Anything and everything grows in Chile, and eating well here means taking advantage of the tremendous range and outstanding quality of seafood and locally produced agricultural products. Though seeking out local dishes and specialties is always part of the adventure, there are a few dishes that you'll come across nearly everywhere.
Empanadas are snack-sized turnovers filled with meat, cheese, or shellfish, and are a staple of daily life, not to be missed. Fresh-baked bread, in a variety of styles, is available in local panaderias in even the smallest towns. A surprising variety of excellent sandwiches make for good, quick meals.
Chile's seafood is unequalled in variety and quality. Mussels, clams, and urchins, oysters and scallops, salmon and sea bass, the list of fish and shellfish goes on and on, and a morning visit to fish markets anywhere in the country is an overwhelming sensory experience. Paila marina is a delectable shellfish stew available throughout the country.
North American and European visitors will find the quality of red meat served here to far exceed that which they are accustomed to. Asados (barbeques) and parilladas (mixed grill) are extremely popular and widely available. Finally, even the most voracious sweet-tooth will be satisfied by locally made italian-style ice cream (helado) and deserts made with dulce de leche, also known as manjar. From north to south, Chilean cuisine is as varied and unexpected as the country's marvelous geography.