The Scoop: Did you know September is Chilean Month? Us neither, but we sure found out when we wal...The Scoop: Did you know September is Chilean Month? Us neither, but we sure found out when we walked into Paila Grill and Restaurant earlier this week and came across streamers, flags and all kinds of other party paraphernalia that made us want to chant “Chi-Chi-Chi! Le-Le-Le!” instead of our usual “USA! USA! USA!” And then when we actually took a bite of the chacarero sandwich, we actually did. It would’ve been awkward if the staff wasn’t from Chile, but several of them are. Si-po (Chilean slang, ya’ll), Claudio, the man who prepared this beef, tomato and avocado delight for us, is from Viña del Mar. He told us he’s been eating these sandwiches all his life and yes, they’re prepared here just like they are at home.
Paila, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, relies on fresh ingredients, prepared to order to ensure quality. That is, there are no gimmicks here, just good food. But it’s anything but basic. While the ingredients are simple, the way Chileans have thought to put them together is extraordinary. Take the chacarero we mentioned above. It starts with hot, thinly sliced marinated grilled beef, and is topped with avocado, tomato, jalapeño, mayonnaise and most curiously, green beans. Served with a side of potato chips and fresh prebre, a Chilean condiment made of coriander, chopped onion, olive oil, garlic and spicy aji peppers.
And while the chacarero sandwich ranks up there as one of Chile’s best-loved foods, the godsend known as the completo might be the most popular. It starts with a 100 percent beef hot dog and is topped with avocado, tomato, mayo, and sauerkraut. It may sound a bit weird to the average American, but once you take that first bite you’ll probably think twice next time someone tries to offer you a dog with just ketchup and mustard. Paila offers vegetarian dishes, as well. The Porotos Don Raul combines navy beans, butternut squash and noodles to make a hearty stew. Add an order of Empanadas de Queso on the side and voila! Yup, food is good.
Ave Italiano Sandwich (chicken, avocado, tomato), $8.50
Porotos Don Raul, $5.99
Beef Omelette, $6.99
Empanadas de Queso, $5.99
Monday – Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.