Discovering Plaza Ñuñoa

So you want to see a bit more of the city. Bellavista, been there, Barrio Brazil, done that. Manuel Montt’s bar scene doesn’t call nor do Barrio Suecia’s shady brothels and clubs. So you choose Ñuñoa. It’s not right off of the metro, but it’s not far and offers something for all.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Colin Bennett

Bearing the same name as the community where it sits, Plaza Ñuñoa is two full city blocks of green plants, flowers, palms, birds, dogs, vendor stands, greasy spoons, cafés, bars, a live music venue, trendy restaurants, a theater and even a brewery within a couple blocks.

So where do you start?

It’s early, get a coffee, or maybe an ice cream

With outdoor seating and a view of the plaza’s trees “Cuarto Café” is a great place for a cortado (espresso and steamed milk). The place has a few Turkish inspired dishes, albeit tamed down to suit the Chilean palette. It also has some healthy tablas (a selection of foods for snacking) and a micro-brew, Die M, on tap.

If you want something sweet then “Fillippo” is your best bet. The café boasts over 20 flavors of ice cream, milk shakes, iced coffee, decadent sundaes and more. On the weekend it fills up with people, but is well worth the wait.

But maybe you’re hungry for a quick bite.

Looking for a charrasco italiano (sliced beef with avocado, tomato and mayo) or fried empanadas? “Fuente Suiza” is the quintessential Chilean eatery. It’s been around since 1954 and dishes out massive sandwiches with in-house mayo and cold beer for cheap. If you need to eat fast order downstairs or head up to the expansive dining hall on the second floor.

Another staple Chilean eatery is “Las Lanzas”, located on Humberto Trucco. This place was reputed as a hang out for Chilean artists in the late 80s and early 90s. But to a newcomer today, it’s a cheap, no nonsense eatery that serves typical Chilean lunches and sandwiches.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Colin Bennett

Standing out on the corner, “Café Dante” competes with the sandwich and beer crowd. The food is a bit bland, so its strength is definitely its location and outside seating.

If you’re looking for something different from the almost exclusively Chilean cuisine of the plaza check out the “Rincón Arabe.” This family owned Arab restaurant offers Falafel, tabouli, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, homemade pitas and fresh juices all for a decent price, dine-in or take-out.

Then again a beer would be good.

If the mega brands of Escudo and Cristal (the Budweiser and Bud Light of Chile) are boring you, take a trip to “HBH”, a proper drinking hall where you can pound pitchers of Hungarian-inspired micro brew. The place is one of the few locations with a beer happy hour special, two liters for CP$2,800 (about US$5.00). They make pizza, and also sell beer to go in big plastic bottles filled straight from the tap.

Two blocks east of the plaza look for “Budapest,” which serves liter-sized steins of Die M, a micro brew from just south of the capital. There’s homemade sauerkraut, hefty hamburgers and unbelievably cheap lunches with great outdoor seating.

Happy Hour!

Santiago Chile
Photo by Colin Bennett

Happy hour in Chile is almost universal, and the feel of the bars that surround the plaza make it a perfect place to meet friends for a drink or two and catch up.

With a drink menu that blends lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, pisco and vodka into an impressive cocktail and a seasonal menu, “Ebaño” serves some of the best drinks in the plaza. A small designer clothing shop, two outdoor patios and minimalist interior add to the experience. The excellent food makes the slow service worth the wait.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Colin Bennett

Innovative and fun, “UVA” is also a must visit. Half art gallery, half wine bar, UVA offers a full experience (UVA=union vino arte, but also means grape in Spanish). After ordering an inexpensive special, pay attention to the monthly selection of art on the walls. The food is great and there are a variety of tapas available to settle the munchies.

“35mm” is the newest addition to the plaza. Recently converted from a proper restaurant, “35mm” is focused on drinks and attracting a younger crowd with a film-inspired interior. It has a great view of the plaza from the second floor and a parrilla (grill) that will satisfy any carnivore.

For drinks and tapas head to “Bigas Restobar,” best enjoyed in the outdoor seating. A great place for a first date or even a break-up drink.

Now for some dinner

If you want to try some good Chilean dishes check out “Doña Ines,” located on Manuel Salas behind the municipal government building.
The interior is simple but elegant, the ingredients in the dishes are typically Chilean but with a bit of an eccentric toque.

For Italian food try “La Taverna Della Piazza.” Pizzas, pastas, risottos and more, this place offers a wide array of dishes. Although some of the risotto plates are excellent, the menu lacks strong Italian flavors.

Great pisco sours and quality sushi can be found at “Akai Sushi” on the street19 de Abril, behind the municipal building. Next to it is “Taxco,” one of the few Mexican restaurants to be found in Santiago.

If you want to stray a bit from the main square to find a place with personality and a warm family feel, head over to Chile España and eat at “La Casa Vieja.” The service is good, and the food, mostly Chilean meat and fish dishes, is high quality.

Entertainment anyone?

Looking for more than just good drinks and food? There are several options in Plaza Ñuñoa that will keep you entertained until the wee hours of the morning.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Colin Bennett

For an earlier start check out a play at the Teatro Universidad Católica. Once the most popular place to see theater in Chile, it still brings shows from around the world. Performances usually start at 8pm and it is located on the street Jorge Washington.

If you’d prefer live music, then head over the “La Batuta”, where live music shows entertain every weekend. Although AC/DC tributes are quite common, everything from hip-hop, reggaetone to emo and cumbia grace the stage. If you like live music you must get to know this place. Shows tend to start late (around 1am) and the place closes around 5am with a DJ following the live acts.

“Bar Sin Nombre” offers a lounge atmosphere and is open later than most drinking spots. No live entertainment or dancing, but a communal table (a rarity in Chile), funky furniture, a local dice game (Cacho) and powerful mojitas give this place a definite appeal.

Cuarto Café
Address: Humberto Trucco 35
Telephone: 2251495

Address: Irarrazaval 3502
Telephone: 6244085

Fuente Suiza
Address: Av. Irarrazaval 3361
Telephone: 2047199

Las Lanzas
Address: Humberto Trucco 25
Telephone: 2255589
Las Lanzas on Facebook

Café Dante
Address: Jorge Washington 10
Telephone: 2047568

Rincón Arabe
Address: Juan Enrique Concha 55
Telephone: 3415428

Address: Av. Irarrázaval 3176
Telephone: 2099614

Address: Av. Irarrázaval 3790
Telephone:318 3487
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Address: Jorge Washington 176
Telephone: 4534665

Address: Irarrázaval 3567
Telephone: 274 3287

Address: 58 Jorge Washington (next to La Batuta)

La Taverna Della Piazza
Address: Av. Irarrazaval 3600
Telephone: 3415192

La Casa Vieja
Address: Chile España 249
Telephone: 204 7624

Address: 19 de Abril 3540
Telephone: 761 7582

Doña Ines
Telephone: 8804065
Address: Manuel de Salas 162

Akai Sushi
Address: 19 de abril 3560
Telephone: 3417944 - 3417942

Bigas Restobar
Address: Jorge Washington 164
Telephone: 4536901

La Batuta
Address: Jorge Washington 52
Telephone: 2747096

Bar Sin Nombre
Address: Av. Irarrázaval 3420
Telephone: 3654778

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