When it comes to her native Santiago, chef Carolina Bazán isn’t just a local with discerning taste. Over the last few years, the 36-year-old has become one of a handful of talents leading a new culinary movement in Chile’s capital city—one that champions using indigenous ingredients in fresh, modern ways. Case in point: In 2013, Bazán took over her family’s restaurant, Ambrosía, and transformed it from a downtown lunch spot with a business-oriented clientele to a world-renown dining destination in its own right (In 2015, it became the country’s first restaurant to hit the World’s 50 Best list.) Though Ambrosía’s menu changes a bit every day, its constant is Bazan’s inventive, internationally inflected takes on traditional Chilean dishes—a style she honed while working in Paris at Gregory Marchand’s Frenchie in 2011. (She sites a recent trip to David Chang’s Momofuku in New York as an inspiration for a foie gras dish.) Here, Bazán takes time out of her jam-packed schedule—last year, she and her partner, the restaurant’s sommelier Rosario Onetto, had their first child; plus, she plans to publish a cookbook and open a second restaurant in the coming months—to share her top places to eat, stay, and explore in her hometown. (For more on Bazán, read our profile »)
What neighborhood are you from in Santiago? Where do you live now, and how long have you lived there? I grew up in Vitacura, kind of a suburb. But I've lived in Providencia for the last three years. Before that, I lived downtown in Lastarria, in Santiago.
What hotel would you recommend for friends visiting town? Hotel Magnolia, a new hotel boutique downtown (Huérfanos 539; 56-2/2664-4342; hotelmagnolia.cl). And The Singular (Merced 294; 56-2/2306-8820; thesingular.com), also downtown. They both have great design and great service.
Where is the best place to find your hometown’s signature dish? I think Bar Liguria is a great place to find classic Chilean food in a great, fun, and relaxed ambience. They have classic homey food and sandwiches. (Providencia 1353; 56-2/2235-7914; liguria.cl)
What is your favorite restaurant to take visitors? Naoki, a Japanese and Chilean fusion. They have the best fresh fish and seafood. Tons of flavor in one bite! (Av. Vitacura 3875; 56-2/2207-5291; naoki.cl)
Where can you find the best cocktails? Sarita Colonia is a fun place for cocktails. It’s a very cool restaurant-bar. The decor is very wild (in a kitschy kind of way). Loud music, nice cocktails, and they describe the food as “Peruvian travesti cuisine,” as they take classic Peruvian dishes and refresh them with other flavors. (Loreto 40; 56-2/2881-3937; saritacoloniarestoran.cl)
Beer list? Uncle Fletch at Bellavista is a burger place with lots of beer. They have a great variety of Chilean artisanal beer and imported draft beers, too. (Dardignac 0192, Mallinkrodt 102; 56-2/2777-6477; uncle-fletch.com)
Wine list? Boca Nariz is a great wine bar that serves only Chilean wine. You can try a lot by the glass. (José Victorino Lastarria 276; 56-2/2638-9893; bocanariz.cl)
Where would you choose to splurge on a night out? I am really out of the night scene now that I have a baby—and feel really old by saying this! But I haven’t been out lately.
What is your go-to after-hours bar? See above!
What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon? For Saturday afternoons, the Lastarria neighborhood is great! Lots of people wandering around, and lots of bars and coffee places. There are some museums you can take a look at: the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Paque Forestal S/N; 56-2/2499-1600; mnba.cl), the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (Av. Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins 227; 56-2/2566 5500; gam.cl), and the Museo Artes Visuales (José Victorino Lastarria 307; 56-2/2638-3502; mavi.cl). There is also the Santa Lucia Hill.
What is your Sunday morning routine? I go for an extended lunch at Baco (Nueva de Lyon 105; 56- 2/2231-4444)—classic French with a great wine list—and walk the San Cristo-al or Parque Bicentenario.
Where is the best brunch? Santiago is not that much of a brunch city, but there is a "gringo" place called The White Rabbit that has great brunches. (Antonia López de Bello 118; 56-2/2503-4246; thewhiterabbitstgo.com)
Where do you go for the perfect cup of coffee? Colmado Cafe in Lastarria. The place is cozy, and the coffee and bread is great. They roast their own coffee. (Merced 346; colmado.cl)
What’s your favorite view in town (that tourists might not know about)? Sky Costanera and Cerro San Cristobal. Sky Costanera is just opened, and is the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere. You can imagine what that’s like! San Cristobal is a classic, where you can see Santiago all around. The telefericos in the cerro are about to reopen (they have been under renovation for quite a while), and there is a place to have lunch at the bottom of the hill called Divertimento (El Cerro 722; 56-2/2975-4600; divertimento.cl). A nice Italian/Chilean family owns it.
What’s your favorite path or trail to follow on a walk? Walking through Providencia on a weekday, you see the classic scenery. But then you cross the Mapocho River and end up in Parque de las Esculturas—a small, beautiful sculpture park. From there you get to see the views of Providencia.
What are your favorite offbeat cultural attractions in the city? There is a nice neighborhood in Providencia around Avenida Italia, which is great for a walk and for design stores. There is the Parque de Los Reyes antique "warehouse" (galpón), where you can find cool stuff. You can find everything from signs to tables to chairs, etc. Every time I go, I remember my grandparents’ place. (Av. Brasil 1157; 56-2/2688-1348; antiguedadesparquelosreyes.cl)