Chile is a foodie’s paradise. With almost all the climates you can ask for, the long stretch of this thin country has mountains, valleys, forests and a massive coastline. But fortunately for those with only a short time on their hands, you don’t need to travel the entire length of the country in search for a taste of Chile – it can all be found in Santiago.
Make your way to Bocanariz wine bar (Jose Victorino Lastarria 276) in the trendy Lastarria neighborhood where you can get your snout in good training for the weekend. The best place in the city for wines by the glass, you can try wines from all over the country here ranging from boutique to big players. Order a flight of wines and get the sommelier-trained staff to talk you through Chilean wine country. When you’ve worked up a hunger, pick some of the tasting dishes from the menu which are all divided into flavor profiles: sweet, salty, creamy… Perfect for playing with wine pairings.
Take a morning stroll around Plaza de Armas, the historical square in the middle of the city. As you walk around with the pigeons and tourists, get a bite of breakfast on the run from the numerous food stands underneath the arcades on the Portal Fernandez Concha side. It’s not glamorous, but it is Chilean. Have an empanada, a doughnut, a slice of pizza, a hotdog or all of them and remember the mantra: eat breakfast like a King.
One of the greatest assets to Chile’s kitchen is the sea. Stretching the entire, enviable length of the country, the Chilean ‘mar’ makes visiting a seafood lover’s delight. Take a stroll around the historical Mercado Central where you can stare goggle-y eyed at enormous bass, squid of horror film dimensions and succulent little scallops. Make sure to take a look at the other market next door, La Vega, which has all the fruits under the sun! After an hour of good browsing head into the middle of the market to sit down for lunch at one of the many restaurants. Order a nice bottle of coastal Sauvignon Blanc and a bowl of seafood stew (paila marina). Delicious!
After a leisurely lunch, you might need a spot of leg stretching. Hop over the bridge in front of the Market and take a walk along the Patronato. This is the Asian neighborhood with the largest Korean, Japanese and Chinese immigrant population as well as many Arabs. There isn’t much street food in Santiago but if you are strolling in the Summer you’ll find the ultimate Chilean refreshing sweet drink – mote con huesillos, a sweet wheat mixture with peaches. If you are more than peckish, then there are a bunch of restaurants here as well as Asian supermarkets to stock up on all the essential supplies. Further north is the colorful Bellavista neighborhood where there are plenty of trendy hangouts and bars. If you want to sit down with an artisanal Chilean beer and enjoy the company of Santiago’s cool crowd, grab a pew at any one of the bars on Pio Nono street.