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Santiago, Chile, Restaurant Reviews
Don Carlos 2898, Loc. 1
Known for its attention to detail and friendly service, Café Melba is an excellent choice for the discerning traveler or Chilean expatriate. Located in El Bosque and jointly owned by New Zealander Dell Taylor and her Chilean business partner Lucrecia Díaz, Melba leads the scene in casual and comfortable dining.
With a menú that changes with the seasons, one will always find favorites like the Melba Caesar with chargrilled chicken or the light turkey burger with grilled mango and a wild berry sauce. During the warmer times, only the weekend menú includes El Clásico, lightly toasted french bread topped with salmon or ham and covered with eggs benedict. And not to be forgotten are the fresh juices, homemade muffins and tempting pastries.
For those craving a light lunch or a hearty meal, Café Melba provides a simple yet stated environment. And with many English-speaking waitpersons, you may forget you are in Chile. Open weekdays from 7.30 AM to 7.00PM and on weekends from 8.00 AM to 7.00 PM, one can not find a richer meal for around 5,000 Chilean pesos (US $11.00).
Los Conquistadores 1972
The most classic among the classics, Carrousel offers formal dining and excellent French cuisine. It is known for its caviar or salmon 'blinis' and duck al foie gras, but reknowned for its toasts of shrimp, mushroom, or baby eel. Among the numerous French dishes, Carrousel also serves what is considerd some of the finest platos Chilenos (Chilean dishes). Average price person: $13,000 (US $31.00).
Jose V. Lastarria 297
For those wishing to sample international fare in Santiago, the Peruvian restaurant Cocoa provides the best selection. Located in Bellavista, an artsy neighborhood offering a range of restaurants and nightclubs, Cocoa is perfect for an intimate evening marked by excellent food. Dinner reservations are not accepted and seating is quite limited, but there always seems to be a table ready.
Before the menus are placed, it is imperative to begin with a pisco sour. A traditional drink in Per and Chile, the pisco sour is made with pisco (a local grape-based alcohol which should never be consumed alone), powdered sugar, eggwhite and fresh limes. It is a tart beverage and powerful; two should always be the limit! The appetizer lists runs the gamut of all seafood dishes, serving a particularly well-prepared assorted ceviche. For the main course one may choose from several fish and chicken dishes or go with the ever-pleasing filet stuffed with shrimp and covered in a bacon and corn sauce. Servings are not enormous, but generous enough to satiate and leave room for dessert. From sorbet to cheescake to chocolate mousse, the desserts are staple pleasers, yet accented with an individual touch. Average price per person: $13,000 (US $31.00).
Spaniards MarivĢ Casals and Luis Fern·ndez already had the local legend with Las Tacas, but secured themselves among the ranks of fine restauranteurs in Chile with El MadroŅal. The menu is obviously of Spanish origen, but differs with its use of local products to complement the recipes. The goat cheese and 'jamones de pierna' are among the best for appetizers. To follow one may choose the 'muslo de pato' (thigh of duck) or the 'ensalada tibia de pulpo' (octopus tibia salad). With its arched doorways and rounded walls, El MadroŅal is equally perfect for a large group or an intimate conversation. Average price per person: $15,000 (US $35.00).
El Otro Sitio
Antonia Lope de Bello 53
One of the two best Peruvian restaurants in Santiago, El Otro Sitio consistently ranks among the best. Opened over eight years ago, it is housed in a spacious and colonial setting in Bellavista. It serves lunch but is frequented more for dinner and boasts various specialties like 'ajĢ de gallina' (a spicy chicken dish), 'seco de camarones' (shrimp brains), and, of course, various types of ceviche as well as corvina (bass). And one must never leave El Otro Sitio without tasting the famous pisco sour, considered the best in the city. Average price per person: $13,000 (US $31.00).
Small tables and subtle decor, but careful attention in the kitchen is the secret of El Suizo. Though the menu changes twice a year, there are standard plates like el ciervo (deer) or cordero (lamb) each of which comes with breadcrumbs and thyme sauce. Smoked dishes are another speciality, highlighted by the smoked salmon. One will find a French base with hints of German, Italian, and Asian influences in the varied menu. El Suizo is open for lunch and dinner except Saturday, which is only for dinner, and is closed on Sundays and holidays. Average price per person: $15,000 (US $35.00).
Bombero Salas 1369
By far one of Santiago's most tradtional restaurants, there are perfect English style and elegance for a business lunch. The kitchen serves up fine Chilean dishes with a European influence. The fricassees (filet, chicken, machas or shrimp), brains and criadillas (bull testicles) are among the most popular, as well as the tongue with caviar sauce. Open only on Monday through Friday for lunch. Average price per person: $15,000 ($35.00).
Alonso de CŪrdova 4357
Located a short distance from the Hyatt Hotel where Clinton rented out every room for his entourage and "guests" during the 1998 Summit of the Americas, Route 66 is the first in fusion cuisine in Santiago. Opened in February of 1996 by Texan native Mark Beeley, Route 66 presents the fortunate with an array of dishes ranging from quesadillas with artichoke and spinach to salmon on a bed of garlicky greens topped off with a mango and mustard sauce to chicken stuffed with cheese and prosciutto. To accompany any of the fine dishes, one may choose from a number of local and imported beers, an excellent selection of Chilean wines or single malt imported scotch.
The decor carries the theme of Route 66, as the legendary road is traced across a hand painted map of the United States and assorted emblems and steering wheels of classic automobiles adorn the walls. To complement the eclectic dining, live jazz is performed from Thursday to Saturday, where it is not uncommon to see owner Mark Beeley wrestle the microphone. For exemplary food with an unconventional flare, Route 66 is a must. Average price per person: $10,000 (US $25.00).
An impeccably set restaurant complemented by exquisite food, San Fruttuoso is considered one of the top 10 restaurants in Santiago and rightly so. With the feel of New York fine dining, the Italian cuisine presents options with which one cannot go wrong. From the pasta dishes accompanied by various seafood, to the various rissoto plates, to the duck or deer, San Fruttuoso is amazing. Located in the Bellavista area, this restaurant is an excellent place to start an evening. Average price per person: $13,500 (US $30.00).
Mark Prescott is a freelance writer based in Santiago, Chile.