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Taste Chilean Fish Specialties Such as Shellfish and Shrimp Empanada
Having a 4,000 kilometres long coast provides Chile with all kinds of fish and shellfish. Both are popular dishes on many a Chilean table as well as in restaurants, although “mariscos”, shellfish, is the Chilean specialty. Along the entire coast, an abundance of luxurious fish restaurants and basic eateries can be found. Give the Chilean seafood a try at one of these localities in the town of La Serena, in the region of Norte Chico.
Popular Seafood Snacks and Meals in Chile
West of town lie white sandy beaches; for six kilometres “Avenida del Mar” [“Avenue of the Sea”] leads south, into the adjacent town of Coquimbo. Along this avenue a multitude of seafood eateries and cafés is situated. A popular snack is an “empanada”: turnover filled with “mariscos” [shellfish], or with “camarones y queso” [shrimp and cheese]. Ask for “empanada al horno” [from the oven] or “empanadas fritas” [fried].
Most restaurants are open in the afternoon [1-3pm]; lunch is the Chileans’ prime meal of the day. Check if the restaurant has an “almuerzo del día” [set meal], which is often a nicely-priced dish. While in many cases fish will be deep-fried, the better restaurants will also serve fish “al vapor” [steamed] or “a la plancha” [grilled]. To finish a splendid meal in a restaurant, ask for a “bagativo de la casa” -– a complimentary digestive.
Seafood Restaurant Bakulic in La Serena
A popular and excellent fish restaurant is “Bakulic” [Avenida del Mar 5700, tel: 245715], situated on the beach. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. Except in high season [January / February] no reservations are needed. A delicious meal, including an appetizer, a main dish, dessert and wine, costs about US$ 30. This is a good restaurant to try the quintessential Chilean aperitif called “pisco sour”: a grape brandy [made from grapes growing in this region – the Elquí Valley], with lots of sugar, lemon juice, and egg white to make it foamy. As to seafood: prawn, shellfish, sea-eel, sea-brass and tuna are just some of the dishes on their menu.
Seafood Eateries at Caleta Pescadora in La Serena
Further south along the coast, after the Casino, there are many basic but excellent seafood eateries on the left side of the Avenida del Mar. This area is called “Caleta Pescadora”. “Caleta” refers to an Indian word used by the ancient Indians who lived along the coast in this Coquimbo region, whose staple food was fish. The word indicates a tiny harbour with just a few small fishing boats.
Caleta Pescadora is nothing fancy, but neither is the price. The high quality of their fish and seafood is well known in La Serena, which has turned it into a popular eating area for locals.
Fish Restaurants Downtown La Serena
Not only the beach restaurants offer fish; it can be found downtown as well. The second floor of the “Mercado La Recova“, the public market, consists of small fish restaurants. They all serve more or less the same dishes for similar prices [fish broth US$ 3, a fish dish between US$ 4-8]. It’s mainly the view that is different. The market is situated on the corner of Cienfuegos and Cantournet.
Avid traveler, journalist and writer, he moved away from his native France back in 2006 and settled in Chile. After visiting the country North to South, learning extensively about its culture, History, gastronomy, Thomas started to work as a tour guide. He liked it so much that he ended up creating his own tour agency in Valparaiso, where he lives today. You can visit my site at: https://chileprivatetours.com/