Where to Eat Late at Night in Santiago

One worrying new habit that I have acquired living in Santiago is making a detour on the way back home from a heavy night out drinking pisco sours for a carb-heavy pit stop. I’m a complete newcomer to the Late Night Munchies scene, and proud to admit that I’m now a total convert. Back home in Scotland where I was a university student I never used to get take-away; the smell of a British kebab somehow manages to seep through your skin and clothing for days afterwards, and whenever I walked back home from clubbing with friends the heavy rain and gale-force winds sent me straight to my bed. But here it’s a whole different story: nights out in Santiago end at 5am, by which time my stomach is ready for its next hit of pan y palta (bread and avocado – a Chilean staple). And as long as you avoid the street sellers flogging completos (hotdogs) and sopaipilla (fried pastry made with pumpkin and flour), a lot of the late-night food you’ll find in Santiago isn’t just edible – it’s delicious. So if like me you’re prone to the odd post-party carb craving, here are my recommendations for where to eat late at night in Santiago.

Maskepan

My first brush with Santiago’s early hours restaurant scene was a baptism of fire in the form of Maskepan. The name means “more than bread” but don’t be fooled – the only non-bread item I’ve ever seen served up inside this tiny joint is french fries. On the face of it, there’s a lot not to like about this place: the halogen lighting; the public bathroom-style white tiles on the walls; the high stools at the counter which are (I can only imagine) a challenge to stay sat on even if you’re sober. But Maskepan’s pollo italiano (italiano meaning avocado, mayonnaise and tomato) is the best I’ve tasted and makes up for it all. Unlike other lesser versions of this classic which come bathed in avocado and bad-quality mayonnaise, Maskepan’s chicken sandwich is fresh-tasting, has really decent bread, and – most importantly – avoids the typical unpleasant avo/mayo swamping. Their churrasco is another good bet, with juicy, top-quality grilled beef finely-sliced in a bun.

Casa de Cena

If Maskepan is a diamond in the rough in terms of its decor, Casa de Cena is a one-of-a-kind gem. On a side street right in the center of Santiago near Baquedano metro station, this restaurant has entered into Santiago folklore since it may not be the only eatery in the city which stays open until 5am, but it’s certainly the only one that has white tablecloths and oil paintings hanging from mahogany wall panels. Casa de Cena is a world in itself, and inside you’ll find no sign whatsoever of the 21st century in the dining room which makes you feel as though you’ve travelled back to colonial times. Five minutes later whilst devouring complimentary empanadas I was still struggling to get used to the sheer incongruity of the restaurant’s furnishings and the late opening hours – who would possibly want to eat a full sit-down meal at this time of the night? Well, me for one, as it turns out: the menu is long and only has traditional Chilean dishes, but damn they’re good. In typical Chilean fashion, the portions here are generous – as are the drinks measures (you have been warned). Try the pastel de choclo (sweetcorn pie), the lomito de cerdo al horno (roast pork loin) and the pavo asado (grilled turkey), which comes with apple purée and Duchess potatoes. Who says that the Late Night Munchies can’t be classy?

Pastel de Choclo

Pastel de Choclo*

El Gusto Peruano

It is a truth universally acknowledged (amongst Chileans at least) that the best cure for a hangover is a fresh plate of ceviche. When I first heard about this I thought that eating a plate of raw fish cured in lemon juice would be the last thing I’d want when I was feeling slightly worse for wear. But trust me: don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

Whilst many people choose to get their fix in the hustle and bustle of the Mercado Central, the ceviche served in the restaurants there has often been left stewing for too long in its lemony marinade, leaving it rubbery. The key to great ceviche is freshness, and the best I’ve tasted has always been in Peruvian restaurants like El Gusto Peruano. Although you’ll lose out on the authentic smell of fish of the Mercado Central, the ceviche de pescado here is tender, refreshing, and up there amongst my all-time favourite dishes in Santiago. If you’re feeling especially brave, ask for a glass of leche de tigre. Literally translated as tiger’s milk, this is what Peruvians call the milky citrus juice which is the base of ceviche. The leftover marinade is a mix of citrus juice, chilli and fish stock, and is garnished with cancha (sautéed corn) and prawns floating on top. Not for the faint-hearted.

 

Maskepan

Av. Manuel Montt 398, Providencia. Open every day 5pm-7am.

Casa de Cena

Calle Almte Simpson 20, Providencia.Tuesday – Thursday 12.30pm – 4am; Friday – Saturday 12.30pm – 5am; Sunday 12.30pm – 2am; Monday closed.

El Gusto Peruano

Av. Italia 1753, Ñuñoa. Monday – Thursday 1pm – 4pm & 8pm – 12am; Friday – Saturday 1pm – 4pm & 8pm – 1am; Sunday 1pm – 5pm.

*Photo by Diegostraight (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons