Move over, Barrio Bellavista. The latest bohemian “it” neighbourhood in Santiago is undoubtedly Barrio Lastarria.
Located in the heart of the Chilean capital, Lastarria has made inroads as the city’s cultural hub, centred around a cluster of the country’s leading museums, performing arts venues and galleries. But along with these spaces that appeal to the intellect, the key to your heart may well be through the many bars, restaurants and coffee shops that have sprung up in buildings that exemplify some of Santiago’s richest architectural heritage. What’s good for santiaguinos, it turns out, also makes Lastarria a go-to for travellers.
Here are seven spots that will fill your mind and heart.
If you only do one thing in Lastarria, make it a visit to the Centro Gabriela Mistral, a.k.a. the GAM. Named for one of the country’s Nobel-prize winning poets (the other laureate was Pablo Neruda), the cultural centre bills itself as a space dedicated to “the arts, culture and people”; under this banner, it puts on performing arts and music shows throughout the year. With six halls for theatre, dance and music, the show always goes on—from contemporary dance and ballet, to theatre and live music, which ranges from Chilean pop to classical to Andean rap.
Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 227, +56-2-2566 5500, gam.cl
Chipe Libre – República Independiente del Pisco has, despite the name that refers to the national booze (pisco is to Chile what tequila is to Mexico), made a name for itself for serving up some of the tastiest food in the neighbourhood. Focusing on Chilean cuisine with a hit of Peruvian flavours, the kitchen sends out such dishes as spicy seafood ceviche; pastel de choclo, the national corn-and-meat pie topped with a thin layer of caramelized sugar; and grilled hake served on a frittata. And yes, there are pisco flights and cocktails to wash it all down.
José Victorino Lastarria 282, +56-2-2664 0584
Located at the foot of Cerro Santa Lucía, Hotel Magnolia is within walking distance of everything in Lastarria. The former 1929 mansion, which opened in 2016 after a complete overhaul courtesy of architect Cazú Zegers, won a prestigious UNESCO 2017 Prix Versailles for its bold old-meets-new design. The 42 spacious rooms and suites are decked out in blond, native woods, while the common areas mix historic charm (including old oak subfloors refashioned as wall panelling) with minimalist furniture.
Huérfanos 539, +56-2-2664 4043, hotelmagnolia.cl
Showcasing homegrown contemporary artists in genres from painting, sculpture and photography to video and installation art, the Museo de Artes Visuales, or MAVI, is a curator and repository for the country’s avant-garde. In addition to a slew of concurrent exhibits, the museum offers educational visits with hosts who encourage access to, dialogue around and interaction with the works on display—all in the name of democratizing art.
José Victorino Lastarria 307, +56-2-2664 9337, mavi.cl
For an opportunity to sample small-batch vintages hard to find at regular stores and supermarkets (or even at the airport tax free), steer your steps to Bocanáriz. The wine bar and restaurant lets you pair your food with creations from winemakers who eschew commercial production methods, which tend to favour uniformity harvest after harvest. Instead, the vintners represented here coax out the particular terroir from, say, cool-climate whites like De Martino’s northern Limarí chardonnay, or complex reds from dry-farmed old vines, courtesy of Clos des Fous and Garage Wine. If you want more action that just ordering a flight, take part in a tasting workshop or a blending session.
José Victorino Lastarria 276, +56-2-2638 9893, bocanariz.cl
If you’re looking for authentic souvenirs—for yourself (why not?) or for someone at home—explore the arts and crafts created or inspired by Indigenous people and their cultures at Ona. The boutique sells textile items made from wool and other natural fibres, including throws, shawls, sweaters, bags and ponchos, as well as handmade wooden utensils and silver jewellery.
Victoria Subercaseaux 295, +56-2-2632 1859, onachile.com
Traditionally loyal to Nescafé, Chileans haven’t been known for pulling strong espressos. But—thankfully for third-wave aficionados—that’s changing, especially in Lastarria, which boasts close to 10 different coffee shops. At Café Berlin, you can order panini with your flat white. For full-on brunch that includes gluten-free or vegan options to go with your caffeine fix, head over to Colmado Coffee & Bar.
Café Berlin Padre Luis de Valdivia 339, +56-9-9570 6470
Colmado Coffee & Bar Merced 346, +56-2-2664 2317