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House of Travel
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Andes, Santiago is a picturesque wonderland of museums, art galleries and manicured parks.
The political capital of Chile as well as the cultural heart of the country, Santiago is home to a salivating array of Chilean cuisine, as well as dishes from its fellow South American neighbours. Increasingly, the city's contemporary restaurateurs are drawing on inspiration from farther flung countries in Europe and Asia, but local flavours still reign supreme.
Whether you're dining in traditional marketplaces or rooftop restaurants and stylish cafes, Santiago is a mandatory destination for anyone who appreciates good food and wine.
Check our list of the top four restaurants in this exciting city and get your taste buds ready for the journey of a lifetime.
AQUI ESTA COCO
Santiago is renowned for its seafood, freshly caught from the South Pacific Ocean. There are a lot of contenders in Santiago for the best seafood restaurant, but Aqui Esta Coco, located in Providencia, might just take the fishcake. Established by its passionate chef, Jorge 'Coco' Pacheo, the restaurant prides itself on sustainability and social ethics. These beliefs are reflected throughout, from the recycled materials of the restaurant's construction through to the salmon skin place mats. Aqui Esta Coco boasts 10 eclectically decorated rooms that are sure to delight. The eight-person capacity Emporio dining room, decorated as a traditional Chilean Almacen (neighbourhood store), is perfect for an intimate dinner, while La Chilota, a room fashioned from an authentic fishing boat salvaged from the Reloncavi Sound, is an ideal spot to enjoy the energy of the bar. There's a delectable selection of familiar and exotic dishes on offer. Start with a bite of sea urchin, move onto the oriental salmon and finish off with the aptly named Irresistible Chocolate. Mains start at around CLP$20,000 (about NZD$45) and bookings are essential.
Famous among the discerning foodies of Santiago, Liguiria is one of the very best places in Santiago to head for lunch. It's a popular place, largely due to the restaurant's continuing tradition of bringing customers tasty food at a surprisingly reasonable price. Inside, the wood-panelled walls are tastefully decorated with Chilean motifs, while outside the sidewalk tables offer diners a great chance to experience the street life of the city while tucking into some great food. The restaurant provides a great selection of authentic Chilean dishes and an extensive beer and wine menu. The wait staff at Liguiria are friendly and speak excellent English. Bookings are recommended.
Your number one stop for a sophisticated drink in Santiago, Bocanariz has an amazing selection of more than 400 Chilean wines. Set in a beautifully restored house, the award winning restaurant features an underground cellar, which maintains wines at an optimal temperature and humidity. Most fine restaurants pair their wine to their food; Bocanariz has flipped this tradition by carefully matching its gastronomy to its wine. The selection of entrees, mains and desserts has been designed to complement the full flavour of the wine.
LA VEGA CENTRAL
Ditch the tourist joints and head to the markets. La Vega Central is a thriving, chaotic hub of fresh produce, meat and household items. It's an authentic Chilean marketplace experience, complete with vendors shouting at you to buy their wares and trying to thrust handfuls of goods into your hands. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the atmosphere in the market is undeniably fun and exciting. If you search among the stalls, you can find some great casual restaurants where you can sit down with the locals to enjoy some genuine street fare. It's tasty, it's easy on the wallet and it'll be an experience you won't be forgetting any time soon.
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