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“Vegging Out” at El Huerto Restaurant in Santiago

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Vegging Out at El Huerto Restaurant in Santiago, Chile
Photo courtesy El Huerto restaurant

Finding restaurants whose menus don’t revolve around meat can be a difficult task if you are a vegetarian or vegan traveler. This is especially true as you travel to some of the poorer countries in the Caribbean and South America. While the culinary traditions of many of these countries are great for fish lovers, strict vegan and vegetarian diners often have a little more difficulty finding a hot dining spot in these pescatarian paradises. Yet, with a little bit of research, you can find excellent vegan and vegetarian dining as well.

El Huerto restaurant in Santiago is a great spot for vegan and vegetarian diners visiting Chile’s capital city. With dreams of creating a gathering place for music, art, and tasty healthy food, owners Jose Filman and Nicole Mintz opened the restaurant in 1980. Since then, El Huerto – which means “The Garden” in Spanish – has been known for its healthy foods, relaxed atmosphere, nice wine list, and the occasional live musical entertainment. The food is natural and so is the décor, with fruit and flowers gracing the all wood surroundings.

The menu at El Huerto is filled with delightful vegetarian options. For starters, you may wish to munch on the “Eggplant Terrine” made from roasted peppers and goat cheese and served with tomato coulis and capers. Perhaps you’d rather start with one of El Huerto’s three types of vegetarian ceviche instead. The “Ceviche Algae” is composed of seaweed, ulte, onion, and cilantro. It’s counterpart, the “Mexican Ceviche” uses algae, fresh avocado, tomato, onion, pepper, cilantro, olive oil, and green chile served with corn chips. Finally, the “Peruvian Ceviche” excites your taste buds combining algae, corn roasted tofu, raw sheets mushrooms, parsley, peanuts, olive oil, and optional chile, all served with a roasted piece of pumpkin. YUMMERS!!!

The main courses include both food from around the world as well as a host of tasty salads. El Huerto’s “World Menu” includes eggplant parmesan, an Indian curry dish, as well as an awesome “Wok Vegetables” dish. Vegans will find the “Chicana Vegan” particularly appetizing. The dish starts with a wheat quesadilla stuffed with roasted yellow squash, mushrooms, a small floret of broccoli, and an assortment of vegetables inside. The burrito is further filled with tofu, sautéed poblano rice, black beans, pico de gallo, and shredded lettuce. As if that wasn’t enough, it is served with corn chips and guacamole to boot!

El Huerto’s salad menu boasts six delicious vegetarian dishes inspired by cuisine from Chile and beyond. For a more local flavor, try either the “Southern Chilean” or “South American” dish. The Southern Chilean option features green beans, corn, and tomato and avocado served with a nice bean stew with basil. A green leaf salad with carrots and parsley, topped by the house mayonnaise dressing – which is made without eggs – finishes off the meal. On the flip side, the South American option is a Quinoa salad which includes mote, peppers, corn, cilantro, and carrot served on greens with tomato, avocado, and grapefruit. The salad is topped off using a limoneta with olive oil dressing. Did someone say “tasty” in here?

With a bit of research and effort, vegetarians and vegans can find some excellent restaurants no matter where they are in the world. El Huerto proves that vegetarian food doesn’t have to be just for vegetarians. While they may come for the live entertainment and the wine, even the most hardcore carnivores will find that they love El Huerto’s menu as well!

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