Chile is home to some of the most exquisite, gastronomic wonders in the world.
This long & slender country has not received as much culinary attention as its neighbor, Peru, though. As more travelers flock to Chile, the country’s culinary masterpieces are receiving some spotlight. If you have the opportunity to eat any of these dishes in a Chilean home, then you are truly lucky. Nonetheless, all of the food listed here are served in restaurants throughout the country!
Along with corn and avocado, empanadas are a staple food in Chile. These stuffed pastries come baked or fried and can be found in restaurants, cafes, and hole-in-the wall bakeries. Empanadas can be filled with a variety of ingredients, but the most common is the Empanada del Pino. This empanada is filled with ground beef, onions, raisins, black olives, and a hard boiled egg. Gente Feliz in Cerro Alegre bakes up a delicious Empanada del Pino served with a side of pebre, a tomato based salsa with a little kick. The empanada pictured below is from the small bakery, Pan de Magia, in Cerro Alegre, Valparaíso.
With a coastline of more than 2,000 miles, there is no doubt that the ceviche in Chile is some of the best in South America. Ceviches is a seafood dish made with fresh raw fish, citrus juices, red onion, cilantro, and pepper. Ceviche can be served with one or many types of fish. Salmon, reineta, and tuna are the most popular fish used in Chilean ceviches. Ceviche mixto usually includes reineta, shrimp, and octopus (pictured below!). Ceviche is the perfect start to any delicious meal in Chile.
The humita is a popular, corn dish similar to the Mexican tamale. Humitas are prepared with ground corn, onion, and basil and wrapped in corn husks. They are then boiled or baked in the husks. It’s a popular practice to sprinkle a little sugar on your humita before eating it. Humitas are the perfect meal during the summer months in Chile and even better when accompanied with ensalada chileana, a tomato & onion salad.
The sandwich that is so big, you need to eat it with a fork and knife. The Chacarero is one of the most famous sandwiches in Chile. It is made with thinly sliced churrasco-style steak, tomatoes, green beans, and chili pepper on a delicious bread roll. Bottom line: you can’t go to Chile and not eat a chacarero.The chacarero pictured below is from the popular Fuente Mardoqueo in Santiago.
Pastel de Choclo
Pastel de Choclo is the quintessential home-cooked meal of Chile. It is a baked beef and corn casserole that is packed with incredible flavor. The body of the casserole consists of beef, onion, olives, raisins, and hard boiled egg. The entire thing is topped with the pastel de choclo, or creamed corn. Choclo is the quechua word for ‘tender corn’. Pastel de Choclo is typically served in clay bowls that keeps the food warm as you dig through its sweet and savory ingredients.
Machas a la Parmesana
This is a popular dish found in any coastline restaurant in Chile. The macha is a saltwater clam that is a native to Chile. The clam is topped with parmesan cheese and seasoned with lemon juice, white wine, and butter. The combination of these flavors are a treat to any cheese and seafood lovers.
Porotos Granados is a bean, corn-based stew. This vegetarian dish has been popular for hundreds of years in Chile. The beans, porotos, used in the dish are native to Chile and can be found in markets during the summer months. The base of the dish is grounded corn ( are you catching on yet? 😉 ), onion, red pepper, and other delicious herbs. The beans are delicately mixed in. Even though it’s a summer dish, porotos granados is served piping hot!
This underwater inhabitant is a popular guest on dinner tables throughout Chile. The congrio is an eel found in the Chilean sea. It is typically served grilled, fried, or in a stew. Cadillo de Congrio, the congrio stew, was one of Pablo Neruda’s favorite foods. He even wrote a poem about it! He claims the stew is “the essence of Chile”. Experience it yourself when visiting!
Pan con Palta
Chile’s Mediterranean climate in its middle region is perfect for harvesting avocados. Pan con palta, or bread with avocado, is the centerpiece of Chilean ‘once’. Once is the Chilean tea time served in the evening at Chilean homes throughout the country. Pan con palta is also the most popular breakfast food in Chile. The avocado can be served plain, but is usually dressed with avocado, lemon juice, and salt.
When your sweet tooth needs an indulgence, you’ve met your maker with alfajores. The two buttery, crisp cookies are held together by manjar, the Chilean version of dulce de leche (pronounced mawn-har, not man-jar). The alfajores are made with corn-starch which creates the cookie’s smooth and crumbly exterior. Alfajores can be served plain or rolled in coconut and topped with drizzled chocolate. When you bite into this pastry, there is no doubt why it’s the most popular cookie in Chile.
We hope you are as hungry as we are now. Enjoy discovering Chile’s cuisine and let us know which dishes are you favorite!