Born and raised in Chile, Emilio Contreras is a winemaker at Emiliana Organic Vineyards, which spans Santiago and the Colchagua Valley. His passion for winemaking seems matched only by family and the great outdoors. “The best thing about Santiago is its location,” says Contreras. “Only 40 minutes to the mountains or the ocean. And Santiago is a big city in the middle with lots of fun.”
Contreras’s perfect Santiago day includes breathing in the city’s nature, touring its eclectic neighbourhoods on bicycle and lots of delicious food — with some stellar bar recommendations, naturally.
“I recommend starting the day with breakfast at Quinoa, a vegan restaurant. I’m not a vegetarian but it’s a very good spot; their food is excellent and the atmosphere is relaxed. They have delicious natural juices, fresh bread with homemade marmalade and free-run eggs — that’s what I always order and it’s perfect for a nice, light meal.”
“I always try to visit the different neighbourhoods in the morning when there are less people around. A lot of them are historical with modern influences, for example Barrio Lastarria. It has a great vibe, with plenty of good restaurants, coffee shops, bars, cinemas, and independent designer shops. On the weekends there’s a flea market that’s always bustling and fun for people watching. It’s also close to our urban park, Parque Forestal, where I take my kids, and the Bellas Artes Museum. I’d also recommend Barrio Brasil and Barrio Bellavista, the latter of which is known as Santiago’s bohemian quarter, where many artists live.”
‘If you’re really after a good piece of meat, though, Happening and Cuerovaca are both excellent’
“In Chile we usually eat lunch at around 2 p.m. One of my favourite places to dine is El Mestizo. They have a beautiful menu but I go there for the whitefish or ceviche. It’s quite expensive, but one of the best restaurants in town. In the spring or summer you can sit on the terrace and have a nice view of the Parque Bicentenario, where you can stroll afterwards.
Bike Vulture or City Culture
“Santiago has several large hills that you can trek or cycle through and get beautiful views of the city — especially at sunset. Downtown, Cerro Santa Lucia and Cerro San Cristobal are accessible by walking or city bikes, which you can rent. In surrounding neighbourhoods there is Cerro Manquehue, Cerro Huinganal and La Parva, where you can go trekking or even play sports, but I love to grab my mountain bike and go there to work off lunch. If you’re not feeling so sporty, the Centro Cultural Gabriella Mistral (GAM) is a fantastic option. There are a lot of activities from music, dance and theatre to art exhibitions and galleries, and it’s located right downtown.”
Surf and Turf
“Since we eat dinner later in Chile — around 9 p.m. — I prefer to have a lighter meal at one of my favourite spots, Naoki. Their sushi is very fresh and the menu inventive. I usually have the sea algae salad with a shot of oysters and sea urchins — I love it. If you’re really after a good piece of meat, though, Happening and Cuerovaca are both excellent.”
“There are a couple of good places for cocktails. Nowadays I go with my family or friends for drinks, and I really like the Opera Catedral for the live music, and also Bar Liguria. It’s a traditional bar but has the best cocktails and a good mix of different age groups.”