Vegetarians and Vegans Traveling in Montevideo, Uruguay

I recently visited Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay, a small country nestled in between Brazil and Argentina. Like its neighbors, Montevideo is a meat-centric country. Beef, meat processing, fishing, as well as agriculture are amongst the country’s major industries.

When I Googled “Top Things To Do in Montevideo” at least one item on every list was to try steak at _________ restaurant. Understandably, there’s VERY little info for vegetarians and even less for vegans as the concepts themselves are newer there. That’s one of the reasons I published this article, to inform future visitors as well as encourage vegans and vegetarians, who might otherwise shy away from visiting, to visit this beautiful city.

At the same time, while there are few options, they do exist and I don’t think food availability should stop vegetarians and vegans from visiting Montevideo.

I’m making the assumption that most travelers are ok with vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants and not limited to restaurants that are entirely vegetarian or vegan – as that’s pretty hard to find besides in India (Greater LA, San Francisco and NYC), that’s pretty difficult to find. BUT I did find it in Montevideo!

{ProTips for Dining in Montevideo}

Don’t assume that all restaurants take credit card. Some are cash only, some are Visa only and some are debit card only. Use WhatsApp or Google Voice (if you have deposited money in your account) and call first.

Double check that restaurants are open before you head out. As a vegetarian or vegan in Montevideo, your meal pursuits have purpose. There it’s harder to just traipse around and stop to eat somewhere you see along the way. You’ve planned ahead and specifically targeted a particular restaurant.

I was about to order an Uber to go to one restaurant that said it had a lot of vegan food. According to their website, they were open. Thankfully before ordering an Uber, I thought I better call to see if they take credit card. And it turned out they do take credit card but were closed! So glad I called!


In the USA when you order with Uber Eats, most restaurants include cutlery, as a given. Not in Montevideo. Add a note in your order.


Many restaurants are closed at least one day of the week and they all vary. Some restaurants are only open for a few hours per day. I noticed a lot of restaurants were closed on Monday. Moksha Indian restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. Mandala’s looks like it’s open for just a few hours in the afternoon.

As a vegan or vegetarian in Montevideo, you already have to do a bit more planning around food, so make sure to look at opening hours and days of the week too.

{Detailed Review of Tandory Restaurant, Montevideo}

Tandory is a fine dining restaurant owned by Chef Gabriel. I’d consider going there an experience. I don’t do a lot of fine dining on a regular basis so when I eat meals like this I consider them a memorable part of the travel experience vs. grabbing a bite to eat somewhere.

It was definitely more expensive than other restaurants in Montevideo, but I’d expect that. We spent about double what we spent on other dinners but we felt it was worth it. We liked it so much we went there twice during our 9 day visit to Montevideo. On our second visit, Chef Gabriel visited tables and we got to chat with him for a few minutes.

Location: Tandory is in a nice residential neighborhood and seems to be a house that was converted into a restaurant. FYI – Montevideo is a small city. We walked or took Uber everywhere and our longest Uber was 15 minutes with traffic.

Tandory restaurant is small and cute. They can probably seat around 40 people at full capacity. When we went, a little over half of the tables were occupied with other couples, families (we didn’t see any little children), and groups of friends. We found the service welcoming and overall very good. Though I speak some Spanish it was helpful that our server spoke English.

For a small fine dining restaurant, they’ve added a modern touch, via menus on iPads. They hand each guest an iPad and go through a mini tutorial on how to use it to peruse their menu. Each dish has a photo(s), description, and the price. You don’t place your order via the iPad, it simply functions as a menu. I liked it, I thought it was modern,  unique, and I liked seeing photos of the dishes. My husband (who is a software engineer) said he prefers regular menus.

Service and Ambience: I’d describe the ambience as quaint. It was dark inside, but romantic dark, not scary dark; and there was plenty of light to read the menu and see your dining partners. For a restaurant with modern menus, the decor and atmosphere was an old style and nothing very beautiful or extraordinary to mention, but it was nice. I liked it, but I should probably mention that I’m not much of a critic when it comes to decor. As long as the service and food are good, and the restaurant is clean, I’m pretty apathetic when it comes to decor.

Payment: You can pay with cash or credit card.

Tandory is not an Indian restaurant. The name Tandory is a play on the Hindi word Tandoori. But visitors should not get confused. This is not an Indian restaurant and they don’t specialize in dishes prepared in a tandoor. I learned that the chef wanted to create a fusion restaurant that incorporates flavors from across the globe. From Uruguayan standards this is an Asian fusion restaurant because they have a Thai salad, samosas, as well as a curried ginger, pumpkin soup and a few other Asian inspired dishes on the menu.

Tandory is not a vegetarian restaurant. They serve non-vegetarian dishes but there are at least 4 vegetarian items on the menu. When we were seated our server asked us if we are vegan so it seems that they can customize items. For instance, I had the French salad for my dinner entree, which came with goat cheese, but I’m sure they could have left that out. The samosas were delicious and seemed vegan already.

{Vegetarian Dishes We Ordered at Tandory, Montevideo}

I visited Tandory with my husband. For a party of two, our server recommended we order 1 appetizer to share, 2 entrees and 1 dessert to share. She emphasized that it was just a suggestion. It ended up being a lot of food as we were overly full when we left, but we were in a mood to try new items so we didn’t mind. By the way, to remedy all the weight you’ll gain from the delicious food you’ll eat at Tandory, simply go for a walk or run on the Rambla! This was my absolute FAVORITE thing to do in Montevideo!

We ordered:

Appetizer: samosas
It comes with 4 large pieces with tamarind and strawberry chutney on top. They’re made fresh, which led my husband and I to a brief discussion about the last time we ate freshly made samosas at a restaurant, as most Indian restaurants pre-make and re-heat. These samosas are not spicy (from American, Indian AND Uruguayan standards), but still full of flavor.

Tandory-vegetarian-vegan-restaurant-Montevideo-Uruguay-samosa
Vegetarian samosas with tamarind and strawberry chutney appetizer, Tandory restaurant Montevideo, Uruguay

My husband’s entree: mushroom risotto. The rice was light and fluffy and the mushrooms were not overwhelming as sometimes such a density of mushrooms can be. It was a large portion and he couldn’t finish it all, even when he had a little help from me! The presentation was nice too!

Tandory-vegetarian-vegan-restaurant-Montevideo-Uruguay-mushroom-risotto
My husband’s vegetarian mushroom risotto at Tandory restaurant, Montevideo, Uruguay

My entree: French salad with all the rich foods we were eating I decided to go for a salad. Some of the ingredients were lettuce, pears, sesame seeds, toasted nuts and goat cheese with a tasty balsamic vinaigrette. I didn’t think it was particularly unique but it was tasty and was exactly what I was in the mood for – some fresh greens.

Tandory-vegetarian-vegan-restaurant-Montevideo-Uruguay-French-salad
Vegetaria French salad at Tandory restaurant, Montevideo, Uruguay

Dessert: We were so full already, but we decided to splurge. We wanted the Dulce de Leche dish as we thought we would try something Uruguayan for dessert, but unfortunately they were out of that item that night. So we went for the chocolate cake with orange mousse and it was delightful! I love the orange-chocolate combo and this cake was rich and a great treat to end the meal. And the presentation made me smile.

Tandory-vegetarian-vegan-restaurant-Montevideo-Uruguay-chocolate-orange-mousse-dessert
Orange chocolate mousse dessert at Tandory restaurant, Montevideo, Uruguay

Drinks: I had regular water and my husband ordered a gin and tonic.


Keep in mind that in addition to what you order they start you off with a pretty large assortment of fresh baked breads and a little cup of soup. The breads were nice and warm and delicious! And the pumpkin ginger soup was rich and flavorful, packed with Indian flavors. I loved the soup, which I told our server and she brought my husband and I an additional cup each!

So we were STUFFED when we left and we spent over double what we typically spend on a dinner for two, but it was very well worth it! We were really glad we experienced it, as Tandory is considered one of the best restaurants in Uruguay. In such a meat-centric country we were really glad to find this gem!

{Detailed Review of Namaste Veggie Resto
and Chill Out Bar, Montevideo, Uruguay}

Namaste is a 100% vegetarian restaurant with many vegan items on the menu as well. They can also customize items to be vegan too. The owner must have visited India at some point because the restaurant carries a very obvious Indian theme throughout.

India inspired ambience. From its name, to the little Ganesh shrine at the front, the Buddha painted on the stairs leading to the entrance and the fact that the Hindu Gayatri Mantra is painted across an entire wall. My fellow South Asians, try not to be distraught by walking up the stairs with God’s face painted on them…it’s meant as decor. And technically you’re not walking on God’s face as the painting is on the outward face of each stair, not on the part of the steps where you’re stepping.

The restaurant is colorful, bright, large and inviting. They can seat probably around 80 people. It seemed like a fun place to go with a large group of friends.

Gayatri-Mantra-Namaste-Cafe-Uruguay-vegetarian-vegan
One whole wall at Namaste Cafe is painted with Gayatri Mantra.

The restaurant is divided into two sections: table seating and floor seating. We opted to go for the full experience and sat on the floor, where you’re also obliged to remove your shoes.

We were there for a late Sunday lunch. When we arrived a large group was just leaving, so we were the only people there. FYI a nice weather, spring Sunday afternoon is very sleepy in Montevideo. Most stores are closed and there are few people out on the Rambla. So we weren’t surprised that the 100% vegetarian restaurant was empty.

Language. The staff was nice and friendly. They don’t speak English so knowing Spanish is very very helpful.

Payment: You can pay with cash or credit card.

Again we were going for the experience – relieved to find a 100% vegetarian restaurant and interested in trying new things.  We were pleasantly surprised to see tofu and seitan on the menu as we didn’t think those items would have permeated to Uruguay yet.

We ordered:

Veggie Chivito which is like a veggie burger. It was very big and we couldn’t finish it. It had fresh vegetables, a tofu patty with melted cheese and green olives. It was very tasty and chivito is a Uruguyan specialty that’s usually meat-based so I was glad to try it.

My husband decided to go with a basic pizza which was also so large that he couldn’t finish it (they gave us a to-go box) . We could have shared the pizza, as that alone would have been plenty of food for two. The pizza was more sustenance. Nothing unique but still good. The food was all freshly made.

To drink: I tried their house juice which was an apple base with other fruits. They gave me a large glass probably 16oz. and I loved it. You could tell that it was freshly made juice with no added sugar. My husband had a soda.

Our total came out to 1205 UYU which is about $36 USD. I’d definitely go again and recommend it to anyone looking for vegan or vegetarian food in Montevideo.

chivitos-veggie-burger-Namaste-Cafe-Uruguay-vegetarian-vegan
My veggie chivito and wedge fries at Namaste Cafe in Montevideo, Uruguay.
pizza-Namaste-Cafe-Uruguay-vegetarian-vegan
My husband’s veggie pizza at Namaste Cafe, Montevideo, Uruguay

{Detailed Review of Jacinto Restaurant, Montevideo Uruguay}

Jacinto is a casual cafe/restaurant. It’s a cute small place with free Wifi, that seats around 30 people or so. It’s in old town Uruguay in a touristy area. My husband and I went there for lunch on a Saturday and were seated immediately.

The staff does not speak English so it’s very helpful if you know Spanish. They were very nice and recognized that we aren’t native Spanish speakers so when we struggled a little with our order, between hand gestures and smiles we got through it, no worries. 🙂

We ordered:

I had the fettuccine dish and my husband had their cannelloni. I liked the cannelloni better then the fettuccine. The food was flavorful and very rich.

Payment: You can pay with cash or credit card.

jacinto-montevideo-uruguay-vegetarian-vegan-wifi-cafe-restaurant-fettuccine.jpg
My fettuccine dish at Jacinto Cafe, Montevideo, Uruguay
Jacinto-Montevideo-Uruguay-vegetarian-vegan-wifi-cafe-restaurant-lasagna
My husband’s vegetarian cannelloni at Jacinto Cafe, Montevideo, Uruguay
Jacinto-Montevideo-Uruguay-vegetarian-vegan-wifi-cafe-restaurant
Inside Jacinto Cafe, Montevideo, Uruguay

{Review of Diego’s Coffee and Food}

This is a casual diner near the shopping center in Pocitos. They can seat about 25 people and have an extensive menu of coffees and a few vegetarian items including a veggie burger and a veggie sandwich and a Mediterranean dish.

Location. I went for lunch on a Monday afternoon and I was the only person there for a while.  It was in a convenient location as it was only about a ten minute walk from my hotel and it was a lovely day.

The atmosphere at Diego’s is chill. They have loud American rock music playing in the background.

What I ordered: I ordered a made-to-order veggie burger. The patty was made out of garbanzo beans and had melted cheese on top and a side of fries. The fries weren’t french fries but fried potato wedges. They were tasty, but like all fries, heavy. I found the veggie patty very dry. For me this meal was sustenance. I’m glad I tried it but wouldn’t write home about it.

Diegos-coffee-food-pocitos-montevideo-uruguay-vegetarian-vegan
Veggie burger and fries at Diego’s Food and Coffee, Montevideo, Uruguay

Payment and language. They accept credit cards too which was convenient. Their staff does not speak English so you’ll definitely need to know Spanish or just point to what you want on the menu and order.

After your meal head over to the mall for a nice stroll. The Pocitos mall is better than the mall in Punta Carretas, in my opinion. But Montevideo is expensive and they import most goods, so items were much more expensive compared to what you’d pay for the same things in the USA. Plus I didn’t find anything uniquely Uruguayan to purchase. So I didn’t spend time shopping in Montevideo.

Some of the stores in the Pocitos mall:

Adidas
H&M
Columbia
Nike
Zara
Merrell
Starbucks

{Review of Moksha Cocina de la India}

Moksha Cuisine of India is a very new restaurant in Montevideo – 4 months to be exact. As you can imagine there’s very little Indian food in Uruguay and having grown up eating Indian food pretty much everyday and still doing so now, I was happy to find this place.

Moksha-restaurant-Indian-food-Uruguay-vegetarian-vegan-Hindi-sign
“The Gods See Everything”.

I got to meet the owner, Aparna, and hear her story about how she moved to this small South American country, with a total population of 3 million from the bustling streets of Mumbai, population 18 million. As an adventurous traveler and entrepreneur myself, I admired her, as it takes serious guts and grit to leave your home and venture into an entirely different country, culture, language AND start a business.

Moksha means enlightenment which in Hinduism and Jainism is the liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. That’s not pertinent to dining at the restaurant other than anyone would recognize that this is an Indian restaurant, from its name.

We ordered:

  • daal makhani
  • garlic naan
  • palak paneer

I was in the mood for daal (lentils) but there weren’t any on the menu so I asked and they were nice to make it for me. To drink, my husband had a honey-based beer which he enjoyed. I ordered the nimbu-pani (lemon water) a dish that always me reminds me of my mom, and no Indian meal is complete without chai. Each curry dish came with a serving of rice. I also love raita, an Indian yogurt dish with vegetables and spices. It wasn’t on the menu either but Aparna said they could make it for us.

I thought the food was good, for Uruguay. I live in San Francisco where there’s an abundance of types and really excellent Indian food, but while traveling I believe you can’t compare and you have to evaluate experiences relative to the place you’re in. I enjoyed eating at Moksha and was happy to meet and support Aparna and her restaurant.

Payment: They recently started taking Visa, so yay for that! You can of course pay with cash as well. The meal was pricey but understandably so as it’s expensive to import ingredients from India.

Moksha-Indian-restaurant-Uruguay-vegan-vegetarian-Montevideo
Daal makhini, palak paneer, raita and rice at Moksha Cocina de la India, Montevideo, Uruguay
Moksha-restaurant-Indian-food-Uruguay-Indian-food-vegan-vegetarian
Enoying chai on a cool, spring night at Moksha Cocina de la India, in Montevideo, Uruguay

{Review of Mandala’s Vegan and Vegetarian, Montevideo, Uruguay}

What hits the spot on a cool and rainy day in Montevideo? Mandala’s Vegano and Vegetariano. Like Namaste Cafe, this little restaurant is 100% vegetarian and has several vegan options. Actually, it looks like it’s primarily a vegan restaurant with several vegetarian options. Things like: tofu, veggie burgers, canelones, milanesas, and wraps. And like Namaste Cafe, Mandala’s seems Indian inspired – only from its name, not the menu.

A Mandala is a symbol used in Hinduism and Buddhism representing the universe and self-unity. Many, but not all Hindus and Buddhists are vegetarian.

I ordered a flavorful tofu dish via Uber Eats and was so happy to have a break from breads. They gave me three pretty large pieces of tofu. I also had the option of ordering a side dish – salad or vegetable puree. I decided to try the pumpkin puree. It was fresh but completely bland. I ate it with the tofu to mask that it had no taste.

I also appreciated that they wrapped the package so that the juices wouldn’t spill and make a mess for delivery.  Pretty cool that there’s another 100% vegetarian restaurant in Montevideo, and this one’s actually more vegan than vegetarian!

Mandalas-Uruguay-vegan-vegetarian-food-tofu-Montevideo
Flavored, grilled tofu with pumpkin puree.

{Conclusion}

Montevideo definitely has a vegetarian and vegan food scene and it will keep growing as these movements are throughout the world. My husband was in Montevideo on business, visiting his team of software engineers who are based there. He was surprised to find that a significant percentage of his team – Uruguayans – are vegetarian. So things are changing and will get better and better for vegetarians and vegans.

I had the chance to sample several restaurants and really enjoyed the experience.

In this article I reviewed the restaurants and cafes that I visited during my nine day stay. If you go, please send your comments and thoughts too! Keep adding those stamps to your PassportPages!

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