Published on April 15th, 2010 | by Mark Chesnut
Santiago’s Quiet Gem: Barrio Concha y Toro
Even though I was pretty much in the center of bustling Santiago de Chile, as I strolled down one narrow, stone-paved street, the only sound I could hear was a mellifluous male voice singing, accompanied by a pianist from some upper window at a small music school.
Such is the sense of peace that you get in Concha y Toro, a tiny neighborhood where the largely car-free streets are graced with early-20th-century examples of neoclassic, gothic and beaux-arts residences.
If you ask locals, this relatively unexploited district should be on the itinerary of every visitor. Just ask Joe Westrate, a Michigan native who is co-owner of Zully, a stylish upscale neighborhood restaurant that sits right in front of the fountain at Libertad de Prensa plaza, which is Concha y Toro’s centerpiece. “In my opinion, this is the most beautiful street in Santiago,” Westrate says. He and his business partner, Scott Jones, are now working to open a boutique hotel in the building just across the walkway.
Among the few other businesses occupying these stately buildings is Pouf, which designs its own home décor items, Tales Bistro, a pleasant second-floor eatery and wine bar with a lovely balcony, and Palacio Concha, an elegant 1920 French neoclassical former home that since 2008 has been undergoing major renovations to become a private event space.
This unique district was the vision of Teresa Cazotte Alcalde, a wealthy resident and widow of Enrique Concha y Toro, whose name is famous in English-speaking countries thanks to the popular winery. Teresa wanted to recreate a European neighborhood she had loved visiting when she was younger. She oversaw the design of a series of thin, winding streets that converge around a small plaza and fountain. Between 1926 and 1939, the eclectic array of residences grew. It’s one of my favorite places for a quick stroll, and for soaking up yet another facet of Santiago’s diverse styles.
(Personal Note: Tomorrow morning, I’m flying to Patagonia, where I’m told the unspoiled natural setting may mean that I’ll have spotty Internet access. But stay tuned, I’ll be back on as soon as I can with more photos and reports!)
Each of the dining rooms in Zully has different decor.
The building that Zully’s owners are converting to a boutique hotel.