For breakfasts, sandwiches, coffee, and desserts, try Café La Brújula del Cuerpo (O’Higgins 308, tel. 065/633229), which even has Mexican dishes such as fajitas; one dining area is tobacco-free until 10 p.m. only.
Most of the best are seafood venues, such as Sacho (Thompson 213, tel. 065/632079), Dónde Eladio (Lillo 97, tel. 065/635285), and El Bucanero (Lillo s/n, tel. 065/637260).
Widely acknowledged as one of the city’s best, Octavio (Av. Pedro Montt 261, tel. 065/632855) offers waterfront dining with style and fine service at moderate cost with a diverse menu. Entrées range from US$5 (chicken) to US$15 (king crab). On the minus side, the pisco sours are a little small, and switching off the TV would enhance the experience.
The ambitious Hicamar (Gamboa 413, tel. 065/532655) has a large menu of meat, game, and fish dishes that tops out near US$50 for turbot, but most items fall into the US$7–20 range. The portions are not excessive but neither are they tiny—rather, they strike a happy medium. The service is exemplary.
On the east side of the plaza, Años Luz (San Martín 309, tel. 065/532700) sets the standard for more creative Chilote cuisine in a hipper atmosphere than any other Castro restaurant. Several nights a week, after the dinner hour, it offers live music (for which there’s a cover charge around US$2 pp).
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition