We haven’t had a ton of luck foodwise since arriving in Santiago. It’s not that the food is terrible. I’d just equate most meals, even meals out to eat, as not being impressive. I’ve shared about my joy of cooking and the lack of spices and array of ingredients here, so it seems to just be a general challenge. There always seems to be something missing in a flavor profile. Imagine our surprise when Rapa Nui, a small isolated island thousands of miles away, had some decent food options and most surprisingly the first food I’ve eaten that I was “wowed” by.
In line at the airport, you’ll see lots of coolers wrapped with duct tape. Many travelers pack foods to take with them. In my research, I found that people do this for several reasons, one of which was said to be cost. We didn’t find eating out on Rapa Nui to be more expensive than Santiago. However, we did limit our eating out to once a day. Our amazing hosts provided some basic breakfast items each day and we froze and brought items for lunch (fruit, salami, crackers, bars, nuts, and a pumpkin bread and banana break made by me) since we knew we would be out on our tours for 7+ hours a day.
Fresh fish is readily available and this was most of our meals. Fresh tuna sushi, grilled fish, ceviche were all plentiful and enjoyed. The highlight food wise was the food trucks. There was a grill, Aloha food truck, offering fried chicken, french fries and mozerella sticks which delighted the kids of course. But the real winner was the tuna ceviche empenada by a food truck called Le Frits. It truly “wowed” me. It was simple, fresh, and full of flavor. As you can see below, its not a traditional empenada where everything is wrapped in a thin dough and cooked. It was simply a glorious tuna ceviche placed in an empanada shell with what I believe was a lime, cilantro, sour cream sauce on the side.
I’m not going to trash on anywhere we ate, but I will say that almost all suggested places were pre-pandemic and one place that was recommended by many travel sites and bloggers left much to be desired. Part of my writing this is in hopes that it will help travelers heading to Rapa Nui know what’s open and good right now.
Sushi Ohi (most of these you’ll have to pull up on google maps as they don’t have websites) was good but the sushi was perhaps sweetened? The real winner was the Mongolian Chicken and veggies that Mark ordered on a whim.
Before our 5 hour flight home we grabbed brunch at Polynesian Coffee and Tea. Wilson ordered the “hot cakes” which were very different in taste and texture than hot cakes in the US, but the jam and chocolate some how allowed him to polish them off. The rest of us enjoyed smoothie bowls and and omelette. The fresh squeezed orange juice here was a big crowd pleaser.