The culinary scene in Valparaíso is hot, hot, hot -- not even Santiago can compete with the gastronomic explosion currently taking place in this port town. Valparaíso's bohemian flair, its concentration of talented young chefs, and its constant supply of adventurous and demanding diners have all combined to inspire a synergistic food culture found in few regions of Chile. The bistro reigns here in Valparaíso, those intimate eateries housed in recycled old Victorians that are typically owner-attended and offer inventive cuisine in lieu of the fish-and-fries fare and grumpy service that reigned in this city for decades. Valparaíso, it can be said, shows a newfound respect for diners. Of course, you won't want to miss dropping into one of the century-old establishments in Valparaíso that have played host to generations of revelers, if only for the antique architecture and a whiff of the city's formidable and colorful history. Note that most restaurants are either closed or open for lunch only on Sundays.

Valparaíso has quite a few charming cafes for a snack or onces, Chile's famous afternoon tea. Café Riquet, located at no. 1199 in the Plaza Anibal Pinto, is a local institution in Valparaíso and a popular point of reunion for writers and artists and a host of characters, and they have reasonably priced fixed-price lunches. Café del Poeta, no. 1181, is a good spot for coffee and pastries, and they serve onces. Café Harté, just to the right of the El Peral funicular on Cerro Alegre, is the cafe to go to for a spectacular view.

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