Club Uruguayo de Sydney

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Club Uruguayo de Sydney is one of the most vibrant cultural clubs in Sydney. It started more than 40 years ago when a group of Uruguayans rented a house where they could hang out and keep in touch. To pay the rent, they started selling asado (South American barbecue) on weekends at $1 a plate.

The club now has an enormous hall in Hinchinbrook where its volunteers host salsa nights, football screenings, live bands and, of course, asado.

Picture all the tropes of an RSL – pokies, member sign-ins, old carpet and cheap furniture – but instead of a kitchen with deep-fryers and a microwave, there’s a charcoal fire pit topped with a grill. The steak is pink-centred and punchy, the chicken is juicy through the breast and the morcilla sausage is soft and explosively rich.

The barbecue comes with the traditional salad and bread. It’s not particularly notable here, but that’s okay because you need to save room for something from the cabinet of South American cakes from Glebe bakery Bariloche. There are dulce de leche–filled biscuits, sponge cakes with meringue and glazed peaches, soft-topped crème brûlées and intricately rolled pastries with caramel swirls and chocolate coatings.

The sweets and the meat aren’t even close to being the best part, though. It’s the vibe. Everyone inside – whether patrons, chefs, cleaners, servers or club co-founders – seems determined to make you feel like you’re at an absurdly big family party.