Santiago shocked me with how modern it was. It’s a big city, full of sunshine, art, and too many things to do! We stayed here for Christmas break as a little holiday from intense travelling of South America. Hailed as the next up and coming foodie city, I couldn’t wait to get here!
Where we stayed
I chose an Airbnb apartment on San Francisco, hosted by a man name Francisco (irony). It was a medium size apartment with rooftop pool, large comfy bed, walk-in closet with great access to central Santiago (including shopping, Peruvian restaurant and a Starbucks), closest subway stop was Universidad. There was even a smaller room inside the apartment, where I unfurled my matt, and reserved as my yoga room.
What we ate
Peumayen – Definitely food for an adventurous palette, and a tasting menu not for the faint hearted; I have typed up a whole restaurant review here.
040 – Hailed as one of the best restaurants in Santiago, the food was a mixture of Chilean and Asian seafood bites. There is no menu, you are served 12 surprise courses that are explained to you as they arrive to your table (peering around at the other tables gives you a good idea of what is next!). While the bites are creative and trendy in their own right, I couldn’t help imagining how I would cook and perhaps improve the flavours to suit my palette.
Local Parariso – Tom actually walked past this cafe the day before, and told me about it, and how he thought I might like the colours and cute design of the place – so naturally I was dying to go. Tom went for the fried fish (Reneita) burger, that he describes as ‘really good, the best fish [I] have had in recent times’ and I went for the hummus and goats cheese burger, which came with a PINK BUN! It didn’t state the colour of the bun on the menu, so I was super excited when I saw it.
Tapuy (just outside our door, it was great!) – This was my go to lunch option, as it was literally across the road from our building. Absolutely beautifully fried chicken in a crusty-on-the-outside but soft-on-the-inside bun. The real winners here for me were the sauces they came with. Garlic mayo, hot sauce, and a yellow sauce that is the end of all sauces – the name of which has slipped my mind!
Uncle Fletch – An American burger style restaurant. I had the fried chicken (extra jalapenos), tom had the meatball burger that came in a bowl, the only other time i had seen this was in san francisco when getting clam chowder. My burger was beautifully light, not greasy and so flavourful (the extra spice helped a lot). The decor was right out of the Southern states of America.
Shaggy’s – We stumbled off our 17 hour bus at 8am, famished and ready to devour everything! We didn’t have to walk very far to get to Shaggy’s. We had heard from other sources, that a popular dish of Chile was a ‘completo’ which was a hotdog topped with guacamole, onion, mayo, ketchup and mustard. It sounds like a car crash of flavours, but was actually pretty tasty! Also, as this fast food joint offered me a choice of either fries or empanadas. I chose these crispy cheese empanadas, and had never been offered either or before!
Street food – Street food is big in Santiago! And the majority of these street foods (that we found) were Venezuelan, which was a happy surprise, so we could taste their country’s flavours too. Here is a list of our favourite foods from the street:
- Mote, a peach juice and wheat drink with half peaches inside the cup (Chilean)
- Tequenos, fried breaded cheese stick (Venezuelan)
- Venezuelan Empanadas/Pastelitos, made with cassava dough (Venezuelan)
- Hallaca, square corn dough pocket filled with stew of beef/pork/chicken (Venezuelan)
- Chichca, drink made out of rice, like a really thick milkshake, tasting of caramel and cinnamon (drank all through South America)
- Arepas, bun made out of ground maize dough, used like a sandwich base for fillings such as meat, eggs, salad, cheese etc (Venezuelan and Colombian)
- Deep fried chicken, cooked inside trolleys that are situated outside Vega (Peruvian)
What we did
Thelonious Jazz Club – We walked here after Peumayen, to listen to the local jazz musicians. Tom and I seek out a jazz bar in every new city. The jazz was delightful and contemporary. We were feeling tipsy and peckish so ordered the olive and cheese board, assuming it would be a small bowl. Went we were greeted with a BOAT load of olives, we ended up having to donate it to a couple on the next table.
Room 09 Bar – After our food at Restaurant 040, we were invited upstairs to their speakeasy bar. Very dimly lit, I’m mean, I couldn’t see the menu without using my phone light! It was whimsical and fun, my drink was served in a cocktail glass in the shape of a puffer fish.
The Mercado Central de Santiago and The Vega – Central Market is a tourist trap! Its busy, noisy and mostly reeks of fish (you can smell it down the block). Once inside you are bombarded with different restaurant staff trying to guide you into their fish bar. If you continue out and onwards, you will get to the Vega. This is where the residents of Santiago shop for amazing deals. The market stalls sell all sorts of fantastic things, as well as exotic fruit by the kilo. We did all our vegetable shopping here, as the deals were great.
Pre-columbian Art Museum – This museum was full to the brim with interesting and beautiful pieces from all over South America before it was invaded. You learn a lot about their history and rituals too, especially after death and shamanism. There is also a textile room, showing large impressive woven rugs, clothes and blankets – even capes woven with rows of colourful bird feathers brought from the Amazon.
Shopping in Provencia – Lowkey my favourite thing to do in Santiago. There was a plethora of shops and malls selling everything you could want – mainly clothes. This was a great spot to stock up on new clothes, especially as coming from Bariloche all we had were warm clothes, and the climate was calling for hot summer clothes!
Cerro Santa Lucia – Seriously beautiful architecture in the center of the city. Large Italian style fountain, and gorgeous surrounding colonial builds. If you love a place for its beauty, Cerro Santa Lucia is a must see.
Street art – as with any large South American city, the walls are plastered with amazing grafitti that is informative and political. These murals can be seen all over the city.
I loved Santiago, but for me, it definitely did not feel like South America. I found it quite westernised, modern and well – just reminded me of North America really! That being said, it was nice to have a giant variety of food, flavours and shopping so we could stock up for the rest of our adventure up the Southern American countries.