Walking around Santiago, it’s not hard to quickly learn that the typical fast foods here are what’s known as hot dog completos and lomito sandwiches. One is a hot dog with tomato, avocado, and a healthy dollop of mayonnaise on top. The other is a sandwich with ham, tomato, avocado, and a healthy dollop of mayonnaise. Thus is the typical pattern: some sort of bread, meat, tomato, avocado, and mayo. The Chileans looooove their mayo. And avocado. But probably mayo more.
Being self-professed food snobs, we generally don’t even eat fast food back home in the States, so we’ve pretty much avoided fast food here too (except for that evening where D ate 2 hot dog completos from a takeaway eatery, and then promptly threw them both back up). But we did still want to experience these famous Chilean staples.
When in doubt about where to eat, you can never go wrong by following the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain. The dude knows how to eat and it’s always nothing but the best. And just like him, we don’t settle for second rate stuff.
In this week’s Foodie Friday, we conquer the most epic versions of these Chilean fast food staples.
HOT DOG COMPLETO
When we were in Valparaiso, we made a special trip to the adjacent Vina del Mar to seek out the king of the hot dog completo. Sibaritico is a tiny hole-in-the-wall eatery (kinda a shack really) with only a walk-up-and-order counter and a couple of stools along the walls. This sandwicheria sells all the typical fast food staples, but is most well known for the hot dog vienesa completo. Despite it being in the middle of the afternoon, there was a constant stream of customers inside and out the door.
There were a few people in line ahead of us, and we watched as their hot dogs were assembled and handed to them. I knew the dogs were gonna be big since I had watched Bourdain’s show, but it did not prepare me for real life at all. My stomach clenched in fear at the prospect of forcing that monster down. D, on the other hand, could barely contain his excitement. He was convinced that this moment was what he came to Chile for.
How to eat: Attack it like a man, no utensils allowed. If Sibaritico even had any, they kept them very well hidden.
To tell the truth, I let D have most of it. Looking at all that mayo really made me want to throw up a little.
Sibaritico | 5 Norte 147, Vina del Mar, Chile
The lomito sandwich is another food that Chileans consider to be their unique creation. They can literally be found anywhere… from convenience stores to food vendors to high end restaurants. Even the McDonalds here have their version of the lomito. But Fuente Alemana, no doubt, has the best version of them all.
The sandwiches in this diner-style restaurant are made fresh to order in front of you. The bun is sliced, meat piled on, avocado and mayo slathered. And when it’s finally put on a plate in front of you, the result is nothing short of astounding: a sandwich that’s practically taller than it is wide. The bun is substantial yet soft, with a great danger of being soaked through by the porcine juices if not eaten fast enough. The pork is still hot and tender, and the toppings create a perfect harmony of flavor.
The sandwiches were so good that we went back twice to try different kinds. The first time, we went before the lunch rush and the place was empty (and I amusingly wondered why there were so many employees standing around with nothing to do). The second time, it was during lunch hour and the diner was practically standing room only. It was a madhouse behind the counters as cocineras furiously assembled the parts and slopped on toppings, barely keeping up with the demands for these monster sandwiches. The resulting sandwich may not be as pretty, but the freshness and quality of the ingredients speak for themselves.
How to eat: We noticed that everyone ate their sandwiches with a knife and fork. Even big, burly men cut their sandwich into dainty little bite-sized pieces to deliver to their mouth.
But since we come from America, we eat like this:
Fuente Alemana | Av. Pedro de Valdivia 210, Providencia, Santiago 1, Chile (Metro: Red Line- Pedro de Valdivia exit)
“If you come to Santiago and miss Fuenta Alemana, gastronomically, you have not tasted the city. It’s a landmark! A Santiaguino institution. Chileans would even say a birthright. ”
– from Find. Eat. Drink
Foodie Friday is a series in which I talk about what I like doing the most: eating! As I travel around the world, I hope to be introduced to a variety of local foods (and try them, no matter how bizarre). I hope to bring it all to you and connect you to cultures through food, all while accompanied by photographs delicious enough to eat!