Tag: santiago chile

My Favorite Places in Santiago

I realized I’ve written travelogues about my trips all over the rest of the world, but not where I’ve been living for the last four months.  Here’s a list of some of my favorite places, including restaurants, bars and random places to hang out.


Santiago has some great restaurants, but you have to search to find them.  Google doesn’t help (all the sites are flash, so google doesn’t read the content) and there’s no Yelp here.  Here’s what I’ve uncovered in my time here:

Pad Thai – Manuel Montt.  Great Thai restaurant with a good selection of beer and authentic Thai dishes.  Their outdoor courtyard in the back is a great place for a meal.  They let you order the dishes from 1-5 on the spicy scale and I got a 3.  The waiter warned me that it was going to be super spicy and tried to get me to go down one level, but in the end I wished I had gotten a 4.  Great food.

Cuidad Vieja – Bellavista.  Amazing, interesting sandwiches and not too expensive.  Lots of beer on tap and in bottles.  Plus they have this smoked, spicy red sauce instead of ketchup made in Valdivia that in unreal.

Tiramisu – Las Condes/El Golf.  Great thin crust pizza.  A little on the expensive side, but a cool atmosphere and top notch food.  It’s always packed, no matter when you go.

Fajita Express – Providencia/Pedro de Valdivia.  For $5 I can get a big burrito and a coke.  My goto cheap restaurant.

Machu Pichu – Providencia/Manuel Montt.  Jesse and I were walking around near our hostel when we first came to Santiago and ate here our first night, as it was the first restaurant we walked by.  We’ve been back a bunch of times.  Every dish on the menu is good, but the ceviche mixto is amazing.  It comes with a candied sweet potato, which is great.

El Naturista – Centro.  Vegetarian restaurant with two locations close to my office.  I love their pebre, which goes really well with all of their dishes.  My favorite is huevos rancheros with tons of pebre.

La Piojera – Centro.  I hesitate to include La Piojera, since I’ve only gone once, but it’s a great time.  They have their famous terremotos, which are made of white wine, pineapple sorbet and some light liquor.  They are good, but I loved the meat and the hot sauce at La Piojera.  And it was cheap.

Barandiaran – Providencia/Manuel Montt.  A little more expensive than Machu Pichu, but really good.  They have a swimming pool and a beautiful terrace in their courtyard.  They do a little more upscale peruvian.

El Huerto – Providencia/Orrego Luco.  Vegetarian.  The best salads in Santiago, hands down.  Their homemade wholewheat bread and their very vegetabley pebre are great.

Domino – Everywhere.  My other goto fast food restaurant.  It’s how fast food should be.  Good ingredients, lots of choices, not expensive.  They have surprisingly good salads as well.  Underrated: get the vegetarian sandwich (avocado, tomato, cheese) with a “pila” of eggs.  It’s about $4 and really good.

Kintaro – Bellas Artes.  There are a ton of sushi restaurants in Santiago, but this one has the fewest amount of rolls with cream cheese.  If you go with a big group, they have a “sushi/sashimi boat” that comes with about 100 pieces for about $45.  It’s a good place to go before going out.  You can buy a bottle of pisco for $12, which is $2 more than in the liquor store.  Every Santiago sushi spot has rolls made of avocado, which are my new favorite.  I’m going to miss those back in the US.

Fuente Alemanda – Pedro de Valdivia and Plaza Italia. The best lomitos in Santiago.  They come with lettuce, tomato, sauerkraut, avocado, mayo and I always add tons of spicy mustard.  The bread makes the sandwich.  They are huge though and you can split them between 2 people.  Kind of touristy, but worth it.

The one in the background had less mayo…

El Chaguito – Providencia/Manuel Montt.  Ok, so not a restaurant, but Jesse and I go here 2-3x per week to buy all of our fruits and veggies.  It’s 50% off from the supermarket and waaay better quality.  We can get a huge amount of fresh produce for about $10.  They get their fresh deliveries on Mondays.

A $5 produce run. Liquor not included.


Orego Luco – Providencia.  This is a small street just of Av. Providencia near Pedro de Valdivia that has about 8 bars with outdoor tables.  It’s full every night, except Sundays.  Almost every bar has 2×1 drinks until 12am.

Any outdoor bar on Pio Nono – Bellavista.  This area is sort of like a seedy version of the terrace in Madison.  There are tons of bars with plastic red tables and chairs.  You can get a litre of beer for $2-3 and hang out with friends.  You’ll see all sorts of characters walking by, but be wary of anyone who starts randomly talking to you in English right away.  They are likely shady characters.

Most of the bars on Manuel Montt, just south of Av. Providencia.  There are tons of bars and restaurants on Manuel Montt that compete for your business.  The outdoor ones have the best settings, but the smaller ones have the best drink deals.

El Kika – Providencia/Pedro de Valdivia.  Ok, so this is less than a 2 minute walk from my apartment, but it’s got good beer, cheap food and lots of outdoor seating.  One of my friends asked me “how can you possibly live there, I’d be at elkika everyday!”


Cerro San Cristobal – Cerro San Cristobal dominates the northern skyline of the city.  It’s a really nice walk up the hill and once you get to the top you get a great view of the city and the Andes to the east.  There’s also an elevator type thing if you’re too lazy to walk.  Entrance is at the end of pio nono, but I like to walk down Pedro de Valdivia to the other entrance and walk up from there.

Cerro Santa Lucia – A large hill in the middle of Santiago with a cool old castle/look out point on the top.  Great views of the city and shorter walk up than Cerro San Cristobal.

Cerro Santa Lucia

Parque Metropolitano – Connected to Cerro San Cristobal, I love to walk up Pedro de Valdivia to the foot of Parque Metropolitano and sit in the shade.  It’s a great place to get away from the noise of the city and get some work done.  It’s also a great place for a bbq during the weekend.

Mercado Central – Very touristy, but if you avoid the guys trying to get you to eat at their restaurants, they have an amazing selection of fresh seafood for super cheap.

Seafood! Check out hose prices!

Parque Bustamante – This park runs for a few miles from the Salvador metro stop all the way down town, along the river.  I love walking though the park on my way to or from work.

Parque Bustamante, near Salvador metro


Plaza de Armas – The Santiago Cathedral looks like it was transplanted right out of Europe.  Really cool architecture.

Plaza de Armas. Notice the police/protesters for the Obama visit.

My rooftop – I love reading, working and hanging out on my rooftop and those of my friends.  What a great feature for an apartment complex!

I have a little more than a month left in Santiago, so if I’m missing one of your favorite places, tell me!  I’ll be sure to check it out before I go.

Looking for more high quality information about Chile? Check out my book Chile: The Expat’s Guide:

chile expat guide cover

First Impressions from Santiago

I’ve been in Santiago for the past five days for Startup Chile and finally had a chance to write down some initial impressions.  Jesse and I have been really busy getting our IDs, a bank account and searching for an apartment.  The Startup Chile program has helped us cut through all of the red tape that others might have to go through and it’s been super efficient so far.  Jesse and I have been walking all over the place, getting a feel for the city.  I’ve been really impressed with all of the other entrepreneurs in the program I’ve met so far.

It’s been 70-80 degrees and sunny every single day with low humidity.  The weather reminds me of Palo Alto so far.  Santiago is a huge city with about 6m residents.  It’s in a valley, so there are some problems with smog, but I haven’t had a problem yet.  There are a few days when the mountains are a bit obscured, but for whatever reason the smog doesn’t seem to get down into the valley and has not bothered my lungs.

Santiago sort of runs west to east and as a general rule, the farther east you get, the better the neighborhood.  We’ve only explored comúnas (districts) Providencia, Las Condes, Vitacura and a bit of Nuñoa and the downtown around our office.

Eastern Santiago very developed and clearly first world.  If it weren’t for everyone speaking Spanish, I could be in any other mid to large city in the US or Europe.  The center, where our office is located, is a little older and really busy, but still nice.  There’s people everywhere during the day.  It’s filled with shops, restaurants and businesses.  We’re not sure what it’s like at night, but people have told us it can get rough downtown.  There’s got to be at least 6-7 universities headlined by Universidad Católica and Universidad de Chile, so there’s lots of young people seemingly everywhere.  We haven’t checked out the Western side and everyone’s told us to stay away.

The metro is modern, efficient and cheap.  It costs about $1.25 to use it and you can get just about anywhere you want using it.  There’s wifi everywhere, probably more than in Madison.  There’s public wifi hotspots all over the place.  People eat dinner between 830-1030 and go out to bars/clubs at 12-1, which stay open until 6am.

Not many people speak much English, but they love it when we speak Spanish, even if it’s bad.  Our goto phrase has been estoy tratando de hablar español, pero hablo como un niño de cinco años, which means I’m trying to speak Spanish, but I speak like a five year old.  That usually gets a laugh and then we’re free to practice.  I can still understand pretty much everything people are saying, but I’m still struggling to speak quickly.  I can tell I’m already getting better though.

Everyone here looks younger than you’d expect and I have a feeling it’s because Santiago is a walking city, the weather is awesome and the food is really healthy.  Chilean food uses awesome ingredients, has correct, non American portion sizes, but is sort of bland.  We’ve had a bunch of chicken/rice, pork chop/mashed potatoes etc for main courses.  There are tons of Peruvian restaurants in Santiago and we’ve found that it’s the place to go for a good meal.  It’s like Chilean food, but with more spices.  I had some top notch ceviche last night.  If you’re in Madison, go to Inka Heritage to get a feel for some of the stuff we’ve been eating.

Chileans excel at making sandwiches.  They use really good, fresh bread, avocado, tomato, fresh wet cheeses, lime mayo and all sorts of fresh goodness.  If I wanted, I could survive on the diverse array of Chilean sandwiches.

The fresh fruit and veggies are awesome and cheap.  I bought medio kilo (1lb) of fresh strawberries for about $1.25 from a fruit stand and really flavorful avocados cost between $.10 and $.20.  It makes buying a much worse quality avocado for $1-$1.5 seem insane in the US.  I can’t wait to start cooking with these ingredients once we get an apartment.

I’m not a fan of fruit juice in the US, but the juice here is unreal, cheap and is sold everywhere.  So far, my favorite is frambuesa (raspberry), followed closely by frutilla (strawberry) and piña (pineapple).  It costs about $.50 for a really big glass.  The raspberry juice tastes like the fresh raspberries we used to get out of my grandma’s garden and put on top of schaum torte.  My family probably only gets this part, but you’ll have to take my word for it.

jugo de piña

Dominó is how fast food should be.  They are everywhere here and always busy.  They sell sandwiches and hotdogs, but use really fresh, good ingredients.  It’s still cheap and fast, but it doesn’t taste like fast food.  Dominó would do really well on any college campus in the US.  My favorite thing from Dominó so far is a hotdog with crushed avocado, tomato, cheese and a little mayo.

I’m much less hungry here than I was in the US.  Part of it is that it’s warm, so my body needs less food, but I think another part of it is that all of the food is very healthy and therefore more filling than in the US.  I bought an orange soda yesterday and there were only four ingredients: carbonated water, sugar (not high fructose corn syrup), orange juice and I forget the last one.  Even being here a week, I already feel healthier.

I’ll have more blog posts coming about the Startup Chile program and some of the interesting people we’ve met so far.  I promise my next post will have lots more pictures.  I had problems with my iPhone for a few days, so I’ll be sure to put more in next time.