Photo by Mr T in DC on Flickr.
After starting your day with Nescafé, which is what most Chileans prefer to drink, believing it to be less acidic and therefore less harmful than filter coffee, you’re going to want to get your real java on. Maybe you’re staying at a hotel that has great coffee, and don’t need that extra jolt. But for the rest of you, or for those who just need a little extra kick to make it through yet another long, sunny walk in Santiago’s city streets, here are some cafés that are worth checking out.
The main thing to remember about cafés in Chile is how to order. A cappuccino has two versions, the one with cream (considered Viennese), and the one with milk. If you prefer the one with milk, make sure to say “con espuma de leche” (with frothed milk), so there’s no confusion. But most Chileans will order a “cortado” which is essentially a very tiny latte. It has about 1/2 espresso, 1/2 milk and just a little bit of froth on top. Some places sell a double, or you can just keep ordering more until you’ve had your fill of caffeine.
The largest concentration of cafés in Santiago is in Bellas Artes, along the streets José Miguel de La Barra and Merced, but there are good places to get coffeee all throughout the center, Providencia, Ñuñoa and Las Condes.
Here are a few to try:
Café Bistro de La Barra a small, independently owned coffee shop on José Miguel de la Barra in Bellas Artes with very frothy cappuccunis that come with a little square of dark chocolate.
Café Mosqueto is in a mini strip of three cafés, and has a small bookstore inside, and offers a variety of kinds of coffee (Brazilian, Colombian). If you aren’t sure which, just say nothing and they’ll choose one for you.
Cafe del Opera is a European-style cafe with the waitstaff in matching beige uniforms. The coffee is strong, well-prepared and best accompanied by ice cream or one of their tempting cakes. In the evening well-to-do couples come in for once (the evening tea).
Plaza Victoria is a tiny bit off the beaten path, but well worth the trip with what is considered to be the finest cup of coffee in Santiago. They also serve light meals, and it has a pleasant, if somewhat stark environment.
Amadeus has a few outdoor tables along Parque Bustamante and decent coffee with oversized dessert portions, together with pizzas, piadinas and salads.
Le Fournil is a small chain specializing in breads and baked goods, but which also serves meals. There are several locations in Vitacura, at the airport and in Patio Bellavista, so you’re never very far from a strong cup of espresso.
Coffee can be found all around the city, and of course, every day more and more Starbucks are opening, so if you really have to get your American coffee fix, well, Santiago has that as well.