A few thousand miles or so down the American coast, Santiago's best known trio of gringo restaurateurs has brought the salt-rimmed margaritas, waxed surfboards and Pacific coast vibes of their native California to a brand new restaurant-bar in the heart of bustling Providencia.
Photo by Mauro Tapia
In their second "just-like-home" venture in town, James and Heidi Lyles and Dan Worth - the owners of Ñuñoa's infamous Basic Bar - say they're bringing a dream to life and calling it the California Cantina. Decked with surfboards and retro shots of the Golden State, the California-themed restaurant's three rooms, patio and upper level is complete with a classy and well-stocked bar, whose three flat-screen TVs usually feature sports of every color and creed.
While Basic Bar is known as a “gringo bar” for non-Chileans to kick back or watch sports from the motherland, the owners hope the new Cantina's relaxed mood, dozen microbrews on tap and charming table service customary to any sunny California hangout will attract the expats and locals alike. It's “not geared to gringos, but it is a nice piece of home," co-owner James Lyles said. "Hopefully it doesn’t scare Chileans away!”
The upper level, still under construction, will soon host smaller gatherings and pool table rooms. Five other televisions are scattered throughout the restaurant for viewing pleasure in whatever room suits you. Aside from the décor, the food and drink selection exudes the mouthwatering flavors of California.
In addition to the generous selection of beer (CP $1,500, or US $2.70), there is a full menu of creative drinks, including wine, martinis, margaritas, caipirinhas (Brazil’s national drink) and mojitos (CP $3,500, or US $6.40). The unique and flavorful Tequila Mojito is highly recommended, yet if you're in the mood for a kick, the Bear F-er or Flaming Dr. Pepper would be the way to go. And of course, since nothing says California to your tongue like Mexican food (except perhaps In-N-Out), the cocktails finely complement any of the menu's delectable quesadillas, tacos, fries, pizzas, nachos and huge hamburgers (CP $2,500 to $5,000, or US $4.50 to $9.00).
The Cantina's biggest draw, particularly for the American expat, is being able to find the comforts of home and familiar community in the restaurant's warm, friendly and intimate environment. As a regular customer frankly put it: “Sometimes it is just nice to be able to go to a bar where there is no Reggaeton music or discotheque in the background.”
Importantly, rather than trying to open an Italian restaurant or French patisserie, the owners have instead opened a bar that emits a genuine representation of their dream. The Cantina hits the spot in bringing an authentic piece of California into the depths of Providencia.
Las Urbinas 56
Metro Pedro de Valdivia / Los Leones