Lucía Bistro: Exquisite Dining at Beggars' Prices

Among the hustle and bustle of the tourist trap street Lastarria, something new has arrived. It is not another trendy bar thriving at happy hour, more wild street performers or begging musicians. It's a brand new, suave bistro that aims to produce maximum quality gastronomy at an exceptionally fair price.

Santiago Chile Lucia Bistro
Photo by Sofia Carvajal

Tucked away on one of the many cheeky secret side roads off Lastarria lies what looks like a quaint petite cottage but is the laid back, fine-dining restaurant Lucía Bistro. With only a couple of tables outside and just ten or so inside, this restaurant’s priority is quality, not quantity. This, paired with mahogany timber beams and unusually low ceilings, gives Lucía an intimate feeling that is often lost in over-sized restaurants of Santiago.
Santiago Chile Lucia Bistro
Photo by Sofia Carvajal

The décor is kept simple with just a few fresh pink flowers in the corner, powerfully contrasting the crisp white walls. Mirrors are cleverly scattered to falsely expand the bistro's size. The atmosphere is relaxed, neither romantic nor casual. As a result, diners only concentrate on indulging in the company of their companions and the sensational, seasonal cuisine Lucía has to offer.

The menu breaks new ground, experimenting with local, seasonal produce recognizable to Chilean taste buds yet with unpredictable and innovative twists.

Crab is popular in Chile, but the Pinzas de jaibas marinadas (marinated crab claws, CP$5,800, or US$10) is a whole other matter. Each comes encased in a crisp, light filo pastry served over a julienne of al dente vegetables drizzled with caviar. If gnawing crab flesh off its shell puts you off, fear not: the tender, soft white meat comes apart from the exterior with an ease that makes crab cracking tools obsolete. Other entrees are weighty native oysters (CP$5,900) and a rich, velvety squash soup with ricotta and crisp bacon croutons (CP$3,500).

Delight in traditional main courses, such as the juicy Filet Steak served with the contrasting sweet flavor of corn purée and a hint of spice in the accompanying pebre (CP$6,900) or the Duo of Ravioles, one stuffed with scallops and goat cheese with ricotta crème, the other with mushrooms drizzled with basil oil and mushroom chips (CP$6,300).

Santiago Chile Lucia Bistro
Photo by Rebecca Novell

However, the crème de la crème must be the Mero (CP$6,900), a fleshy white fish simply grilled and served over airy, handmade ricotta gnocchi and submerged in a smooth, creamy sage sauce. The contrasting textures and flavors flawlessly bring together this incomparable dish.

Even if you have no room for dessert, the bittersweet dark chocolate ravioli (CP$2,900) is a must. Bite into the crunchy fried pastry, let the silky, melted chocolate ooze into your mouth and taste the zing of the passion fruit salsa. Other desserts include a berry cheesecake (CP$2,800) and Cuatro leches cake (CP$2,800), a Chilean classic with an extra layer.

Santiago Chile Lucia Bistro
Photo by Rebecca Novell

Owner and chef Juan Carlos Ayub Plaza says he wanted to open a restaurant "with impressive levels of gastronomy at reasonable prices," and he has succeeded in dishing out posh ingredients and eminent culinary standards, like the Menu del Día daily lunch special at only CP$5,900. The menu changes monthly according to the seasonal produce available, but prices will stay low.

While my only complaint is the limited wine list, it will hopefully grow once the restaurant becomes more established.

Lucía’s distinct combinations of flavors and endless array of textures had me visiting them three times in one week. At such reasonable prices, I'm positive the same will happen to you.

Restaurante Lucía Bistro

Lastarria

Padre Luis de Valdivia 338 (at Lastarria)

Phone: (56-2) 633 1859

Monday to Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm, 7 pm to 12 am. Closed Sundays.

Metro: Universidad Católica

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