Tag Archives: Restaurants

Elfos Restobar

Elfos Bar Santiago de ChileIt’s spring here in Chile, and we’ve decided it’s high time we returned to our old habit of an evening stroll—which more often than not ends with us rewarding our healthy walking efforts with stopping somewhere for a bite and a sip. That’s pretty easy to do in our “neck of the hood” because we figure there must be at least 50—maybe double that—bars and restaurants within walking distance of our place.

So we meandered through what I call “Old Providencia” between Manuel Montt and Seminario, admiring the many beautiful homes that haven’t been torn town for high rises (yet), and eventually stumbled upon a place we’d never noticed before. Elfos, on Roman Díaz, about a block from Av. Providencia.

We were game. Or wait. Maybe we were IN a game… Continue reading

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Fuente Mardoqueo: Best sánguches in town

The search is over. I’ve found the perfect chacarero!

cacharero, Fuente Mardoqueo, sánguche

The perfect Chacarero: tasty beef topped with fresh tomato, crisp green beans, and a touch of green chili

I am admittedly not the world’s biggest sandwich fan…and them’s fightin’ words in Chile.  Chileans love—and passionately defend—their beloved sánguches. So I’m here to call a truce. And while I’m not likely to ever get up much enthusiasm for the basic avocado- and mayo-smeared ham & cheese, there are other Chilean sandwich combinations that are pretty hard to resist. Make mine a chacarero, a super sánguche whose special defining feature is a big pile of green beans. Yep, that’s right, green beans. Who knew?

Fuente MardoqueoFuente Mardoqueo, half a block from the Plaza Yungay, is one of those word-of-mouth type places—a true picada—and it had been on our radar for a while. Continue reading

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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?

Continue reading

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La Gatita

By Margaret Snook, May 5, 2009

Somehow—for reasons beyond my comprehension—the seaside town of Concón, in Central Chile, has managed to get away with declaring itself the “Gastronomic Capital of Chile.” Yes, there are plenty of restaurants, but the vast majority are the typical seaside eateries with white-shirted, bow-tied waiters pushing outdated wines and overcooked fish. There are few worth writing home (or anywhere else) about. And then there’s La Gatita.

La Gatita seafood restaurant in Concón

La Gatita seafood restaurant in Concón

My husband and I have been hearing about La Gatita, a favorite seafood restaurant in the Las Higuerillas section of Concón (near the yacht club) for years. We’ve even tried going a few times to find out what’s behind all the to-do. But it fills up fast, and in a country where Sunday dinner begins at 2:00—or even 3:00, the line forms outside La Gatita at 11:30, and it’s filled to its 18-table capacity within minutes after it opens its doors at noon.

We got there at 12:20 and were fourth on the waiting list. “Table for two? 20 or 30 minutes,” she said. Hah! An hour 20, in fact, but we were determined. Getting a table was our goal of the day. Sure, the place next door (Calipso) was completely empty and had a better view, but we were on a mission and installed ourselves in the parking lot with the others.

This is clearly a picada, a simple place, with too-close tables and plenty of hustle and bustle, but the wait staff is fast and generally efficient. Hot rolls and spicy pebre appeared on the table within minutes, and the generously large and strong pisco sours we ordered just moments later.

We opted for an order of machas (razor clams)—half a la parmesana, half con salsa verde. The salsa verde (green sauce) turned out to be more onion than parsley, and the parmesana was creamy style, served on the half shell and swimming in sauce. Yummy, although I prefer the standard drier, creamless style with lemon juice. The machas themselves were perfectly tender.

Like most regional restaurants and nearly every picada in the country, the wine list leaves something to be desired. We wanted a half bottle of Chardonnay, and although a Casillero del Diablo appears on the menu, the only half-bottle whites were a Santa Emiliana Sauvignon and a Carmen Rhin. We needed more body to go with the fried fish and ended up going classical with a Santa Rita 120 Cabernet (a light red holds up better to the fried batter than a light-bodied white).

The wine appeared before we had gotten half way through the pisco sour. She popped the cork on the Sauvignon Blanc before we had a chance to say “tinto.” “¡EEEEE!” She responded, in that wide-eyed, air-sucking way that so many Chilean women do… it quickly disappeared and the correct wine appeared in its place, along with a big, apologetic smile, earning her good service points despite the error.

Congrio Frito (Batter-fried Conger Eel)

Congrio Frito (Batter-fried Conger Eel)

Everything happens fast here. Our main course showed up before the first course was cleared, but the waitress seemed to have 6 arms and managed to lift one set of dishes and smoothly replace them with the next set all at once. Suddenly I was seated before an enormous and perfectly prepared congrio frito (batter-fried conger eel or kingclip), the kind I’d been yearning for for ages. It was big and golden with crispy coating, flaky flesh, and accompanied by several fresh-cut lemon halves. “The Mr.” wanted merluza, which was unavailable, so he opted for albacora, which is usually simply grilled with butter and capers or almonds, but he too hankered for fried batter. Not the best choice of the day; he’ll stick to tradition next time. The fries served along side would’ve benefited from a few more minutes in the fryer to crisp and golden up their limp-ish pallor.

Singer in La Gatita

Singer in La Gatita

In typical picada style, a singer strolls through about once per seating (they turn this place over about 5 times on busy Sundays). ¡Bésame! Bésame mucho… he sings with a smile bigger than his voice. Tips are expected as he strolls from table to table.

The check

The check

The portions are generous, and dessert, out of the question, although the meal did end on a sweet note. The bill: not cheap, but a quite reasonable $20.000 (about $35 US) including tip for a Sunday lunch for 2.

The final conclusion? The mystery remains as to why people are so willing to line up and wait an hour-plus to get in. It’s good, sure, as far as picadas go, but great? Mmm… there’s still room for improvement.

Av. Borgoño s/n
Higuerillas, Concón
Tel: (56-32) 281-4235

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Don Victorino Restaurant

This Lastarria bistro is a great place to catch up with an old friend over drinks and a bite…

By Margaret Snook, February 1, 2009

Here’s the panorama: movie and drinks with a friend I needed to catch up with. We caught a film at the Biógrafo (art house) on Lastarria (cool Santiago neighborhood on the eastern edge of downtown) and then looked for a place close by for drinks and picoteo (appetizers). The neighborhood is full of places to choose from, but Don Victorino was hopping, she’d never been, and I hadn’t been in a while, so… decision made.

Set in a remodeled old house, the place has a nice, cozy, bistro feel to it in with colonial-red walls, plenty of refinished natural wood, and appropriately placed antique furnishings. Comfortable and inviting. There’s seating for about 60-70 people in four separate areas: on the street, in the bar, in a second-floor loft overlooking the bar, or in the interior combined patio-dining room. It was pretty full when we got there about 11:30, so we decided on a small table by the bar.

We weren’t very hungry, so we stuck to the appetizer menu… plenty of good choices: tortilla de papa, fried calamari, ceviche, among others, all ranging from about $2500 to $5000 ($5-10 USD approx). We ordered the breaded jumbo shrimp and salmon tiradito (both just under $5000) and a couple of caipirinhas, one of my all-time favorite mixed drinks.

A bread basket with two standard rolls and a little bowl of pinkish salsa appeared very quickly, even though we clearly were not having dinner. Neither looked interesting enough to waste the carbs on, so they went untouched.

The shrimp was fine, nothing out of this world, but done well enough-butterflied, breaded, fried til crisp, and served with an oddly carmine-colored sweet-n-spicy ketchupy kind of sauce that wouldn’t be my first choice, but I wouldn’t refuse it either.

The tiradito, a traditional Peruvian dish made with long thin strips of raw fish marinated in lemon or lime with Peruvian seasonings, was arranged on a plate, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with those yummy Peruvian crunchy corn kernels and garnished with ruffly red leaf lettuce. It was good, but perhaps a bit skimpy for the $4800 price tag-about 8 bucks.

The caipirinhas were good-in the end we shared a third-and if you’ve never tried one, you’ve got to fix that right now. Brazil’s national drink has got to be the best cocktail ever for beating the January heat (we ARE in the southern hemisphere here!)

The service was attentive and friendly, although a bit overly enthusiastic when it came time to clear the table. I felt like the waiters really wanted to get out of there. Points in their favor: We didn’t notice that the 10% tip was included on the check (yes, more places are doing that these days) and would have left another on top of it had the server not brought it to my attention.

Overall impression: Nice, relaxed, and inviting atmosphere. Good place for conversation. Good but not spectacular appetizers, but will wait for the main course before making a final decision.

Repeatable experience? Yes

Price Range: not outrageous, but bring a plastic backup.

Address:  José Victorino Lastarria 156, Santiago
Phone:  (562) 639-5263
Price:  Not cheap. $19.500 tip included

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World Delicatessen: World Class all around

By Margaret Snook, December 9, 2008

Giancarlo Mazzarelli, one of Chile’s top chefs has a new project. In addition to his top notch restaurant Puerto Fuy, he’s now the guy in the know behind the new shop-slash-restaurant “WD: World Delicatessen” in the fashionable Nueva Costanera sector of Vitacura.

Need a special gourmet gift for your favorite epicure? This is the place. Special spices and seasonings,  pastas, foie gras, oils, rices, caviar, truffles, quinoa, and the largest selection of salts I have ever seen in one place! And then there are the gifty items–you know the ones: those cool things that make great gifts but that you rarely buy for yourself. Pretty glass jars of paté, for example, or fancy bottles of culinary perfumes. Seriously. I had the chance to try a spritz of white truffle oil essence on beef and Grand Marnier essence on creme brulee. Interesting effect, and a good way to get just a hint of flavor without having to drizzle. Of course you could put the stuff in a spritzer and get the same effect, but I have to admit, the bottle is pretty classy!

But WD is more than a shop. It’s also a restaurant that’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, from 9:00 am til midnight or so. The menu changes every week, the prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is modern and sophisticated yet inviting and comfortable, with outdoor tables in front and indoor seating in the back.

But that’s not all! It also has a great space for cooking classes, which will be offered by Giancarlo and friends–some of Santiago’s top chefs.

Nueva Costanera 6664, Vitacura, Santiago de Chile.   Phone: (56-2) 789-4047

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