Perhaps no South American city has come as far as Santiago in terms of new restaurants in recent years. While sangucherías and no frills picadas are still a big deal and always will be, a new wave of restaurants, plus a few old ones that continue to put out great food, have re-established what it means to eat Chilean. The city’s best restaurants are no longer Peruvian. In fact, few can really even be defined.
A laid back space with rough hewn wood tables and accessible tasting menus paired with mostly natural and biodynamic wines. Kurt Schmidt did stints at Noma, Azurmendi, and Boragó before opening the market driven restaurant in early 2015. Pastry Gustavo Saez is one of Chile’s finest. Andrés de Fuenzalida 99, Providencia; 99restaurante.com.
Chef Carolina Bazán and sommelier Rosario Onetto have created one of the most complete restaurants in Santiago. Bazán has worked in kitchens around the world, but it was her stint at Gregory Marchand’s Frenchie in Paris that helped her develop the bistronomy style she that she employs at Ambrosía. Pamplona 78, Vitacura; ambrosia.cl.
If you go to one picada, a hole in the wall restaurant, make it this one. Mond the kitschy décor, there is no better place to taste traditional Chilean food in Santiago. The erizos (sea urchin) are served in a giant bowl. Locos, the Chilean abalone, come in a number of preparations. There are things like conejo escabechado (rabbit escabeche) and jabalí (wild boar) that are difficult to find elsewhere in town. Club Hípico 476, Centro; www.anamariarestaurant.cl.
Baco Vino y Bistro
An all day wine bar and Euro-style bistro. It’s an oasis in the middle of Providencia office and condo towers with a shady patio. Plaza del Sol, Nueva de Lyon 113, Local 6, Providencia.
When Bocánariz opened in 2011, it helped set off a restaurant boom in quaint Lastarria. The menu is designed to pair with the more than 400 Chilean wines offered, many of which are available by the glass. Jose Victorino Lastarria 276, Lastarria; bocanariz.cl.
No single chef or restaurant has done more to raise awareness of the possibilities of Chilean cuisine around the world than Rodolfo Guzmán and Boragó. It’s the first Chilean restaurant to appear on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List, bit more than that, it’s the first Santiago restaurant to really build a network of suppliers – mostly indigenous foraging communities – to source native products from all over the country. More than 700 different dishes are offered in the tasting menus each year, many of them only for a few services. Nueva Costanera 3467, Vitacura; borago.cl.
A time-tested Santiago fine dining restaurant that has moved more towards Chilean products with new chef Alvaro Romero. The atmosphere remains classicaly refined, with a contemporary art collection, a bar cart, and stainless steel domes that are lifted off the dishes as they are served. Avenida Alonso de Córdova 2417, Vitacura; europeo.cl.
If you go to one classic sanguchería, go here. Order a lomito. Order a rumano. Just order something. Libertador Bernando O’Higgins 58, Plaza Baqueano.
Manolo Aznar, the owner of one of Santiago’s best cafes and bakeries, Café Colmedo, recently launched a full-scale restaurant on the second floor above the café, where he experiments with seasonal ingredients and Asian/Spanish touches. Merced 346, Lastarria.
Las Cabras Fuente de Soda
A re-created old-school Chilean diner with better ingredients and house cocktails. Soulful criadillas al pil pil (lamb testicles in pil pil sauce) and hearty cazuelas are served in oversized plates that are ideal for sharing. Luis Thayer Ojeda 0166; Providencia.
With access to the astounding assortment of seafood from Chile’s lengthy coast, it would be difficult to screw up the Santiago branch of this Peruvian cevicheria. Avenida Nueva Costanera 3922, Vitacura; lamarcebicheria.com.
A Chilean tavern for the modern era. Liguria, with three locations not far apart from each other in Providencia, is one of the first restaurants many go upon arriving in Chile. It’s a laidback introduction to pasteles, chupes, and asados, as well as a fine spot to indulge in local craft beer and wine. Av. Providencia 1373, Providencia; liguria.cl.
Mercado La Vega
The wrought iron seafood-centric Mercado Central is generally the Santiago market to attract tourists, though nearby La Vega Central and the adjacent La Vega Chica are far more interesting. Snack on barros jarpa with a sopaipilla bun at La Marita or the stalls selling clay bowls filled with pastel de choclo. Dávila Baeza 700, Patronato; lavegacentral.com.
There’s sadly not a lot of outdoor dining spaces in Santiago, aside of a few sidewalk tables facing busy streets. At the edge of Vitcura, Mestizo, with its boulder roof supports, looks out over the green grass and hills of Parque Bicentenario. The food is mostly standard Chilean and Peruvian, but really you’re here for a few pisco sours and the view. Avenida Bicentenario 4050, Vitacura, mestizorestaurant.cl.
Inside the W hotel, a branch of a Lima Nikkei restaurant of the same name, this Osaka location is the home of Ciro Watanabe, one of the most renowned Japanese-Peruvian chefs anywhere. It’s the only Osaka restaurant to appear on the Latin America’s 50 Best list. Isidora Goyenechea 3000, Las Condes; osaka.com.pe.
Two ex-Boragó guys, Francisco Castillo and Sebastián Campos, doing pop-ups with multi-courses and wine pairings until they find the perfect permanent space. They’re into artisanal fishing communities, smoke, lacto-fermentation, and all around good times. rabanoscl.cl.
Beautifully executed Chilean tapas (sea urchin on fried chicken skin, entraña nigiri, etc) from Spanish born chef Sergio Barroso who spent several years at El Bulli and later Denis Martin in Switzerland. The dining room is on the lower level of the Tinto Boutique Hotel in Bellavista, which has a secret elevator to the city’s best cocktails on the rooftop at Room 09, run by the crew from Buenos Aires’ Nikki Harrison. Calle Antonia López de Bello 040, Bellavista; 040.cl.
Salvador Cocina y Café
There’s a reason why there’s a line out the door every weekday during lunch rush at this two level home cooking restaurant. This is the only great restaurant in the center and chef Rolando Ortega’s menus change everyday, with the list of around 7 or 8 courses published daily on their Facebook page. One day there might be fried merluza in a pork and mussel stew, while the next might be a beef tongue sandwich. Bombero Ossa 1059, Centro.
The re-incarnation of a wild and whimsical restaurant that closed years ago. The three-level Sarita Colonia, which calls it’s cuisine transvestite Peruvian, is filled with colorful textures and pieces of art: a wall size tomb, mirror mosaics, camouflage seat covers, creepy dolls, leather, stone, and chandeliers. Loreto 40, Recoleta; saritacoloniarestoran.cl.
Matías Palomo’s restaurant Sukalde, one of the first to explore Atacama herbs like rica rica or and Patagonian berries like calafate in a fine dining setting, closed several years ago, but has re-emerged as a pop-up in a Bellavista house serving creative tasting menus with wine pairings. sukalde.cl.