South America Drive

Eating out at night. Restaurants open late.

DECEMBER 7, 2012

“TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY. Happy birthday me. Chris made reservations at a nice restaurant. He gave me earrings made with a native Uruguayan stone. They are perfect.

Once again, we arrived at a restaurant before they opened. The first reservation available was at 8 pm. We were 10 minutes early. Not Open. Opened at ten after. At 8:45 we were still the only two people in the entire restaurant. We left at 10:45 and the place was packed. A family waited for our table…they had young children with them. No wonder adults take “siestas” along with the kids.
We missed lunch as well. We seem to be having trouble getting adjusted to time in South America.”

Restaurant in Mercado Del Puerto.

Restaurant in Mercado Del Puerto.

It is a fact that food eaten “out” tastes better. Add an adventurous chef and I can’t wait to go. We would save our money for splurges. Be aware, if you are planning to go out for dinner in any country south of the Texas/Mexico border, plan on eating late. In Montevideo, restaurants usually do not open until after 8 pm for dinner.  By 10 pm, the restaurants will be packed with families – including kids of all ages. We couldn’t help but think of our son who has our granddaughters tucked in bed by 8 pm. Yet, none of the kids here look tired. It makes sense to eat late when you realize most parents work from 9 am to 1 pm with a “siesta” midday and then return to work from 4 to 8 pm. Dinner is always late.

The siesta was a challenge for us. One morning, I was using my US hairdryer (110 Volt) with a converter, but it still burned up. At 1 pm, we headed for a store nearby that we knew sold hairdryers. It was closed until 4 pm. This happened to us a few times. We would go out to pick up some item we needed, only to find the store closed: pharmacies, markets, hardware stores, banks, electronic stores, auto parts, beauty salons, post offices etc. Another time we got caught up sightseeing. At 3 pm our stomachs let us know we were hungry. We walked for blocks and found nothing open serving food. We learned to plan for eating.


And the waiter thought the steak was for Chris!

Fortunately, after a few weeks we found a pizza place near our apartment that was open most hours and had a decent mozzarella pizza. It was basic, but the sauce and crust were good. You will find numerous places selling pizza along all the busy streets. Another popular item is “Milanesa.” It is a thin sliced or pounded piece of meat that is than breaded and fried. I liked it if it was not greasy. Whatever you order, it will come with a side of “papa fritas” or french fries. My favorite were the skinny ones, like McDonalds, but they were harder to find. Speaking of McDonalds, you will see McDonalds, Burger King, Kentucky Fried, and Subway in larger cities. Do not expect it to taste like home. There will be the same stock photos as displayed back home, but we found the food disappointing except for Kentucky Fried.

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