Cafetería Alemana (Condell 119, tel. 065/231731) has a reputation for outstanding sandwiches, onces, and desserts; down the block is its sister Café Oriente (Condell 201, tel. 065/231622). For inexpensive light meals, try Café Samoa (Prat 653, tel. 065/232864).
For home cooking with class, try the lunches (US$3) at El Mastique (Bilbao 141, tel. 067/235594); its dinner menu is more limited. Despite an almost foreboding exterior, Lito’s (Lautaro 147, tel. 067/254528) has a spacious dining area with an attractive bar and above-average versions of Chilean beef (US$6), fish, and seafood.
With a standard Chilean menu enhanced by top-quality ingredients, the Casino de Bomberos (General Parra 365, tel. 065/231437) is an institution, but it’s become one of the country’s more expensive fire-station restaurants. La Fiorentina (Prat 230, tel. 065/238899) has good pizza, pastel de choclo, and crisp service at moderate prices.
Loberías de Chacabuco (Prat 386, tel. 067/239786) is a seafood venue that seems to be slumming these days, though they’ve maintained quality and kept prices reasonable. La Olla (Prat 176, tel. 065/234700) is one of Coyhaique ’s better (and more expensive) restaurants, but the budget-conscious can enjoy moderately priced (around US$5) lunches. The pollo al ajillo (garlic chicken) is excellent, but the service can be slow and the pisco sours a little sugary.
For light cooking to international standards, Hotel El Reloj’s El Ovejero (Baquedano 828, tel./fax 065/231108) comes highly recommended for entrées such as congrio al ajillo (conger eel with garlic, US$8) and Patagonian desserts like rhubarb mousse; grab a window table for fine views over the Río Coyhaique.
On the west side of the Plaza de Armas, a favorite with locals and travelers alike, Café Ricer (Paseo Horn 48, tel. 067/232920) has some of Coyhaique ’s best food and drink, including Patagonian specialties like barbecued lamb (about US$10) and even Middle Eastern items like stuffed grape leaves; humongous sandwiches and snacks are considerably cheaper. Most people dine in the downstairs café, but the upstairs restaurant has better atmosphere, its walls lined with historic photographs of the city and the region (not to mention fewer smokers). There is live music downstairs on weekends.
Another good option, popular with tour operators, is La Casona (Obispo Vielmo 77, tel. 067/238894) for lamb, pastel de jaiva (crab soufflé), and other regional entrées in the US$7–10 range. The service equals or even surpasses the food.
Coyhaique ’s most ambitious new restaurant is Casagreca (Baquedano 022, tel. 067/251483), whose inviting wooden dining room overlooks the river through ample picture windows. Specialties include fish dishes (salmon, conger eel, hake), beef, and pastas (sometimes with elaborate shellfish sauces). Prices are upwards of US$20 and the portions are larger than they need to be, but the wine list is exceptional (including some by the glass).