NileGuide Expert Says:
On the way to or from Mendoza or just for a day trip, the restaurant at Portillo is a culinary treat.
164 km from Santiago, on Route 57, en route to Mendoza
56-2-263 06 06
NileGuide Expert tip:
Plan enough time to do some walking around the resort, especially in the off season, when there are some walking trails open along the Laguna del Inca, for example. Bring good walking shoes.
Ski Portillo is many things to many people. A place to get together with friends and family, to ski for a week, or just spend the day. And the meals, oh, the meals! The chef at Portillo, Rafael Figueroa has been preparing meals for Chile's hungry skiiers and hangers on for years, and yet nothing on the menu seems stale or uncreative.
The customer service in the dining room is excellent, and the maitre'd has been seating guests for decades. The waiters, too, have been employed at Portillo for years, and it's easy to glean that this experience is more akin to visiting an old family friend than a restaurant, per se. The main dining room has leather and wood accents, including chairs from the original 1949 construction, with leather seats. The tables by the plate glass windows overlooking the pool and the Laguna del Inca, an azure lake are the most coveted, and from there you can appreciate the shallow valley and peaks that frame the lake.
The menu caters to most tastes, and features local food and produce. A recent visit featured a shrimp appetizer sauteed with artichoke bottoms, and finished with a tasty sauce. There are risottos, grilled fish dishes, traditional meat and potatoes, and wines to pair with each. For dessert, try the classic celestino, a thick grilled crepe filled with exquisite manjar (dulce de leche, a soft milk fudge) and served with vanilla ice cream from Sebastian, one of Santiago's best-loved artesenal ice-cream makers.
Finish it off with a well-crafted cortado (Chile's version of a very small latte), and, as Chilean tradition dictates, a long sobremesa (after-dinner chat).