Santiago cafés have finally broken through “coffee with legs” barrier to become places such as Emporio La Rosa (Merced 291, tel. 02/6389257), which serves excellent breakfasts and lunches, with outstanding juices and Argentine-style medialunas (croissants) and empanadas.
For whimsical decor, traditional Chilean food, and equally reasonable prices (about US$4–5 for most lunches), there’s La Chimenea (Príncipe de Gales 90, tel. 02/6970131, www.lachimenea.cl ); in the same location since 1952, it also hosts live jazz Wednesdays at 9 p.m. and sponsors theme-based film programs, free of charge, Saturday at 8 p.m.
In Barrio Lastarria , near Cerro Santa Lucía , Patagonia Alma del Sur (José Victorino Lastarria 96, tel. 02/6643830) is making the shift from a café with a creative sandwich menu to a full-fledged restaurant and wine bar; it’s probably still best for sandwiches, but it has the advantage of one of the neighborhood’s most spacious sidewalks for outdoor dining.
Nearby Don Victorino (José Victorino Lastarria 138, tel. 02/6395263) serves a fine fixed-price lunch (about US$8) with one of three entrées, in attractive surroundings. At the north end of the Lastarria pedestrian mall, Les Assassins (Merced 297-B, tel. 02/6384280) is a tiny venue that gets crowded around lunchtime, but it’s an excellent value for French food.
At the south end of the mall, R (José Victorino Lastarria 297, tel. 02/6649844) has outstanding pasta dishes starting around US$9–10, as well as more expensive fish and chicken entrées, and fine desserts. The service is attentive, and there is limited open-air seating.
Kintaro (Monjitas 450, tel. 02/6382448) is one of Santiago’s cheapest sushi options, with large fresh fish and shrimp plates—more than most diners can consume in a sitting—in the US$10 range. Sashimi and rice-based plates like donburi are also on the menu. Not quite so good or diverse, but notably cheaper, is Izakaya Yoko (Merced 456, tel. 02/6321954).