Café Melba: Gringo Breakfast Paradise in Santiago

When visiting Cafe Melba, it is very possible that owner Dell Taylor will greet you herself. An enthusiastic welcome and your choice of seating among the simple, contemporary design found indoors and on the patio set in motion the hard part: deciding what to order.

Photo by Mauro Tapia
Photo by Mauro Tapia

During the weekdays, the clientele leans towards a lunch crowd; but the most notable menu items are the selection of gringo breakfasts available all day, every day, and with an even bigger variety on the weekends.

For the unacquainted, the traditional gringo breakfast originally came from the need to reboot after waking up at the crack of dawn to do farm labor. It has now become luxuriously absorbed into the lifestyles of many Americans, Brits, New Zealanders, and Anglos in general. This kind of breakfast is much bigger and heavier than the bread-and-Nescafe breakfast of Chile.

Photo by Mauro Tapia
Photo by Mauro Tapia

Breakfast orders at Café Melba start as low as CP$1,800 (USD$3.30), while hearty dishes that are sure to leave you full are still reasonably priced, like the tasty Egghead deluxe (“Hue…que?” on the Spanish menu) for CP$3,650 (USD$6.65). Tasty traditional plates include French toast with real maple syrup, banana, pineapple, and the best crispy bacon you can find in Santiago; also, the Classics’ Eggs Benedict which can be ordered with bacon, ham, or smoked salmon.

The beverage part of the menu carries a plethora of choices. You can find a variety in and of itself in the coffee and tea selection, branching out into iced coffee and tea infusions. A luca (CP$1,000, USD $1.85) can buy you a hot chocolate. And if you can’t decide from the array of fresh, natural juices you can order a tutti-frutti mix.

Lunch options, many for CP$4,300 (USD$7,85), are equally as enticing, with a range from a vegetarian lasagna to a real burger. The Spring Pastamania, a Melba favorite, covers fettuccine in a creamy, white wine sauce, accompanied by mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes that give it a nice kick. Sandwich options are also available (CP$2,900, USD$5.30) on the blackboards throughout the restaurant. Deserts and gourmet ice cream satisfy a sweet tooth if there is any more room in your satisfied tummy.

The menu at Café Melba changes not only on the weekends, with an expanded breakfast selection to better suit its patrons, but with seasons too, with a new carta (menu) readily available in both English and Spanish the last week of March, June, September, and December.

Photo by Mauro Tapia
Photo by Mauro Tapia

Although, the menu varies, the service does not. Consistency is one of the many pros of Café Melba. Taylor, hailing from New Zealand, has owned and operated the café since its creation twelve years ago. She realized the need for a place offering good gringo breakfasts, which was nonexistent in Santiago until then.

Aiming to make you and your stomach happy, staff and chefs are trained to deliver quality service with every order. The regularity is also notable in loyal customers that feel at home in the kiwi-style café, easily interacting with the Melba family and/or comfortably keeping to themselves while reading the paper over a good cup of coffee. Whether it is making sure her customers feel at ease or waiting on tables, evidence of Taylor’s commitment to excellence lies all over the café.

Most gringos come to Café Melba for the breakfast, but time tells that they stick around; and with a changing but always mouth-watering menu, it is not hard to guess why. Even Chileans have caught on to the appetizing nature of Melba. If Café Melba urges you to seek more of this quality and delicious dining, Taylor owns Akarana Restaurant and Bar a few blocks away and plans to open a new Melba location in early 2010.

Café Melba
Las Condes/Providencia neighborhood
Don Carlos 2898, Loc 1 (Cross street El Bosque Norte)
Phone: 2-2324546
Hours of Operation: Weekdays 7:30 am – 7:00 pm; Weekends & Holidays 8:00 am – 3:30 pm (closed only Christmas and New Year’s Days)
Metro Station Tobalaba

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