If you stepped into Santiago's food scene 10 years ago, the current landscape would probably be unrecognizable. Chile's capital has always had a solid foundation for food, including nearby vineyards and fresh seafood and produce, but unless you were cooking at home, something seemed to be missing. With a strengthened economy and influx in immigration, a new generation of Chileans with expanded expectations in flavor and food are changing that for good.
At the high end, Boragó is firmly established as a go-to within Santiago's restaurant scene with a fresh approach to Chilean food. Creator and Chef Rodolfo Guzman has made a name for himself by employing both classic and rare local ingredients in a modern, minimalist display, using molecular gastronomy techniques, which together form an experience, not just a meal.
Evolving from a classic, downtown family restaurant to a sought after foodie destination, Ambrosia's journey is led by its chef Carolina Bazan, who took on her family's business, moved it up town to a quieter location, and has not looked back since. Ambrosia employs many of Chile's favorite ingredients from the land and sea, fusing them with international cuisine in a modern presentation.
Barrio Bellavista's Peumayen dishes up a modern version of “ancestral food" based on the cuisine of Chile's different indigenous ethnic groups. One of the city's newest restaurants is Vinocracia owned and conceived by one of Latin America's only Master Sommelier, Hector Vergara. It has an extensive wine list along with simple yet delicious dishes such as roasted lamb ribs, fresh shellfish platters and salmon carpaccio.
The rise of Chile's wine industry, once the merely a “cheap but decent" alternative to European or Napa options, has also helped put Santiago's food scene on the map. There are multiple valleys with their own special characteristics and offerings of wine, but for visitors, two stand out for their quality, accessibility, and proximity: Casablanca and Maipo.
Casablanca is the closest and newest wine-producing valley within reach of the capital. Start with a classic like Emiliana, which is one of the largest organic vineyards in the world and just a quick stop off the highway to Valparaiso.
For those with more experience in wine, try boutique vineyards like Kingston Family Vineyards, which has an interesting tale of gold exploration wound into its creation, and has a strong influence from Napa Valley and the United States. Or visit Bodegas RE, the project of the first winemaker to call Casablanca home—Pablo Morande. Now later in his career, he experiments with cool climate blends and co-fermentation, not to mention liqueurs, vineyards and impeccable food.
The Maipo Valley is a foundation of Chilean winemaking, known for big, full-bodied reds. The rocky shores of the Maipo River are home to a number of the biggest names in Chile's wine industry, from Concha y Toro to the Santa Rita. Don't forget about the smaller producers either: Perez Cruz has built one of the most interesting wineries in Chile, and also produces a number of fresh, easy-to-drink red varieties and blends.
You can also head towards Isla de Maipo, which is actually a wine producing village—not an island, as the name would suggest. The innovative approach of De Martino looks to limit the influence of oak in the winemaking process, and also touches on some of the older wine making techniques all but lost in Chile's modern wine industry.