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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Chile

the fp is food-and-drink

Chile Food and Drink

With its fertile landscape and temperate climate, Chile is blessed with an abundance of natural produce. Its cuisine is likewise fresh and hearty, less spicy than most of Latin America, and with a mix of Spanish, French and German influences.

Outside of Santiago, where international cuisine abounds, options are limited for vegetarians. Seafood, red meat (including excellent lamb), and chicken dominate the menu. For carnivores, a leisurely asado (barbeque) or curanto (shellfish stew) is an opportunity to participate in a cherished Chilean tradition.

With its long coastline, seafood is plentiful in Chile. The fish market at Angelmó, near Puerto Montt is renowned for its exotic produce; try congrio (conger eel), centolla (king crab) and, if you’re feeling adventurous, picorocos (barnacles) and erizos (sea urchin), which taste much better than they look.

Specialities

Empanada: A pasty stuffed with a combination of meat, chicken or fish, with vegetables, eggs, raisins or cheese.
Seafood: Including clams, sole, sea bass and oysters.
Curanto: A seafood stew from the island of Chiloe, where heated rocks line the bottom of a large hole, and the food, wrapped in large leaves, is buried to slow-cook.
Cazuela de ave: Soup with rice, vegetables, chicken and herbs.
Bifea lopobre: Steak with fries, onions and eggs.
Parrillada: A selection of meat cuts grilled over hot coals, often including delicacies such as intestines, udders and black pudding.
Pastel de choclo: A typical, hearty Chilean casserole dish made of ground corn, usually with chicken and basil.
Pebre: A simple salsa often served with bread as a starter.
Wine: Chilean wine is very good, especially the Carmenère, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec varieties, with the Central and Colchagua valleys being the best wine-growing areas.
Pisco: A powerful brandy distilled from grapes after wine pressing and used to make pisco sours – a potent lemon-based cocktail that Peru also claims as its own.
Chicha: A traditional maize beer, which can also be made from grapes, apples or other fruits.
Beer: Local brews include Cristal, Kross, Kunstmann, and Escudo.
Cola de mono: Meaning 'monkey's tail' this is a coffee and chocolate-based liqueur, similar to eggnog, that's very popular at Christmas.

Tipping

It is customary to add 10% to the bill. Some restaurants and bars automatically do this.

Drinking age

18.