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David Lissner
for restaurants

Where to celebrate the Chilean miners’ release in Chicago


As the whole world knows, the last of the 33 miners trapped underground in Chile was freed yesterday after more than two months. The daring, technically sophisticated rescue brought all the men to the surface in good condition.

The accident and subsequent rescue effort has certainly put the spotlight on Chile. If your thoughts, as mine do, tend to lead you down culinary byways, you might be wondering about the cuisine of this Latin American country.

What do Chileans eat? While Chile shares many signature dishes with the rest of Latin America, its food tends not to be highly spiced. Despite the similarity in names, chilies play little role in Chile’s fare. Typical seasonings include tomatoes, garlic and onions.

The country’s long coastline means Chileans have access to lots of fresh seafood. They’re big meat eaters, too; steaks and the mixed grills called parrilladas are popular. Chilean beef is typically grass fed.

Corn is a staple. National specialties include pastel de choclo, a casserole of fresh ground corn typically mixed with ground beef, raisins, olives and chicken, and humitas, the Chilean version of tamales, prepared with fresh corn. Find out more about Chilean food in this blog from Santiago.

Chicago doesn’t have much in the way of Chilean restaurants. The only one I can think of is Rapa Nui in Irving Park. It’s a smallish storefront, but it does offer many Chilean standards, along with other Latin American specialties. It’s BYOB, so pick up a bottle of Chilean wine — which is excellent and affordable — before you go.