The elite of Latin America’s culinary world met in Bogota, Colombia last week for the naming of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2017, one of the definitive lists that highlight the best in the region’s over the top, sensory haute cuisine. Taking top honors was Lima’s Maido. This year’s installment included four Chilean restaurants, all of them in Santiago, including a newcomer, and is a great place to benchmark Santiago’s best restaurants.
The Latin America’s Best 50 List gets the most attention in both local and international media, and looks for those multicourse tasting menus with exotic and unknown local ingredients, with a modern plating and generally a high price point. There is much that could be said about this sort of cuisine versus your day-to-day spots, but we do enjoy treating ourselves to nice meal from time to time, and many of our traveling tour customers also like to indulge in a fine meal during their stay in Latin American capitals and tourist destinations. So it’s a good reference point to plan for a trip’s meals.
To create the list, the Latin America’s Best 50 has 252 “academy members” which vote for their preferred dining spots. It’s all part of the larger “World’s Best 50”, sponsored by S.Pellegrini.
This year, four Santiago based restaurants were named, three of them which have appeared in the past and a new fourth addition as well.
#5 – Borago – Owned and run by Chef Rodolfo Guzman, Borago stands is an “Innovative dining experience that connects with nature and the heart of Chile”. It stands out for the use of “numerous Chilean ingredients, products and techniques to the world for the first time, rewriting his country’s culinary rulebook in the process.” Sample dishes highlighted by judges are “Duck hearts grilled in duck fat, changle (edible coral mushroom) and plum leaves; venison tartare with maqui berries; rockfish and rocks; Chilean rhubarb with fruits of the beach”, with a minimalist and earthy, (but beautiful) plating.
#14- 99Restaurant– Under the care of Chef Kurt Schmidt, 99Restaurant offers a “sophisticated cooking and stunning presentation served in a laid-back dining space”, and stands out for “beautifully executed dishes that major on intense flavors extracted from primarily Chilean ingredients”. Alongside Schmidt is the pastry chef Gustavo Saez, who was named Latin America’s Best Pastry Chef in 2016. This place, located in Providencia, was described as “super-casual but gastronomically sophisticated” Dishes include: ”Onions – overgrown onions from the Vega market. Every part of the onion is used to create broth, purée, powder, dehydrated and pickled onions”, and its selection of small batch Chilean wine producers, with an emphasis on natural and biodynamic products, was also appreciated.
#33- Ambrosia – A family venture which has hit a new level since a generational change putting Chef Carolina Bazán at the helm. By applying “French flair to a market led menu”, the restaurant excels with dishes like “fresh oysters with orange butter; homemade pasta with Chilean truffle and egg yolk; wild deer with mushroom purée and vegetables”. They have also recently unveiled a new format for the restaurant at Ambrosia Bistro. Located in a residential neighborhood in VItacura, this is one of our favorite places. The food remains a proper meal, rather than just a conceptual “sensory experience”.
#38- 040– Run by Spanish Chef Sergio Barroso, who brought with him experience working in places like Spain’s El Bulli, 040 offers “avant-garde tapas” with a molecular approach to small format dishes, and a special emphasis on the sea. Tucked away in the basement of the Tinto Boutique Hotel in Bellavista, the Top 50 list said “there is no other dining experience in Santiago quite like 040, which applies a high level of technical skill to Chile’s rich native ingredients”. Standout dishes include “the egg filled with a sous vide egg yolk, rich broth and bacon foam served inside its shell on a bed of hay” or “bone-in and fried silverside fish.” And don’t forget to head to the Room 9 speakeasy style bar after the meal on the roof of the eight room hotel.
A congratulations is in order for each one of these places who are setting the standard for fine Chilean cuisine. See you in the dining room!
Photos: Latin America’s Top 50 Restaurants 2017