What to Eat in Chile, Food and Drink, Dishes
Chilean cuisine reflects the country’s diverse geography, rich cultural heritage, and abundant natural resources. With influences from indigenous Mapuche, Spanish, and other European cuisines, Chilean food is characterized by its simplicity, freshness, and robust flavors. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the must-try dishes, beverages, and culinary experiences that await you in Chile, offering a taste of this vibrant and delicious culinary landscape.
Empanadas are a staple in Chilean cuisine, and you’ll find them in bakeries, restaurants, and street food stalls across the country. These baked or fried pastries are typically filled with a savory mixture of ingredients such as ground beef, onions, olives, raisins, and hard-boiled eggs. The most famous empanada in Chile is the “empanada de pino,” which features a spiced meat filling. Other popular varieties include “empanadas de queso” (filled with cheese), “empanadas de mariscos” (filled with seafood), and “empanadas de champiñones” (filled with mushrooms).
Cazuela is a hearty, comforting Chilean stew made with meat (usually beef or chicken), vegetables, and potatoes. The dish is slow-cooked in a rich broth, which is typically seasoned with cumin, oregano, and paprika. Cazuela is often served with rice or a piece of freshly baked bread on the side, making it a satisfying and filling meal. This traditional Chilean dish is perfect for enjoying on a cool evening or after a day of exploring the country’s stunning landscapes.
Pastel de Choclo
Pastel de choclo is a classic Chilean dish that features a delicious combination of sweet corn, meat, and vegetables. The dish is prepared by layering a mixture of ground corn (choclo), onions, ground beef, chicken, olives, raisins, and hard-boiled eggs in a clay pot. The ingredients are then topped with a layer of corn dough, which is baked until golden and crispy. Pastel de choclo is a beloved comfort food in Chile, perfect for enjoying with family and friends.
Originating from the Chiloé Archipelago, curanto is a traditional Chilean dish that showcases the region’s abundant seafood. This unique cooking method involves layering fish, shellfish, potatoes, vegetables, and meat on hot stones in a hole in the ground. The ingredients are then covered with large leaves and earth, allowing the dish to cook slowly and absorb the smoky flavors from the stones. Curanto is typically served with “milcao,” a type of potato pancake, and “chapalele,” a potato dumpling, on the side.
Sopaipillas are a popular Chilean snack, typically enjoyed during the colder months. These fried dough pastries are made from a mixture of pumpkin and flour, giving them a slightly sweet flavor and a unique, golden color. Sopaipillas can be served plain or with various toppings, such as pebre (a Chilean salsa made with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro), manjar (a caramel-like spread), or powdered sugar. They can also be found in a savory version called “sopaipillas pasadas,” which are soaked in a warm, spiced syrup.
Porotos granados is a traditional Chilean vegetarian dish that celebrates the country’s love for beans. This hearty stew is made with fresh cranberry beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and various
herbs, such as basil and oregano. The dish is slow-cooked until the flavors meld together, creating a delicious and satisfying meal. Porotos granados is often enjoyed during the summer months when fresh beans and corn are in season and can be served with a side of rice or a fresh salad.
Chorrillana is a popular Chilean dish that is perfect for sharing with friends. This indulgent dish consists of a generous portion of French fries, topped with sautéed onions, thinly sliced beef, and fried eggs. Some variations of chorrillana may also include sausage, cheese, or other toppings. Chorrillana is typically found in bars and casual eateries and is often enjoyed with a cold beer or a glass of Chilean wine.
Congrio frito, or fried conger eel, is a popular seafood dish in Chile, particularly along the coast. The eel is first marinated in a mixture of garlic, lemon juice, and spices, then coated in flour and fried until crispy and golden. Congrio frito is typically served with a side of rice, salad, or potatoes and a generous helping of pebre. This delicious dish is a must-try for seafood lovers visiting Chile.
Machas a la Parmesana
Machas a la parmesana is a classic Chilean dish that highlights the country’s bountiful seafood. Machas are a type of clam found along the Chilean coast, which are prized for their delicate flavor and tender texture. In this dish, the clams are baked in their half-shells, topped with a mixture of grated Parmesan cheese, white wine, and butter. The result is a rich, flavorful dish that is perfect for enjoying with a glass of Chilean white wine.
Mote con Huesillo
Mote con huesillo is a refreshing, sweet beverage that is enjoyed throughout Chile, particularly during the hot summer months. This iconic drink consists of rehydrated dried peaches (huesillos) and cooked husked wheat (mote) in a sweet syrup made from sugar, water, and cinnamon. Mote con huesillo is typically served chilled in a tall glass with a spoon for scooping up the mote and peach pieces. This thirst-quenching treat can be found at street vendors, markets, and cafes across the country.
Terremoto, which translates to “earthquake” in Spanish, is a potent Chilean cocktail that is sure to leave a lasting impression. This unique drink is made by combining white wine, pineapple ice cream, and a splash of grenadine or fernet. The resulting concoction is sweet, fruity, and deceptively strong. Terremoto is typically served in a large glass or pitcher and is often enjoyed during celebrations or nights out with friends.
Chilean cuisine offers a delightful array of flavors, textures, and culinary experiences for visitors to enjoy. From hearty stews and flavorful seafood dishes to sweet treats and potent cocktails, there is something for everyone in this diverse and delicious culinary landscape. By indulging in these must-try dishes, beverages, and experiences, you can fully immerse yourself in Chilean culture and create lasting memories of your time in this beautiful country.