As befits a grimy old port, Valparaíso has several venerable bars that are dripping with history. They’re all located at the bottom of the hill in the centre of town so they’re pretty easy to get to. In common with most ports, Valpo can be a bit edgy at times so please be on your guard. Back in 2011 I was told that the bars around Subida Ecuador are safer but that you should be more careful around Barrio Puerto (eg Bar La Playa). You’ll find everywhere mentioned below and more on my map.
One night in 2011 I stopped off for a cold bottle of Cristal beer (B) at the ancient and atmospheric Bar Ingles at 851 Cochrane (or rear door at 870 Blanco).
It’s full of old guys playing dominoes, knocking back the pisco sours (happy hour is 6 till 8.30 Monday to Tuesday) or tucking into cocina tipica Chilena (empanadas, grilled kidneys, tripe etc).
The stained white walls don’t seem to have had a lick of paint since it opened in the 1900’s and the huge old warped wooden bar gives it a saloon-like feel. In one concession to modernity, they do have Wi-Fi.
It’s a popular lunch spot, but I was one of only a few having an evening meal. The food comes up from the kitchen in cellar on an old dumb waiter while new orders are shouted down the shaft. I had Palta York (avocado with diced cooked ham) to start (C+)…
…followed by the local favourite of Conejo Frito (fried rabbit) with chips (C+).
It was all nicely prepared and presented simple food but they are big portions and unfortunately my eyes were bigger than my appetite and I couldn’t finish, much to the consternation of a couple of the old boys. It was all nicely prepared though and the bill came in at just under £20 with another beer.
Just down the road at Plaza Anibel Pinto 1182 is Bar Cinzano, one of the oldest bars in town (since 1896) with bored old waiters who looked like they have been there since it opened.
They made me a passable Pisco Sour (B), but served it up in a fruit bowl.
The shelves behind the bar are a shrine to Santiago Wanderers (formed in 1892 and so the oldest club in the country) with ancient team photos going back to 1946.
Apparently many old relics from the club’s history were wiped out in an earthquake that destroyed their headquarters, and a lot of their silverware.
Other wall decoration are on a nautical theme with pictures of tankers sinking off the coast, as well as old ads for dance nights at the bar.
It still has a popular ballroom at the weekend, and a restaurant too but I didn’t get to try either as I was in town on the wrong days of the week. Generally you should expect most places to be quiet from Monday to Wednesday.
A few more bars worthy of mention:
I regret not getting to Bar La Playa, in Plaza Soto Mayor near the port, which is the oldest bar in the city. It’s even rumored to have it’s own ghost!
Ritual at 48 Almirante Montt isn’t particularly old but they were hospitable enough to allow me to join a private family party when I put my head in.
Bar Irlandes just down the road at 1279 Blanco doesn’t have the history either but it’s cosy, clean, plays music, has Wi-Fi and stays open later than others.
A teacher told me Bar Piedra Feliz, at Errazuriz 1041, has live bands and a good atmosphere.
Going home, I recommend getting an Uber rather than a taxi which will more than likely try to overcharge you.
And now up the hill for a bit of sightseeing…