March 3, 2018
Located near the end of one of the rows of palafitos – buildings constructed on stilts at the water’s edge – the hotel and café have great views looking back over the water to the row of colorful buildings.
Rooms are smallish but have balconies over the water. A large picture window makes it a great place to experience a palafito. The bathroom is small but efficient. The downside is the uncomfortable bed. Either too old or too cheap I’m not sure which, the firm mattress, which I generally like, is breaking down and saggy in spots.
Breakfast in the café is pleasant with lots of light through the large windows overlooking the water. Umbrella lights grace the cathedral ceilings. They serve great coffee along with fresh berries and yogurt, toast, cheese, ham and local preserves. Cereal is also available.
The café also makes a delightful spot for an afternoon coffee and kuchen.
Changing Views of the Palafitos
Dinner at Mercadito
Our hotel booked a table for us at 8:30 on a Friday evening. The place was full when we arrived with our table waiting for us. The friendly server will speak in English or Spanish and give you a choice of menus in various languages.
The menu has an extensive selection of meat and fish options with appetizers to share. We started with their murta (local berry) frozen Pisco sour. Frozen is not my favorite as I drink Margaritas on the rocks. The drink had good flavor though but be sure to stir it as the sweet murta sits at the bottom.
We started with the octopus appetizer in a creamy sauce served with a few crisp fried potatoes. A very tender and a sizable portion to share.
Don ordered the Esta frito – fried fish on a bed of mashed beans. The fish was not cooked to order and only lukewarm and the batter coating soggy.
The slow cooked lamb on the other hand was delightful. A generous portion of melt in your mouth tender meat served with apple puree and a red cabbage puree. My favorite dish of the evening.
The dining room is cute in a kitschy tea house sort of way with colanders and graters used as light fixtures. All and all a fun place to dine, but order dishes that do well pre-cooked.
Dinner at the Cevichería Gourmet
Down the row of palafitos from our hotel at number 721, the small sister version of the larger Cevichería Espacio Palafito was dead quiet on a Saturday night. The small dining room with only 4 tables was completely empty and stayed empty the entire time we were there.
Note that the reviews and photos on Tripadvisor often have the two restaurants confused.
The menu has a good selection of ceviche dishes, empanadas and other regional specialties.
We started with Pisco sours – nicely done – and the gourmet ceviche – generous portion of very fresh mixed fish, shrimp avocado, almonds, etc.
The salmon and shrimp empanada with onion and cheese was tasty depending on your take on cheese with fish. In Chile they seem to think the more cheese the better.
For the main dish we tried the curanto, the local dish that takes hours to prepare. We didn’t get the chance to observe a traditional preparation but this at least gave us a taste of what we were missing. Lots of fish, shellfish, and meat piled in a bowl of broth. Well done, very smoky and the meats cooked fall off the bone tender.
Service was friendly and efficient and the food, despite the lack of other patrons, was consistently good, better than the previous night at Mercadito.