This is the second of three reports I'll be posting from a December 2006 trip to Easter Island, Santiago, and Peru (Cusco and Lima). While I was doing my planning, I got great recommendations from these boards – thanks to everyone, as always.
***** Marco Polo ***** on the Plaza des Armas. We knew this would be forgettable, and it was. Pretty good churrasco sandwich italiano (avocado, mayonnaise, tomato on bread with fried steak), and a very un-pizza-like pizza - avocado, olives, cheese and tomatoes piled high on a piece of teabiscuit-like bread. The most exciting part of the meal was seeing a woman's shopping bag snatched from a table near ours: yes, apparently the black plastic clips (like knapsack fasteners) really *are* for attaching your bag to your chair.
About USD 20, including a pisco sour and a beer. Not recommended, but not bad if you're stuck.
In the central market, we ate at ***** El Rey del Mariscal ***** which seems to also be known as Richard. We had corvina ceviche, merluza (hake) and reneita (pippin/swordfish?). The presentation was a bit grim - the ceviche was just a mound of gray shredded fish - but the food was tasty. And I frankly didn't find the market as inauthentic/touristy as others have; there was plenty of real commerce happening, nobody seemed to speak English, and the patrons seated near us were all Chilean (although to be fair, it was three days before Christmas so I'm sure lots of Chilean families were out and about together).
About USD 25 including one pisco sour and one beer. Fine but not particularly recommended.
In Barrio Bellavista, a lovely little arty neighbourhood. ***** La Galindo *****
We had asked a bookstore clerk which of the famous Bellavista four (Galindo, La Boheme, Etniko, Tablao) she recommended, and she sent us here. We had pastel de choclo (wettish corn "pie" with beef, chicken, egg, olive and large unwrinkly raisins) and reineta. Both servings were too large, but very good. USD 18 for two, including a pisco sour and a honey beer. Recommended.
***** La Boheme ***** also in Bellavista. We had smoked beef medallions and mahi mahi. Warm bread, butter with parsley and garlic. This was more expensive than Galindo, four doors down, with more polish, better presentation, and lovely warm service. Can't remember the cost - maybe USD 40?!, with a bottle of wine and two pre-dinner drinks - but it was great. Definitely recommended.
***** Los Vacas Gordas ***** (Cienfuegos 280). Thank you to everyone who recommended Los Vacas Gordas, a large, happy, bustling place in downtown Santiago. We had lomo a lo pobre (steak with fried eggs, fried onions and french fries). Unfortunately I ordered the steak "rare" which in Chile results in medium. Nonetheless, the meal was fabulous. Lovely free meat mini-empanada starter, good salsa, warm bread, the lomo was great, and the service friendly and attentive. About 25 USD. We mega-tipped by Chilean standards (20+%) and our waiter shook our hands :-) Highly recommended.
We ended up going back a second time, for cheese empanadas, tomato salad, onion soup and more lomo a lo pobre. This time I ordered crudo, and got it, yum :-)