The chorrillana, Valparaiso, Chile’s contribution to junk food, could only have been invented somewhere like Casino Social J Cruz Martinez. The bar is the exact definition of a Chilean picada: a hole, dive bar, or greasy spoon. It’s not a casino by any means. Rather it is a ramshackle room, found down a long alleyway covered in graffiti, whose walls are lined with plaster figurines, old photos, glass cases filled with more knickknacks, and the layers of writings of seemingly every client that has ever walked through its doors. In its more than thirty years of existence, since 1972, it has become something of a legend in Valparaiso. On most times an old school crooner, with his Pablo Neruda like conductor hat, is there singing folk songs with his guitar. Perhaps no place captures the porteño spirit better than it.
While Chile is no stranger to high calorie snack foods (completos and sandwiches are quite popular throughout the country), no dish will give you a heart attack as quickly as the chorrillana, which is the country’s answer to disco fries or poutine. It’s simply a massive plate of minced beef, grilled onions, cheese, and egg atop a mountain of greasy French fries. Outside of Valparaiso you might find it with chorizo or longaniza sausages. At Casino Social J. Cruz one small plate will serve three. While carne mechada (stewed beef) is practically the only other dish served here. Wash it down with the house beer, a Cervecera del Puerto blond ale.
Casino Social J Cruz M
Calle Condell 1466
+56 32 221 1225
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.