Back in NY, when friends visited, my speciality was taking them on a food-oriented walk through some of my favorite spots in the city, sprinkled with some of the tourist sites. After pulling together my research for Santiago, I was frankly overwhelmed by everything I needed to eat and solved this problem by both extending my stay and making food centric plans around the city. Lucky you, I’m gonna spoil you a little and put together a where to eat in Santiago in a walking tour format.
I was located near the metro station Boquedano to serve as a bering for these walks; and it’s mid-summer right now.
The idea is to provide experiences in all parts and vibes of Santiago—from the history, trendyz, and other influences. It’s important to know that Chilean food focuses on the natural—from location to taste of ingredients—sprinkled with influences from Peru, Japan, and Spain; that’s the food we are going to explore along with evolutions, fusions, and spins. There’s a decent amount of walking, cause there is a decent amount of eating that’s gonna go down. I also assume that you had breakfast in the morning, but there’s more than enough food to be had if you didn’t.
Street Foods: Other than the Completo, Empanada de Pino, and Mote con Huesillo which will be readily available across the city, if we head to the myriad of intersections between Tirsa de Molino and Mercado Central, we can find vendors that have built food carts out of shopping carts.
Complete with full fryers or grills–selling the following: Ceviche over Pasta (sounds like an abomination, but was delicious), Sopaipillas, Antichucos (grilled meat skewers), Fried Chicken with Fries, Papa Relleno (stuffed potatoes; recommended!), and mixed meat sandwiches.
You’ll cross this area as part of the food tour, but I can’t guarantee you’ll have the space for all of it–which means you have a potential Day 4 in the making.
If you wish, you can follow my tradition of #StreetMeatSundays. Also, a vlog of the street food by a friend here.
Day 0: The Half Day
When traveling, it’s most likely that you will have a half day with some time to burn. Here’s what to do that day:
Walk: Cerro San Cristobal
The only real activity we are going to do today is climb a hill called San Cristobal to first get ourselves acquainted with the city. The nearest metro station to get off at will be Baquedano if you aren’t walking distance to the hill. When you arrive at the main entrance to the hill, you have the option to either grab a ride for 2000 pesos to the top, or be a trooper and hike up using the road that’s just to the left of the Funicular and follow the signs to “Virgen”.
Drink: Mote con Huesillo
When you reach the hill, take in the sights and treat yo’ self to a delicious Mote Con Huesillo to quench your thirst, cool down, and inject some sugar into your system. Spend as long as you want on top before taking the same trail back down.
If you have enough energy, when you get back down, swing to the east (your left when you get down the hill) and head to La Chascona—the house of Chile most famous poet Pablo Neruda.
Eat: Pastel de Choclo @ Golindo
Golindo’s has been a staple of the Bellavista area since the 1960’s and comes as tonights choice for dinner. This restaurant is also close to the hill we just climbed so it will also be a convenient option tonight. The food and drinks here will be more expensive, and it’s a spot with a mix of tourist and local—actually, that goes for many of the popular spots in Santiago. The food scene here is still young, but growing fast (as the economy of Chile has). Pastel de Choclo is one of the traditional Chilean dishes so it’s a great start.
You’re most likely to be tired today, so if you want to keep things casual: Scattered around the city you’ll find many pubs or “Schoperias” where you can drink some draft beer and get a well priced meal. Pastel de Choclo is more or less the same anywhere you will go to eat it in the city, so you can grab it at one of these alternative locations if you please.
Day 1: Introduction and History
See: Palacio La Moneda
We start our walk by heading to where the president of Chile sits. This building was an important location during the military coupe of September 11 which lead to the period of dictatorship under Pinochet. Keep this place in mind as you will be seeing it again, along with the events that took place here, later today. The calendar for the changing of the guards is overly complicated and always in flux, so before heading out check out when it will be for that day and time your entrance.
Take a walk around to the backside to enter the Centro Cultural which has seasonal exhibits and along with a few permanent installations. Most exhibits are either always free or free before 12. Exit walking North from the palace and turn right onto Augustinas.
Eat Snack: Completo @ Dominos
One of the institutions of Santiago is the “Fuente de Soda” or the American concept of a soda shop or malt shop. Another institution of Santiago are these hotdogs that you will see EVERYWHERE: The Completo or it’s various cousins such as Italiana or Vienesa. You can experience both of these at the chain Domino’s that conveniently on our way to the next stop. Choose the style that you want and munch down. Just get one for now as there will be another snacking opportunity shortly!
See: Plaza de Armas
Following the street Ahumada north, we will reach Plaza de Armas, the main square here that’s always buzzing with people. Take a walk around, enter any of the buildings you want, and take a rest in the square. If you walk a little from the north right corner, you’ll see a lot of psychic/tarot card readers along the street offering a glimpse at the superstitious nature of Chile. When you are ready, head to the building on the southern end of the plaza.
Eat Another Snack: The Completo Family or Churrasco @ “Hot Dog Street”
We continue on our street food snacking with a strip I dubbed “Hot Dog Street”. Lining the entrance of this building, will be many different stalls with locals standing at the counters eating for the most part the same thing. Since we already got a sampling of the completo family, hunker down on a Churrasco and the spot with a work that’s first to smile at you (or any other random event of your choosing). The combo that comes with beer is a pretty good value.
Drink: Cafe Caribe
Just in case you might be entering a period my family has dubbed “Yummy Belly Syndrome” or post-meal sleepies, let’s head to a Cafe con Piernas for some coffee. Two blocks away (get onto Merced from “Hot Dog Street” going east and turn right onto San Antonia) you will find Cafe Caribe (part of the Cafe Con Piernas family along with Cafe Haiti and Cafe Brazil).
When I first went to Cafe Caribe, I thought that Cafe con Piernas or Coffee with Legs just meant a strong coffee like an espresso. I asked the old lady at the counter which option was the Cafe con Piernes and she actually sent us to another location around the corner. Confused, on the way, I adjusted my theory to Cafe con Piernas meaning a standing coffee shop, because there was no seats at Cage Caribe. We arrive at Cafe Esmeralda which turned out to be a really dodgy, borderline strip club that had blacked out windows and also served coffee. I was even more confused and immediately returned to Cafe Caribe. We were a bit embarrassed, drank coffee, and first thing upon receiving WiFi researched the once again revised theory. If you haven’t understood it yet, since I clearly didn’t, Cafe con Piernes is a spot girls in skimpy clothing serve coffee to businessmen; very interesting considering the introverted nature of this country. There are varying degrees of Cafe con Piernes here: Cafe Caribe is a bit more formal while Esmeralda around the corner isn’t.
See: Museum of Human Rights
Not to make light of the next stop, but on the topic of degrading humanity, we are going to head to one of my favorite museums on the city. Hop on the metro station near Plaza de Arms and “get off after Cumming” at stop Quinta Normal. Mueso de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanos covers a fairly recent period of history of the country and I will leave it to the museum to narrate the history. Read the next paragraph only after you have finished your visit. The documentaries on the top floor are amazing and if you want a more in-depth viewing, you can watch the documentary “NO” on Netflix.
Side note: The one thing I noticed at the museum is that it never explained why the coupe happened in the first place; this is a food tour and I don’t claim to be an expert in history or politics, but I want to shed some light on a bit more of history here. If we were to divide the Chilean population into the two most representative parties it would be the Flaites and Cuicos. The Flaites represent a lower class of workers, usually with a poorer socioeconomic background and education, while the Cuicos are the wealthier, more international group. The more east you go in Santiago, the more wealthy and Cuicos, and vice versa in the opposite direction. The museum is in a Flaite heavy side of town, which is important to note as it was this group of the population that was burdened during the dictatorship, while some Cuicos prospered during this time. What I learned in Santiago, is that before the revolt, the country was actually in a terrible condition—safety, food, water, etc. It was this condition that lead some to believe that the military had to take over. Obviously, I am in not in support of Pinochet and his action, but it always important to see the other side of the coin, understanding the improvements and progress that also came to this country during his time.
Eat: A Bellevista Bar Hop
Grab the subway back to Boquedano and cross the river to the Bellavista area. The Bellavista area actually used to be one of the centers of crime before a slow period of gentrification. One of the first places to develop here was Bellevista Patio, which will be our first stop. Barrico 94 is a great place to grab some wines, the food isn’t supposed to be great so it’s better to save the space for later. Backstage is a “gastropub” that’s also popular is wine isn’t for you. Take a look around here and if there is something of your fancy please go ahead and eat there, but if you want to take part in my Bar Hop see below:
Papas Telaclados and Beer @ Tecladaos – we start here as it is often hard to find a spot. Papas Teclados is a sophisticated spin on the classic Chorillana. Teclados is a popular bar especially with the Cuicos crowd.
Chorillana and Beer @ Camino Nuevo – now for a more classic variation, along with a completely different atmosphere, head two blocks west and one black north where you will see tables lining the road. You’ll notice a change in atmosphere, leaning towards a Flaite heavy crowd. This restaurant had a great chorillana, but I’ve heard rumblings of places on that same street that have better meat to fries ratios–I challenge you to take a look around and find the best option.
The rest of the night is up to you. Continue bouncing around, hit up some clubs, go to sketchier places as the night goes one, and end the night eating Completos—the true Chilean night out experience.
Day 2: A Market Scavenger Hunt
See: Vega Market
Today is dedicated to learning about some of the food here in Chile, as well as, interacting with locals so that you have something to eat for dinner today. The Vega Market is a large market known for fruits of vegetables. We will start all the way north and slowly make our way south through this market and the markets that follow. The market up top focuses on fruits and vegetables, and slowly transitions through dried ingredients, pickles, meats, and more.
Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to find the following (and buy some items) in Vega market:
– Avocados (Buy)
– Tomatoes (Buy)
– Red Onions (Buy)
– Lemon or Lime, depending on preference (Buy)
– Oranges (Buy)
– Cilantro (Buy)
– Aji Amarillo (Buy)
– Ajo (Buy)
– Aji Limon
– Chilean Mini Potatoes
– Rocoto Peppers
– Red Beans
Eat: Tirso Molina Cocineros or Mercada Central
We unfortunately have two really tempting places to eat for lunch today. In Tirso Molino (south of Vega Market) you find many concineros selling traditional Chilean dishes (Cazuela or Reineta are my recommendations) as well as many dishes from Peru and Colimbia. In Mercada Central (south of Tirso Molina) we have seafood oriented options (Chupa De Marisco, Pastel de Jaiva, and Paila Marina being the recs here; I had an amazing Pastel de Jaiva at Tio Lucho.) If, you’re by yourself you can either eat a lot of food or return here another day to get a sampling. If you are with someone, divide and conquer.
Not to mention, as you head south out of Tirso Molido towards Mercada Central, you will find many people selling fresh ceviche out of shopping carts (as well as some Antichuchos!) which is definitely worth a try as well. Keep heading south and we reach another market, Mercado Central is the most touristy of the markets, but the best place for seafood.
Scavenger Hunt Part 2:
– Salmon (Buy): There is a lot of debate regarding which type of fish to get for a ceviche, most siding with a white fish which will cook in the acidity and be enhanced with the flavors, I on the other hand, being in Chile and having access to some of the freshest salmon, find it hard to not go with a Salmon ceviche.
– Various Fish (Reineta, Merluza)
– Shellfish (Mussels, Clams, Picoroco, Locos)
Drink: Terramoto @ Piojera
Proceed to this step only if you were able to find all the items. A picada is a Chilean low key spot with great food and atmosphere for drinks. La Piojera is one of those classics (don’t go later than the afternoon) where we are going to try a speciality: Terramoto. Terramoto or earthquake is a potent drink that is sure to do a number on you. And if you are feeling bold, you take a shot of the Replica or Aftershock.
Snack: Empanadas de Pina @ Empanadas Zunino
Don’t lie to yourself, you are a bit tipsy. I gotchu though. Dinner is gonna be a bit later so we will grab a quick bite at Empanadas Zunino before we wrap up for the day.
Dinner: At Home Ceviche and Avocado
It’s about time we put that Salmon in the fridge, or if you’re ready to start prepping, let’s get dinner going. We’re going to make an at home ceviche by slicing and combining all the items we picked up the market and letting it cook from the acidity of the lemon/orange over time. Refrigerate 2 hours if using salmon and 30 minutes if using a white fish. Serve over freshly sliced avocado and pair with some white wine.
Day 3: Trendy Santiago
See: Belles Artes (Optional, Contemporary Art Museum)
The Belles Artes museum is one of the oldest museums in the country with a focus on Chilean and South American art. It’s the last museum I’m going to take you to if you aren’t a museum person, and if you are, you can hope over to the contemporary art museum just next door.
Eat: Lomito Completo (Or Italiana) with Cherimoya Juice @ Fuente Alemana
Santiago has a big sandwich scene. In the miscellaneous section in the bottom of discuss some of the other places, but for lunch today we are going to try a staple sandwich at Fuente Alemana. The vibe and food of this place is great, especially if hungover. The sandwich of choice here is the lomito ordered either completo or italiana. For a off the beaten path option, try the Chacarero. I also recommend getting the Cherimoya juice to go along.
Walk: Cerro Santa Lucia
Let’s try to make a small dent in burning off what just went down, and get into the area that we are going to be spending most of our day: Barrio Lastarria. Follow the map to a smaller hill in the middle of this area. Take your time exploring all the nooks and layers of this hill instead of just taking the stairs to the top and back. There are a lot of nice parks, buildings, and area scattered around so wander about.
Exiting the hill and heading to the right on Merced will take us to our next destination.
Eat: Ice Cream @ Heladeria Emporio La Rosa
Known as one of the top 25 ice creams shops in the world (according to their branding), Emporio La Rosa not only has really good ice cream, but fascinating flavors especially in the fruit deparment: Cherimoya, Lucuma, or Maracuya are recommended for at least one of the scoops. Grab your ice cream and take a seat in the park to the north.
Walk/See/Eat: Barrio Lastarria
Heading back to Merced and now take a left onto Jose Victorino Lastarrio, the central street of this neighborhood. At the start of there will usually be a small flea market along with other goods. Continue walking down making sure to look at the different buildings, architecture, do some people watching, and take in the vibes of this area. About halfway down the street, there will the a small alley to the left that if you follow it will lead you to GAM/Centro Gabriel Mistral—a cultural center with some exhibits, interesting architecture,
We are also going to do dinner in this barrio. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions in life. Today will be one of those. This area is absolutely filled with restaurants and bars, and there are way too many options. Below are three starting points for the evening, and in the section at the bottom of this page you will so a couple other options for this neighborhood.
– Bocanariz (Wine)
– Chipre Libre (Pisco and Tapas)
– Cafe Utopia (Beer)
Alternative Choice: Borago. Borago is considered the best restaurant in Santiago, headed by Chef Radolfo, and comes in number 2 in Latin America after Central in Peru. If you can afford a meal here, and the time to survive an 18 course meal, I would definitely make the trip deeper into Cuico territory for a meal here. Borago choses to highlight Chilean cuisine, making local ingredients shine in a way that can rival top restaurants in the world.
Party: Chilean Music @ Subterreano
Put on something decent as we’re going to head to a club in Providencia, also in Cuico territory, to try and experience some local music. Check on their site to see who is playing before hand.
(Optional) Day 4: Asia Day
Almost three months into my trip now, I’ve been craving Asian food. Craving. There are a lot of Asian influences in this city, so it wasn’t too difficult to satisfy the craving.
Eat: Chicken @ Chicken Story
Asian Fried Chicken is the speciality here and heading to this restaurant will also bring you to an area with a lot of Asian grocery stores; if you are on a budget, you can use this time to buy somethings (Korean Ramen, Kimchi, Shrimp Crackers, Aloe, and Green Tea pocky was my shopping list) to serve as your dinner!
See: Samurai Exhibit
The Centro Cultural at Palacio Moneda had a special Samurai and Kimono exhibit running while I was in the city, so this was a perfect addition to Asia day.
Eat: Korean Affair or Chilean Japanese
On the one hand, you have the option to prepare the groceries you might have picked up earlier today. If you chose not to, you we’re gonna head over to The W hotel in Santiago for Osaka – this restaurant is touted as one of the best restaurants in the city right now to experience the port over of Japanese cuisine (Cocina Nikkei) to Latin America
La Terraza: Milanese Terraza – if you are in the area south of Boquedano station, La Terraza is a great spot to grab a bite and devour on a Milanese Terreza.
Other options in Bellavista:
– Galindo (traditional food)
– Ciudad Vieja (trendy sandwich speciality)
– Uncle Fletch (burgers, American)
Other options in Lastarria:
– Hogs (trendy hot dogs)
– Buffalo + Waffles (savory waffle sandwhiches or sweet waffles)
– Mulato (a staple formal dining spot)
Sopapillas – either as a quick snack while walking the city, or in my case, a quick bite while busing through Chile
Merken – a popular spice blend of chili, garlic, and salt
Cola de Mono – a very festive tasting alcoholic beverage
Caldillo de Congrio – another speciality, stew of conger eel
Machas a la Parmesean – another speciality, clams baked with cheese
Costanera Centro – giant shopping mall with a movie theater