Maldito Chef joins Ciudad Vieja in the “making sandwiches cool in Santiago” club. I’ve been here twice now and loved it both times, thanks to a cool vibe, delicious drinks and solid food. I’m easy to please.
Rodolfo and I went on a rainy, grey day, but the bright colors inside cheered the atmosphere. I wouldn’t normally think green and orange could work, but somehow here it’s ok.
I think it’s all in the unapologetic attitude that weaves through not only the decor – squared-off paint can lamps look arty, not junky – but also the menu descriptions. Even the name, Maldito Chef, which means Damn Chef, is somewhat in-your-face.
You can only pull off that kind of cocky arrogance if you’ve got the goods to back it up. Thankfully, Maldito Chef does. I have committed the cardinal blogger sin of forgetting exactly what was in my juice, but it was some combination of mango, raspberry and mint. There may or may not have been lemonade involved too, but the other three I’m sure of. A little bit of sunshine on a rainy day.
Our empanadas were, like the sandwiches, classic with a twist. There’s nothing particularly unique about a cheese or seafood empanada, although both were good. But the options of veggie and lomo saltado (a Peruvian steak stir fry) added something new. Extra credit to Maldito Chef for providing fried food that was crispy but not greasy.
Sometimes when you go to lunch with a hungry man, much as he loves you, he only allows you to snap one quick picture before he insists on digging in. I know that Rodolfo’s sandwich of braised entraña (skirt steak), arugula, provoleta cheese and tomato sauce was nothing short of heavenly. Why? Because it’s what I ordered on my first visit.
I almost repeated my previous success, but with the promise of a bite of Rodolfo’s, I decided I had to branch out. I tried the pot roast, mushroom and shoestring potato sandwich with a beer sauce – no avocado for me, although it does come with it. I think Rodolfo’s sandwich is my winner purely due to its inclusion of cheese, but it was a photo finish.
Maldito Chef is hip, and it’s certainly enjoying a moment of popularity. But trends fade. I only hope good cooking and bar tending don’t. As long as it stays unapologetically the same, Maldito Chef may just become, for me at least, the best damn sandwich in Santiago.
More in this series:
Saturday in Santiago