Chile’s Culinary Front: the Best of 2010

It’s that time of year again: Chile’s El Mercurio newspaper’s Wikén magazine has announced its favorite Chefs and Restaurants for 2010. Here’s the skinny–in English– along with a bonus track…

El Mercurio's Revista Wikén, Aug 27, 2010

Cover Revista Wikén, Aug 27, 2010

At our house we always read Wikén, the weekly food, wine & entertainment supplement that comes with El Mercurio every Friday, but there is one edition per year that we especially look forward to. And today was the day: the Annual Ranking of Chile’s best chefs and restaurants.

You can read the whole thing yourself in Spanish here: (El Wikén: Mejores Chefs y Restaurantes 2010), but I’ll give you the basics in English right here, complete with comments as a bonus track. All restaurant addresses and phone numbers are listed in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page.

Click to discover what the crew at El Mercurio (and I) think about the Best Chefs, Best Restaurants, and up-and-coming people, trends & foodie hangouts in Chile er, Santiago, er, kinda the same thing… ? What do YOU think?

Best Chef:

1st place: once again, goes to Carlos Meyer, chef/owner of Europeo

2nd place: Massimo Funari (chef/owner of Rivoli)

3rd place: Tie between Josef Gander (El Cid, Hotel Sheraton) and Giancarlo Mazzarelli (Puerto Fuy).

What can I say, Carlos Meyer puts heart and soul into his restaurant, and it shows—and shines—every step of the way. The food is exquisite, and the place is chic, sleek, and pure class from the moment you step up to the door. You can’t go wrong with Europeo. Bring your wallet—better yet plastic—because it’s not cheap, but you will definitely not be disappointed.

Massimo and Giancarlo are also personal favorites, but while Josef Gander is admired as a master chef—classic in every sense, from his food to his notorious temperament—having been a victim of one of his famous tirades, I am not very inclined to return to the ultra-elegant restaurant any time soon. (The dirt: in the second year of the School of Sommeliers, another student and I were assigned to an internship at El Cid. His sneer of a greeting warned us to steer clear, but we ended up as collateral damage anyway when he later threw us out in a fit of rage aimed at someone else).

Best Restaurant:

1st place: Rivoli, wonderful Italian trattoria owned by chef Massimo Funari

2nd place 4-way tie: Europeo, La Mar (Gastón Acurio’s ultra-cool Peruvian ceviche house), Noso (French in the W Hotel), and Puerto Fuy.

Rivoli is one of those homey comfort food kinds of restaurants where you know you can go any time and find the same waiters serving up some of the finest pasta and real Italian you could ever imagine—including homemade pasta, bread, and cheese (yes! homemade mozzarella!). The guy even grows all his own veggies! It’s been on my list of favorites for about as long as I can remember. I had the pleasure of interviewing Massimo once. Certainly no diva, he’s a very nice down-to-earth, hard-working kind of guy who’s success is due to many years of serious hard work combined with healthy living.

Best New Chef:

1st place: Ciro Watanabe (Osaka, Hotel W)

2nd place, 3-way tie: Gaetan Eonet (Le Bistrot), Sebastien Fontes (NoSo), and Santiny de los Santos (Sushi Blues)

I have to confess I don’t know any of these new top chefs, but I’m hearing great things. I’ve also had the pleasure of Geatan Eonet’s menu, both at the new Le Bistrot and from his former kitchen at Normandy. Definitely one to stick pretty close to.

BTW—did you notice that not one of them is Chilean? Think there’s some kind of message there?

Best New Restaurant:

1st place: Astoria (Peruvian)

2nd place: Osaka (Japanese)

3rd place: Boragó (Creative based on Chilean ingredients)

I’ve been to Osaka for a semi-working lunch with a large group. Didn’t see the menu as everything was pre-ordered. I can say the sushi was very good and came in a much more creative range than seen elsewhere. I’ve been told that a fat wallet is a definite requirement.

Although I’ve yet to go to this incarnation of Boragó, I liked the original on Vitacura very much. It wasn’t for everyone, to be sure, as “alchemist-chef” Rodolfo Guzmán mixes scientific research with flavors, aromas, and even pyrotechnics to create meals that aim more for experience than sustenance. Personally, I’m all for eating my entertainment and am always excited to see what he comes up with next.

Outstanding International Cuisine:

1st place, 2-way tie: La Mar (Peruvian) and Majestic (Indian)

2nd place, 2-way tie: Baco (French) and Osaka (Japanese)

It would be hard to choose from this list, and I have to say it would definitely be more a matter of mood (or wallet) than quality. La Mar and Baco are sure shots, and I’ve yet to order off the menu at Osaka—although what I did try was wonderful. I haven’t been to Majestic in quite a while though and have heard mixed reviews of late, so that’s on my refresher list

Best Wine List:

1st place: Baco (French bistro owned by Fredèric Le Baux)

2nd Place, 3-way tie: Bristol (Hotel Plaza San Francisco), Noso (Hotel W), Wine 365 (Ritz Hotel)

I’m backing Baco 100%. Not only does it have a great atmosphere and great food, best of all, a wine list with something for everyone—by the glass or by the bottle—at amazingly reasonable prices. Rumor has it they’ve got a wine shop now too…

Bicentennial Awards for Chilean Cuisine:

1st place: Tomás Olivera (chef/owner of Caruso in Valparaíso, also chef at Adra, Hotel Ritz in Santiago)

2nd place: Guillermo Rodríguez, Áxel Manríquez (Bristol), Ana María Zúñiga (Ana María), Bruno Sacco (Divertimento Chileno)

I love Tomás Olivera. Ok, you know what I mean. He’s a great culinary talent and I respect the heck out of him, so I really expected great things when I went to his new place in Valparaíso, but have to admit I was disappointed, where I seem to be standing alone in minority land. Maybe it was that we ended up at a little table wedged between the door and the bar, with a perfect view of the fuse box, or maybe I just think of classic Chilean food—however well prepared—as more of a lunch-time option. I honestly don’t remember what we ordered, just that I had a hard time deciding because everything on the menu that night just seemed very heavy. We’ll definitely go back for another shot, but with a bigger appetite, and hopefully for lunch.

Best Bang for your Back Restaurant:

3-way tie for first place:

Le Bistrot:

This great little French bistrot hasn’t been around long. The chef recently went independent after a stint at Normandy (in Providencia). I’ve got a review pending, but in short–loved the food, prices, and service, although the place itself made me feel like I should be there to buy Nikes.

Vietnam Discovery:

This one’s been on my radar for quite some time. It’s small and hard to get into. Don’t even think about just showing up for a seat. Even at an unthinkable (in Santiago) 8 pm. They take (and respect) reservations and deliver.

China Village:

A long-time favorite that I’ve written about before (see China Village: Chilean Chinese for Two). Wines of Chile and Origo Ediciones recently brought Chinese sommelier Thomas Chung here for an 8-hour marathon Chinese food and Chilean wine pairing session that was presented in book form at the Chile Pavillion at Expo Shanghai. Thomas congratulated owner Feng Shen Pan, his daughter/manager Ying Qui Pan, and the young chef (fresh from China) not only on being truly authentic, but delicious as well

Best Gourmet Shop

1st place: Coquinaria

2nd place, 2-way tie: Gourmeat and Emporio Nacional

Coquinaria is a great place for upscale hoity-toity shopping. An esthetic delight full of products you can’t find anywhere else—and prices to match. I do buy things there—breads, chocolates, gourmet chili pepper marmalades, special oils, etc. They have a large selection of books, but unless you’re in a rush to get one of them home, hold off and order them through Amazon at much better prices.

I’ve eaten there twice, once for dinner (more on that here: Jury’s Still Out), and another, much more consistently enjoyable time for lunch.

Best “Picada”

Picadas deserve a post–or many–or even an entire blog (see: Santiago en Picada), but basically they are no-frills, down-home-good cheap eats

El Camarón (seafood): been hearing about this place for years and dying to check it out

Don Gaviota (Chilean)

La Gatita (seafood with an ocean view): one of only 2 places on the list found outside Santiago. (Here’s my review: La Gatita)

Golfo di Napoli (Italian)

San Remo (Italian)

Sukine (Korean) been hearing good things; high on my list!

So how many of these places have you been to? I know I have some homework to do, and I bet you do too. Just to make it a bit easier, here’s a list of all the places mentioned, along with their addresses and phone numbers. When you check them out, let us know!

Restaurants:

Ana María (Chilean): Club Hípico 476 near Toesca, Santiago (698-4064)

Astoria (Peruvian): Américo Vespucio Sur 1902 (981-3411)

Baco (French bistro): Nueva de Lyon 113, local 6, Providencia (231-4444)

Boragó (Creative) Nueva Costanera 3467, Vitacura (953-8893)

Bristol (Classic International fine dining) Hotel Plaza San Francisco, Alameda 816, downtown Santiago (639-3832)

Caruso (Chilean renewed): Avenida Cumming 201, Cerro Cárcel, Valparaíso (32-259-4039)

China Village (Authentic Chinese): Salvador Izquierdo 1757, La Reina (2777499) and Manquehue Sur 1022, Las Condes(229-0362)

Divertimento Chileno (Chilean): Avenida El Cerro s/n & Pedro de Valdivia Norte, Parque Metropolitano, Cerro San Cristóbal. Providencia. (233 1920)

El Cid (Classic International fine dining Hotel Sheraton, Av. Santa María 1742, Providencia (233-5000)

Europeo (Modern, upscale fine dining): Alonso de Córdova, Vitacura 2417 (208-3603)

Guillermo Rodríguez, Espacio Gastronómico: Tegualda 1375, Providencia (269-1219)

La Mar (Upscale Peruvian Cevichería) Nueva Costanera 3922, Vitacura (206-7839)

Le Bistrot (French bistro): Santa Magdalena 80, Local 7, Providencia (232-1054)

Majestic (Indian): original location: Santo Domingo 1526, downtown Santiago (690-9400) and Mirador del Alto Las Condes, Local 3236, Las Condes (213-1422)

NoSo (French): Hotel W, Isidora Goyenechea 3000, Las Condes (770-0081)

Osaka (Japanese): Hotel W, Isidora Goyenechea 3000, Las Condes (770-0081)

Puerto Fuy (Modern upscale fine dining): Nueva Costanera 3969, Vitacura (208-8908)

Rivoli (Italian trattoria): Nueva de Lyon 77, Providencia (231-7964)

Sushi Blues (Japanese): Shopping La Dehesa, Av. El Rodeo 12850, Local 72, La Dehesa (955-5030)

Vietnam Discovery (Vietnamese)/ http://www.vietnamdiscovery.cl/: Loreto 324, Recoleta (737-2037)

Wine 365 (Upscale wine bar) Hotel Ritz-Carlton, El Alcalde 15, Las Condes (473-7556)

Picadas:

El Camarón: Gorbea 2644, Barrio República, Santiago (689-8880)

Don Gaviota (Chilean): El Roble 1190, corner of Guanaco, Recoleta

La Gatita (Seafood): Av. Borgoño s/n, Higuerillas, Concón (32-2814235)

Golfo di Napoli (Italian): Irarrázaval 2423, Ñuñoa (341-3675)

San Remo (Chilean): Cuevas 1101, corner of Av Matta, Santiago (555-0541)

Sukine (Korean): Antonia López de Bello 244, Patronato (735-8693)

Gourmet Shops

Coquinaria: Isidora Goyenechea 3000, Las Condes

Gourmeat: Vitacura 5028, Vitacura (789-5774)

Emporio Nacional: Las Hualtatas 8842, Vitacura (727-0827)

8 Comments

Filed under Restaurants, Wine

8 responses to “Chile’s Culinary Front: the Best of 2010

  1. Out of all of those, I’ve only been to La Mar…which I thought was really good but definitely no better than other decent Peruvian restaurants that don’t charge as much. There are so many fantastic Peruvian options in Santiago that, for me, if you’re choosing La Mar on a regular basis, you’re doing it to be seen dining at La Mar. And I didn’t think it was as much as a dining ‘experience’ as at Astrid y Gaston, which had great food, really fantastic service and a hefty price tag as well the two times I went. Service at La Mar was so-so and it all seemed a little clinical and ‘look at me look at me I’m fancy pants’ for my tastes…

    Osaka in Buenos Aires is absolutely delicious so I assume the Stgo branch is just as good. Expensive as well if the BsAs experience is anything to go by…when did it open here in Chile?

    Great list and I look forward to trying some of these places, once I manage to rustle up a date..!🙂

    • Hi Matt-
      I really liked La Mar a lot–have been there several times and always came away happy- great food, great service, and definitely not your typical papas a la huancaina type of place. And you’re right- this is not intended to be anything at all like Astrid y Gastón, which is always a treat (at “this is a treat” prices). La Mar as clinical? Hm- I wouldn’t have called it that, but yes, fresh, clean lines and yes, your typical Neva Costanera crowd.
      Looking for a date? Who knows, y someone just might take you up on it right here! The next time I get a message from one of those self-proclaimed Russian women who wants to be my friend, shall I send her your way?
      Seriously though, I bet we could get a group together next time you’re in town!

  2. Isabel

    Love your comments on everything! I forgot what that Italian place was called on Nueva Lyon but I have been meaning to try it since you recommended it.

    I’m glad that Vietnam Discovery was on their list, but I would change it to, “used to get more bang for your buck.”

    I’m intrigued about their picada recommendations and will definitely try some out, but I doubt I’d ever make it to most of the restaurants they chose because of price and location.

    • Isa! You guys haven’t been to Rivoli yet? GOTTA GOTTA GOTTA go there! And have you tried Baco? I know you would really like that too! (they’re practically next door to each other too–could do apps at one, dinner at the other!)
      Let me know what you find out about the picadas. I’m going to start putting together a list of my own! Always looking for more for the list!

  3. Yeah- I did like La Mar, the food was excellent, I just didn’t really think it was worth the price tag. You’re paying for the decor as much as the food. I’m more of a traditional restaurant kind of person- either cheap, crappy, dirty but with good food or old-school fancy, waiters all dressed up etc. In the same way, I much prefer an old, traditional English pub to a modern bar. It’s just a question of personal tastes I think. I can understand the attraction of modern bars and restaurants but they’re generally not for me.

    And I get the same delightful messages from the Russians…aren’t they nice, wanting to be friends with a total stranger?

  4. Thanks for sharing this list! We tried Baco a couple months ago on your recommendation and found both the food and wine list amazing. Lots on this list that I’ve been wanting to try (sadly the budget demands that we don’t just rush out and try them all right away) plus a couple new places that sound good.

  5. Good point Matt- it’s a matter of personal taste and preference, and for me it also has a lot to do with mood and occasion. Sounds like you go from picadas to formal fine dining. I like the entire range, but my favorites are the small bistro/trattoria type places in between.

  6. Hi Emily- oh if only the budget would stretch a bit farther! I’ve got quite a few on that list I’m itching to try myself (Especially Vietnam Discovery). Let us know when you find something you like!

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