar to those in Argentina—breakfast and lunch at “normal” times and what can appear to be a shockingly late dinner.

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.

Lunchfrom 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.

Dinnerfrom 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 Instagram

In Uruguay, restaurants and shops tend to use Instagram, and to a lesser extent Facebook, for their marketing. So if you want to check mealtime hours of a given restaurant, visit their Instagram page which they are very likely to keep updated.

Do I need to make a reservation at a restaurant in Montevideo?

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.

If you are planning to go eat in the busier times, try reserving through Instagram. 

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!

Uruguay breakfast
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 (get The Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo for full details of the multiple venues you’ll love), which also start 9pm at the earliest and often much later.

At the seaside, restaurants may open earlier and in season open all day. 

Cover photo: dinner at Casa Flor

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9 Responses

    1. Hi, the good news is that the automatic reimbursement is still valid. I can find no updates from the government however numerous guests of mine have been using their international creditcards and getting the 22% back automatically on their restaurant bills this month.

  1. Greetings,

    Nice article! One little correction though. We do eat late indeed, and we do love masitas also 🙂 however the real secret of hanging out all day until dinner is not masitas, it’s “mate”, the traditional (green) tea we drink all day long to the tune of a liter or two per person/day. That, and bizcochos. These are little baked goods resembling miniature croissants, danishes, and many other sweet and savory pastries. We do love masitas too, but we traditionally eat those at parties, birthdays, and new years/Christmas etc. Actually masitas are a lot like “petit fours” that french people eat during new years and similar festivities. People can go to school for several years to be trained and certified in the “construction” of masitas or bizcochos.

      1. Thank YOU for hosting such awesome website about my native land! Super cool! I live in Illinois but I am actually coming to Montevideo for an international congress (of neuroethology). I took the liberty of posting a link to your website on the meeting’s website because your site will be undoubtedly very useful for the 400 or so folks that will descend on Montevideo next month. Thanks again!!!

        Andres

  2. Bonjour Karen,
    There is mention of mate in this section so I thought I might ask for some advice in purchasing, not the mate itself but a calebasse and bombilla from a local artisan. Are there specialty shops or markets where I could look out for more interesting works?
    Michel

  3. We are always, always the first people to sit down in any restaurant. Maybe we need to try the merienda strategy – more food is always fine by me.

    Thanks for starting the blog, it looks great and is already useful. Keep it up.

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