Gluten Free Montevideo, Uruguay

Uruguayan Parilla

Delicious beef

I spent last weekend in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay and it was the quietest capital city that I’ve ever experienced. It turns out that pretty much everything is closed at the weekend but busy during the week. Still, we did our usual walking and exploring and managed to find the few places that weren’t completely closed.

Uruguay doesn’t have the vast amount of gluten free labelling on products that Argentina does so trying to find gluten free snacks in supermarkets or small stores wasn’t as simple as in Buenos Aires. I did however still manage to find a few products that were labelled as ‘sin TACC’ such as pasta and yoghurts. No delicious Choco Arroz snacks like in Argentina though.

I had found the National Uruguayan Celiac Association (ACELU) and emailed them (in the best Spanish I could) prior to our trip. My email said that while I knew they couldn’t officially recommend restaurants to visit, could they tell me where any coeliacs working for them go to eat. I got a nice, friendly response but unfortunately I didn’t pick up the email until we returned from the trip so I was unable to use any of their suggested coeliac friendly places during our trip.

These are the places in Montevideo they suggested:

Cafe Sante: Bartolomé Mitre 1368
Nutriciencia: Urquiza 2828
Sanodeleite: 18 de Julio 2344
Gluteno: Scoceria
El Naranjo: 18 de julio 3492

One of the must do things in Montevideo is the Mercado del Puerto which is full of Parillas (BBQs). This is the place to be on Saturday or Sunday lunch time.  They serve various grilled meats, vegetables, sides and desserts.I had to try it. I knew meat was gluten free unless it was processed and these huge steaks definitely were not. (the email I received from the Uruguayan celiac association mentioned being cautious in these places) Once we had chosen a restaurant, I spoke with one of the servers, explaining that I was coeliac. He appeared to have some idea what I was taking about and quickly took away the bread sitting in front of me. John and I ordered Bife de Vacio (flank steak) and a side order of rice. We sat watching them cook it right in front of our eyes. The smell was enticing and the taste, so juicy and flavoursome!!

Walking around the city on Saturday afternoon, a place call Cafe Sante (on Bartolome Mitre) caught my eye. It was all closed up, as many places were, but it had a couple of signs saying ‘gluten free’ in English beside the name of the cafe. This was somewhere I had to see so on Monday morning before heading for the bus back to Colonia we returned to see what Cafe Sante had to offer.

It was awesome! I couldn’t believe it… everything they sold was gluten free. Again, it was that one place that a coeliac hopes to find in a city and here we were. They sell empanadas, sandwiches and lots and lots of different tasty looking cakes and cookies. I asked the guy who worked there whether there were any other places like it in the city and, as I expected, he said no. Any coeliacs travelling to Montevideo should definitely visit this place but not at weekends. It’s only open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm.

Cafe Sante. Montevideo

What to buy?

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