On the surface, the food in Chile can be very bland and boring. A lot of the Chilean food you’ll eat there includes empanadas, hot dogs, sushi (yes, oddly enough!), chips and burgers. If you travel to Chile for a short trip, you’ll see that many of the smaller food stores and restaurants typically serve these kinds of foods.
However, it’s important to realize that there’s more to Chilean food than what meets the eye, particularly if you only stay in Chile short term. Chile has good and decent food if you look hard enough. Sure there are a lot of places where they serve really expensive and underwhelming food. But now that we have left Chile, we look back at some amazing pockets of food we managed to find during our stay and some of these dishes you just can’t find anywhere else!
Being mostly vegetarian (Albie eats seafood), the food is often limited for us but also pretty pricey for the amount and quality of food you get. So when we find something great, we hold on to it for months on end. Let’s be honest, there’s not too much range of food in Chile but here are a few that we managed to find during our stay of almost 2 years living in Santiago Chile.
Vegetarian food in Chile
There are small number of vegetarian or vegan restaurants scattered in Santiago Chile. We’ve eaten at a large number of these places including Ever Green, GoVindas, El Naturista and more. Here you will find all the typical dishes served in Chile but vegetarian. This includes burritos, empanadas, quesadillas, hot dogs, burgers, pasta and salads. Vegetarian food is considered the healthier option and therefore comes at a high price tag.
Although at the beginning of our stay in Chile we would often eat at Ever Green, we found that over time we had gotten sick of the food and questioned whether or not it was really that healthy for us. The value of food you get was pretty good compared to other vegetarian restaurants and it was always packed with locals eating there. It’s still worth a try for anyone who is struggling or looking for vegetarian meals in Chile.
For both years when we lived in Chile, we would also attend the Independence Day celebrations. Many of the vegetarian restaurants and venues (health focused and yoga places) offer specials. It was a great way to try a range of vegetarian dishes.
One of the places we ate at was GoVinda’s which is worth a mention as a good place to find food in Chile. They offered a range of typical Chilean foods like barbecue dishes and rice meals. The food was pretty good and the price was decent for Chilean prices.
We also enjoyed going to this place called Vasati Yoga, which has a Yoga studio on the top floor and a small diner on the bottom floor. This is where they serve good burgers and hot dogs that are vegetarian friendly.
Restaurants worth eating at in Chile
If you are craving for something different or just good quality food there are a number of places to eat. These restaurants are not vegetarian restaurants but serve at least one vegetarian option.
For some pretty awesome Indian food that is decently priced in Santiago Chile, we recommend eating at Rishtedar. Rishtedar was mentioned to us by some fellow expats who were from India. They mentioned how they serve pretty good Indian food that is true in terms of the flavor of Indian cuisine. It’s authentic Indian cuisine is really good and there’s a lot of vegetarian options available. Apart from the service being great, it’s also a cute little restaurant that is always packed. Make sure you get there a little earlier than 2pm to get a seat. We had also heard of another Indian restaurant closer to our apartment called New Horizon, but never ate there because of the long long lines on the street before they would open for lunch.
The H Lounge, which is the Hoyts cinema restaurant at the Parque Arauco shopping mall, also has good food. This one is a little more pricey though. We loved the potato wedges served with sour cream and the vegetarian quesadillas with homemade salsa and sauce.
If you are looking for some affordable meal options, the food courts at many of the shopping malls across Santiago have pretty good options. Our favorite for a while was Tommy Beans. Newly renovated, they sell the best burritos you will find in Chile. Plus, they have a vegetarian option available. They also serve nachos and burrito bowls, which are pretty good.
Our favorite pizza joint had to be Milano’s Pizzas, which is a local Chilean pizza chain. They only had three types of vegetarian pizza options but they make real good pizza. Milano’s Pizzas was always very generous with their toppings and cheese, and they were famous for their no crust pizza as they are covered with cheese all the way to the edge. That’s how we like our pizzas baby!
Cooking vegetarian food in Chile at home
A lot of the vegetarian food available use basic ingredients that can be sourced from the local markets and grocery stores, making it very easy and affordable to replicate at home. Since I enjoy cooking at home, I would often cook a variety of vegetarian dishes using local ingredients and make my own twist on the flavor.
There are a number of frozen soy patty options available at the grocery stores. Combined with the variety of breads and fresh vegetables, I’ve made some delicious meals including spinach, cheese and garlic empanadas, quesadillas with homemade guacamole, vegetarian wraps, salsa and nachos, vegetarian burgers and salad with tofu.
Markets and grocery stores
If you go in the grocery stores like Lider and Tottus, there are limited range of types of food as compared to other countries like the US or Australia. For example, if you go in the potato chips aisle, they mostly sell the original salted flavor and have limited and expensive selection of other flavors.
However, the breads in Chile were pretty damn good. We enjoyed the range of selection particularly in the Jumbo grocery store. Here you will find a range of Spanish and Italian breads including Pan Italian bread, olive infused breads, rustic pan, hallulla bread, corn bread and marraqueta bread. We also liked that they always had integral or brown bread options too!
A lot of people would also agree that Chileans enjoy cooking easy and simple dishes. In the frozen aisle, there are plenty of choices of prepackaged single patties ready to be heated up or cooked on the stove. This is the normal and quick fix dinner or lunch served in Chilean households, particularly if they are young or do not know how to cook. Generally speaking, these patties were often served in a burger with lettuce, tomato, cheese and your choice of the three main sauces; tomato, mayo or mustard. We enjoyed the vegetarian alternative which was with soy hamburger patties (otherwise known in Spanish as Hamburguesa De Soya) or milanesa soy patties.
For most of our Saturdays, we would head over to the local food market called La Vega located in Recoleta commune to get fresh fruit and vegetables every week. It was pretty cheap compared to buying from grocery stores and always more fresh. We were just amazed how big and healthy all the produce was there. It was always crowded with people and trolleys, local farmers will be yelling out prices and a little chaotic.
Other food in Chile worth mentioning
We could not forget to mention the delicious sweets that are baked everyday in Chile. This includes cakes Tres Leches and Almond cake. We loved eating the Brazo de reina which is made with chocolate and caramel. It was so rich in flavor! We particularly loved the ones baked and sold at the chain bakery called Paradiso. Being so rich and only sold as a pretty large roll, we would only buy Brazo de reina on special occasions.
The local market selling handicrafts called Feria Artesanal in Santa Lucia always had a stand selling really cheap churros. You could get 7 for $1000CLP ($1.50USD) or 1 filled with caramel for $500CLP ($0.70USD). This was such a great snack on our cheat meals to eat and living right around the corner from it, we would always stop by and grab a few.
There are also a great range of ice creams, made with real fruit and interesting flavors like burnt toast, tres leches and caramel coffee. We particularly liked the ice cream made at Emporio La Rosa, which we also snacked on during our engagement photo shoot in 2014. There a small number of ice cream parlors that have really good quality ice cream.
Chile is also well known for it’s wine and alcohol. We enjoyed the wide and cheap selection of red and white wines, particularly one called Clos. This one in particular we got from a friend for Albie’s birthday as wine is typically given as a gift on special occasions in Chile.
There are also a range of vodkas and of course pisco. Our favorite was pisco cola (pisco mixed with coke) and pisco sour which can be easily ordered at any restaurant or bar. We also enjoyed the ready made kind of pisco sour available at the corner stores and grocery stores.
That’s a wrap on the Chilean food in Chile. We enjoyed sharing with you all the good vegetarian meals and delights that we’ve had in Chile and hope that whenever you stop by there yourself, you too can experience Chilean food at it’s best.