Kiwi food YouTubers Thomas & Sheena Southam are on an eternal quest to find the most delicious local food the world has to offer. This week, they check out the best local bites in Santiago.
Santiago, the capital of Chile, is a city made for wandering. Each of its neighbourhoods has a unique character to discover, with picturesque parks and grand architecture dotting the landscape. The city has a restless, raw energy about it, a feeling encapsulated in its food scene. And though it may not scream food paradise, scratch the surface and you'll find delicious eats. Here are some local foods that should be on your hit list…
1. Towering sanguche (sandwiches) at Fuente Alemana
Soda fountains first appeared in Chile in the 1940s, inspired by American diners. It's where you'd go for fast food and to this day is where you can still find one of Chile's most beloved foods: the humble sammie. But if you're thinking a sánguche is characterised by limp white bread, soggy lettuce and processed meat you'd be wrong. So wrong. These ain't no ordinary sandwiches. For one, they're gigantic - a knife and fork jobbie - and they're loaded with filling. There's the lomito, sporting piles of thinly shaved, braised pork loin, a glacier of mayonnaise, a handful of sliced tomato, chunky avocado, melted cheese and sauerkraut stuffed between a fluffy bun. If you're into beef, try a churrasco completo, a behemoth of a sandwich laden with grilled beef and all the aforementioned extras. At Fuente Alemana these guys have been slinging sammies for over 40 years and if you can nab a spot at the counter you can watch them at work, whipping up meals that will satisfy the hungriest of eaters.
Eat it at Fuente Alemana, Av Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins 58, Santiago. Open Monday to Saturday 10.30am-10.30pm.
2. The king of Chilean comfort food: pastel de choclo (beef and corn pie) at Galindo
Pastel de choclo is one of Chile's most iconic dishes. A beef and corn pie - think a Chilean shepherd's pie - which is rib-sticking comfort food at its best. Jab your fork into the slightly chewy sweet corn crust and it gives way to a creamed corn centre along with bites of minced beef, shredded chicken, raisins and slices of boiled egg. Galindo - a local hotspot - has a menu covering a number of traditional Chilean dishes and everything we've eaten here is brilliant. If pastel de choclo isn't your thing, give the lomo a lo pobre a go. Although make sure you have an appetite before ordering this giant plate piled with steak, fries, eggs and fried onions. Wash your meal down with one of Galindo's tangy, utterly addictive pisco sours, or a glass of Chilean red.
Eat it at Galindo, Dardignac 098, Providencia, Santiago. Open daily 12:30pm to late.
3. Oozy crab pie at Eben Ezer
From sea urchin to mussels, eel to crab, the bounty that results from Chile's long coastline is turned into all manner of local dishes including soups, pies, and stews. Santiago's Central Market is where most tourists flock to sample Chilean seafood. If you are going to eat here steer clear of the restaurants in the middle of the market and stick to the more rustic taverns on the periphery. Better yet, eat at La Vega Chica, a few hundred metres from Mercado Central. This vibrant produce market is packed with mom and pop restaurants serving traditional Chilean food. If your Spanish isn't great come armed with a translating app on your phone- we promise the food will be worth the effort!
Make a beeline for Eben Ezer and eat their pastel de jaiba: a gooey mess of a crab pie. A thick, bubbling layer of oozy cheese hides sweet chunks of crab in a creamy white sauce delicately spiced with paprika, chilli and herbs. This is seriously one of the best things you'll eat in Santiago.
Eat it at Eben Ezer, La Vega Chica, Artisans 719, Local 62, Recoleta, Santiago. Open daily, 6am-5.30pm.
4. Creamy helado (ice cream) at Emporio La Rosa
Consuming the largest amount of icecream in Latin America, at eight litres per person every year, Chileans know good helado. So the fact that Emporio La Rosa is seldom empty is a sure sign you need to get your butt here to sample all the flavours at this popular icecream parlour. Innovation and quality ingredients make for mouth-watering flavours like chocolate naranja (chocolate orange), rose petal and dulce de leche. Grab a cone and nab yourself a bench at the park across the road to enjoy your sweet treat.
Eat it at Emporio La Rosa, Jose Victorino Lastarria 71, Santiago. Open daily 11am-9.30pm.