If you’re an American and you live in Argentina without some sort of extended visa, then you are accustomed to the visaron (visa run). Every 90 days, you must buy a ticket for the ferry across the Rio de la Plata, enter Uruguay, stay for the day, and take the ferry back that evening to re-enter Argentina. Cross. Eat. Stamp. Repeat in three months.

But I highly recommend extending the “stay” part. Well, and the “eat” part.

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Uruguay has recently received some media attention from the U.S. and Europe, due largely to its President, Jose Mujica, who has been dubbed the “coolest President” because he gives 90% of his salary to those in need. No word on how the 3.3 million Uruguayans  feel about this, but I can imagine it’s a sense of pride for many. Same sex marriage is legal and–according to some sources–accepted and celebrated. The same goes for marijuana, you good-for-nothing potheads. Abortion is also legal, which is quite the rarity in South America.

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Apparently they also are quite lax on parking permits and ticketing.

But enough about politics. The food though. The food.

Uruguay has more cows than people, so you can imagine what the staple cuisine consists of. The following are five culinary reasons to visit Uruguay.

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Preface to the list: the restaurants are adorable.

Five (culinary) reasons to visit Uruguay

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Colita de cuadril, well cooked (not cooked well).

1. The beef is here 

Argentina is known for its grass-fed beef, but Uruguay’s cows are just as happy and delicious. An asado is a must while visiting: make sure to check out the entrana (skirt steak) and

2. The bold (lesser-known) wines

Malbec’s supple flavors and medium body make it easy to love, but if you’ve been drinking this for a while, it’s time to step up your game and try a Tannat. Bold, inky, dark, tannic, and with deep fruit flavors . . . it’s not for the faint of heart, but is IS for that delicious piece of Uruguayan beef.

3. Meet the chivito

There are sandwiches, and then there’s this monster with cheese, a fried egg, mayonnaise, and bacon. Eat it.

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4. Also meet choripan

Yes, it’s basically a hotdog. But don’t you love hotdogs, especially when they’re made from delicious, high-quality meat and seasoned perfectly? Yeah, me too.

5. Three words: dulce de leche

Dulce de leche is ubiquitous in South America, and its presence is no less prominent in Uruguay. Check out some panquques with dulce de leche (note the spelling: how cute is the word panqueque? It’s right up there with ñochi.).

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Unofficial Reason #6 mirrors the preface: the restaurants are as darling as the towns. Here’s a small street in Colonia that charms me.

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