Amanda, ISEP Program Officer for South America, recently traveled to Santiago, Chile, not letting her insatiable need for coffee fall by the wayside. Follow her travels and recommendations across South America here.
Maybe it’s because I’m half Cuban, maybe it’s because I’ve just flown 14 hours to get here, but I am aching for a good cup of coffee. I’m excited to be in Santiago – they say it sits between the sky (the Andes) and the sea (the Pacific). There’s also a huge emerging local food scene here, and to my delight, a great selection of cute cafés.
Fix Café, in Las Condes, is our first stop. While Las Condes is a more commercial area, Fix Café is a hidden gem amongst a street lined with banks and businesses.
Next up, we head to Barrio Italia – which is far and away my favorite barrio in Santiago, and so far the highlight of my stay in Providencia. Some call it the ‘Williamsburg of Santiago,’ and as a native New Yorker, I immediate fall in love with the charm of its boutique cafes, furniture and antique stores. Furniture and coffee, yes please.
At the recommendation of a local friend, I’m starting with a café and a warm fresh baked croissant with palta, or mashed avocado, at Café de Candelaria. Strange combination, but trust me, it works. The leafy courtyard here sets a cozy standard of simple, but delicious (and cheap) food and coffee.
Wandering through the old Italian artisan houses-turned-shops, I’m tempted to break my normal go-to savory route for Xoco Por Ti, a place I hear has the best hot chocolate I will ever have in my life. They are not wrong. I cannot stop staring at this brightly painted wooden cabin at the back of a charming blue-and-yellow corridor.
My final stop is Café Triciclo. Once I stop obsessing over yet another perfectly antiqued tile floor, I settle in for an alfajore and a read through the books already stashed at my table.
True story: during my first job in international education, one of my Argentinian students packed his belongings in a tiny duffel bag for an entire semester, and filled nearly half of it with mate and alfajores as gifts for our staff and cures for his eventual homesickness. They were the best alfajores I’ve ever had in my life – we drooled over them for weeks. I have my first alfajore since then in Santiago (it has been WAY too long), and it did not disappoint.
Santiago, you have fulfilled my caffeinated South American dreams. ¡Hasta pronto, Chile!
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