Carolina Bazán has called the Chilean capital home almost exclusively since the age of 13, when she settled there with her diplomat father and caterer mother. She’s still head chef at Ambrosia, her parents’ restaurant in the Vitacura neighborhood, and she – along with business and life partner Rosario Onetto – opened Ambrosia Bistro in 2017 in Providencia, solidifying her role as one of Santiago’s most buzzed-about chefs. (If you go, take a seat at the bar; it faces the open kitchen, and Bazán says she enjoys interacting with guests.) Among her reasons for loving the city: “It’s very organized compared to others in South America,” she says. “For one, the Metro is really good, and you can get from place to place very fast.” Plus, it’s perfectly situated within the extra-long country, which stretches more than 2,600 miles from north to south. “You’re an hour from skiing and an hour from the beach – you could do both in the same day.”
“Not many places in Santiago do weekend brunch, which is why I love The White Rabbit
, a cozy American-style gastropub in the Bellavista, Providencia, neighborhood,” Bazán says. “I can get up late and head there for a relaxed meal. They have classic egg dishes and a lot of different kinds of beer.”
Come dinnertime, Bazán is usually running the kitchen at her own restaurant, but on a rare evening off, you may catch her at 99 Restaurante
, which offers six- and nine-course dinner options not two blocks from Ambrosia Bistro. “The food is modern Chilean, and the chef [Kurt Schmidt] is a young guy doing his thing, using local products,” she says. “The wine pairings are excellent, focusing on natural and biodynamic bottles.” Note: Reservations can only be made through the restaurant’s website.
Cup of Joe:
“The coffee scene is just beginning here,” Bazán says. “A few years ago, you couldn’t find that many cafés – but now there are spots like the tucked-away Colmado Coffee & Bar
, in the hip Lastarria area, where they roast their own beans.” The menu is organized by brewing style, including Chemex, AeroPress, or siphon.
“As with coffee, there weren’t always a lot of bars serving well-made cocktails,” Bazán says. That’s changed in recent years, and one of her current favorites is Siete Negronis
(also in Providencia). “If you can’t decide what you want, they’ll ask for your preferred flavor profile and prepare something for you. That’s what I typically do. Last summer they added a terrace so people can go in the after- noons. It has a really nice view of the San Cristóbal foothills.”
According to Bazán, one touristy thing that even locals like to do – herself included – is ride the teleférico (cable car) to the top of San Cristóbal Hill, the second-tallest point in Santiago. “I do it a lot with my two-and-a-half-year-old son,” she says. “At the top you can see the entire city and beyond.” Want some exercise? The hike up takes about 45 minutes, and you can save the ride for the way down.
Shopping Spree: Drugstore
, in Providencia, is a mall featuring small and local indie designers,” says Bazán, who picked up a sweater and blouse from MO-Store
(by well-known Chilean designer Magdalena Olazábal) on her last visit. Other highlights include Coyote Bags
(for canvas and leather acces- sories), Bonoboss
(for sustainable, handmade sunglasses and more), and a number of artsy specialty bookstores.
“In the Lastarria neighborhood, where I lived for ten years, you’ll find
a lot of great museums,” Bazán says. There’s the Museum of Contemporary Art, whose 2,600 works span the late 1800s to now, and – right next door – the National Museum of Fine Arts, known for its collection of Chilean paintings and sculptures. About four miles east, in Vitacura, “the Museum of Fashion
always has something interesting,” she says. It has hosted exhibitions dedicated to various eras, designers, and style icons, such as Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe.
With 205 generous rooms with killer city views and a spa topped by a glass cupola, The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago
makes a memorable base. It’s set in the El Golf area of Las Condes, a favorite for its abundance of restaurants and Plaza Perú, the bustling main square.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 17-day South American tour begins next February in Rio and ends in San Antonio, the port for Santiago. The sailing on the 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer calls in Punta del Este, Uruguay, and Ushuaia, Argentina, among others, and cruises the Chilean fjords. Departure: February 1, 2019.