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Santiago and a few other questions

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  • trav Jan 27, 2009 01:32 PM
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Husband and I will be in Santiago for 10 days over Easter. I have read many of the recommendations on this board and want to know if there are any new additions. We like interesting spaces with great food mainly fish and seafood. Last year we really enjoyed La Mar, Astrid & Gaston, Rodrigo, and Rafael in Lima so any places like those.
Also I would love a great recommendation for lunch in either Valparaiso or Vina del Mar. Thanks.

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  1. Astrid & Gaston also has a place in Santiago. I went years ago and had a great experience.

    My husband is from Santiago and we go every year. We tend to not eat at the upscale places, but if you want something a little more "typical" try La Fuente Alemana for "completos", Liguria is nice for lunch (I believe there are several locations - we go to Nunoa), and of course Domino in El Centro for hot dogs "italiano". And don't forget to try the mote con huesillo from a street vendor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: m de p

      I agree with Fuente Alemana. The location in Plaza Italia is my favorite location. Get the completo, but make sure you also get the churrasco. Can't go wrong.

      I would also go to Las Vacas Gordas in Barrio Brasil for steak.

      You should also try seafood when you are in Santiago. They have some of the best in the world. Go to the central market and try one of the vendors. You will never have Uni/errizos, so cheap and good as they have them here.

      10 days is a bit much for Santiago unless you have business there. I suggest two days. Spend the rest of the time on either a quick trip to Mendoza (the bus ride is the best b/c you can see Anconcagua), a trip down south to Pucon and the lakes region, or a trip to San Pedro de Atacama in the north.

    2. Have a look at our 2008 Santiago Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/582394

      The following is a description of a recent trip to Chile by a couple from the US who read our blog postings on Chile and used our Restaurant Reviews:

      "I just got back from Chile last Wednesday and have slogging through my day gig trying to catch up. ... but I wanted to first thank you so much for all the wonderful advice you provided about restaurants and for the most generous package of books and materials you left at the Marriott.

      "The introductory Cliff notes on the trip are that we found Santiago to be a most comfortable, bustling city with lovely parks, plazas, and people. The Marriott was a wonderful hotel and we enjoyed the gym and the faboo view out our window of the Andes, and the fact that we stayed there for three days on points was grand, but it was, as you know, a much more commercial neighborhood than we might have liked. The Park Plaza certainly did not have the amenities that the Marriott did, but we loved the neighborhood in Providencia, its proximity to the subway, and the charm of the place. We stayed there at the end of the trip. Our four nights at the Casa Real Hacienda at the Santa Rita Winery estate was quite an experience. Because it was shoulder season we had the place all to ourselves for a couple of nights and there were a couple of other people the other nights. The estate and the vineyards are truly magnificent. The breakfasts and dinners and service were first class…really excellent, but simple cooking, and faboo wines every night. Now that we know the lay of the land, we would still go back to Casa Real for a night or two, but would stay in Santa Cruz for several nights as there are more wineries and vineyards down there of interest. We went down there two out of the four days, but it was a 2 hour trip each way, which was entirely too much driving. Besides, the Hotel on the square in Santa Cruz was lovely and we had a terrific lunch there. Our one night in Vina del Mar was nice, and we had this great hotel room overlooking the waves crashing on the rocks and watched a magnificent sunset from there as well, but the town was nothing special and we thought Valparaiso was a dump and reminded us of Naples More about that later in my yet-to-be-written travel notes.

      "Your restaurant recommendations exceeded my highest expectations. We started out the first night at Astrid y Gaston. We met a good friend from DC there who coincidently was in Santiago at the same time attending a conference. We had a wonderful dinner and some killer wine, but we felt that we were being patronized just a little by the wait staff a few times and that the food was dumbed down (aka “Americanized”) just a wee tad for the tourists. I shall go into detail later, but, as an example, the head waiter (who of course spoke English) wanted to make sure we knew what cerviche was when we ordered it. I guess they have experienced American and European tourists who don’t know. It was more amusing than a distraction, but we noted later, that as acceptable as the cerviche was, it was pretty bland compared with the many others we had on our visit. But more details later. As expected, El Europeo was off-the-charts incredible. Like you said, this is elegant dining with superb food and wine and service that would cost at least twice the price in the States or Europe. We thought it was every bit as good as the best that Napa and Sonoma has to offer, and that is high praise indeed. They were amused, as were the folks at Astrid, with us returning the menus that you borrowed. We loved it so much that, after our four-night stay in the wine country at Santa Rita, and the one night in Vina del Mar, we went back to El Europeo for a splendid lunch. The last night we were together in Santiago we had a wonderful dinner at Puerto Fuy, although I shall have to go back to my notes to remember what we had. I just remember it was a wonderful experience and we would gladly return. We also fell in love with your favorite wine, Carmenere. Wow…even though it is available in the States, I had never tasted it. Like you, we are yet to find one that we didn’t like. The Chilean wines in general, both whites and reds, were a revelation. We have had many Chilean wines before, but mostly what you would consider “value-priced” wines that are quite drinkable and very good value for the price, but nothing incredible. In Chile, we had many “incredible” wines at what we consider incredible values. We loved that fact that, much like Italy, the wine prices in most restaurants are not marked-up much beyond retail. As you know, in the US, doubling the retail price is the usual starting price point for most restaurant wine lists. We had some outstanding premium red blends that included Carmenere and the whites reminded us of the whites we drank in South Africa with Chardonnays tasting nothing like American Chards with big bold tropical fruit flavors that were more like Sauvignon Blancs. In my few excursions since coming home to a couple of my favorite wine stores here in DC, I have come across, and purchased, some things that look very promising and the few that we have tasted so far have been good, but I have yet to find the really incredible ones we tasted in Chile. I shall have to research US distributors from the wineries’ web sites to determine if I can order some higher end items, but it appears at first blush that the Chileans either do not export the best stuff or are exporting it to Europe. We know from the several wineries that we visited that they ship an inordinate amount to Denmark of all places.

      "Before I get back to my day gig, I have to tell you that, as great as El Europeo was, the single most exciting and memorable dining experience we had in all of Chile was Tio Lucho in Mercado Central. Kathy and I went there the second day we were in Santiago on a Sunday. As you know, they speak no English, but the owner was amused when I showed him that I had sought his joint out by showing him the paper I had written the name on before entering the market. Through our little bit of Spanish (Kathy’s much more than me), the universal language of sign language and pointing at the menu, we had the best time and the food was nothing short of some of the most exciting we have had in years. We had two dozen raw oysters to begin that were small, briny and delicious, especially with the faboo salsa and mayo. We followed that with a big bowl of the seafood special the waiter insisted we have. We were not quite sure what we had ordered, but what came out was this bowl of what the Italians call “fruit de mare” and was a cold seafood salad that included squid, fish, scallops, shrimp, clams, and mussels topped with individual sea shells filled with delights from the sea, like a shrimp salad or a clam or a mussel. To say this was “a dish to die for” is a vast understatement. It was bold with garlic and onions and olive oil. We sopped up the last bits and oil with the bread even though we were stuffed. To add to the fun, we had a bottle of a very cheap Sauvignon Blanc that was just perfect and served at exactly the right temperature. The waiter was a hoot as well. We had this extended, disjointed conversation that involved a lot of sign language and charades, but the funny thing was we communicated pretty well. He got that we were going to the wine country and brought out a catalog of wineries and was showing us his favorites. He loved that we clearly loved the food and ate and drank with such gusto. The last day I was in Santiago, Kathy had to go to the opening of her conference, so I took the subway back to Cal y Canto and made a beeline to Tio Lucho. It was a Tuesday, so the market was pretty quiet, especially compared to a Sunday. The owner recognized me right away and I could understand that he was asking me in Spanish whether I was solo, obviously remembering that Kathy had been with me on the previous trip a week before. Our previous waiter must have had the day off, but the owner understood that I wanted those raw oysters, and through my pigeon Spanish he got that I wanted the fried fish with salad. I had seen the fish on our previous visit and besides it looking and smelling divine, I wanted to try it with that wonderful mayo that they put down on the table with the salsa and the bread. I thought he understood when I indicated I wanted “frito pescado,” but got a little nervous when he came back after the oysters and pointed to a word on the menu that I thought translated as “eels” as what he was having prepared for me. I am adventurous and will eat a little bit of eel in a sushi restaurant, but it is not my favorite, so I was not going to be happy with a large plate of fried eels. My nervousness was completely unfounded as the most delicious fried fish with a terrific, simple salad was put before me. It had been perfectly fried with a wonderfully decadent batter and the meat of the fish was sweet and moist. And my wanting to guild the lily with that to-die-for flavored mayo (probably scallion and garlic) was sheer ambrosia. I actually took pictures of the oyster platter and the fish, and the waiter insisted to take a picture of me with the oysters, so I shall share those with you when I send the travel notes. Kathy was very jealous of my solo excursion.

      "I didn’t intend to ramble on so long, but I just wanted you to know how much we appreciate your advice and generosity."

      7 Replies
      1. re: aledm

        Thanks aledm
        Your restaurant recos in Lima were great last April and we look forward to trying these suggestions.

        1. re: aledm

          Aledm, or anyone else, where would you recommend for Sunday lunch in Santiago that's reasonably proximate to the airport? We have a long layover next Sunday (4/5) and are looking for a place for lunch. We'll be back through Santiago later on our trip and are planning to try some of the places I read about on your blog at that point, but the places I've tried so far are not open for Sunday lunch.

          1. re: Elaine Snutteplutten

            This is aledm replying: Our friends said the following: "the single most exciting and memorable dining experience we had in all of Chile was Tio Lucho in Mercado Central. Kathy and I went there the second day we were in Santiago on a Sunday." I hope that you can go there (see what our friends said about the place "aledm Mar 07, 2009 03:04PM" just above), I hope it's actually open and I hope you enjoy it!

            1. re: aledm

              Thanks. If all works out with our flights, we'll definitely give Tio Lucho a try and report back.

              1. re: Elaine Snutteplutten

                Where in the Mercado is Tio Lucho? I try and make a beeline to where I want to eat in there, so I don't get bombarded with the Donde Agusto folks.

                1. re: lmnopm

                  Sorry for the delay in responding to your question. Tio Lucho is not in the center of the Mercado Central. It is on the perifery. If you think of the area as a horseshoe, where Donde Agusto is in the center and the fish markets are on the outside, Tio Lucho is on the outside with the fish market stalls. It has a sign and if you ask people they can direct you to it. (I think it is on the bottom part of the horseshoe.)

                  1. re: aledm

                    I know the Donde Augusto touts are aggressive (to say the least), but I had an excellent dish (corvina "rellena" which was actually sitting on -- not stuffed with -- a luscious bed of crab "mousse") at one of their restaurants (not the main one, but one of the other little branches within the market).