Santiago, Chile

Photo: Boragó

It’s time to start exploring Chile. The South American country has a breathtaking landscape. The northern desert looks like the moon. Its center is lush, fertile, and filled with orchards and vineyards. They run into rainforests and lakes. Vast glaciers lie below them. The jagged Andes, the longest mountain range in the world, line the border to the east. While islands, seemingly lost in time, sit offshore in the Pacific Ocean. Just don’t forget Santiago.

Except for the airport, Chile’s capital and largest city is often overlooked. With early morning arrivals, adventure seekers barely register the city before transferring to the first stop on their journey. But Santiago has colonial architecture, politically inspired art, great shopping, and an exciting jazz scene. It now has one of the best restaurants in the world, as well.

Boragó wasn’t an instant success when it opened in 2006. At the time, the fanciest restaurants in Santiago served beef and fish. Chef Rodolfo Guzmán didn’t focus on either. After working at a highly acclaimed restaurant in Spain, the young chef decided to return home to focus on the ingredients found within his own diverse country. Milk and vegetables come from their own farm located 30 minutes away. Fish and meat are sourced from local fishermen and small farms. Rainwater, yes water, is collected in Patagonia. While fungi, herbs, flowers, and whatever else looks tasty is foraged whenever possible. The chef now creates more than 700 unique dishes each year.

Photo: Boragó

Then there’s the minimal dining room. Boragó doesn’t look like an old-fashioned French or Italian restaurant like so many of Santiago’s nicest restaurants once did. With thick-wood tables and soft chairs, decorative rocks and stemless glasses, it looks more Scandinavian. The kitchen is behind a glass wall, though sous-chefs and the chef himself are constantly delivering dishes to diners. The plates they bring out are earthy, minimal, and, not surprisingly, thought-provoking.

You have two menu options at Boragó. The Raqko menu features six courses. The Endemica menu serves 15 to 20 dishes. Wine pairings are offered for both. It’s not even an option for you. You decide on the Endemica menu with wine pairings immediately. It doesn’t take long for the amuse-bouches, yes plural, to start flowing from the kitchen. Fish crackers. Street-food-style pastries. Donuts filled with chicken-liver pâté. Sweet potatoes dusted with seaweed. Toasted melon cubes topped with flowers. Caramel-filled egg rolls. It only takes six little bites for you to fall in love with Boragó. If the rest of the meal is this good, you’ll never consider bypassing Santiago again.

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