Montevideo has a number of good restaurants, but I found Jacinto on on Bourdain’s Parts Unknown: Uruguay. Since Bourdain loved Jacinto, I just had to eat here. I made a reservation a couple weeks before we left, which, looking back, was probably unnecessary.
Opened in 2012, Jacinto is located very near to near Plaza Zabala on a cute little pedestrian-only area with several other restaurants, making for a tourist-friendly dining destination. While its touristy friendly, you will find lots of locals here for a nice dinner out, as well as Bourdain-enthusiasts. And for those wondering, Jacinto means the hyacinth flower in Spanish.
Jacinto’s menu is what I would describe as creative, modern Uruguayan, meaning featuring Uruguayan dishes with a modern or creative flair. There was nothing too, too crazy or expensive on the menu, and everything we tried was really good. Since we had heard so much about Don Pascual wine during our time in Uruguay, we started dinner with a 2017 bottle of Don Pascual Tannat.
Dan also tried a lemon, lime, ginger, and mint-flavored water. While very pretty, Dan said it just tasted like a sugary water. He would skip it next time.
We started the food portion of our dinner with Jacinto’s homemade bread (from their own bakery on site!) and butter, a steak tartare, and shrimp empanadas. Of all of these, the shrimp empanadas were by far THE BEST. The shrimp empanadas were served in a set of two with a llajua sauce with ginger and cilantro. This is what I refer to as the “tomato sauce.” I’m not sure exactly how much tomato is in a llajua sauce (if any), but this sauce MAKES the empanadas.
The steak tartare was served at “a low temperature” with an egg on top, garlic chips, and sprouts. The tartare was super tasty and definitely one of the best tartares that I have had in South America (but not quite as good as in Prague).
After the bread and tartare, I had the BEST fried chicken! Growing up in Virginia, I have pretty high standards for fried chicken and almost never order it unless I know it will be legit. In any case, Jacinto’s was 100% and huge. It paired perfectly with just the lemon served with the chicken. For those looking to order the same thing on the menu, this chicken is listed as chicken Milanese, served with avocado cream (a tiiiiiny bit), tomatoes, daikon, red onion, raisins, parsley, and cilantro.
Dan was also quite pleased with his rib-eye steak chimichurri. Like my chicken, Dan’s steak was large and was served with sliced sweet potato topped with criolla sauce (basically diced peppers, tomato, and onions with oil and vinegar), a Uruguayan speciality.
We finished our meal with a warm banana and dulce de leche cake with almond ice cream and cocoa nips, and took leftover meat home for breakfast the following morning.
Before of after your meal, be sure to check out the adorable Plaza Zabala just next to Jacinto. The plaza is better when its light out, but still cute in the evening.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Jacinto: Closed Sunday. Open for lunch 12 – 16h30, dinner 19h30 – 00h. Cafe open 10 – 12, 16 – 19h30. Reservations can be made online, but are probably not required.
ON A BUDGET
Go for lunch or stop by the cafe for a coffee and dessert. Also, there are a few less expensive restaurants just across the street from Jacinto, including a tasty looking pizza shop.