Regular guest writer for The Breakfast Page Tor, from Tor Goes Travelling Again is back again, this time with breakfast in Montevideo, Uruguay.
I’m really excited to at last be able to do a breakfast blog from South America for The Breakfast Page. Despite having been travelling for four weeks now in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, today was the first day I’ve actually been out for breakfast. Usually breakfast is included in the price of the guesthouse or backpacker hostel but not in Montevideo.
Breakfast isn’t a big deal in Uruguay. Like in Argentina they prefer a quick coffee and pastry first thing in the morning, although it is possible to buy cereals in the supermarkets here. When I googled ‘brunch cafes, Montevideo’ only one or two posts came up.
I was planning to join a city walking tour at 11am, so I decided to walk towards the historical centre from my hostel and find a cafe along the way. Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay and originally the tiny historical centre, surrounded by water on three sides was a walled fortress. The city has expanded outwards now, still surrounded by water, and a third of all 3.5 million Uruguayans live here.
Bar Facal, Avenida 18 de Julio, Montevideo
I stopped to take a photo of a fountain covered in rusting padlocks before noticing Bar Facal. It looked like my kind of place – a very typical South American cafe-bar with smoked glass windows, an outdoor seating area and inside a couple of old-timers reading the newspapers and drinking cortados (an expresso with a drop of milk). I googled the café later on and discovered that it’s actually the oldest downtown coffeehouse in Montevideo, founded in 1882 by Manuel Facal and his brothers.
I took a seat in the window and a smiling white-shirted waiter brought me a menu. There was a dazzling array of tostadas (toasted sandwiches), sandwiches and medialunas to choose from. Often Uruguayans will have a coffee and a couple of bizcochos for breakfast. These are small sweet pastries with a dollop of jam, bought by weight in any supermarket or bakery. I’m quite fond of these now, having had them served at every breakfast time in the hostels.
Medialunas – the South American croissant
Medialunas are the South American version of a croissant. The word translates as ‘half-moon’. However they really don’t taste anything like a light, fluffy french croissant. Most popular in Argentina, they are very dense, very sugary and much smaller than a croissant – more like sweet bread in the shape of a croissant.
I wanted to try the Uruguay version which I figured would be different, as on the menu they came filled with cheese, ham and cheese or chicken and cheese. I ordered a cheese version and a cafe largo.
Ordering coffee is a whole different language in itself in South America. I’d just got used to ordering a ‘cafe en jarro’ or a ‘jarrito’ in Argentina, which is essentially an Americano. Now in Uruguay, apparently I needed to ask for a cafe largo.
My delicious Uruguayan breakfast
After taking my order my waiter swiftly brought me a placemat op, cutlery and fizzy water. As in Spain, coffee is usually served with a small glass of water here, and I’ve noticed it’s nearly always fizzy water.
Minutes later my coffee arrived and just after that appeared my medialunas con queso.
The medialunas was definitely different to the versions I’d had in Argentina. Far larger, with light layers of pastry and topped with sugar, they were very tasty. I’m not sure about the sliced cheese inside – I think some of the popular quince or apricot jam that is often homemade here would have been delicious.
But the combination of sugar topped pastry and cheese worked well and it didn’t take me long to eat it all up. Using my knife and fork of course. I assume that’s the correct etiquette, seeing as the waiter brought them to the table.
I was very tempted to have a second coffee and while the morning away window gazing. But all too soon it was time for the walking tour and so off I went, ready to learn more about Montevideo and the Uruguay culture.
See more of what Tor is getting up to over on Instagram. You may also be interested in her previous guest posts here at The Breakfast Page – Bird & Carter in Wiltshire, Brunch in Kiev and Noa’s Bakehouse on the Isle of Man.