WanderGuide: Santiago, Chile

Posted by on Mar 3, 2013 in Chile, Featured, Media, South America, Uncategorized | 0 comments


Headed to Santiago? We have pulled together some practical tips to maximize your time and enjoyment in Chile’s capital.

What to eat?

The most quintessential Chilean foods are the lomitos and completos. These meat and bread powerhouses are a result of the heavy German influence on their cuisine. They are heavy, hardy and are prominent on every street corner.

Lomitos are sliced pork on a hamburger bun, while completos are sausages served on hot dog buns. Both are offered with tomatoes, kraut, and copious amounts of guacamole and mayonnaise. They’re pretty cheap and make for a decent lunch. We advise you hold the mayo.

I should start this next section by disclaiming that we have no relationship with JB’s sauce company (unfortunately!) They haven’t given us any incentive to write this and we are just legitimately obsessed with this product.

While in Santiago we discovered a flavor that will change our eating habits forever. When you go out to a restaurant in Chile there are bottles of ketchup, mustard and a spicy sauce made from the aji pepper. We quickly realized that aji was a really savory and delicious spice so we hunted it down in the grocery store.

We bought JB’s spicy aji and instantly became obsessed with putting it on everything we ate. The next time we went to the grocery store we made the mistake of buying the knock off bottle (we went through the first bottle in about two days.) That was a bad idea. The normal JB’s is only around $3 usd and the other one was about $1.50 usd. We totally got what we paid for when the alternative sauce wasn’t spicy and was flat out bland. Chilean food is less picante then many other Latin foods so if you like a kick, grab a bottle and enjoy. Make sure you get the green bottle. They have multiple types. Seriously, you’re welcome.

What to drink?

As you stroll through town inevitably you will see vendors selling mote con huesillo. We literally saw vendors selling this drink on each street corner. The juice is a sweet liquid made with peaches, cinnamon, sugar and water. The consistency is thick like the juice in canned fruit with syrup. They drop cooked, husked wheat (that’s the mote) into the juice. You sip and scoop your way to the bottom. We weren’t crazy about it because it’s so sugary but it does have a refreshing quality on a hot summer day.

Something Chileans do exactly right is red wine. They have a philosophy that wine should be excellent and widely available to people of all budgets. It’s for that reason you can buy a bottle of really wonderful wine for about $4 usd at the grocery store. If you buy wine at the store you will have the best luck avoiding the mark up costs you’ll find at the restaurants. The same can be said for beer. Swing by the market and pay $2 usd for a liter of Cristobal.

Where to stay?

San Cristobal Suites: We happened to find an awesome apartment rental 2 blocks from the Santa Lucia metro stop and Castillo Hidalgo (so in a very central location) 4 blocks from Plaza de Armas. We stayed here twice on our trip and paid on average 60 per night for 1 bedroom with big bed, full kitchen, cable TV, internet and access to the building’s pool. There’s even coin-operated laundry room on-site. Next door to the apartment high-rise is a huge Lider super market convenient for buying groceries. The building is a mix of full time residents and short time guests.

The Aji Hostel: This is a pretty typical hostel in many ways. There is a mix of dorms and private rooms. We particularly liked it because breakfast, dinner and unlimited wine were included in our price (about $43/night usd for a private room.) The breakfast was standard and the dinners were fine (pesto pasta one night and a casserole the next.) Nothing fancy but having two meals a day covered really helped our budget.

How to get around?

The Metro is very easy to use and costs about $1.50 usd to get anywhere in the city. It connects to both bus stations, which makes easy transfers to spots like Valparasio and Mendoza. There is a great public bus system and taxis are easily accessible.

What to visit?

Castillo Hidalgo: This is a picturesque castle on top of Cerro Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia’s hill.) There are great 360-degree views of Santiago. It’s easy to find as the base is just steps away from the Santa Lucia metro stop. Be warned, If you’re anywhere near this area at noon be prepared for the traditional loud cannon blast. Even though we knew to expect it we still jumped!

Lastarria: This is an adorable neighborhood is at the bottom and just East of Cerro Santa Lucia. It’s lovely for evening drinks or dinner on the sidewalks. The neighborhood feels very European and you can walk by street performers and bohemian vendors. We sat for a glass of wine and enjoyed dynamic people watching.

Bellas Artes Neighborhood: This is the equivalent to a Chilean college town. There is an abundance of cheap street food, bars and loud music. If you stroll the streets at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday you will find a ghost town. Head back to the same place Thursday through Sunday at 11 p.m. and the streets are bustling with young people in search of drink specials.

If you want a real treat find the churro truck to end the night. For less than a dollar you can buy a warm, doughy, sweet cinnamon and caramel covered treat. Just hop off the metro at the Baquedano stop and head north.

For a more family-inclusive activity walk to the end of Pio Nono street in Bellas Artes. You will find a huge park, which includes the Santiago zoo and a funicular to take you up the mountain.

From the bottom of the hill we paid $1 usd per person to take a taxi up the hill 4 miles (6.6km) to an amazing public pool with unbelievable city views. We skipped the pool, as the entry fee was $15 usd per person. Seeing as this wasn’t Las Vegas, we skipped the pool and had a wonderful downhill walk back to town. Take note that the walk back isn’t the same route as going up and thus wasn’t 4 miles. It took us a little over 2 hours to get back with lots of stopping at viewpoints and parks on the way down

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