El Rincón de las Canallas (“Riffraff’s Corner”) used to be the clandestine meeting place for folks of the anti-Pinochet persuasion to meet after curfew, have a laugh and a drink, and reinvent the world. There was a secret password to get in, which constantly changed; with the original locale just 500 meters from La Moneda palace, the canallas--as Pinochet had called his detractors--couldn’t be too careful.
Painemal’s sons and grandson re-opened the spot in a different location without changing much. They still serve typical, no-frills Chilean Criollo food--different meats with side potatoes, salad and rice--as well as an extensive selection of wine and classic cocktails. You can eat a riffraff’s fill for between CP$3,000 (US$4.50) and CP$6,000 (US$9.50). I personally recommend the pernil, a tender roasted leg of pork that is frankly delicious.
But it's really the history and the nostalgia that makes El Rincón special, along with anachronistic slogans like “Riffraff united will never fall” and dishes with names like “Vietnamita,” “Terrorista,” and “Atentado.” The walls are completely covered with artwork, which seems out of place until you learn that the pieces were from artists who couldn’t pay for their meals with money.
It’s a stimulating place to have a familiar meal. An insular attitude delivers the impression that everyone knows each other from a while back, and the experience feels like dining in some aging revolutionary’s house.
You have to call to make a reservation to eat there, day or night, busy or not. I was turned away the first time I tried to go, without a reservation and outside of traditional mealtime hours. While the place was half empty, instead of being annoyed, I felt like I had just shown up to someone’s house looking to eat without calling first.
So call them up and be a low profile, time-traveling tourist. They’ve kept everything but the password.
El Rincón de las Canallas
Tarapacá 812 at San Francisco
Metro: Universidad de Chile
Open Monday to Saturday, from lunch time to 5 a.m.
Reservations: 02 632 5491