Of all the central barrios of Santiago, it’s probably Bellavista I know the least. I walk across it every time I go to the Metropolitan Park because it’s nested at the bottom of San Cristóbal Hill, but it’s mostly popular with drinkers because that’s what you do in Bellavista—you drink.
I mean, you can’t miss Santiago’s main pub street, Pío Nono. The sidewalk is always sticky even during the day, when it’s dead quiet, and the smell of beer lingers long after weekend parties. On Friday nights, it’s the noisiest street in the city—just follow the flow of people coming from Plaza Italia.
Santiago packed most of the pubs and nightclubs in one neighbourhood, Barrio Bellavista. You can buy alcohol in any supermarket, botillería and convenience store, but if you want to try a fancy super sweet terremoto (pipeño—a strong version of unfiltered white wine—, pineapple ice cream, grenadine or fernet), you’d better order it in Barrio Bellavista.
Obviously, I don’t drink so I can’t tell you if it’s as sweet as people say—I’ve heard it described as “a glass of liquid sugar.”
It’s funny, now that I think of it, I don’t see Santiaguinos drinking much alcohol. Argentinians have wine with their meal, Brazilians chug beer anytime and anywhere because damn, it’s hot, Uruguay seems to be high on drugs but I’m not sure what Chileans run on.
Coffee, maybe. There are plenty of Starbucks and every convenience store has a Nespresso machine (or, fancier version, a Marley Coffee machine). An interesting local twist on coffee shops in Santiago is the “café con piernas” concept (literally, “coffee with legs”). In chains like Cafe do Brasil, Cafe Caribe and Cafe Haiti, waitresses are young, hot and are wearing high heels, miniskirts and occasionally bikinis. Think of it as soft porn for businessmen—a bit pathetic, I know.
Mote de huesillo (cooked dried peaches and stewed corn served as a drink) seems to be popular as well, and young Chileans addicted to K-pop love their bubble tea. But it’s rare to see someone drinking booze in the street and there are few terraces outside very touristy areas like Bellas Artes and Santa Lucía. Drinking seems to be a night and weekend activity as well, Barrio Bellavista is quiet during the day.
It’s an interesting neighbourhood to explore for the colourful murals, just don’t expect anything going on during the day—everyone seems to be sleeping or receiving bottle deliveries.