La Pequeña Providencia: a culinary treat in Chile’s capital

A visit to budding gastronomic neighbourhood ‘La Pequeña Providencia’ is a window into the Providencia of a bygone era.

 

Visitors are sure to be surprised by the tranquility of the small culinary neighborhood, moments from the bustling Avenida Providencia and the Manuel Montt Metro station. A wide range of cuisine is within reach, from Peruvian, Japanese and Thai, to paellas, pizzas, gourmet sandwiches and traditional Chilean food.

The serenity of the area comes from its location. The gastronomic centre has found an unusual home, with its cluster of restaurants, bars and cafés dotted among the residential streets General Flores and Cirujano Guzmán.

These streets proudly host the old houses of Santiago’s aristocracy, among the few in downtown Providencia that remain preserved since the 1930s. They are a reminder of the past Providencia where, among others, Chilean author Isabel Allende spent a portion of her childhood in a house that inspired the setting of her first novel.

The idea to christen the area came from the residents and restaurateurs themselves, in collaboration with the municipality. By giving the neighborhood a distinct name, they aimed to instill the notion that their businesses are part of a united collective.

Most restaurants are located in the old mansions themselves, a real treat if you enjoy charming interiors and quiet garden terraces. The large white house, host to the Cadaqués Catalan tapas bar, prominently visible at the intersection of General Flores and Cirujano Guzmán, is a popular choice.

Amaretto, located on Calle General Flores in a rustic style old house, is equally endearing. The traditional Chilean menu changes daily and includes paella with seafood and lentejas con longaniza de Chillán. The dishes won’t leave you disappointed and prices are very agreeable, with a main dish and drink for just US$6 (CLP 3,000).

Thai cuisine can be found at Nam, with an explosion of flavors including coconut noodles on the winter menu. Asia Lima is another choice with an interesting fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine. The Brasserie Des Comperes offers Belgian cuisine and gourmet sandwiches, while cafes such as Santa Koffein offer rich pastries.

Other notable features of the area include Arco de Iris, a friendly hostel on General Flores and a Bed and Breakfast, Nilontraro, further down.

The presence of these restaurants and their delicious offerings has certainly breathed life into these streets, but it’s the elegance of the houses that were there long before that really sets La Pequeña Providencia apart.

By Daphne Karnezis