salad chile

Last Updated on March 3, 2021

Sorry, Chile, but it’s true. For as much as we loved our time traveling thousands of miles up and down your country, our palates were left entirely under-stimulated. Chilean food sucks.

First, let it be known that there is nothing spicy to eat in Chile. Do not let the name fool you. There is a deceiving red powder, called ají, on the table with salt and pepper, but even if you cover your pizza in a blanket of it, there’d be about as much kick as from a legless man.

Chilean foodI mention pizza, and if you read this website often, you will know we are always on the hunt for excellent pizza. Unfortunately the Chilean version pales desperately in comparison to its Argentine neighbor. It is dry, basic, unimaginative and does nothing more than to satisfy large groups, teenage boys and two vegetarian GlobetrotterGirls when nothing else is even remotely interesting on the menu.

Ugh, and the empanada certainly didn’t make it over the Andes very well either. In Argentina the thick, buttery dough filled with creamy mozzarella, tangy blue cheese or meat (if that’s your thing) became an addiction. Here, the shape and concept is the same, but the dough is like cardboard, the cheese like rubber.

pizza valparaisoChile is by far the most sophisticated country in South America, yet its food reflects none of this sophistication. Take the ‘famous’ Chorillana – a Chilean national dish that we would simply call Stoner Food. Meat, large chunks of lazily chopped broiled vegetables, ham, cheese and a fried egg or two are thrown on top of a huge bed of French fries. That’s it. Just pull the fries out, dip them in some off the yolk and/or ketchup and/or mayo, and eat the rest with a mix of your hands and a fork.

Next up, the ‘completo‘ is a hot dog. It’s not very ‘complete’ either. It’s got a few things on it, but it’s just a hot dog with none of the creativity of a Belgian, Chicago or New York style dog let alone bratwurst.

Once, we ordered a sandwich that, on a neighboring table, looked remarkably similar to a Mexican Torta. But rather than being fresh, thick, warm bread piled high with so many delicious ingredients it puts Subway to shame, this was just cold, boiled green beans, queso fresco (the worst white cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. Green beans on a sandwich? Really?

ancud lomito veggieYou’ll notice that much of these are some sort of sandwich or bread dish, and not one would be classified as healthy. Even salads are not done right. How often did we get a plate with four ingredients lined up in a row – a strip of lettuce next to a row of sliced tomatoes next to sliced cucumbers next to, say, shaved carrots. The ingredients were not even mixed together, vegetable oil and white vinegar on top, for the price of that Chorillana those stoners, sorry locals, are chewing down on at the next table over.

Chilean FoodPossibly the worst offender is the sopaipilla – fried dough bought from a street vendor and then slathered in mayo. That’s right, just fried dough in mayonnaise (we didn’t say it wasn’t good, but again with the stoner food!).

The lack of healthy options never ceased to amaze, nor did watching coffee drinkers pour one, two, sometimes three oversized sugar packets into an espresso. If it even was an espresso. Most likely it was a Nescafé, since instant coffee is preferred in Chile, a fact which makes us sad and teary-eyed every morning.

chilean FoodContinuing on the subject of sugar, ordering a smoothie and forgetting to ask for no sugar meant resigning ourselves to the presence of a new cavity by days end.

And salt? I once watched a mother salt her pre-teen daughter’s dinner so heavily, had she also lit and handed her a cigarette it wouldn’t have surprised me.

There are some healthier dishes, like the curanto, a meat dish cooked underground in a pot over hot rocks, similar to a hangi in New Zealand. Fish, meat, bread and potatoes are heated wrapped in large leaves for hours and then taken out to be eaten together. But this is 1. only in the south of the country and 2. too time-consuming dish to order with any regularity.

You’ll note that most dishes are for meat-eaters. Traditional vegetarian dishes include humitas, which are like Mexican tamales, with corn meal masa, with only sprinkles of corn inside and no other flavor to speak of. There is always the Paila option, which is just scrambled eggs, often with avocado. Oddly, this is not considered a breakfast dish, but an once, meaning afternoon snack).

And now we come to the Mote con Huesillo, a popular summer drink that, while not bad, is just plain weird.

Served in a plastic cup, first the vendors add two or three big scoops of cooked husked wheat. Yup, wheat. That’s the ‘mote’ part. Then, one or two stewed peaches in a syrupy liquid are poured on top. This is not blended together. You chew the drink using a straw and a spoon to consume it.

mote con huesilloWhat was so disappointing about the basic, unimaginative and unflavorful foods is that unlike most places in Latin America, in Chile you can drink the water. So in theory you could eat street food freely and happily without worry, just like in Thailand. But this comparison feels absurd, considering the delicious, spicy Pad Thai for a dollar versus fried dough and a cup of wheat and peach juice.

This brings me to our biggest frustration of all – the lack of international food. In Cambodia we had fairly authentic Mexican food, in Malaysia we had spot on British tea and scones. In Chile, any attempt at international cuisine is like eating a bowl of plastic fruits. It always looks so realistic, but once you bite down, there is no flavor at all. Look, the Brits, the Americans, the Germans, we all have boring traditional foods – that’s why we steal international cuisine and mix them all together and call it fusion. All Chile has to do is look north to Peru for fine examples of Japanese-Peruvian and Nouveau-Andean cuisines.

The only international food that Chile really seems to have gotten right was the Kuchen. That’s right, German cake. The Germans arrived to the Lake District en masse in the 19th century and their delicious cake recipes remain perfectly in tact today. Other than that, the dessert leaves much to be desired, with manjar-filled flaky pastries, alfajores and leche asada, which pretty much tastes like flan made of boogers.

chilean foodLook, Chileans do wine very well, and pisco sours, too (though Peruvians would say they stole it from them). They grow delicious avocados and we ate at least one a day every day for over three months.

pisco soursAnd of course there are some excellent chefs making magic throughout the country. We ate extremely well in San Pedro de Atacama, loved the pizza at Tiramisu in Santiago along with Le Fournil, the chain Cassis made great food and one of our top meals was a seriously delicious three course meal at La Marmita in Punta Arenas, as far south as you can get on the Chilean mainland.

Chile, your glaciers and geysers, penguins and sea lions, volcanoes, lakes and massive mountains mesmerized us. Just glance through these posts, and you’ll see how much we love you. We felt right at home in your cities and warmed ourselves on your beaches, vowing to spend a month here or there, or even to plan a GlobetrotterGirls Getaway here someday. And you can be sure that our feelings are genuine, since we stayed over 100 days with you in spite of, most definitely not because of, your food.

Have you been to Chile? What did you think of Chilean food? Share in the comments below!

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  1. We’re on our way to Chile after having soent 5 months in Peru. We truly hope the food experience will be much better than you’ve described in your blog. If it turns out true, at least we’re prepared.Thanks for heads up and happy travels :)!

  2. Most Chilean food is terrible. If you love tons of mayonnaise and overly salted bland food, you will be fine. If you want flavor in Chile find traditional Mapuche cuisine.

  3. Uff.

    It is one thing that Chilean food does not satisfy your unique taste- and another one is to be an ignorant traveler eating food and comparing it to the rest of the world, without taking into consideration the in-countries gastronomic traditions and food resources.

    Sorry to say- but you ain’t shit.

    1. Vegetarians should not give food reviews for countries whose main staples are meat and fish. I am from Chile and know that they are not top level cuisine, but it does not mean that you would be miserable there. Also, anyone looking for pizza in Chile should try to find it in Italy. They may find what they are looking for.

  4. if you go to chile to eat healthy food you might as well go back to america and eat your bland kale salad. oh and don’t forget to season your chicken too

  5. I live in Chile for work, and never has my palate been more bored. I miss international food so much, and after five years, have zero desire to go out to eat: it’s just a waste of time and money for overcooked, boring food, which is exactly in line with what the Globetrotter Girls have said. The beef here is cheap and high quality, but otherwise, any attempts to get anything spicy or flavoursome will be met with complete failure.

    I love living here… except for that.

  6. Mayonaise, Avocado and hot dogs are basically the food from Chile.
    If you go to Santiago… You should go to a Peruvian restaurant and you’ll be fine. LMAO!

  7. Chilean vegetables are fantastic and one of the best in the world, if you don’t now how to cook your own food if sorry for you.

  8. I’ve lived in Chile for about 5 months and I mostly agree, but there were some foods that were left out of here.

    Sopaipillas are garbage. They remind me mostly of fried dough that I’d get at carnivals back in the states so the idea of putting mayo or ketchup on them seemed sacrilegious. The empanadas could use some work. Their most famous one, the pino, is minced meat, onion, with an olive and hard boiled egg. They should take the seed out and mash it, along with the egg, but they usually don’t. Mechada con queso is a little better, but the bread is like cardboard and cheese like rubber. Mote con huesillo is not bad but weird, as you said.

    I’ve enjoyed several Chilean foods though. Churrasco is a decent sandwich (albeit a little messy) made of meat slices, tomato, mayo, avocado. It’s probably my staple food here. Pastel de choclo is very good, it’s meat and ham in something of a corn cake. I’ve found Chilean sea bass, but oddly enough they seem to prefer frying it as opposed to baking it, which defeats the purpose of eating high quality fish. Completos are pretty good, but better if you make them yourself. And curanto is incredible.

  9. Totally agree!
    I am a Chilean who lived in the US for 30 years and when I returned,
    I was disappointed at how bland our food is. I left when i was 21 and living in the US
    I was exposed to so many different varieties of food and I fell in love
    with Mexican Food. I have found very few restaurants )mostly in Santiago)
    that offer some TASTE/SABOR. Here are some of my favourites.
    Le fournil, RIshtedar and a few of the french restaurants.
    Also most of the Peruvian restaurants are contributing with a nice
    culinary experience.
    What I see the problem is Chile is the isolation that we have experienced for many years
    only when you are exposed to the rest of the world , you discover that different flavours
    and please my Chilean brothers, SALT is not the answer, neither is SUGAR.

  10. As a Chilean, I fully support and stand by this opinion.

    There a few dishes worth trying over here, but as a whole, chilean everyday food is bland, tasteless, uninspired and generally sad.

    There is good food to be had but it comes at a price and it’s hard to find.

  11. One of your pictures shows an envelop of “nescafe” (instant coffee o powder coffee) plus crackers and a tsp of marmalade. This is free food that the government deliver to Chilean homeless or immigrants!! Do you get this in Germany It’s called comfort food. I hope your trip was not traumatizing

  12. Agree. Chilean food is lazy and bland – what’s worst is they talk about it like it’s great. It’s embarrassing. I’m married to a Chilean – it’s just a fact.

  13. Sis, you actually ate pure shit. You next time do an actuall job and go get the food that knows our identity. Also please, “Chile” and “no spicy food” shows HOW MUCH ignorant you average Unitedstatians are. I travel every year to the U.S and let me tell you, even the air smells like fat. In Chile most of our food are made with natural ingredients, you guys have it all processed. So, in good Chilean, lavate la boca antes de hablar de la comida chilena. It has WAY more identity than whatever inmigrant spices things up in the States.

  14. I laughed quite a bit reading your post. I also laughed ready some of the comments from butthurt Chileans offended by your comments. Ultimately, I agree with everything you said except for one thing: There is a decent amount of international food in Santiago. It’s not cheap, but it’s there. There are so many Peruvians in Santiago that actually know how to cook… There is Peruvian food everywhere. I also had some pretty good Venezuelan and Vietnamese food.

    Traditional Chilean good on the other hand? Absolutely dreadful. I tried going to some of the famous Chilean restaurants and the reality is that “bland* is just part of how they like their food. It’s baffling. I’ve never experienced anything like this in Latin America. Then on top of bland, they double-down on the mayo to a disgusting extent. In my opinion, it’s just because the food is so bland that they overcompensate with the mayo.

    1. Pulento – the comments keep coming, even all these years later 😉 Luckily I have a thick skin 😀 I remember finding a couple of (excellent!) international restaurant when we were there – like you said, not cheap, but there were some options. I would assume that there have been quite a few restaurant additions in the last few years. I still love Chile and would love to go back!

  15. I agree 100%. I’m a foreigner and have lived in Chile for over a year now, and I’m getting tired. I’m leaving in May, and I can’t wait to have real food again. The butthurt comments come from Chileans who are too proud to admit that their food is seriously underwhelming.

    1. I would’ve expected the food scene in Chile had evolved over the past few years but it looks like not much has happened 😉 May is not far away!!

  16. Every one has an opinion and personal taste
    Your opinion on Chilean food are yours
    I come from a Chilean family have lived in Panama and a few diferente states in the U.S.
    And have travel quite a lot.
    I have had my own experiences with food from all over and not all Chilean dishes are my Gaby it there are a few that I love, maybe my famijust knew how to cook.
    Merken by the way is a very nice Smokey addition to almost any Chilean dish in my opinion and if you put enough of it it can deliver nice heat. Chileans are not Mexican (I personally don’t really like Mexican food and even though I can take the heat havin been married to a Vietnamese for 24 years I really don’t enjoy numbing my taste buds with it.
    Sopaipillas are best eaten “pasadas” wich means with a syrup made with brown sugar or with palm honey; I had never seen them eaten with Mayo or ketchup ( gasp, the horror I loath ketchup) but have with pebre
    BTW and FYI sopaipillas are made with flour and pumpkin
    If I want good food I would never resort to judging a cultures cuisine by its street food
    That’s like judging all American food by eating boiled hotdogs with plenty of ketchup and mustard ( ugh) or McDonald’s
    Chile has delicious stews and seafood to rival any from Europe
    I am not crazy about every dish but there’s definitely very good ones.
    As a culture Chileans don’t tend to eat in the street for the most part we like to sit and enjoy our meals
    Street food are just snacks.
    So, I am sad you had such a bad experience with our food but if you ever find your way back I’d suggest trying charquican ( it can be found with no meat ) and make sure to ask for Merken but as a vegetarian in Chile unfortunately you won’t find much since it’s a country with harsh winters and heavy European influences so meat and potatoes kind of people ( or sea food)
    Enjoy your snacks around the world

  17. That’s why we have colors, not everyone Like the same.
    Also it depends where you go and how much you are willing to spend.

  18. I left Chile in 74 a year after the military take over that the CIA orchestrated! Well I remember food being so much tastier back then and healthier, diabetes was nearly non existent. There was no McDonalds , KFC or other disgusting American take away food or ideas. My brother back there for a holiday Xmas 2017 for the first time, he said, Chile was very westernized now, very sad that the American went in and changed it all, even the people have changed, they’re not as friendly or hospitable as they use to be. I’ve never heard of mayonnaise on sopaipillas, that sounds disgusting! And so much sugar on food, we never had that, we never had ketchup either! The change of food is due to the military take over, with refugees living all over the world and then people coming back to Chile with different habits and food ideas from other countries, even our fruit and veggies were without pesticides and they were full of flavour. Our food was full of flavour, garlic, herbs and spices.
    Thanks America!

  19. Dani, I just stumbled across your blog and I have to say how much I appreciate your candid review! I am a Chilean-American, raised in CA and I have so much love for Chilean food, but it’s partly because of nostalgia and partly because I come from a family of good cooks! (*who do rely on way too much salt at times) It’s hard for me to convey to people in my life what I love about it, or even what in particular makes it unique. I aspire to have a little cafe/bakery or something in the future and find a way to celebrate the traditions and fresh ingredients that I associate with the food! I agree that most of the time, it really needs to be done better and as a former vegetarian, I would agree that options are limited when they really don’t have to be! Thanks for your review, hope you get back to traveling soon & stay safe!

  20. now yall are professional cooks? lol yall don’t even talk without spreading hate. Its different to politely say I dont like chilean food bc blah blah to say oMG I had go to Chile and they really suck skskslsk THEIR FOOD TASTES LIKE CARDBOARD diD I say that THEir Food suCKs???. Like I get it dude pero deja de estar tan ardido lmao. And why do you compare???? like???? son cosas diferentes.
    Also you ate too much chilean “fast food” and not really traditional chilean food.
    Y a todos los comentarios de gringos enojados que al parecer comieron comida tradicional que derecho tienes tu de hablar de comida de la cual no es acostumbrado y decir que apesta??? parecen cabros chicos tbh. Also, whats the name of the chilean who broke their hearts? Los chilenos no cocinan para satisfacerlos.

  21. I am Chilean/American and I am not offended by your article at all. I think *some* Chilean food can be bland, overcooked and terrible. It all depends on who is cooking. In my family we are generous with the herbs, spices and garlic. In my fiend’s family, the same is not true. He grew up hating Chilean food but he only knew his mother’s cooking. Finding good food in Chile is hit or miss. When I took my boyfriend (now husband) to Chile in 2004 he was vegetarian and had a hard time finding vegetarian food but nowadays there are vegan/vegetarian and many healthy choices (hello mushroom empanadas). If you’re vegetarian, you miss out on the pino empanadas, churrascos, lomitos, choripans and completos. The next time you go to Chile, try to eat at people’s homes instead of restaurants and you might be surprised. Porotos Granados, a white bean soup made with tomatoes, squash and corn is quite delicious but only if made with fresh basil. Humitas are sweet and can be somewhat bland but not if smothered with ‘chancho en piedra’ a tomato salsa made with minced garlic and yellow peppers or smothered in pebre (similar to chimichurri). I think the more Mapuche-influenced the dishes are, the better (for instance, charquican). Remember, Chile was colonized by British, German and Spanish people, all of which are known for their bland food. However, I have to say, the thing that Chileans get right is bread. Marraquetas (similar to a baguette but differently shaped) are heaven! I think the problem with Chile is that many of the restaurants are low quality because they’re meant for the lower classes–people who have never left Chile and don’t know better. I was lucky to have grown up with excellent cooks on both sides of my family so all of the Chilean foods I know are flavorful and delicious. These are just some of the herbs and spices used widely in my family: oregano, parsley, cilantro, onions, garlic (loads), paprika, smoked merken, black pepper, cumin, lemon juice, wine vinegar, fresh basil and yellow peppers. My dad makes a veggie pastel de choclo for my husband that is so tasty! Sadly, for many years Chile had problems with Peru and they were very closed-minded about allowing Peruvians to open restaurants, etc. I think this attitude has changed and there are many Peruvian restaurants popping up all over Santiago. I’m sad that you didn’t get to try any good food in Chile because there is good food there, you just won’t find it easily by traveling around and eating at restaurants. I hope you make some friends and get to eat at peoples’ homes where spices and flavors are embraced.

  22. You were CLEARLY never invited to a local BBQ. Mix with the locals a bit and eat the good stuff. Seems to me you tried tourist stuff. Also, dogging on a culture’s cuisine is tasteless and reeks of someone who doesn’t understand travel.

  23. I realize I am coming in very late, but I find it interesting that your references to the foods that you say are not spicy are references to foods from other countries. Of course, pizza in Chile is not going to be spicy or, for that matter, very good. You’re reference to the pizza and using it as your yardstick seems bizarre to me. That’s like saying I went to Rome and the fried chicken wasn’t very good (Get the idea I may be from Kentucky?… and I’m not a fan of KFC)

    You are right in that the general flavor is not hot. But what does that have to do with quality? I have had some of the highest quality meat and vegetables while there. The flavor was full and the seasoning distinct without being overwhelming.

    The odd thing is I stumbled upon your post while trying to find a smoked chili paste that I got while in Santiago and have not found a supplier in the US. Capi ahi ahumado. It had some of the most distinct and pleasant smoke flavor that I have ever experienced. The flavor is worth me scouring the internet to see if I can source it commercially or I will have an acquaintance go purchase it and ship it to me. I brought four jars home from my last trip. It’s that good.

    To say the food sucked is unfair. It may not have been what you wanted, but it was of very good quality every place I went. Perhaps you are accustomed to the flavorless, mass produced tomatoes in the US that are grown fast, pumped full of nitrogen so they turn red and you have to drown them with sauces to give flavor.

    Don’t get me wrong… I love spicy food. I am from Nashville and we are the epicenter of hot, spicy chicken. I am a member of a hot chicken club and we go to a new establishment every month. We find that some places have no idea of what flavor is and simply make it super-hot “dare food” that no one should eat to the holes in the wall that understand how to meld heat with flavor.

    Maybe you should expand our palette and have an open mind as opposed to trying to tell an entire country that they don’t prepare food the way you expected and, therefore, are bad.

    Perhaps you fit the mold of the people who go to a foreign country and go to an Americanized resort. They like the familiarity of America but pretend they experienced the foreign country…but then, you probably don’t realize that.

  24. I wish it weren’t true but it is. I’m American but my family is from Chile. I travelled there in 2018 with my wife and best friend. The food sucked! The best thing we ate was my aunt’s chicken. We were getting desperate and tried Chinese cuisine there and OMG it was disgusting. Oh and Chileans have no clue what black pepper is lol.
    What else?? Wish they had real micheladas! All they add is lemon to their beer. Look, we enjoyed family time and a couple nice wineries but food does suck! The end lol

  25. Have you gone to any “picadas”? Have you tried the large seafood plates? Have you tried Charquican? Have you tried Pastel de Choclo? Have you tried the barbecues? Have you tried any food with the locals or any of the real food that is not in touristic places? It seems like not. I am Chilean and that is not all the food that we have. I’m surprised of your travel to a country at the end of the world and not even trying the most traditional foods. 👍😊

  26. I don’t know where you went to eat but it shows that you don’t have any good advice because the Chilean food is so good first of all Is my first time in my life I heard someone eat sopaipillas whit may second of all Chilean pizza is the best you pizza suck papa johns chile is the best I ever eat in my entire life and trust me I eat a lot of pizza in my life if I compare whit papa johns in the USA is disgusting
    the humitas you have to eat it whit tomatoes or something no one eats the humitas alone
    and can I say something American food suck that is the truth how can critic something if you don’t have any tradition at all
    how someone who has for tradition McDonald’s and IHOP in and out can talk shit about Chilean food
    your food is all fake Chilean food is made in the moment whit natural flavors is a natural food like all Latin America food is real food whit natural ingredients
    I have been living like for one year here and I took me a lot of time to found a good restaurant where I can eat something who taste good literary months I was so sad thinking the food taste bad really so continue to eat waffles and fries hamburger sausages and nuggets and bacon if that makes you happy, good for you

  27. I’m Chilean-American and agree Chilean food can be bland to most, I moved there from the States for a while just to get to know my second country (actually here now; family member passed); a vegetarian myself. So, though I will grant the fact that the food is bland in terms of spicy to many (not in terms of richness) and not as varied as elsewhere, given the actual restaurants you mention (in Santiago) I can tell the kind of tourist you were, and m’am that’s not where the real Chilean food is at. You mention Le Fournil? Infamous restaurant catering to the equivalent of the Upper East side; expensive food known for its lack of quality and almost self-hating in terms of Chilean culture/cuisine, you’ll only find resentful Chileans there, those who show no pride in origin but in aiming at becoming America’s carbon copy; I see you didn’t much observe the prevalent social politics (which are all too evident and quite disturbing, every well-traveled American I’ve met notices immediately, same as the self hate and aspirational tones of neighborhoods such as the one where your two redeemed restaurants are found; neither serving Chilean cuisine). I guess this is what disturbs me most about your post; the utter indifference to the actual culture and the seemingly culture-less travel plans you followed; this read as a review on Chilean food analogous to reviewing Southern Food based on visiting Atlanta‘s Buckhead alone, with a few other more quaint neighborhoods down the mason-dixie line; I find it quite ignorant.

    And I don’t particularly love Chilean food, much prefer Mexico’s or Peru’s. But I would like a FOUNDED review, even if negative, that reflects an actual encounter with the culture (and there are such reviews out there, this one is obtuse and borderline offensive). How did you not encounter the peruvian-asian fusion cuisine? Again; the type of tourist. It is everywhere and Peruvians are quite involved; the amount of Colombian-Venezuelan restaurants with actual spice to them? The seafood markets and specialized markets? Are you sure you went to Chile? I feel you wrote about what you ate, sure; but you did not experience actual Chilean cuisine and culture (as you say, most “sophisticated country” in LatAm -though most Chileans who live there and understand the underbelly of the beast would disagree-) well, as a tourist it’s easy to stay in the more sophisticated areas known for their stuffiness and lack of flavor, from what I read that is exactly what you did (and what my American father did as a tourist, only to realize he’d had the most ignorant and white-washed experience of the country until he socialized with actual Chileans).

    Lastly, as a vegetarian (25 years now) I must disagree with your views on salads there; on the presence of vegetables as a whole (should other vegetarians/vegans be reading). I miss Chilean salads, and Chilean vegetables; the States attempts to smother vegetables with the amounts of dressing, putting 20 vegetables in one plate, I think mainly because vegetables in the states are just low quality, in Chile you could have a lonesome tomato as a salad and it would be packed with flavor, it’s remarkable; I much enjoy Chile’s more reserved outlook; few delicious fresh and savory vegetables with very little dressing (where did you see white vinegar? That is QUITE the exception), only salt, fresh lemon juice and some salt. You can actually taste EACH vegetable, and they do often bring them as shown in the picture so you may choose your vegetables and toss your own salad should you want to (Chileans often don’t want to, they/we hold an almost reverence towards our fresh vegetables and their sanctity and don’t wish to lose them in a giant bowl filled with other ingredients; what you’re missing is American commercial salads that have to me smothered so as to get any real flavor (I know, I grew up on them). The amount of vegetable soups and stews, the use of legumes. I quite enjoyed my years there as a vegetarian. And I found a new respect towards clean fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh fruit juice (and no, unless you go to certain areas where the juice is premade with sugar) without added sugar (oh how I miss Chirimoyas!), and it’s delicious to start your day with some fresh juice of any assortment of fruits and some avocado -consumed for centuries; not a fad- on fresh Chilean bread (I loved the bread). Honestly, coming from Georgia and loving comfort food, I found Chile to be quite the easy transition; though I missed spice, the richness of the stews and presence of vegetables is quite comforting; and just FYI, “Sopaipillas” are not fried though, it’s a fried sweet-potato based kind of biscuit do you minimum research, and empanada’s are not meant to be compared to those in Argentina (which I LOVE) or Perú’s, but are instead made to showcase coastal flavors (fish, urchins, etc…) and country flavors (think shepperd’s pie filling). If you’re a southener you might actually much more enjoy the country’s cuisine; so long as you want to visit properly and not just follow the “gringo” tour or go otherwise unprepared. Do ready for the mayonnaise; that much is true.

  28. Chilean cuisine is tasty and varied, unless you are stingy. Chile is not a cheap country compared to most of Latin America. In Chile, as in the US, you get what you pay for. By what you describe, you survived on mostly cheap low quality food, comparable in level to KFC or IHOP in the US. However, Chilean seafood is extraordinary, as is beef. Legumes such as beans and lentils are unfortunately scarce in restaurants, but are staples in homes in Chile and very tasty and wholesome. Baked dishes are delicious but also in general difficult to find in cheap restaurants. Desserts, sweets and cheese are regular or poor. Wine and Pisco are great. There is a sandwitch culture in Chile which is quite unique and tasty (and no, that does not include the completo, which is about the cheapest thing you can get). Most of the ice cream is excellent. BBQ culture in Chile is not really accessible to foreigners, but it is a national craze and besides being tasty, is an experience worth having. International food exists, but it is not noteworthy, unless you pay top dollar. Best Chilean dishes for visitors to try: Caldillo de congrio; locos; ceviche; pastelera; pastel de choclo, pastel de papas; plateada al horno; churrasco palta tomate; ostiones al pilpil; porotos granados; all extremely tasty. Accompany with merlot, or carmenere wine (exclusive to Chile). Skip the dessert and go buy an icecream at a specialized strore, you wont regret it. My GF is Thai and loved the food here… Go figure!

  29. Ugh! Couldn’t be more true. I am struggling with the lack of spices and flavor. I really hope they can improve their gastronomical scene. And it has nothing to do with being stingy – unfortunately, Chileans get ripped off right and left and don’t say a word about it! Example: Vietnam Discovery in Vitacura – horrible food and so overpriced that I wanted to die. Doesn’t mean I can’t afford it – it means I hate getting ripped off for pure junk! I make better curry at home. Second example, the renowned “picadas” in Viña…that don’t do absolutely anything to the fish for flavor, then charge you $6.00 extra for a side item. (Like fries that yet again, have nothing special to them). I do appreciate all the sushi options here and have found very good Italian/pizza.

  30. I’m a chilean vegan, and i also consider that not eating meat it’s hard and i still have trouble to eat out with my alimentary restrictions, i feel very ofended by this post jaja, I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy our typical foods as we do. I love sopaipillas when it’s rainy and cold, and when it’s hot in the summer it’s amazing for me to have a glass of cold mote con huesillos.
    Also in winter we have the amazing churrascas, which i think you didn’t try. Nevermind, i’m sorry you didn’t had a great food experience here.

  31. Judging by the photos you had terrible food, but I don’t know, it is funny to see people talking about Chilean food about being terrible when the things you describe aren’t typical food. You just had “regular” food. You didn’t talk about patagonian lamb or chupes, or corn pies, and so many typical dishes you eat in specific places.
    If you just had that bland salad in the pic, it is mainly your fault. You should have donde your homework in terms of where to go and what to eat. Chorrillana isn’t a national dish, that is just something you order while drinking. NOBODY has chorrillana at home. Sopaipillas is simple dough, yes, but it isn’t meant to be gourmet or anything like that. It is just fried dough you eat especially in winter, and not with mayo but chancaca, which I am sure you didn’t tried it.
    You didn’t talk about ceviche or any sea food, so I guess you didn’t eat there either.
    In Chile people don’t drink coffee. That is why places like Starbucks are thing because the country drinks mostly tea, and also Chile does not produce it; but buy it.
    Still, and even though it is you own experience, I would really advice you to do your homework before visiting a place. You really have to be super delusional if you expect to get homemade food from a restaurant in one of the busiest places in the country.
    It is a country with not the best cuisine, just like the US or Germany, countries with horrible food but super powerful to attract international people, chefs, products, etc. You can’t compare. And plus, complaining about street food vs in Thailand. Come on, in Chile you CAN’T cook in the street, it is illegal. That is why you just get something quick.
    The only thing I agree with is that is not the best compared to magical peruvian food, but again, you clearly didn’t go to the right places. You just went to a lot of tourist traps. I hope you do some research before traveling to other places.

  32. Hello, please try the following food if you visit Chile. and make your own opinion.
    Pastel de Choclo
    Porotos con Rienda / Porotos Granados
    Ajiaco or Valdiviano
    Ceviche and seafood
    Caldillo de Congrio
    Carbonada, o Cazuela
    Ensalada Chilena y empanadas de pino
    Pastel de Jaiba

  33. Chilean here, Santiago’s food sucks, big time. Living here for almost 10 years and all the food that could be considered “national” is just plain bad. BUT I think you would really change your opinion if you went to Patagonia and tried pretty much everything there. The quality of vegetables and meat is just top notch by any standard, plus the influence of Mapuche and German culture has created this beautiful delicious dishes (Patagonian Lamb, Chupe de Jaiba, Cancato, Locos, Plateada, etc)

    I hope you can come back to Chile, but this time visit the south part of Chile!

  34. I am sorry that you had that experience, you probably do not speak the language and by your writing I can see that your knowledge of history is nonexistent. I am also a vegetarian, have been for 34 years of my life. I am slo the daugther of Chilenian parents and I was born an raised in Spain.. You have not mentioned pan amasao, palta or pastel de choclo, which are basic staples of Chilenian cuisine. If you really want to learn let me know. Please do us all a favor and do not emit judgement as a general consensus when that was your single, uneducated, uninformed opininion.

  35. Well, I find it a shame so many numb chucks blasted you this for this delightful article!

    “Vegetarians shouldn’t leave food reviews in countries whose the main cuisine is meat!?!?!” Are you kidding me??

    First of all — MOST of the foods you talked about WERE meat dishes so their comment is just flat-out stupid. Vegetarian or not, your point is their cuisine is TASTELESS and that has nothing to do whether it has meat in it or not! And second, MOST Latin countries, like most historically lower-income countries, were built on main staples like rice and beans (or other carbs) — which is SO MUCH MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE THAN MEAT!. IN FACT, it is the very fact so much of Latin America is adopting the SAD (Standard American Diet) — so laden with meat — that deforestation has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels, that obesity has become a continental epidemic, and fully 50% of all Mexicans will now develop Type II diabetes in their lifetimes!!! [Look it up, you trolling readers, if you don’t believe it. Either the NYT or WP had a massive cover story on it recently.]

    In fact, an article published in 2012 by Merco Press states that meat consumption on Chile in particular has risen a whopping 50% in the prior two decades. And multiple commentators here, to your otherwise VERY entertaining and hilariously written article, would have us believe that “meat is a historical staple of the Chilean diet!?!?” RIGHT. SO HOW DO YOU ALL EXPLAIN *THAT* STATISTIC????

    [And as one writer to another “Globetrotter Girls,” this sentence is BRILLIANT! “There is a deceiving red powder, called ají, on the table with salt and pepper, but even if you cover your pizza in a blanket of it, there’d be about as much kick as from a legless man.” !!! You had me laughing on the floor!]

    You know, I’ve never been to Chile and have no opinion one way or the other on their cuisine, but all I can say is this: WAY too many people spend WAY too much time being petty and defensive rather than taking a fun, entertaining opinion piece for what it is: A fun, entertaining OPINION piece. And if you trollers want to convince me this author is wrong, how about, instead of calling her names and making stupid “arguments” that aren’t even arguments — how about you counter with some actual EVIDENCE. Such as: names, descriptions and photos of “national dishes” that are actually excellent and contradict the writer’s point!! THAT would be a valid rebuttal to this piece!

    In the meanwhile — until you take a course or read a book on “Logic 101” — I suggest you spare the world your utterly meaningless and entirely mean-spirited diatribes against a group of women who are simply travelling the world and writing lovely, entertaining, arm-chair travel while they do it!!!

    I can relate to your experience by the way — in my travels for 2 weeks through Japan. Japan is a GREAT place to be if you like Japanese food, but God help you if you want ANYTHING ELSE AT ALL. I had to take 3 trains just to get a PIZZA b/c after 2 weeks, I had an almost unbearable craving for cheese, which for the life of me, I couldn’t find anywhere! I sholdn’t be surprised of course, Japan is the only country in the world that is so nationally arrogant and xenophobic, you actually ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BECOME A LEGAL CITIZEN IF YOU ARE NOT RACIALLY JAPANESE!!! You can get their equivalent of a “green card” if you marry a Japanese person or work there, but you can NEVER become a citizen. And amazingly, the entire Western world has NOTHING TO EVER SAY ABOUT SUCH A GROSS EXAMPLE OF RACISM!!!

    Just think of all the outrage that the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII still stirms up in this country and meanwhile, the entire country of Japan is the ONLY advanced “Western”-styled world that has such overt and disgusting racism built into their very law code!

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