After our 15 hour journey into Santiago, I leave Jason at the hotel to nap and head out into the streets of Santiago! We are staying in the fantastic, historical area known as Barrio Lastarria. I love our hotel.
It’s got tons of charm, character, great service and a yummy breakfast is included. It’s called The Lastarria Hotel. It’s also in a great location. Just a 5 minute walk, the streets are loaded with cafes and restaurants, the area is filled with the buzz of people.
It is lunchtime! I walk up and down the tiny streets and stumble on a sweet courtyard with 8 options for lunch. I choose the quaint looking restaurant Casa Lastarria.
It’s modern looking, with a rustic edge and the menu is filled with Chilean specialties. I quickly decide to start with a glass of Spumante (sparkling wine) and some ceviche.
The ceviche is simply made with white fish, citrus, red onion and cilantro. Tasty and uncomplicated. It is the perfect start to lunch on the warm Spring day! They do not serve ceviche with bread, crackers or chips, but the quantity is huge and I quickly grow full. I decide to take a break for a bit and people watch for awhile. I still have a main entree coming?
Next is the Pastel de Chocolo (Corn Pie). It is a pastel food based on sweetcorn or choclo, meaning “tender corn”. First documented as a dish in Peru, it is now a typical Chilean dish. It is also similar to pastel de elote, found in Mexican cuisine, and to the English corn pudding. Pastel de choclo is traditionally served in an earthenware bowl in an individual portion. The filling usually contains ground beef, chicken, raisins, black olives, onions or slices of hard boiled egg. It is soft the whole way through, with no crust and a lightly sugared and crisped top, the perfect mix of savory and sweet. Mine is served with a side of rustic salsa. Not spicy or overly seasoned, it’s simple and good. I’ll try to recreate this perfect comfort food when I get home!
After lunch, I swing by the hotel to get Jason. It’s actually a warm Spring day in Santiago, so it’s perfect for checking out the sights! We decide to go up to San Cristobal Hill, overlooking Santiago. The view is amazing. By the time we get back to the hotel, we are ready for helado (ice cream). It seems to be very popular here. At least 4 heladarias in our neighborhood. One place, in particular, stands out.
They sell ice cream on a stick, in many different flavors. They are actually, much lighter than ice cream, icy, more like a popcycle. So good! Jason gets the dolce de leche and I get the salted caramel. I completely recommend this place. It’s located in an upscale hotdog joint (strange, I know) called Hogs.
When we arrive back to our hotel, we find out that the hotel staff has accidentally booked us at the best restaurant in Chile called Borago.
I had tried earlier in the week to get us in, but it was full. On some miracle, they were able to get us in! We arrive for our 9pm reservation, having no clue to the meal that we have in store for us…18 courses of regionally inspired and foraged food, artistically presented and painstakingly prepared. It was amazing. I’ll post some of the prettiest pictures here, but I honestly cannot begin to accurately describe what we were consuming.
All I know, is that it was amazing! Each dish is brought out by the chef who prepared it, was intricately described. It was the best meal I’ve ever had! Thank you Borago!
The next day, we decided to go to the Mercado Central. Built in 1872, it is considered to be one of the best fish markets in the country. It’s a very popular destination for lunch.
I cruised around the entire market, taking pictures and chatting with the fish mongers. It is huge, with lots of restaurants surrounding it. Unfortunately, Jason got grossed out with the smell of fish (even though the restaurant area was fine), so we decided to eat elsewhere.
We walked back to the Lastarria neighborhood where I had made a backup plan for lunch at Tambo. This is a Peruvian restaurant that’s very popular with the locals, so reservations are a must! The decor is pretty simple and modern, not as inviting as some of the other cafes on that street, but don’t let it fool you. This place has the best ceviche I’ve ever tasted.
I savored EVERY. LAST. DROP. And then finished my lunch with a Pisco Sour. I’d go back here in a heartbeat!
After two relaxing days in Santiago, we begin our journey to Patagonia. It’s a 4 hour plane ride further south and 4.5 hour drive to our hotel, Explora. The food at Explora was good, but simple. We were on a fitness retreat and they are appealing to the adventurers and healthy crowd.
At dinner, we ate tons of seafood such as grouper, salmon, conger and crab. We also had a fair amount of lamb and beef. For lunch we had simple soups and a variety of quinoa salads, which I extremely enjoyed while we were on the trail!
One of the best highlights was the Patagonian feast that awaited us after a particularly grueling, freezing cold, wet hike! The meal was served in a cabin that was solely heated by the large BBQ/ fireplace in the middle. It was warm, dry and smelled of the bbq’d meat that had been cooking.
Unfortunately, being gluten free meant that I couldn’t eat the empanadas. They served two types, corn with black olives and spicy ground beef. Everyone raved. They also served a sausage similar to chorizo, but not as spicy, bbq’d chicken, beef and a whole lamb. To balance out the meal, they offered us a wide variety of salads too. It was my favorite meal in Patagonia!
Lastly, our trip would not be complete if I didn’t mention drinking caffeine rich Mate with the Gauchos, after an afternoon of horseback riding.
And nibbling on indigenous berries (juicy and tart) and fungus (very similar to a mushroom….earthy and sweet) while hiking the trails.
Yes, we are brave!