The most important tip I can give you on Chile local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Chile, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in Chile
Pastel de choclo: corn casserole filled with ground beef, onions, chicken, raisins, hardboiled egg, olives, and topped with sugar and a sweet corn paste. Empanada de pino: a baked pie filled with ground beef, onion, raisins, a piece of boiled egg and a black olive. Watch out for the pit! Empanada de queso: a deep-fried pastry packet filled with cheese. Found everywhere, including McDonald’s. Cazuela de vacuno: beef soup with a potato, rice, a piece of corn and a piece of squash. Cazuela de ave (or de pollo): same as above, but with a piece of chicken. Cazuela de pavo: same as above, but with turkey. Porotos granados: stew made with fresh beans, squash, corn, onion and basil. con choclo: with grains of corn. con pilco or pirco: with corn thinly chopped. con mazamorra: with ground corn. con riendas: with thin sliced noodles.
Curanto: lots of seafood, beef, chicken and pork, potatoes, cheese, and potato “burguers,” prepared in a hole in the ground (“en hoyo”) or in a pot (“en olla”); a dish from Chiloé. Southern sopaipillas: a fried pastry cut as 10-cm (4-in) circles, with no pumpkin in its dough (see Northern sopaipillas in the desserts section). They replace bread.
They are known South of Linares. Lomo a lo pobre: a beefsteak, fried potatoes, a fried egg (expect two in restaurants) and fried onions. Chorrillana: Similar to the lomo a lo pobre above, but larger. Traditionally made with French fries topped with beef sliced into strips, either fried or scrambled eggs, fried onions and occasionally sausages.
There’s no fixed recipe, however: some preparations use chopped frankfurter sausages, Chilean longanizas and seasonings such as garlic or oregano. VERY large dish, often enough to feed two or three! Besides typical foods, you should expect food normally found in any Western country. The normal diet includes rice, potatoes, meat and bread. Vegetables are abundant in central Chile.
If you are concerned about the portions, consider that the size of the dish increases the farther south you travel. With such an enormous coastline, you can expect fish and seafood almost everywhere. Locals used to eat bundles of raw shellfish, but visitors should be cautious of raw shellfish because of frequent outbreaks of red tides. Chile is the world’s second largest producer of salmon, as well as a number of other farmed sea products, which include oysters, scallops, mussels, trout and turbot. Local fish include corvina (sea bass), congrio(conger eel), lenguado (flounder), albacora (swordfish), and yellow fin tuna. Sandwiches Hotdog or completo. Not similar to the American version.
This one includes mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, tomato, mashed avocado (palta), sauerkraut (chucrut) and chili (ají). These ingredients make a full sandwich, called un completo. With mayonnaise, tomato and avocado it’s un italiano with the colors of the Italian flag. If you add sauce américaine, it’s known as dinámico. Lomito. Cooked pork steaks served with anything that can go in a hotdog. Italiano is the preferred form but German purists prefer it with sauerkraut (chucrut). Chacarero: a thin beefsteak (churrasco) with tomato, green beans, mayonnaise and green chili (ají verde). Barros Luco: Named after President Ramón Barros Luco. Thinly-sliced beefsteak with cheese. Choripán: Bread with “chorizo”, a highly-seasoned pork sausage. Named that way because the contraction of “Pan con Chorizo” or “Chorizo con Pan”. A common combination is meat with avocado and/or mayonnaise, e.g. Ave palta mayo (chicken with avocado and mayonnaise) or Churrasco palta (thinly-sliced beefsteak with avocado).
The strong presence for avocado is a Chilean standard for sandwiches that influences the fast food franchises to include it in their menus. Desserts Northern sopaipillas: a fried pastry cut as 10-cm (4-in) circles, which includes pumpkin in its dough. It’s customary to make them when it rains and it’s cold outside. Sopaipillas as a dessert are only known north of San Javier. From Linares to the South, they are not dessert and pumpkin is left out, so, when it rains, Chilean Southerners must cook
. In Santiago, Sopaipillas can be served covered with a sweet syrup as a dessert, with pebre, or with spicy yellow mustard. Kuchen (or cújen, pronounced KOO-hen) is German for pie. In the South ask for kuchen de quesillo, a kind of cheesecake. Strudel (pronounced es-TROO-del). A kind of apple pie. Berlín. When they translate John Kennedy’s famous quote (often mistakenly thought of as a gaffe) they say it’s a jelly doughnut. T
he Chilean version is a ball of dough (no hole) filled with dulce de membrillo, crema pastelera or manjar. Powdered sugar is added just in case you have a sweet tooth. Cuchuflí. Barquillo (tube of something crunchy like a cookie) filled with manjar. The name originally comes from cuchufleta which means deceipt or trickery, as they used to be filled only at the tips of the barquillos, leaving the middle part empty. Fruit Central Chile is a major tempered fruit producer, you can easily get fruit for dessert, including apples, oranges, peaches, grapes, watermelons, strawberries, raspberries, chirimoyas, and several other varieties. Temperate fruit is of very high quality and prices are usually much lower than in most of the U.S. and Western Europe, while tropical fruit is rather rare and expensive, except for bananas.
What to Drink in Chile
The legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 18, and is strictly enforced. Wine: Chile produces some excellent wines, competing with France, California, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand for world markets. Notable are the Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere in red, along with whites from the Casablanca valley.
Mote con Huesillo: A delicous summertime drink made of wheat seeds (mote) and dried peaches (huesillos) boiled, sweetened, and served cold. Typically sold on sidewalk or park stands. Chilean Pisco: Brandy made from Muscat grapes. Popular brands are Capel, Alto del Carmen, Mistral and Campanario.** Mango Sour: Pisco mixed with mango juice. Piscola: Pisco mixed with Coke.
Borgoña: Red wine and strawberries. Terremoto: (“Earthquake”): a typical Chilean drink that consists in a mix of pineapple ice cream with pipeño (like white wine). Schop: Draught beer. Fan-Schop: Beer mixed with orange Fanta or Orange Crush soft drink. A refreshing alternative on a hot summer day. Beers: Cristal and Escudo are the most popular (light lagers).
Royal Guard is a fair bit tastier, Kunstmann is on pair with European imported beer. Jote*: wine and Coke. There’s a very known conflict between Chile and Peru about the origin of Pisco. Although Pisco was registered as a chilean drink for some countries in the last century, it is historically peruvian in origin for much longer. Further, chilean and peruvian drinks are not the same product, they have different manufacturing procedures, different varieties of grape and not the same taste.
Unlike other latin-american countries, in Chile it’s illegal to drink in unlicensed, public areas (streets, parks, etc.) The laws also restrict vendor hours depending on the weekday (in no case after 3 AM or before 9 AM). Chileans drink a lot of alcohol. So don’t be surprised to see one liter bottle of licor per person.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.