Although Chilean food has taken much inspiration from its European heritage, it has carved a niche for itself in the world food culture. The Chilean food dishes menu is a list of bright, flavorful, and wholesome meals that can put a large smile on the face of any foodie. Mostly comprising of meat, seafood, and vegetables, depending on the dish’s geographic origin, they are best eaten alongside local wine or pisco sour, a tangy local drink.
Let’s look at the 10 most popular Chilean foods you must try during your visit to Chile.
Empanadas are delicious dough pastries (baked or fried) filled with tasty cheese, succulent seafood, beef, olive oil, and onion. Most locals believe that the secret to making a good Empanada is preparing the filling the night before. Chileans are fond of Empanadas throughout the year and take great pride in serving homemade Empanadas to favored guests.
- Say what: em-pah-nah-duh
- Where to find it: Zunino Emporium in Santiago
- Tips: Pair it with a pisco sour (tangy local drink) to wash it down.
Go on one of the food tours available in Chile, if hunting good food on your own doesn't fit your bill.
Humitas are the Chilean version of tamales. Sweet or savory, Humitas are made with boiled flour and corn meal. Corn husks are stuffed with ground corn, basil, onion, and ground paprika. They are then tied together with thread or twine. Humitas are cooked to perfection by either boiling or steaming in hot water.
- Say what: Hoo-mee-taas
- Where to find it: Sold at almost all corner stores
- Tips: Best paired with a Chilean salad — Ensalada a la Chilena.
Pastel de Choclo is an excellent representation of the mestizo (mixed) style of South American cooking. Inspired from the Spanish style Empanada and Andean Humitas, Pastel de Choclo is a perfect blend of sweet and savory corn pudding bursting with sweet corn, ground beef, olives, onions, hard boiled eggs, and raisins.
- Say what: pes-til-deh-chock-loh
- Where to find it: Galindo, a famous gastro pub in Santiago
- Tips: Pair with Coyam wine from Emiliana Organico.
Completos are the Chilean version of Hot Dogs! If you love hot dogs, you must eat the Completos in Chile. A typical Chilean Completo is served with tomato, sauerkraut, sausage, and lots of mayonnaise. Walk along the streets of Santiago with Completos and a tall drink to keep you energized! If you’re lucky, you might even find a vendor who sells Completos with avocado.
- Say what: comp-lay-to
- Where to find it: Every street corner in major cities.
- Tips: Relish it with your bare hands — try not to drop it!
Ceviche is one of the more popular foods in Chile. The Chilean version is made with raw fish like halibut marinated in citric juices and is usually served with cilantro, cumin, onions, sautéed garlic, and olive oil. If you want to try something different, you could also go for the cold shrimp Ceviche.
- Say what: say-vee-chay
- Where to find it: La Mar, Santiago
- Tips: Eat cold or room temperature for best flavor.
Asado is the mother of all barbecues! Chileans are extremely social and love to invite people over for get-togethers. The meat in Asado, usually beef, pork, mutton, or chicken, is slow roasted on a charcoal grill for 2-3 hours and is cooked on a sturdy stick that is rotated regularly. Slow roasting the meat makes it succulent and tasty. Try this famous Chilean food barbecue at least once when you’re there!
- Say what: a-saad-oh
- Where to find it: Asador Patagonico, Puerto Natales
- Tips: A side dish Chilean Salad - Ensalada a la Chilena, makes Asado a complete meal.
Charquican stew is a traditional Chilean food dish, the recipe of which is passed down from mothers to daughters. It is great for summers or winters and is made from dry preserved meat and chunky pumpkin pieces. Beautifully simmered with spices, condiments, corn, beef, and pumpkin, Charquican Stew gets its natural sweetness from pumpkin and is considered a heartwarming, comfort food by the local population. Excellent in nutritional value, and a treat for your palate, you should not leave Chile without having tried it.
- Say what: char-ki-kaan
- Where to find it: La Vega complex, Santiago
- Tips: Take it with warm bread.
Chorillana is our absolute favorite amongst all Chilean fast foods! Addition of sautéed beef, onions, fried eggs, and sausages to a heap of French fries, brings about a gorgeous twist to the mundane fried potatoes, both in terms of taste and design. Found in almost all bars and loved by locals, Chorillana is one Chilean food dish you simply have to try.
- Say what: chor-i-yana
- Where to find it: Bar La Playa, Serrano 568
- Tips: Pair with a chilled beer while watching football/soccer.
Cazuela is a favorite of the locals. With both Spanish and Mapuche origins, Cazuela is a heartwarming broth loved by almost everyone. It is made with large chunks of chicken or beef, pumpkin, potatoes, cilantro, and corn noodles and slow cooked to perfection. A Chilean comfort food, Cazuela is favored by most mothers to ward off the cold in their children.
- Say what: cahz-wella
- Where to find it: La Cazuela in Santiago
- Tips: Eat the broth first and finish off with the meat, veggies, and potatoes.
If a dish has a poem dedicated to it, there is no reason you shouldn’t try it. Pablo Neruda, the poet and known gourmand wrote an ode to Caldillo de Congrio where he hinted that it tastes of heaven. No wonder Caldillo de Congrio has great importance at state functions and is included as a part of the buffet spread for international guests. You don’t want to leave Chile without tasting heaven itself.
- Say what: call-di-yo-duh-cong-rio
- Where to find it: Las Conchitas (Los Leones, Providencia)
- Tips: Best when eaten hot, with an extra sprinkle of cilantro on top
With strong Mapuche and Incan influences, Chilean food has evolved over the years to welcome all food palates. Trying as many dishes as you can; listed or unlisted above, should be one of the things to do on your Chile tour.