The Chilean cuisine has a wide variety of dishes that emerged from the amalgamation of indigenous tradition and Spanish colonial contribution, combining their food, customs and culinary habits. Contributions under the German, Italian and French cuisines have given thanks to the influence of immigrants who arrived during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The Chilean Creole food in general is presented as a mixture of meat and agricultural products of each area. In the northern and southern fishing is a major economic sources and this is reflected in the variety of dishes: if in the desert area highlights the ceviche (fish seasoned with lemon and onions), curanto (cooked seafood, meat, sausages and potatoes made into a hole in the ground) is the ultimate expression of chilota kitchen. The potato is also key in other chilotas preparations as milcao and chapaleles. The central area has to corn (maize) and beef as protagnista preparations such as tamales and corn. The pie pine casserole and charquicán are some of the most recognized within the local food preparations. The roast, meanwhile, stands as the main preparation for informal gatherings and family; certainly more of a Chilean you invite one so take this opportunity to learn more of Chilean society. Among the desserts include preparations delicacy or caramel as alfajores and cakes Curicó, while German influence introduced the kuchen and strudel pastry Chile the menu.
The extensive Chilean geography allows development on its shores several varieties of seafood: the top highlights are the croaker, pomfret, conger eel and salmon, which is produced industrially south of the country. For shellfish: stand fools and oysters, as well as certain crustaceans such as crab and lobster of Juan Fernandez. Beef, chicken and pork are the main meats, although in the Patagonian area one can easily find lamb. Chile is a major exporter of fruits, so you can find without problems varieties of apples, oranges, peaches, strawberries, raspberries and custard, in good quality and much cheaper than in Europe or the United States.
Note that despite this wide variety of dishes and products, normal food in a Chilean home is not very different from other Western country; during your stay you will certainly see more dishes with rice, meat, potatoes or pasta pies or cakes of corn.
In Santiago and major cities, you can find a wide range of restaurants serving both local and international food. Should you go to a restaurant, cancels directly the price of the dishes consumed as indicated on the menu. Although optional, it is customary to add a gratuity of 10%, delivered directly to the waiter. He or she will always welcome more. Not giving a tip is considered a quite rude act, performed only when there has been very bad restaurant service.
The major fast food chains in the world have several branches in the country. If you resort to fast food, it is better to have one of the wide variety of sandwiches that exist in the country: the Barros Luco (meat and cheese) and Italian full (hot dog with tomato, avocado and mayonnaise) are the most traditional. If you are in Valparaíso and have good cholesterol levels, do not waste the opportunity to try a chorrillana. On the streets you can find many stalls selling buns (fried pumpkin masses) and the refreshing mote with ossicles. Food prepared in stalls will generally give few problems, do try if you have a weak stomach.
- Pastel de choclo: corn casserole filled with ground beef, onions, chicken, raisins, hardboiled egg, olives, and topped with sugar and butter.
- Empanada de pino: a baked pie filled with ground beef, onion, raisins, a piece of boiled egg and a black olive. Watch out for the pit!
- Empanada de queso: a deep-fried pastry packet filled with cheese. Found everywhere, including McDonald's.
- Cazuela de vacuno: beef soup with a potato, rice, a piece of corn and a piece of squash.
- Cazuela de ave (or de pollo): same as above, but with a piece of chicken.
- Cazuela de pavo: same as above, but with turkey.
- Porotos granados: stew made with fresh beans, squash, corn, onion and basil.
- con choclo: with grains of corn.
- con pilco or pirco: with corn thinly chopped.
- con mazamorra: with ground corn.
- con riendas: with thin sliced noodles.
- Curanto: lots of seafood, beef, chicken and pork, potatoes, cheese, and potato "burguers," prepared in a hole in the ground ("en hoyo") or in a pot ("en olla"); a dish from Chiloé.
- Southern sopaipillas: a fried pastry cut as 10-cm (4-in) circles, with no pumpkin in its dough (see Northern sopaipillas in the desserts section). They replace bread. They are known South of Linares.
- Lomo a lo pobre: a beefsteak, fried potatoes, a fried egg (expect two in restaurants) and fried onions.
Besides typical foods, you should expect food normally found in any Western country. The normal diet includes rice, potatoes, meat and bread. Vegetables are abundant in central Chile. If you are concerned about the portions, consider that the size of the dish increases the farther south you travel.
With such an enormous coastline, you can expect fish and seafood almost everywhere. Locals used to eat bundles of raw shellfish, but visitors should be cautious of raw shellfish because of frequent outbreaks of red tides. Chile is the world's second largest producer of salmon, as well as a number of other farmed sea products, which include oysters, scallops, mussels, trout and turbot. Local fish include corvina (sea bass), congrio(conger eel), lenguado (flounder), albacora (swordfish), and yellow fin tuna.
- Hotdog or Completo (meaning 'complete' in english). Not similar to the US version. This one includes mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, tomato or sauerkraut (chucrut), mashed avocado (palta) and chili (ají). These ingredients make a full sandwich, called un completo. With mayonnaise, tomato and avocado it's un italiano (an Italian) with the colors of the Italian flag.
- Lomito. Cooked pork steaks served with anything that can go in a hotdog. Italiano is the preferred form but German purists prefer it with sauerkraut (chucrut).
- Chacarero: a thin beefsteak (churrasco) with tomato, green beans, mayonnaise and green chili (ají verde).
- Barros Luco: Named after President Ramón Barros Luco. Thinly-sliced beefsteak with cheese.
- Choripán: Bread with "chorizo", a highly seasoned pork sausage. Named that way because the contraction of "Pan con Chorizo" or "Chorizo con Pan".
A common combination is meat with avocado and/or mayonnaise, e.g. Ave palta mayo (chicken with avocado and mayonnaise) or Churrasco palta (thinly-sliced beefsteak with avocado). The strong presence for avocado is a Chilean standard for sandwiches that influences the fast food franchises to include it in their menus.
- Northern sopaipillas: a fried pastry cut as 10-cm (4-in) circles, which includes pumpkin in its dough, and normally is eaten with chancaca, a black treacle or molasses. It's customary to make them when it rains and it's cold outside. Sopaipillas as a dessert are only known north of San Javier. From Linares to the South, they are not dessert and pumpkin is left out, so, when it rains, Chilean Southerners must cook picarones. In Santiago, Sopaipillas can be served covered with a sweet syrup as a dessert, or with spicy yellow mustard.
- Kuchen (or cújen, pronounced KOO-hen) is German for pie. In the South ask for kuchen de quesillo, a kind of cheesecake.
- Strudel (pronounced ess-TROO-dayl). A kind of apple pie.
- Berlín. When they translate John Kennedy's famous quote (often mistakenly thought of as a gaffe) they say it's a “jelly doughnut”. The Chilean version is a ball of dough (no hole) filled with dulce de membrillo, crema pastelera or manjar. Powder sugar is added just in case you have a sweet tooth.
- Cuchuflí. Barquillo (tube of something crunchy like a cookie) filled with manjar. The name originally comes from cuchufleta which means deceit or trickery, as they used to be filled only at the tips of the barquillos, leaving the middle part empty.
Central Chile is a major tempered fruit producer, you can easily get fruit for dessert, including apples, oranges, peaches, grapes, watermelons, strawberries, raspberries, chirimoyas, and several other varieties.
Temperate fruit is of very high quality and prices are usually much lower than in most of the U.S. and Western Europe, while tropical fruit is rather rare and expensive, except for bananas.
- Wine: Chile produces some excellent wines, competing with France, California, Australia and New Zealand for world markets. Notable are the Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere in red, along with whites from the Casablanca valley.
- Mote con Huesillo: A delicous summertime drink made of wheat seeds (mote) and dried peaches (huesillos) boiled, sweetened, and served cold. Typically sold on sidewalk or park stands.
- Chilean Pisco: Brandy made from Muscat grapes. Popular brands are Capel, Alto del Carmen, Mistral and Campanario.**
- Pisco Sour: One of Chile's most popular mixed drinks, this consists of Pisco mixed with lemon juice and sugar. It has a delicious tart sweetness.
- Mango Sour: Pisco mixed with mango juice.
- Piscola: Pisco mixed with Coke.
- Borgoña: Red wine and strawberries.
- Terremoto: ("Earthquake"): a typical Chilean drink that consists in a mix of pineapple ice cream with pipeño (like white wine).
- Schop: Draught beer.
- Fan-Schop: Beer mixed with orange Fanta or Orange Crush soft drink. A refreshing alternative on a hot summer day.
- Beers: Cristal and Escudo are the most popular (light lagers). Royal Guard is a fair bit tastier, Kunstmann is on pair with European imported beer.
- Jote*: wine and Coke.
- There's a very known conflict between Chile and Peru about the origin of Pisco. Although Pisco was registered as a Chilean drink for some countries in the last century, it is historically Peruvian in origin for much longer. Further, Chilean and Peruvian drinks are not the same product, they have different manufacturing procedures, different varieties of grape and not the same taste.
Unlike other Latin-American countries, in Chile it's illegal to drink in unlicensed, public areas (streets, parks, etc.) The laws also restrict vendor hours depending on the weekday (in no case after 3 AM or before 9 AM).
Chileans drink a lot of alcohol. So don't be surprised to see one bottle per person.