One of my favorite things about traveling is getting the chance to eat exotic and hopefully delicious food. Santiago released the inner South American in me (I’m French and Irish) and gave me everything I love and more. I’m talking ravioli, risotto, seafood….the list goes on and on. Here are a few of my favorite cafes and restaurants in the Santiago neighborhood of Lastarria.
Wonderful – This little coffee shop was where I spent the majority of my mornings in Santiago. As a non-Spanish speaker, I felt a twinge of happiness when I realized I could read the name of the shop. It’s not uncommon for international companies to throw in an English word here and there. Apparently, it gives them a status boost. Regardless, Wonderful has a sleek and modern design and offers an assortment of coffee and breakfast cakes. There’s also a performance space upstairs for live theater.
Café el Observatorio– There are always going to be a handful of cafes in any given city that doesn’t quite live up to your expectations. Depending on what those expectations are, Café el Observatorio may or may not fall into this category. I was a regular customer here, but it was mainly due to their almost-always reliable Wi-Fi connection. I have a feeling this restaurant is either new or just poorly run because the service was nothing short of disappointing.
Café del Museo: Attached to the Museo de Artes Visuales, this trendy cafe made me feel like I was back in New York City. Being that I went here my last day in Santiago, I went a little crazy and ordered a cappuccino, orange juice, croissant and an enormous slice of Dulce de Leche cake. I also sat in a fabulous red sofa, worthy of any princess on her last day in South America. The cafe itself is on the small side, which give it a more intimate feel. They also decorate the space with small elements of the current exhibits being displayed next door.
Sur Patagonico – Even though I was in Chile in the dead of winter, when the sun actually decided to join us, the temperature was ideal for outdoor seating. Sur Patigonico is in a prime location and if you are lucky, you may even get to hear a few street performers while you chow down on your lunch.
Zabo – For the sushi lovers of the world, Zabo is your spot. For some reason I was surprised to find a sushi place in the middle of Santiago, but considering how popular this style of food is, I should have expected as much. Although I’m pretty bad with chopsticks, I managed to thoroughly enjoy my meal and of course the two pisco sours that helped give me the confidence to practice my Spanish.
The Clinic – If you wander off-the-beaten path you may stumble upon The Clinic. Although we went during a soccer game (football I should say), there was a much more relaxed vibe in the outdoor courtyard area. Away from the screams and cheers of men watching the match, the courtyard felt like a completely different space. The menu is strategically designed to poke fun at many Chilean and South America political leaders, which makes browsing the dishes a little more interesting.
Liguria – Although technically in Providencia, it’s not far from Lastarria so I’m including it in this list. Liguria is one restuarant you must check out when in Santiago. It’s known for its mix of traditional Chilean food and assortment of international dishes. They also put a grapefruit spin on the classic pisco sour, which was actually quite tasty. We opted for outdoor seating, but there are several rooms to choose from if you decide to sit inside. (I recommend the large room in the back)
Gato Pardo – There’s a special little place in my heart for this Lastarria restaurant. I had my first dinner here and I quickly rekindled my love for pisco sours, ravioli and developed a new appreciation for salmon. Chileans sure know how to cook their seafood. From the outside, Gato Pardo looks like a homeless shelter compared to its neighbors, but the brick decor and dark wood floors of the interior make up for it’s humble outdoor appearance.
Casa Lastarria – Literally next door to my apartment, I didn’t check this restaurant out until my last night in Santiago. After about three or four hours (and two pisco sours later) I realized how long we had been sitting there. Although we were the only patrons in the restaurant for a good two hours, the service was almost non-existent. A few hours later, more people started filing in.
Urriola – Also right next to our apartment, Urriola overlooks a quaint courtyard filled with other cafes and a local bookshop. Since I knew this was my last meal before heading back to the U.S. and also a much-needed diet, I decided to go all out and order a seafood risotto. The dish had an interesting mix of flavors which made my mouth very happy. Speaking of happy, there was some sort of party going on in the kitchen. Since we were the only patrons there, I think the chef and the waiters decided to open a bottle of wine and play charades.