Aquí Está Coco, Santiago (tel. 2/410-6200; http://www.aquiestacoco.cl)
This place is wildly popular with foreign visitors, with good reason: The kitschy atmosphere is as fun as the food is mouthwatering. The restaurant is spread over two levels of a 140-year-old home and festooned with oddball and nautically themed gadgets and curios. Arrive a little early and enjoy an aperitif in the cavelike, brick cellar lounge. Seafood is the specialty here.
Astrid y Gastón, Santiago (tel. 2/650-9125)
Astrid y Gastón is the best restaurant in Santiago -- the reason you'll often need to make reservations days in advance. The chef uses the finest ingredients, combined so that each plate bursts with flavor and personality; here, you'll find French, Spanish, Peruvian, and Japanese influences, as well as impeccable service, an on-site sommelier, and a lengthy wine list. If you can afford it, don't miss dining here.
Sukalde, Santiago (tel. 2/665-1017)
For adventurous diners who are not averse to inhaling their food and who revel in all things fusion, Suklade offers a culinary odyssey like no other in Santiago. Chef Matias Paloma graduated from the hallowed El Bulli in Spain to create his own dynamic menu, and it's made the critics froth by combining interesting and unexpected ingredients with aplomb.
Bar Liguria, Santiago (tel. 2/235-7914)
The two Bar Ligurias in Providencia are equally lively and loads of fun, often filling up before 10pm and spilling out onto tables on the sidewalk. Everyone loves the Ligurias: actors, artists, businessmen, and locals converge here in a vibrant mélange that always feels celebratory. The Chilean fare is hearty and delicious, and the sharply dressed waiters rushing to and fro provide quick, attentive service.
Pasta e Vino, Valparaíso (tel. 32/249-6187)
There's no view of the city harbor, but the mouthwatering cuisine at Pasta e Vino makes this restaurant one of the top five in Chile -- which is why you'll often need to book days, even weeks, in advance. With its limited opening hours -- which serves to heighten its exclusivity all the more -- it really is the Holy Grail of dining in Valparaíso. Pasta e Vino virtually launched the culinary revolution in Valparaíso, offering a warm, intimate ambience, with brick walls and wooden tables, gourmet Italian cuisine that is consistently good, a well-chosen wine list, and owner-attended service.
El Chiringuito, Zapallar (tel. 33/741024)
El Chiringuito, located in the upscale beach enclave Zapallar, is surely the most famous restaurant along Chile's Central Coast, and with good reason. Is there any more delightful way to spend a sunny day than to dine alfresco on seafood while watching the waves crash and pelicans swoop about? Alternatively, head south to the tiny harbor at Maitencillo for ultrafresh shellfish sold at simple seafood stalls near the beach.
Maracuyá, Arica (tel. 58/227600)
The Azapa and Lluta valleys are Chile's tropical fruit orchards, and this restaurant makes ample use of its namesake, the passion fruit (maracuyá, in Spanish). For fish and seafood, it's Arica's best choice, with fruit flavored sweet-and-sour sauces for the varied choices on the menu. Couple this with its location, perched in a villa almost over the water on a rocky stretch of coastline near the Morro, and you have one fine restaurant indeed.
Latitude 42, at the Yan Kee Way Lodge, Ensenada (tel. 65/212030)
Worth the drive from Puerto Varas, this gorgeous restaurant boasts superb views of the Volcán Osorno (Osorno Volcano) and delectable cuisine served in a beautiful dining room. The talented chef uses locally grown produce to create imaginative dishes that come as close to nouvelle cuisine as you're ever going to get in southern Chile. Service is impeccable and there's a cigar bar and a cellar for wine tasting, as well.
Última Esperanza, Puerto Natales (tel. 61/411391)
Few places in Patagonia compare with this old favorite in Puerto Natales that boasts a roughly 20-year tradition. The decor is nothing to write home about, but restaurants are about food, right? Última Esperanza has the best food in Magallanes, even beating out its rivals in the big city of Punta Arenas. It makes the best of Puerto Natales' location -- on the ocean but near Patagonian ranches -- to combine meats and seafood in a mean curanto, also serving such fine fish as conger eel and the renowned centolla, or king crab.
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