I will admit it, I have a love-hate relationship with Lastarria. When I first moved to Santiago, in 2004, Lastarría felt like a secret surprise, a place you might run into a friend, or you might see no one, in the afternoon, at night. You might walk through and hear nothing but the patta-pat of your own shoes on the cobblestones. I had two good friends who lived on that street, both of them long-gone, one up to first Providencia, and later Ñuñoa, and another back in Chicago. Which leaves the frigid winters in that apartment on Rosal, near Cafe Escondido as memories that are banked in my brain, next to whatever else was going on in Santiago in 2004.
Now Lastarria is on fire. It’s flanked by restaurants and antique shops, and overpriced water and teeming with tourists at all hours of the day. It’s behind the fairly newly-opened GAM, where I often roller blade on Thursday nights, and where a new antiques fair has cropped up, all inches from the Universidad Católica metro, which makes it terribly convenient for an afternoon amble.
Much of which I hate.
Except I don’t. There’s a newish café called Wonderful, where they serve delicious coffee, and make pretty patterns on top (unless you ask for a dry cappuccino, in which case you are a spoilsport).
And then, there is this bookstore, a location of Ulises, which I nominate for prettiest bookstore in all of Santiago. And they are so nice, and make good book recommendations, and don’t even care if you just go in to peer at yourself from above and below at the same time (the ceiling is mirrored).
So what I’m saying is, I half hate what Lastarria has become, with its fake plaza and small fountain and a million loud people talking about things I don’t care about in voices I can’t ignore in English, Spanish and Portuguese, a fake piece of Euro-wannabe where Santiago used to be. And I half love it because wow, the coffee, and ooh the pretty. Tourists be darned.
oh yes…the tempting gentrification of those old school barrios is [always] a double edged sword. Hooray for conejito coffee and espejo books but boo to the disappearing character.
Barrio Italia is heading the same way. There’s been articles in LaTercera about the slippery slope for Barrio Italia…I hope they get to keep their furniture on the streets but I somehow doubt it.
Cada vez que Marmotita y yo vamos, tenemos la misma sensación; es un lugar muy bueno con muchas cosas que te hacen querer regresar, y dan ganas de poder decir, “hey, conozco un lugar especial en pleno Santiago, te lo voy a mostrar, es mi pequeño descubrimiento secreto”, excepto que el lugar pasa relleno de gente que también lo considera especial y en parte hace que deje de serlo. Con mi polola siempre pensamos, ojalá esto no lo conociera nadie, ¡lo queremos sólo para nosotros!
Entonces les recomiendo a que vayan a la Plaza Concha y Toro cerca de Barrio Brasil. No hay mucho, pero tiene un buen café que se llama café Tales que tiene un lindo balcón con vista de la plaza. Lastarria me gusta por su arquitectura, pero la verdad es que no me gusta tanto como se ve el “desarrollo” de comercio y como centro gastronómico allá.
Y gracias por comentar, hace tiempo que no te veo por estos lados.
Siempre visito, no siempre comento xD
Living “across the street” from LaStarria, I am happy to see it boom. When I wander through, I am amazed at the new bars, restaurants, and “designer” boutiques that have sprung up in the last year.
Though I’m sure you’re right that a lot of tourists visit LaStarria, it still doesn’t feel “touristy” to me. It runs a distant second to Bellavista in the “being overrun with tourists” category.
One day, I swear, I will have a bookcase like that in my house. And then, I shall die with the biggest grin my friends have ever seen.
Seriously. The things it could store!
You just named my two favorite spots on Lastarria (plus GAM, which I can endlessly wander through…) And despite all my doubts, somehow Wonderful really lives up to its name.
Coffee bunny! I think I’m right that you’re still out of the country? I would love to get a coffee bunny of my own with you once you’re back.
yes to both! Back Aug 18th, so any time the following week sounds great. It’s nice to have a soft landing, seeing good peeps upon my return. Let’s figure out a time!
You left out that it´s also more expensive for the same thing – for example you can´t find a “menú” on Saturday in Lastarria for less than $5.500 CLP, while our picada a la vuelta has the SAME lunch for $2.250…
that might be because I almost never eat there! Though I did pop into BocaNaríz recently and have some wine.
This isn’t really even in Santiago but as far as secret spots goes, I was amazed by the upper reaches of the Cajón del Maipo. I had only gone as far as the Cascada de las Animas before, so I had never been up to the great glacial U-shaped valley starting around Sector El Volcan with its series of waterfalls erupting from concealed hanging valleys, the cathedral-shaming rock formations around Baños Morales, or the ever-more-spectacular views of peaks rising 4, 5, even 6,000 meters. Of course it’s not exactly on Linea 1, either.
but is there coffee? You win the tangent award, btw.