Chivito Tinkal (9/10)

Bar Tinkal is located on the Rambla a little way past Punta Carretas heading for the centre of Montevideo, very near Parque Rodo (address: Emilio Frugoni 853).

Tinkal_David-9We first visited on a Saturday night and we found almost every table booked. This was because there was a stand-up comedy act (this takes place every Saturday night). They managed to squeeze us in, but only just, so book in advance if you plan on going at the weekend – the same is true on Friday nights, when they have live music.

Tinkal_stand-up

Because the video I shot was too dark to use (I used only the soundtrack in the video below), I visited the place again one Saturday lunchtime. The views are nice (over the Rambla to the sea), but the bar itself isn’t that special – the atmosphere was definitely better at night when the stand-up comedy was on.

We had the Chivito Tinkal, which was prime filet mignon with the usual trimmings. The first time we tried it, we both scored it 9/10 – the second time I tried it, it didn’t seem as tasty (perhaps because I was on my own and it was during the day), but it was still a great chivito – not too big that you need to share it, and the fries were well done too.


Chivito tried at night (David & Graham): Tinkal    Rating: 9.0

Chivito tried during day (Graham): Tinkal      Rating: 8.0


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Thelma was listed in the Observador’s top 5 list of places to eat chivitos in Montevideo, but when the article was published it was called Bulebar. To confuse things further, another Bulebar exists, but it’s in a different location now – I’m not sure if the owners are the same. It looks like it also deserves a visit, but that will have to wait.

Thelma

In the Observador article, they said the place was “located in the new cool nightlife circuit of Montevideo” and that it offered “one of the most wide and varied menus of the city”, from the chivito rústico (with pork, rocket, tomato and black olives) to vegetarian and vegan options (made from tofu with onions caramelised in soy sauce). The chivitos come served with a mixture of freshly made chunky fried potatoes and sweet potatoes.

thelma_deluxe-8-5

Since it was listed, Thelma’s has undergone a makeover. When it was called Bulebar, it used to be very much a 50’s retro style US diner (you can see what it looked like in this blog post), but it now has a more contemporary look and feel to it. It’s also very popular. Luckily, Paul arrived early (20.00 on a Friday night) and got us a table. By the time I arrived, at 20.30, there were queues to get in and this didn’t let up for the rest of the time we were there.

The first thing I noticed was that we were the oldest people in the place. The rest of the tables were all, with one exception (a table of  mothers and their children celebrating a birthday) full of 13-14 year-old girls! As the night went on, a few young couples came in too, but the customers were generally all quite young.

Even though we were not their usual demographic, the staff were very friendly and treated us divinely. They even wrote our names on the paper table-cloths and spoke English to us with confidence. I’d definitely go again.

Thelma_welcome

As you’ll see in the video, we tried two chivitos. The one the staff recommended to us (the deluxe) was delicious and came in a bun that had apple flavoured sauce on it. The doble was more like a standard chivito, but with a double portion of meat – Paul wasn’t as impressed with this.


 

Chivito tried (David & Graham): Deluxe     Rating: 8.5

Chivito tried (Paul): Doble       Rating: 6.5

 


 

Thelma’s deluxe chivitos (8.5)

The Chivito Challenge

Forget the hamburger or the BLT. When it comes to the ultimate list of must-eat sandwiches, the Uruguayan chivito is King. It’s so good it sometimes isn’t even served between bread (see image below of chivito al plato). The chivito clasico, however, is always served as a sandwich, and typically consists of a base of filet mignon with mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonaise. Typical additions are bacon, olives, fried or hardboiled eggs and ham. There are also chivitos with chicken or pork instead of beef, and even vegetarian options. There is a chivito to suit everyone’s taste.

LATU_chivito-6-5

 

The history of the chivito

It is said that the first chivito was served in Uruguay, in a restaurant (El Mejillón) in 1946 in Punta del Este, a resort on the coast near to Montevideo. A customer from Cordoba in Northern Argentina asked for baby goat meat (chivito) similar to what she had tasted in Argentina. The owner, Snr, Cabrera, did not have any goat meat, so he put a sandwich together with filet mignon in toasted bread with a variety of ingredients and seasoning. The sandwich was such a success it became part of the regular menu of the restaurant and soon spread to other places in Montevideo.

Chivito challenge

With the original restaurant now closed and a wide variety of places where the chivito can be tasted, where are the best chivitos in today’s Uruguay? That is the purpose of this blog – to visit Uruguay’s chiviterias, taste and rate each chivito. I will do this so you don’t have to – you can simply read the blog and pick a chiviteria that serves a chivito you think you will like. I’ll continue doing this while I’m still in Uruguay (I’ve been here a year now, so I have already tasted my fair share of chivitos) and until I am all “chivitoed out“. Off we go!