Gastronomic gluttony. A greasy game changer. Chorrillanas is the epitome of drunk food. A dish of excess that matches a night of the same. A heaping pile of French fries is the base and vessel for the rest of the artery clogging miscreants. Good start, right? What goes on top can vary, but never strays to the side of healthy. Sauteed onions, beef and eggs tend to be the generic, but not the limit. Resembling our Canadian poutine, I had an immediate connection and did my fair share of ‘research’.
Hailing from Valparaiso, a port city close to Santiago, my first taste came from the other side of Chile. I was in Puerto Rio Tranquilo on a road trip to the end of Ruta 7, the Carretara Austral. A small restaurant, Cerveceria Rio Tranquilo and their small menu. The highlight was clearly the Chorrillanas judging by the surrounding tables. Massive plates for two, these portions were not meant for a lightweight.
Usually tasting a dish for the first time, I tend to stay traditional. I want the authentic flavours as best as possible before bastardizing them with variations. Chorrillanas was an exception. I opted for the ‘Special’ on the menu. Braised lamb instead of beef seemed fitting as I was in Patagonia.
Crispy, homemade fries done properly. Surprisingly, this is quite often hard to come by and is obviously key for a dish based around fries. Sauteed onions and succulent braised lamb with some just was loaded graciously on top. This all mounted by two sunny-side eggs with luscious yolks waiting to bust. Okay, calm down.
Too bad, the first time would be the best.
I only had a few things on the agenda when I arrived in Valparaiso. Chorrillanas was high on that list. Asking my guide of a walking tour for a chorrillanas hot spot, I was pointed towards J Cruz. Down a dank alleyway and into a scuzzy hole in the wall. The place had a severe pack rat syndrome, the walls pasted in passport photos instead of grandchildren. Serving one thing, chorrillanas, things were looking in the right direction.
An unfortunate let down, I barely want to recall it here. Luke warm frozen fries, lightly sauteed onions, small chunks of boiled stewing beef with scrambled egg. The ‘jus’ was a greasy egg-y water. I left dumbfounded that this was somehow a top spot for this Chilean favourite.
A couple nights after forgetting about my previous experience, I headed to Mastodante. Another suggestion by the ‘Google’, it had an odd jungle theme with fake taxidermy all over the walls. I wasn’t here for ambiance. This time I ordered chorrillanas with all the fixings. Onions, scrambled egg, chicken, hot dog, beef all topped off with two slices of plastic-y cheese. This still wasn’t what I knew chorrillanas was capable of being, but I could get behind this. This actually still tasted good with a pint and would definitely hit the spot after a late night.
I can see after eating chorrillanas at these two places why it is classified as a drunk food. A grease sodden mess that would imitate delicious if I were three sheets to the wind.
Don’t let this discourage you though. Rather inspire, to go and find another chorrillanas of superb craftsmanship. One that lives up to its potential (and let me know). I had a realization afterwards. Just like our poutine, quite often it is done poorly. It’s sad really, but when you dig in to one that is done just right? It’s sheer bliss.