Many places have kept the tradition and survive time and modernity's blows, welcoming those old Pampinos that still gather around a bottle of wine. Some are now part of local myths and tales, like the so-called "Bermudas triangle", formed by the bars "Ingles", "American" and "California"; the three vertex of a triangle where men used to get lost for days. The younger generation has kept on using these traditional places.
At the corner of Juan Martinez and Sotomayor streets, right in the middle of the neighborhood known as "El Matadero", we find "El Dándalo", a meeting place for the large Bolivian and Peruvian communities, which here get together with the locals. One can still hear the tales of characters such as "el Negro Cloro", who used to leave a bull tied at the bar's entrance before taking it to the slaughterhouse.
On the corner of Tarapacá and Amunategui, the Italian citizen Jose Solimano founded the Bar Genoves in 1958. It is now managed by his son, Luis, also the president of the Maestranza Sports Club. That's why the bar is also known here as "the sports bar".
In Obispo Labbé street, between Tarapacá and Serrano, stands the Bar Democrático since 1950, in the same place where once used to be the former headquarters of the Banco Social (one can still visit one of its old vaults). The oldest clients can be found playing poker and dominoes, but are now joined by a younger generation, busy looking for the latest records in the Wurlitzer. The high walls are full of paintings by local artists, since the bar also works as an Art gallery.
During the peak of the "guaneras" and the saltpetre industry a large population of Chinese immigrants arrived to the port of Iquique. They settled throughout the whole province and had an important influence specially over gastronomy, since their recipes became popular very fast. To go out dining to a chifa is an Iquique tradition, and that's why one finds them all across town. But it is in the area of Tarapaca and Amunategui streets where the best and most popular Cantonese restaurants are located.
In Amunategui street, between Tarapaca and Serrano, one finds the chifa "Nan Kin". According to all those surveyed, it is the region's best "chifa". It was founded on the 40s, and its special plates include duck, fish and seafood.
"Sol de Oriente"
At the corner of Juan Martinez and General Fuenzalida streets one finds the only restaurant based on Shangai’s gastronomy, full of cosmopolitan details and very different from those based on Cantonese food.
The gastronomical route
Andean ingredients are gradually being incorporated to Iquique's gastronomical specialities. Even the country's best chefs have become interested in this fusion, and have started using ingredients such as the "quinoa", "llamo" or hot spices.
At 85 Thompson St., in an old house of red walls full of Tarapaca souvenirs, one finds one of the city's most popular restaurant, with a warm atmosphere and a large regional menu. You must make reservations (411 647) if you want to enjoy specialities such as the "cojinova and quinoa sibayano", "chango huataca", coated limpets or mango foam. There's always live music, from very well-selected Northern bands. You'll be welcome by Luis Gavilan, the owner and a gastronomical investigator (except) during the Tirana holidays.
"El Tecer Ojito"
In a patio full of plants, in the middle of a very homely atmosphere, such as the one at the largest Iquique houses, one finds students, tourists, professors and businessmen enjoying a healthy and tasty meal. This is the only local place inspired in a New Age aesthetic. During the week, the plate de jour is very convenient. Patricio Lynch 1420.
In the corner of Gorostiaga and Ramirez, in a house that dates from the 50s, this restaurant combines a warm ambience and good specialities on drinks, which are all served in different glasses. Some of the best are the Chilean and Peruvian pisco. To eat along, there's tapas and several "tablas".
This restaurant can be found at Península Cavancha (no number). It's a large and international space that has a unique view of the bay. The best choice here is seafood and local fish, such as the "acha". Their desserts include recipes based on fruits like the mango, guava and maracuja (passion fruit).
The historical Baquedano street holds this small restaurant and coffee shop, with very convenient prices. Its speciality is French food.
Tea houses / Coffee houses
Another of Iquique traditions is just getting together for a piece of cake and a cup of coffee. At the corner of Latorre and Vivar streets there's the traditional "Doña Lucy", with a nice ambience and sweet preparations to eat there or take out. At the corner of Anibal Pinto and Serrano there stand's another traditional place, similar in style: "La Chocolata".