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Foods to Try in Santiago: A Suggested Eating List

Being located between the pacific ocean and Argentina’s reputable beef industry, it is no surprise that Chilean cuisine is made with such fine ingredients and is so palatable. Avocado, tomato, lemon, beef, and corn all feature prominently. Here is just a taste of some popular Chilean food options: 

Empanadas: Although they always have a rich dough encasing savory (and sometimes sweet) ingredients, the possibilities in Chilean empanadas are otherwise open. There are three basic types: del horno (baked), de hoja (baked as well, but with a flakey dough), and frita (deep-fried). Pino is the most popular filling, which is a juicy mix of beef and onion, traditionally featuring one olive and a piece of hard-boiled egg. Cheese and napolitana (ham and cheese) are also popular fillings.

Pastel de Choclo: This popular dish is a must-try in Chile. It is a baked meat dish topped with a mash of sweet corn. The meat is usually a lot like the aforementioned empanada de pino filling, although other meat or poultry may be used. Those who enjoy the corn component will also like humitas, which are a lot like Mexican tamales, except with a filling of just sweet corn.

“Completos” and other Chilean sandwiches: Navigating a Chilean sandwich shop may appear tricky. These short-order restaurants typically display a list of sandwich bases and a separate list of topping options. A good starting point is a completo, or hot dog. A popular set of toppings is italiano, or diced tomato, mashed avocado, and mayonaisse. Other sandwich bases include Churrasco (beef slices), lomito (a hot dog bun with pork), and ave (chicken or turkey breast).

Ceviche: Ceviche is a force to be reckoned with in Santiago. This cold dish includes fish pieces cured in lemon juice and oil, then tossed with red onion and cilantro. Although it is typically made with white fish meat, popular alternatives include shrimp, squid, and salmon. Try Peruvian ceviche for the addition of giant Peruvian corn kernels.

Chorillana: Groups who are not afraid of a little grease should try a chorrillana. This deliciously shameless dish is, at very least, an enormous plate of fries topped with pan-fried beef, onion, and egg. Do not be surprised to see cheese, sausage, or mushrooms on there too. It merits a lot of emphasis that this dish is meant to be shared.

Parrillada: A great dinner choice for the meat lover in all off us. Also meant for sharing, order a parilla and you will get a skillet loaded with a variety of meats, from chicken to sausage to pork to bacon-wrapped steak. It is often the centerpiece of family-style mealtimes. Rice, salad, and French fries are common sides.

Manjar: Some of the best Chilean food is found in the category of sweets. Manjar is near-omnipresent: in grocery stores, in households, and in prepackaged snacks. It is Chilean dulce de leche, and is as rich as thick caramel. Fans of those flavors should try a pastry filled with manjar, or an alfajor. These chocolate-covered cookies feature it too. Many like it best simply spread on a piece of toast.

Ice Cream: Last but not least, Chilean ice cream is very impressive. During the summer months, it is hard to walk even a block before seeing someone selling or eating ice cream. No trip to Chile is complete without a visit to an artisanal ice cream shop.

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