Santiago – Party time in Bellavista

Bellavista is the place to come for nightlife in Santiago, especially if you’re a young student type. The main bar street is Pio Nino which is always heaving with people but there are quieter places on the side streets coming off it. I only had one brief night here so can’t say too much about it, but I ate and drank well so here is what I know…

Barandiaran (Elementary A) Patio Bellavista, Constitucion 38, Tel. 737 0725

Patio Bellavista is a large complex of shops, bars, live venues and restaurants. The restaurant is down one of the side passages and not very well signed, but if you ask the security guards, they will point you in the right direction.

As I mentioned in the last post, Peruvian food has an excellent reputation throughout South America and this is a good place to come and eat it on the cheap. The ambience is more modern and quite plain and simple in comparison to its older, more atmospheric sister in Providencia. The service is good and they know how to pour a beer (Cusquena from Peru (A)) and mix a stiff Pisco Sour (A).

I started with Choclo Huancaina, kernels of giant maize with a pungent sauce of goat’s cheese and yellow Aji peppers and a couple of olives which were non-descript individually but when tossed together were an excellent combination (B+).

For the main, Cordero a la Nortena, that is southern lamb cooked in a northern style (a sauce of tomatoes, onions, reduced red wine and ‘Peruvian spices’; probably cumin, garlic, coriander and a couple of different chilli powders) with some great white rice on the side. It wasn’t a looker but tasted really good (A-).

After this I went for a drink at Venezia at 196 Pio Nino, (a former haunt of Pablo Neruda whose third house, La Chascona, is just up the hill). It’s primarily a restaurant, although there are a few stools at the old bar where you can have a beer and a sandwich.

Although not much to look at from the outside, it has an atmospheric, woody interior and plays much more downtempo music than that being pumped out by its more modern neighbours. If I’d had time I’d have come and checked out the food but I never got the chance.

If the frenetic activity on the main strip is not your thing, the parallel street of Constitucion is a lot more chilled. I’d had a tip that Etniko at Constitucion 172 was a good place to go but didn’t realise you had to reserve a table to get in (Tel. 2 7320119). However,  when I said I only wanted one drink, the friendly English-speaking greeter found me a spot to stand by the wall with a shelf to put my drink on.

I had the house cocktail, something called a Luciano, made with Pear Wyborowa, grapefruit juice and topped up with tonic, which was very refreshing (B). I really liked the atmosphere here; lots of beautiful young people scoffing huge plates of sushi to a soundtrack of cool house music. There’s a separate small room where you can go for a dance after eating. This would be a great place to go with a group of friends.

I only dipped my toe in, but Bellavista looks like the area to come to if you’re a hedonist and don’t have to worry about a hangover the next day. To get there on the metro, get off at Baquedano walk north over the river. You’ll need to get a taxi back though as the metro stops quite soon after midnight.

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