One thing that I miss in Uruguay: American style coffee shops. I know, I know. This is not the USA and why would there be American style coffee shops here? We knew that this wasn't the same kind of coffee culture as the USA. It's just taking some getting used to.
I love coffee shops that sell a variety of baked goods, roasted coffee beans and fresh coffee- to enjoy there or TO GO in big, big cups. I am historically not an espresso drinker because it's gone in two sips. For me, a 16 ounce coffee is good, but 20 is even better. Not that Starbucks is a favorite, but we used to live right above one in Minneapolis and it was a frequent stop for us.
In Montevideo, you can go to any of the standard fare restaurants or confiterías and get an espresso, café or cortado in a beautifully presented little cup, but not to-go. They may offer some really fabulous pastries, but it is just not the same. I want to settle into a comfy chair with a gynormous cup of coffee in hand and enjoy some alone time with the newspaper. For now, that will have to be done in the comfort of my own home.
The best alternative that we have found in Montevideo if we want a coffee "para llevar" (to go) is--please don't laugh here--McDonald's. The restaurant side of McDonald's sells coffee or café con leche in a to-go cup. It is not the best, but it's all we've got here if you want it to-go.
One huge surprise for us has been the McCafé- it is an actual cafe attached to the McDonald's restaurants in Montevideo and quite impressive one at that. The McCafé has higher-end finishes, free wifi and an upscale attitude, serving pastries on porcelain plates and coffee in glass. We have enjoyed some time at a McCafé, but the sizes are smaller and prices are quite a bit higher than the to-go coffee in the McDonald's restaurant. Rightfully so, as the cafe is much more civilized than the standard McDonald's.
We have stumbled upon two places lately that may become close stand-ins for our beloved coffee shops in the USA. More info and reviews to follow in the coming days.
With the occasional visit to the McCafé or the other shops we've found lately, more frequent stops at McDonald's for a paper cup of joe and daily coffee at home, we'll do just fine. The differences here in Uruguay are also leading us to some welcome changes in our lifestyle. We slow down, take a seat and enjoy our coffee and conversation for a while instead of grabbing our to-go cup and running. Not a bad change at all.