When asked to name typical Chilean cuisine, many people think of empanadas or pastel de choclo (sweet corn pie), but there are plenty of chefs in Santiago coming up with delicious, inventive and surprising Chilean dishes. Here’s the lowdown on the best chefs and restaurants preparing the top food in Santiago.
The menu at The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago’s restaurant Estro is extensive, the service is top notch and the location in the city’s esteemed El Golf neighborhood is central and convenient. Meals get off to a slick start with multilingual waiters delivering bread (gluten-free is also available) and pouring virgin olive oil from test tubes onto slate plates. Main courses, such as turbot with mushrooms, are also well prepared, bringing out the best of Chile’s fantastic seafood with complements like black truffle sauce and endive puree. Estro’s flavorful overall flow is due to self-taught Mexican chef Marco Rivas, who came to the eatery when it re-launched in 2011. Be sure to try one of the cocktails, which are executed with precision, especially the passion fruit sour.
Chef Tomás Olivera Leiva has more than 17 years of cooking experience under his belt, his own restaurant and a new cookbook, Cocinero + Casero + De Autor, on the shelves. A true lover of the kitchen, he aims to have fun with his dishes and for his staff to have fun serving them. The result is an upbeat, energetic and unexpected eating experience. To make the most of the food, opt for the degustation menu, which starts with salmon tartare, followed by a fresh tomato and basil dish. Next, come inspired courses such as hake with pea puree; kingclip with oyster sauce and celery puree; tomaticán, a typical Chilean tomato stew; and a dessert selection with choices such as flan de manjar (a traditional Chilean pudding made from boiled condensed milk), tiramisu and sopaipillas (fried pastries).
A seafood restaurant in a 1920s-townhouse-turned-restaurant, Infante 51 sits on a sleepy street in Providencia. Basque chef Xabier Zabala has been in Chile for several decades, whipping up clean, fresh creations from the ocean. The spacious restaurant has large modern art hanging on the wall and a central bar with a cubist feel to it. Among the specialty fish are konso from Easter Island, cojinova austral from Puerto Montt and breca from the Juan Fernandez Islands. Look out for wine- and fish-tasting evenings where you sample four different bottles with four various fish such as Konso with Syrah or Yellowfin tuna with Pinot noir. Desserts include a rich hot chocolate pudding as well as lighter options, such as blueberry or carrot-and-ginger sorbet.
Puerto Fuy is a traditional Chilean restaurant in Vitacura that’s a favorite for well-heeled, older Chileans. The meal gets off to an impressive start with the salt selection, which includes a range of five different types, including the Himalayan variety from Pakistan. The food is rich and buttery, and it’s best washed down with a glass of crisp white wine. Among the stellar starters are the Chilean clams with tomato, basil and cheese and the glazed octopus served with pinot noir. Once again, delicacies from the deep blue rule the main course menu. Not surprisingly, the Chilean sea bass with artichoke and tomato coulis is one of the restaurant’s standout entrées. For those trying to avoid carbs, the turbot comes with diced zucchini and pumpkin.
Photos Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC and Casa Mar