Despite being one of the most overlooked countries in Latin America, Uruguay is one of Tony’s favorites. This small, South American country – often considered the little brother of Argentina – has a lot to offer every traveler… and of course there’s plenty worth digging into if you love culinary journeys.
Anthony Bourdain visited Uruguay to film season 4 (episode 14) of No Reservations and season 11 (episode 2) of Parts Unknown. In both visits, Tony falls in love with – and stays enamored by – Uruguay’s character and culture, as well as its cuisine.
If you’re planning a trip to this distant country and want to eat at the same places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Uruguay, you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find a guide to everywhere Tony ate in Uruguay and what he ate there, including the insane amounts of meat, the European-inspired dishes, and much more.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Charrúa and Guenoa-Minuanes peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
No Reservations (2008)
Bourdain’s first trip to Uruguay is the first time Tony has combined genealogy with gastronomy – but not the last. The chef’s visit to Uruguay has an ulterior motive: to find information about his great-great-grandfather who spent several decades living on Uruguayan lands.
In between historical documents and faded photographs, Tony and his brother, Chris, explore and sample the best culinary delights of the South American country.
Estancia del Puerto (Montevideo)
Anyone who’s stepped on Uruguay knows that the first thing you try is a parrillada, the Uruguayan barbecue. The two brothers sit on the counter of Estancia del Puerto in the Mercado del Puerto. They eat pork loin, pork chops, hunks of lamb, beef steaks and fillets, blood sausages, and chorizos. All the meat cuts are accompanied by the famous chimichurri, a sauce made of parsley, garlic, olive, and spices.
Garzón (Departamento de Maldonado)
Next, Bourdain meets with Argentine chef, Francis Mallmann, who’s now living in the land where his mother grew up. At Garzón, he’s prepared for Tony a delightful feast where he employs different cooking techniques related to the creative use of fire.
The first technique is infiernillo (little hell), which is cooking in between two fires. There he’s cooking a salt crust pig leg. Then, they have a pump-\kin cooked in ashes, a typical cooking technique from the Indians of southern Patagonia.
Next, tortas fritas, fried bread cooked in pots that Gauchos eat. In another area, he’s preparing a mix of vegetables that are cooked over pipping hot stones in a hole, a typical technique from the Valdivian forest in Southern Patagonia. Finally, a pasculina, which is a little tart originally from Geneva.
Parador La Huella (Maldonado)
La Huella is a popular beach restaurant where the young and fabulous gather. But the real reason to visit is that they make exquisite seafood cooked over a wood fire. Here, Tony and his brother enjoy fire-roasted prawns and sautéed octopus.
Le Bar De Joselo (Cabo Polonio)
On a trip to Cabo Polonio, a “village of fishermen, seekers, and refugees,” Tony and Chris visit Le Bar De Joselo, a dive bar built out of driftwood, empty bottles, and scrap metal. Here, the pair meet a blind man with a pet penguin and try Licor de Butía, an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented berries of the Butia palm tree.
Unnamed Street Food Stall (Barrio del Sur, Montevideo)
After a long day searching for information about their great-great-grandfather and finding out that the old train station where he might have arrived is abandoned, the two brothers go in search of food to overcome the disappointment.
They eat a choripán, chorizo sausage and bread, and pair it with a Siete y Tres, a delightful indigenous beverage that’s seven parts red wine and three parts Coca-Cola.
Bonus: Chiviteria Marcos (Montevideo)
In researching this guide, I found one additional place visited by Anthony Bourdain in Uruguay that isn’t in the No Reservations “Uruguay” episode – but is in another episode (“So Long Summer”). In recapping the most “meat-centric place” he’s visited, Tony tells the story of the chivito, an insanely large sandwich that’s officially the national dish of Uruguay.
The scene cuts to Chiviteria Marcos where Tony and Chris order these monstrosities; interestingly, these scenes didn’t make the final cut of the Uruguay episode, so the anthology/interview episode is the only place you can see that he did visit and have one of these iconic sandwiches on his first visit. (He also went to another spot during his second trip… let’s get to that now!)
Parts Unknown (2018)
The first time he stepped on Uruguayan lands, it was to find old records of a distant relative. But this second time – for Parts Unknown –, he’s back for the people, the food, the landscapes, and the values that define the country.
Bar Arocena (Montevideo)
Joined by chef Ignacio “Nacho” Mattos, head chef and owner of New York‘s Estela, Café Altro Paradiso, and Flora Bar (unfortunately now closed), Bar Arocena specializes in Uruguay’s unofficial national sandwich: the legendary chivito. A gargantuan among sandwiches, the chivito is built out of steak, ham, bacon, cheese, hardboiled egg, mayo, and garnishes.
Escaramuza Libros y Café (Montevideo)
Next up, Bourdain sits down with journalist Carina Novarese to talk about Uruguayan history, democracy, and culture and the role that the U.S. played in it.
While he doesn’t narrate it, the official episode recap says that he enjoys homemade sausage with roasted turnip and fermented vegetables along with beet quiche.
Tony next meets with two chefs: Rocío, from Argentina (and whose restaurant they’re eating at), and Nacho, from Uruguay. The three chefs enjoy a delightful conversation about cooking for loved ones, happiness, and the challenges of the industry.
And because the best way to pair a good conversation is with good food, they enjoy ñoquis de calabaza – homemade gnocchi with mushrooms and pumpkin; prawn salad with avocado, apple, and wasabi; and a beef tartare with quail egg.
La Ronda Cafe (Montevideo) (CLOSED)
While continuing his exploration of Uruguay’s history and culture, Bourdain next meets up with the hardcore band Hablan Por La Espalda (and is still accompanied by Nacho) to talk about the underground scene, music, and weed culture. As one might expect given that topic, they share a joint (it’s legal in Uruguay) and beer.
Bar “Las Flores” (Montevideo)
With Nacho and the guys from HBLE, Tony heads to Bar “Las Flores” and eats a pizza. Here, discovers that Uruguayans add a little extra something to their pizzas: fainá, a thin chickpea flatbread. It’s the perfect thing to enjoy after their previous stop, if you get my drift.
Parrilla “El Alemán” (Montevideo)
Of course, at some point during Tony’s culinary journey, he had to eat from the parrilla, a grill where dripping meats of many kinds are slowly cooked over glowing wood coals.
He indulges in morcilla (blood sausage), chorizo, and ribeye steak. And no, no vegetables are available.
Cantina del Vigia (Maldonado)
Cantina del Vigia is responsible for preparing one of the top feasts Tony enjoys in Uruguay.
There’s a little bit of everything. First, empanadas – stuffed with corn and shredded slow-cooked beef. Next up, croquetas de queso y espinaca – goat cheese and spinach croquettes –, the catch of the day (caught by kayak), followed by provoleta – a slab of provolone cheese that puffs up and inflates in the heat.
It doesn’t end there. They also have lechón de jabalí – whole roasted suckling wild boar; pescado asado – whole roasted fish; and milanesa napolitana – pounded, breaded, and fried hunk of beef covered in tomato sauce, ham, and melted mozzarella cheese.
Las Nenas Steak House (Maldonado)
If you think Tony has had enough meat, you’re wrong. They stop by Las Nenas for some drive-through steak. They order entrañas (skirt steaks), ojo de bife (ribeye), morcillas (blood sausage), and fries.
Parador La Caracola (Punta del Este) (CLOSED?)
To round things out, Bourdain ends with the kind of dining experience we all dream of: an incredible barbecue on the beach, at a high-end “beach bar” restaurant where world-class chefs make magic happen with limited resources.
Joined by basically all of his companions from the episode as well as restaurateurs Martín Pittaluga and Guzman Artagaveytia, owners of Parador la Huella (which he visited on a previous trip), Tony digs into an incredible series of dishes including whole fish baked in salt, rib-eye steak, flank steak, and suckling pig, while consistently endorsing his love of Uruguay.
Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, this restaurant may not be open anymore – if you know otherwise, please let me know below.
Have any questions about these places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Uruguay, or are you able to help me identify the one unknown spot Tony visited? Let me know in the comments!