Every local and its dog will tell you that there’s awesome nightlife and great food in Bellavista. However, you could be missing a hidden gem in Santiago Downtown and although many local tours do include the area, you might miss it out if you were not told as this is a tiny place.
Located between Santa Lucia hill and Plaza Italia (that square right in front of the cellphone shaped tower where locals go to celebrate big sport victories) Lastarria is a tiny street that starts in Merced (near Parque Forestal) and finishes in encompasses nice bars, restaurants and artsy stores ranging from people selling paintings on the streets to fancy clothes in small boutiques.
What gives its character to Lastarria street and its surroundings is art and there are three important buildings that you need to know:
- MAVI: Museo de Artes Visuales (Visual Arts Museum). Its open from Tuesday to Sunday and it houses local contemporary artists exhibitions. The entrance is CLP 1000 except on Sundays when it’s free for everyone.
- El Biógrafo Theatre: This is a classic arthouse cinema of the city and several movies are actually in English so you can enjoy one of them if you are around. The entrance is CLP 5000 on weekends and CLP 4000 at the start of the week (Mon to Wed).
- GAM (Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral): This place is relatively new but it gave new life to the neighborhood as it attracts artists from all around the country to show their plays or exhibitions to the masses. Founded by Allende’s government in 1972 it stopped being an arts center shortly after the coup in 1973 and didn’t become the place we know today until 2009. It was worth it though as its infrastructure and schedule is one of the most exciting of the country. If you speak Spanish you’ll get the most of it with its plays but there are also visual arts exhibitions (mainly in the underground floor), temporary fairs devoted to books and music, a permanent antique fair, a library, a bookstore, a café and a restaurant.
I’m hungry! Where can I have something quick to eat?
If what you want is something quick and tasty, try one of the small stores in Merced street like Buffalo Waffles which is a local chain and one of the favourites of tourists. Hogs if you want a Hot Dog (they have several sausages and toppings to try) or Pizzabella if you want a pizza with a mom and pop taste. There’s also a fancy burger place opened recently called Holy Moly. Most of these places have vegan or at least vegetarian options. Let’s not forget La Mensajería, a small Chilean fast food chain with local food (starring The Empanada) which is located in Lastarria street, right in front of El Biógrafo.
These places don’t have alcohol. I want a drink!
(Well, some of them might have beer) Gotcha! Let’s keep in mind that most places in Lastarria street are restaurants but there are two places where we can try some drinks. Victorino restaurant is also a bar, so you can just have a drink there. It’s a great place to chat with your partner or even for a date, especially if you find a spot in the patio in spring. I found out about the next place just last weekend. The other one is called Rescoldo and it’s inside a gallery (the one that’s in front of Villavicencio street). It’s a new place and pretty good to have a drink and talk without noises from the outside.
Now there are other bar areas like Merced and Paseo Barrio Lastarria (in front of José Ramón street). A few recommendations are Bar La Junta (Paseo Barrio Lastarria), Bar Colmado (Merced inside a gallery) and Mamboleta (in Merced proper).
Places to have dinner
Almost every bar has some kind of menu for dinner or lunch but there are two restaurants that are worth noticing on their own:
- ChiPE Libre: It’s a relaxed restaurant with a varied bar of drinks based on pisco. Their dishes are delicious and abundant. It’s relatively cheap and it’s fancy without being a formal place.
- Bocanáriz: It’s the neighbour of the latter. This restaurant also highlights its variety of pisco and it’s slightly fancier and formal.
The area is pretty small but there are just so many options and so good that you cannot miss it during your visit to Santiago. I didn’t mention every place nor do I know everything there is so… would you recommend another place in Lastarria? Write it in the comments down below!