Eating out in Chile is generally expensive. I tried to find a few places that I could enjoy the local cuisine without spending a ridiculous amount of money. It wasn’t as easy to do in Valparaíso as it has been for me in Turkey or Europe.
For cheap, quick meals, I stopped at empanada stands. I was able to get an empanada for between CLP $600-900. They were always delicious. I also had some Chilean hot dogs for under CLP $2,000. The Italiano was usually my choice, loaded with lots of avocado and mayo, although the amount of mayo they slather on there is pretty disgusting.
For sit-down meals it was a bit more difficult to find a decent meal under CLP $5,000. I found a lot of fixed menus at some restaurants for about CLP $7,000. Average bills came out to around CLP $10,000, about $20. Here are the sit-down places I tried in Valpo:
On Almirante Montt, this restaurant specializes in Chilean cuisine. It’s a nice, comfortable place with good service. I had the Reineta del Pacifico – seafood found only on the Chilean coast served over your choice of rice or potatoes. It was very good. I washed it down with a Pisco Sour and a bottle of water, followed by an after-dinner espresso. The meal was priced right but a little too expensive for my budget, coming out to a total of CLP $13,500 after tip. Ouch.
Café del Pintor
This is another restaurant in the touristy district of Cerro Concepción. They have tables outside on the sidewalk, and the weather was nice so I sat down at one of them. They have a very reasonably priced fixed menu (CLP $6,900) with choices of chicken, fish, or pork, a salad, and dessert. I decided on the pork steak with mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes, and chocolate mousse for dessert. The mushroom sauce was a bit on the salty side, but overall it was an excellent meal, all for about CLP $9,000 after a drink and tip. Service was great.
Yet another tourist district restaurant, this one specializes in the regional cuisine of Chile. I had the Conejo (Rabbit) with mashed potatoes (CLP $8,900). The rabbit was alright, a little tough, but the potatoes were amazing. I was still hungry after my meal, which is not good. My friend had the Osteones (Scallops) (CLP $6,900). I had a taste and it was excellent. My meal alone was about CLP $11,000 after drinks and tip. Service was very good, and the manager sat and had a nice talk with us.
Since we were staying at the hotel, we decided to give the restaurant a try. The 10% discount on main courses was also a nice incentive. They also have a great selection of Belgian beers for reasonable prices. For dinner, I had the Belgian Beer Stew and it was very good. My friend had the Pastel del Choclo, which she raved about.
The best part of the meal was the Belgian waffle for dessert. I had mine with caramel sauce and a hot fresh mint tea. After the meal, drinks, dessert, and tip, I paid CLP $11,000.
Chilean food, sadly, isn’t very tasty (and I’m being very diplomatic here). Luckily, there are lots of places to find international cuisine, mostly sushi and Peruvian. I ate at Tama Sushi twice, once on each trip to Valpo. Both times, I tried a combo special. The Tamarin (CLP $5,800), I ate on my own. The Maki (CLP $9,800) was split with my friend. Each one came with some of the best gyozas I’ve ever had, niguiris, and some avocado rolls. The Maki came with fried rolls which were vey good. Service was friendly and attentive, and it was very reasonably priced.
Opened in 1896, Bar Cinzano is one of the classic places to grab a meal in Valparaíso. You’re supposed to go on a Friday or Saturday night to enjoy the live music, but I went on a Friday afternoon. It’s a very touristy place with high prices and average food. I had the Lomo a lo Pobre (steak topped with fried eggs on a bed of fries and onions). Like most Chilean food, it was bland and tasteless. It was also terribly overpriced. After drinks and a tip, I paid CLP $9,000. But again, people are supposed to come for the atmosphere, not the food. I should also mention that service is not their strong suit. It took me over a half hour to get the bill after asking three different waiters.