Montevideo in photos, IV

2012.Jan.15 Sunday · 3 comments

in Life, Restaurants

On to the Mercado del Puerto. You know me, I could spend a whole day in a place like this, and were there really still a market rather than just restaurants, I likely would have…. If I were more of a carnivore, I’d have just gone from one spot to the next sampling things.

Entrance to the Mercado del Puerto

The Mercado has entrances, I think, on all four sides, maybe just three, along with some of the restaurants have outdoor seating surrounding it.

Mercado del Puerto

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I arrived early, I wanted to see them setting up all the parrillas and getting everything organized.

Mercado del Puerto

Mercado del Puerto

Mercado del Puerto

It was pretty deserted at around 10 in the morning – each restaurant had one or two people getting the parrillas going and setting things up. The two bars in the place were open and had a couple of customers at each, starting out their day on a liquid diet.

Mercado del Puerto

Food-wise, the only thing open was Carolina’s empanada stand, with more varieties of empanadas than I think I’ve seen anywhere. I had to stop and have one, as much for the empanadas as the cute staff…. The mussel empanada was packed with probably two dozen mussels in a rich, dripping, brothy-stew mixture. Absolutely delicious, if a bit messy to eat! They were doing brisk business, mostly with take-out.

Mercado del Puerto

Wood was being delivered by the truck-load, and then carted in and distributed to the various parrillas. I can’t even imagine how much wood they must go through in a day. One interesting thought, all of the parrillas were wood fired, not one of them was using charcoal/carbón – in fact, I don’t think I saw anything other than wood-fired parrillas during my whole stay in Montevideo, nor have I in the past.

Mercado del Puerto

As the morning moves on, the meats get nicely charred and the quantities start to pile up.

Mercado del Puerto

There’s even seating on balconies above, though as smoky as it is down below, I can’t imagine wanting to sit up there.

Mercado del Puerto

Offerings range from a short list, to far more – the place I ended up settling on, Estancia del Puerto, which sort of dominates the center of the Mercado, must have three dozen different grill items (you can see their menu above, the fourth picture in this post).

Mercado del Puerto

Mercado del Puerto

It took a bit of deciding, but, decide I did, and sat myself at the counter at the Estancia – they also had a separate dining area, but despite the heat of being close to the grill, I wanted a front row seat.

Mercado del Puerto

Homemade chimichurri, which I actually ended up using spooned over my french fries. Yum!

Mercado del Puerto

Chotos… braided lengths of small intestine, generally from a smaller animal like a lamb, goat, or calf. Glistening with oil, grilled perfectly with just a touch of crispiness outside, tender inside, and, the first time I’ve had them served with farina, coarse mandioca flour that’s been toasted, often with a little garlic and oil, though here I think it was just toasted. Gives a great flavor to them. A salad of lettuce, tomatoes and catalanes, which are vinegared frying peppers.

Mercado del Puerto

And, I couldn’t not have a pamplona, the classic Uruguayan football of a dish with generally either pork or chicken (the grillman recommended the chicken, which turned out to be a great choice), filled with peppers and cheese, wrapped in bacon, and grilled. Add in those french fries, and yes, I did over-order, but wow was it all good, and I didn’t leave anything behind. And fairly priced, all that for right around 500 uruguayos, or $26.

And that, my friends, was the Mercado del Puerto….

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

George Woodward January 16, 2012 at 15:28

Your photo journeys are always balm to the desk-bound, Dan, and I’ve really enjoyed this deep intro to Montevideo, and most especially your time in el mercado!

Marc January 18, 2012 at 11:57

Is the picaña (picanha/tapa de cuadril) cut becoming more widely known in Buenos Aires? I talked to a friend from Tucuman a couple of weeks ago and he said it was not uncommon up there in those parts. I found a local butcher who is more than happy to offer the cut to me even though it is not on their cuts board. Others, on the other hand, give some bs excuse about how it will ruin their cuadril cut if they take the tapa off. It has become one of my favorite cuts and I fail to see why it was not popular when I lived in Buenos Aires years ago.

dan January 18, 2012 at 22:03

I’ve not seen it here, the only place I’ve seen it is in Uruguay.

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