Known for seafood, Puerto Natales  has many moderately priced eateries and improving midrange to upscale choices.
To stock up on groceries, visit Super Mix (Bulnes 646, tel. 061/415358). For your Paine trail mix, try The Dried Fruit Guy (Baquedano 443).
For freshly brewed coffee, tea, juices, sandwiches, and sweets, Café Cielo de Palo (Tomás Rogers 179, tel. 061/415636) keeps longer hours than most Natales eateries (7 a.m.–11 p.m.). Decor-free Masay (Bulnes 427, tel. 061/415008) has inexpensive sandwiches and pizzas.
Café Evasión (Eberhard 595-B, tel. 061/ 414605) is a moderately priced café restaurant with daily lunch specials. Basic Chilean dishes outshine the Italian at La Repizza (Blanco Encalada 294, tel. 061/410361).
Patagonia Dulce (Barros Arana 233, tel. 061/415285, www.patagoniadulce.cl ) serves several varieties of hot chocolate (expensive at around US$4–5 each, but welcome on a cold Natales morning) and desserts, including kuchen and mousses, along with rich homemade chocolates by weight. Unfortunately, it doesn’t open until 11 a.m.
On the east side of the Plaza de Armas, the vegetarian El Living (Arturo Prat 156, tel. 061/411140, US$4 for sandwiches) also serves breakfast, sandwiches, and desserts (try especially the Sacher torte). Its British owner arrived here via Torres del Paine’s extravagant Hotel Salto Chico, but his food is more upmarket than his prices; hours are 11 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, but it closes May–mid-October.
Relying on their waterfront locations to draw crowds, El Marítimo (Pedro Montt 214, tel. 061/414994) and Los Pioneros (Pedro Montt 166, tel. 061/410783) offer good value. For better atmosphere, try the casual La Tranquera (Bulnes 579, tel. 061/411039).
La Caleta Gastronómica (Eberhard 261, tel. 061/413969) is a moderately priced locale that offers excellent value (US$5–8 for entrées like salmon with king crab sauce). Another well-established option is Café Andrés (Ladrilleros 381, tel. 061/412380), for cooked-to-order seafood.
Don Jorge (Bories 430, tel. 061/410999) and El Asador Patagónico (Prat 158, tel. 061/413553) are new parrillas facing the Plaza de Armas.
La Burbuja (Bulnes 300, tel. 061/414204) specializes in seafood and meats—try the slightly spicy scallop appetizer ostiones al pil pil (US$6) and the congrio (conger eel) for an entrée. It also has vegetarian options.
Offering exceptional views of the sound and a steadily improving menu, Café Indigo (Ladrilleros 105, tel. 061/413609) prepares sandwiches, pastas, seafood dishes such as chupe de centolla (king crab soufflé) and varied vegetarian options.
In a relaxed setting, La Casa de Pepe (Tomás Rogers 131, tel. 061/410950) prepares refined versions of Chilean standards such as pastel de choclo (US$8.50) and cazuela de ave (US$7.50) with the freshest ingredients. On the Plaza de Armas, it’s also 100 percent tobacco-free (though the owner himself is an occasional smoker).
Rarely does Chilean pizza deserve special mention, but the thin-crusted pies at Mesita Grande (Eberhard 508, tel. 061/ 411571, www.mesitagrande.cl ) clearly do. Individual pizzas (US$5–9), of four ample but not gigantic slices, range from simple mozzarella to spinach and garlic to ground lamb and just about everything in between; diners sit at either of two long but solid tables that encourage conversation with their neighbors.
Greatly improved, opposite the plaza, La Oveja Negra (Tomás Rogers 169, tel. 061/415711, US$6–10) is the choice for a quiet meal in relaxed, if not quite intimate, surroundings. For either seafood or beef, its upscale aspirations make for more elaborate dining than most of its competitors.
Part of its eponymous hotel, upmarket Aquaterra (Bulnes 299, tel. 061/412239, US$9–12 for entrées) offers menu items such as Mexican fajitas and Japanese gyoza (pot stickers) rarely seen in this part of the world. For more conservative palates, it offers traditional beef dishes.
Underrated Última Esperanza (Eberhard 354, tel. 061/413626) deserves more attention than it gets for exceptional seafood at reasonable prices with outstanding service. Los Viajeros (Bulnes 291, tel. 061/411156) is a recent seafood entry but also serves grilled Patagonian lamb. The Centro Español (Magallanes 247, tel. 061/411181) promises Spanish cuisine, but it remains work in progress.
New in 2006, Angélica’s (Eberhard 532, tel. 061/410365) is working to be a sophisticated option of the sort that Natales has always lacked, with items such as lamb with rosemary, green pepper steak, corvina with a shrimp sauce, and king crab cannelloni. With most entrées well upwards of US$10, the price-quality ratio isn’t there yet, but it’s too early to write it off. The decor is unremarkable, but the service is professional, and the desserts, particularly the chocolate mousse (US$5.50), are first rate.
At Helados Bruna (Bulnes 585), calafate and rhubarb ice cream are the regional specialties.