Once home to Pablo Neruda, Santiago’s best-known bohemian enclave is a riot of fantástico graffiti, architecture, nightlife & all-around élan.

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Amid all this funk & splendor, there was nary a sidewalk café, sleek bôite or sketchy pub I didn’t hanker to hang my hat in, but we had to make do with 2.

Galindo

Galindo‘s a beloved, scuffed-up, decades-old bar serving homestyle Chilean classics like
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empanadas de pino with beef, onion, egg, olive & raisins (the Chilean style, at least at the humbler joints & roadside stands, tends toward the oversized & folded rather than crimped at the edges)

Galindopasteldechoclopastel de choclo, a baked corn pudding with more beef, chicken, onions, olives & raisins
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porotos con plateada: ugly but luscious white beans with mashed corn, pumpkin, red pepper & basil

& the dish that became an obsession for the 4 of us on this Wines of Chile–led trip: chorrillana.

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Light years ahead of chili fries, it’s a platter of papas fritas beneath a pile of beef chunks fried with egg & onions. Ridiculous.

Rather more elegant was El Mesón Nerudiano.

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Of the many pisco sours I sampled throughout Chile, theirs was my favorite, punch-packing, laced with bitters
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& a perfect complement to the signature appetizer composed of all sorts of seafood salad canapés

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as well as tilapia ceviche & bracingly but pleasurably acidic shrimp ceviche,
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rounded out by empanadas. (Whatever shape they take, the vast majority of Chilean empanadas are stuffed with beef or seafood; we didn’t encounter any that contained queso.)
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The entrees too were typically Chilean—very straightforward, no frills, be it foil-wrapped salmon or beef filet; hardly gorgeous, the photos do accurately portray the satisfying, ingredient-driven simplicity of the national cookery:
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All this—& so much more yet to share from South America’s extraordinary left coast.