La Vega is the main vegetables and food market in Santiago and this is why I love it so much.
Those who know me know how much I love the markets and that is the first thing I visit any destination when just arrived.
Vega Central in Santiago de Chile is one of my favorite markets in the world, not only because I know this market since I was a child, but because it is a world of smells, tastes, and stories.
Not only I say this, the DailyMeal included La Vega Central in its list of the best markets in the world in 2013. And Anthony Bourdain included it in his Chile No Reservations chapter at Travel Channel.
A little history of La Vega
La Vega belongs to what at the time of the colony was known as La Chimba, corresponding to the area across the Mapocho river.
Since the construction of the bridge Cal and Canto were gathering traders in this sector, they would sell their agricultural products in the area called Vega del Mapocho, later renamed Central Vega.
In 1985 a definitive building was built with support from government and founded by a neighbor of the area, Agustín Gómez García. This building which includes warehouses and shops is now a National Monument.
What you’ll find in La Vega
In La Vega there are near to 2500 traders in 9.5 hectares, mainly engaged in the sale of agricultural products. Most have inherited their business from their parents, being part of a family tradition.
The main feature is that all products sold in La Vega are fresh and of good quality.
Many restaurants and retailers are supplied here and those who go every week to buy for their own consumption.
Thanks to the cultural diversity that has grown over the years, today you can also find a wide variety of products from neighboring countries, mainly from Peru.
The Vega Central Market is part of the cultural heritage of the city, in it, people from diverse backgrounds meet and cultural events are on every corner.
This is precisely why I adore visiting this market, interaction with vendors and visitors, music, scents and colors that make it a unique and genuine representative of Chilean culture.
The products are more or less organized in different ‘streets’ or aisles.
You can find a map with your organization to search directly for what you want, or organically through each space and see what surprises is that day.
Many products are available throughout the year, such as meats and some fruits and vegetables, but there are also positions that vary their offer depending on the season.
Tips to shop in La Vega Central Market
- The offer is varied so bring clear what you want to buy if you do not want to buy more … or if you have problems … buy it all!
- Carrying a backpack, gender or big bag for your shopping cart so you can walk more comfortable through the long corridors.
- Probably it will be very crowded, as elsewhere in concurring many people, please watch your belongings. Keep your purse or backpack in front of you and be careful.
- Many traders will not let you touch the products before buying them, if you want to choose, ask before and you will avoid a hard time.
- In Chile no longer used to ask for discounts but if to ask for an extra or ‘Yapa’ yes you will achieve if you ask.
La Vega neighborhood
The most entertaining of this sector of Santiago is that there are many things to do, which make it a perfect ride for the weekend.
In the areas surrounding La Vega, you can find 3 other major markets:
- La Vega Chica
- Tirso de Molina Market
- Central Market.
In the vicinity, they are very close to the Plaza de Armas, the Pérgola of the Flowers, Forest Park, San Cristobal Hill and Bellavista.
Where to eat in La Vega Market
Each of these markets that I mentioned earlier has inside an area with small restaurants or ‘cocinerías’.
With different offers and styles, in the restaurant’s area of La Vega Central, you will find mainly Chilean food like corn pie, pies, casseroles and humitas, and Arabic food restaurant.
But the highlight is on the posterior where you’ll find gourmet carts offering everything from homemade pizzas, ice cream and specialty coffee that has one of the best coffees in Santiago: Café Altura.
In La Vega Chica offer is very similar in terms of variety and prices, but find more seafood and Peruvian food.
Tirso de Molina Market after its transformation has become a center of international food: lots of Peruvian, Chilean, one Thai and one Cuban restaurant (100% recommended).
Perhaps the only thing that bothers me a bit is the value of the dishes in this market, I consider them to be high for a market and a plate of ceviche here can cost the same as in restaurant in Las Condes, considered a most expensive area of the city.
About Central Market we’ll talk in a special article.
But the main thing here is to find fish and very fresh seafood and good price lunches and cook yourself or enjoy some of the restaurants inside.
How to get to La Vega Market in Santiago
If you go by car there is a parking lot which is entered by the street Salas.
If you go by Metro, you can do so from the Line 2 (yellow) towards Vespucio Norte and get off at the station Patronato. Right off, you’re in a Gral pedestrian promenade de la Lastra, which takes you to one side income of La Vega located on the street New Rengifo
If you come from the Barrio Bellas Artes you can get off at the station of the same name Line 5 and walk across the Forest Park.
Here you can take a virtual 360º tour