Hot dogs, more hot dogs, empanadas and pan amasado

middle chile dec12 198Santiago is easy for fast food if that’s what your after.    There are lots of empanada places and if you happen to find a good one (e.g fresh, home made),  even  your children will  be asking for more.    Pino carne (meat, onions and olives), if made well, was our favourite.

Empanadas come in  all sorts of combination fillings: ham and cheese, chicken and mushroom, mushroom and cheese and even hot dogs and cheese.  Which brings me to the other main staple fast food.  Hot dogs and not just ordinary hot dogs but super sized ones.   Lots of them with all varieties of fillings. Even the Dalai Lama,  would be horrified to learn  that a hot dog/hamburger place is named after him “Dalai Lomo”.

We cant believe it but we often find ourselves looking for something for lunch that’s quick and easy and back we are at the hot dog stand…NOOOOOO!!!    We didn’t come to Chile to eat hot dogs!  I’m appalled at how many hot dogs I have consumed while I’m here,  but here they are and here we are, with hungry kids and low blood sugar levels, looking for something, anything to eat as we sightsee.

super hot dogs
super hot dogs

I do carry snacks of course, but even these sometimes run out with four hungry people and without meaning to I’ve become addicted to the “italianos” (chopped tomato, avocado and mayo on a hot dog – hold the mayo if you don’t like it thickly piled on).   I have to admit, a good one is great, and after a border crossing out of Chile – once your back into the country, your eyes do light up at the mere sight of one…  I can’t explain it… I am not a hot dog fan (more of a sausage sizzle sort of gal or hey even happy to try the cocktail franks at a party) but here well you can’t escape it..  I even  had a bad hot dog (is it  possible to get hot dogs wrong?).   It was cold and the bread was old.

We were lucky we stayed in an apartment so that we weren’t at the mercy of the hot dogs….

Self catering

buying freshly baked bread
buying freshly baked bread

We discovered the wonderful real staple food of the Chileans…. BREAD, glorious (yes glorious), fresh, baked bread…You can get fresh bread from anyone and when your out of Santiago city its even better.  Some little old lady with a sign in her window (memorise this: pan amasado), will have just baked a fresh batch.

So if your self catering, its easy – the price of food is cheap compared to back home in Melbourne.   If you love strawberries and salmon (not together necessarily) then Santiago is for you.  (although check with the salmon as there have been issues with salmon farming).

You can find little fruit market stalls set up around the city and they sell the lushest strawberries for 1000 pesos ($2) for 1 kg container.  Who wouldn’t go strawberry, blueberry or raspberry mad.  Its great because the prices are usually marked so don’t worry about having to ask in bad Spanish or being ripped off.

Unlike back home, there isn’t the range of fruit and veggies always available – one day you might find pears in the supermarket but apples are out, but what you do find, usually tastes good and it  hasn’t been sitting in cold storage for one year.   Supermarkets in the city centre can have small  fresh fruit sections, but head  out of Santiago centre and you will find huge  supermarket chains – Uni mart, Santa Isabella and Lider which sell anything and everything.  But all the more reason to factor in regular trips to the local city markets  for good fresh stuff.

Dining out

We’ve all heard it before,  if a place is well frequented by locals its probably a good place to eat.

So if you see a queue of people standing outside a cafe or restaurant  then best bet  this place is a sure thing.. probably a good idea to cancel your dinner reservation elsewhere…   We were lucky to be staying in an apartment which had the best gyros in town (in fact maybe the only gyros in town!) next door..  I hadn’t really noticed it until one lunchtime I saw a queue of people waiting both inside and outside…. so we tried it and it was goooooodd.

Menus of the day (menu del dia)

A refreshing pisco sour
A refreshing pisco sour

Its advertised everywhere and they are cheap.  The prices range from $5 to $10US, and it can  include an entree, main, drink and dessert (if you can, get the one that includes Pisco Sour – the local aperitif).   Its a great cheap way to eat out although not always so relaxing.  Restaurants usually open from 12.30/1.00pm onwards so it can clash with nap time (your one too, if your into siesta and your an early riser)…. However, I discovered that the best time to eat out was when my one year old was asleep!  Our three year old loves to go to “risteroonts” but our one year old prefers to practice standing and walking particularly while sitting in the high chair.  We did try a few places but the food was okay not brilliant.   The best place we found was a Peruvian restaurant that made awesome creviche (raw fish salad).  The waiter even gave me a detailed explanation in Spanish on how its done!

Many of the big supermarkets have a cafe/buffet style eatery attached, so if shopping gets too much, you can grab yourself and the kids some quick food.

However, we discovered   the best place to eat when in Santiago was by far the park.   Whether its home cooked or bought out, pack a picnic and walk to the nearest park/grassy area and enjoy!  Our one year old contently walked about holding and spilling his food and I didn’t care!

 Best Empanadas

Paula A, Los Militares 6946, Las Condes

We  happened to chance upon the best empanada’s in town quite by accident on one of our visiting car dealer days.  Unfortunately it wasn’t right in the Santiago city centre but if your in the area – looking at car dealers, then you know what to get for lunch!

Best pizza

Amadeus Pizza, General Bustamante 50, Santiago

Good gyros:

Waya’s gyros, 490 Miraflores, Santiago

Best ceviche restaurant

Mendos gastronima peruana, Seminario 96, Providencia / maria luisa santander – near parque bustamente- opposite lider supermarketchile-london apr 13 088

Healthy take out alternatives  Sushi  seem to be the next big thing, but it is so expensive compared to our $2 california rolls back home. Good thing though, is you can find sushi rice and  seaweed wraps here in some supermarkets  so you can make them yourself.You will find lots of street vendors everywhere selling homemade food – such as vegan or soy burgers, perhaps the next healthy alternative to hotdogs?