South America’s modern mecca is in the middle of a culinary revival.
A 35-minute ride from downtown Santiago, Vina Aquitania has a tasting room where you can sip through a flight of wines that includes Rosé, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
In addition to celebrating Chile’s 200-year anniversary this past weekend, Santiago—which continues to be South America’s modern mecca and suffered no damage in February’s earthquake—is in the middle of a culinary revival. Many of the hottest places to sip wine and nosh on eclectic cuisine in Chile’s largest city are only a few years old. Here are some of the newest and nicest places to dine, enjoy a cup of java and imbibe delicious wines:
Ten years ago, Restaurant Row (Avenida Nueva Costanera in the Vitacura neighborhood), where many of Santiago’s artists and architects live, wasn’t a part of the local vocabulary. Today, galleries (some containing cafés) and restaurants line the streets, co-existing in an artful form. Think cube-style, single-occupancy buildings mixed in with luxury retailers like Gucci, Diesel and Christ (German leather-goods brand). This is the Chilean version of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Borago (8369 Av. Vitacura) is the neighborhood’s newest restaurant that dabbles in molecular gastronomy. (Others are Osadia and Puerto Foy.) Previously, it was in another part of Santiago. A nine-course tasting menu with wine pairings is prepared by chef Rodolfo Guzman.
Tierra Noble (3872 Av. Nueva Costanera) specializes in high-end cuts of meat, Easter Island tuna and game birds.
Housed inside the winning building in an architecture competition, Restaurante Mestizo (4050 Av. Bicentenario), open since late 2007, is a great spot to sip Pisco Sour (Chile's national cocktail) as it's located at the northeast end of Las Americas park a few blocks from Restaurant Row.
Wain (Avda Nueva Costanera 3955) is also in Vitacura. Santiago’s only true wine store, and open only since February 2009, winemaker tastings are hosted here regularly and the occasional cooking class is on the store’s third floor, completely outfitted with Miele appliances. Well-versed in Chilean wines, this is the place to go for a quick tour of the country’s wine selections, from Sauvignon Blanc to Carmenere. Not sure what to buy? Explore the options via a wine-dispensing system that emits small pours.
A Sunday brunch spot off the beaten path, in an emerging neighborhood (Parque Forestal, named after the lush park here) is La Parte del Angel (395 Villavicencio). Sunlight pours into the windows of this cave-like atmosphere with brick walls that’s below the first floor. Or, order from a menu del dia (fixed-price menu) or select from tapas.
For some of the city’s best cafés, head over to the part of town that is quickly replacing Bellavista as the bohemian center: Bellas Artes. Order a cup or cone of savory gelato or ice cream at Emporio la Rosa (291 Merced) in 30 or so flavors that include chocolate-basil and chirimoya, which is a native fruit. Afterwards, take a stroll through Parque Forestal, where up a flight of stairs is a gorgeous view of Santiago.
At Pasta e Vino (299 Constitucion), inside the brand new Aubrey Hotel, a former 1920s Spanish Mission-style mansion in the Bellavista neighborhood that opened earlier this year as a boutique hotel, locals eat alongside tourists in a dining room with oil portraits, koi-patterned wallpaper and glass walls that allow views of the hotel’s pool and gardens. The menu contains Italian-themed dishes by chef Veronica Alfageme—gnocchi, ravioli and fettucine that fold in fresh, seasonal ingredients—wrapping up with scoops of sweet and savory artisan gelatos and ice creams. This is the restaurant’s second location; the first is in Valparaiso.
For a taste of high-end Chilean-style cuisine, make a reservation at Adra (Calle El Alcalde No. 15, the Ritz-Carlton in the Las Condas part of Santiago. Chef Tomas Olivera offers a nine-course tasting menu (option to add wine pairings) of traditional Chilean dishes, or order a la carte some specialties like fried congrio (firm white fish with an eel-like tail) or tomatican (tomato and corn stew) with sides of potato. Pair with a Carmenere; the wine list contains about a half dozen options for Chile’s national wine grape.
With Santiago Adventures, run by American Brian Pearson, you can quickly reach several wineries on a custom-designed tour. These include Vina Aquitania (5090 Hall Ave.), a 35-minute ride from downtown Santiago, has a beautiful tasting room where you can sip through a flight of wines that includes Rosé, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy a home-cooked meal at Corcoran Gallery, a micro-boutique winery in the Maipo Valley where owners Javier Rodriquez, a former master chocolatier in Europe, and Madeline Corcoran make wine from a one-acre vineyard that’s farmed organically.