Elkika Ilmenau

  • Ambience 80%
  • Service 80%
  • Food 85%
  • Creativity 90%
  • Value 85%

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Restaurant Details
Elkika Ilmenau
Locale:
Address: Nueva Costanera 3100
Telephone: +56 (2) 2761 9043
Restaurant Type:
Cuisine:
Service Type:
Price:
Menu items offered:
Hours:
Sun: 10:30 am - 9:00 pm, Mon: 10:30 am - 11:30 pm, Tue: 10:30 am - 11:30 pm, Wed: 10:30 am - 11:30 pm, Thu: 10:30 am - 11:30 pm, Fri: 10:30 am - 11:30 pm, Sat: 10:30 am - 11:30 pm

Review Summary
Elkika Ilmenau is one of a handful of restaurants Santiago that specialize in serving the city’s famed “completo” (a hot dog on steroids) and the four sandwiches that define Chile’s culinary identity, the Churrasco, the Lomito, the Chacarera, and the Barros Luco. This is a good spot for watching soccer matches on the big screen TVs while drinking cheap beer and eating food only drunks could love, which makes the place perfect for 75% of the male population.

The full review for Elkika Ilmenau

Review by: Ollie O Rating: stars Review Date: 01/14/2015

When friends from the USA ask me about Chilean cuisine I jokingly say, “Can you call sandwiches and hot dogs a cuisine?” That’s probably oversimplifying the breadth of Chile’s culinary expanse, but few would argue against the proposition that the most emblematic foods in Santiago, are, in fact “the Completo” (a hot dog on steroids) or any of a handful of local sandwiches that have become national symbols of identity.

Santiago’s culinary identity, like it or not, is shaped by these iconic sandwiches and the colorful history of the restaurants that serve them. These “fuentes de soda” (soda fountains) are typically an interesting morph between a 1950’s American Diner and a German Kneipe (a German pub that serves food).

Mid-century saw the opening of a wave of these “fuentes” in Santiago, many of which are still operating. The most popular of these restaurants are Domino (est. 1952, specializing in the sale of hot dogs), Fuente Aleman (est. 1940), Fuente Suiza (est. 1954), Fuente Mardoqueo (est. 1989), and Elkika Ilmenau (est. 1959). The hallmark menu items at each are four iconic Chilean sandwiches, the Churrasco (beef), the Lomito (pork), the Chacarero (a sandwich whose hallmark ingredient is a huge heaping portion of green beans), and the famous Barros Luco sandwich. That last one was conceived and made popular by the oldest operating restaurant in the city, Confitería Torres and was named after one of the country’s former presidents.

The sandwich is now more famous in Chile than the man after whom it was named.

Almost everyone that goes to any of the aforementioned restaurants eats one of those sandwiches or the loaded hot dog known simply as the “Completo”.

I’ve been putting off writing this review and the review for those other sandwich shops mentioned above for several years. I know that I will surely offend some people that I consider to be very good friends. I should be courteous and ooh and ah over these restaurants and tell everyone how much I love them and how they’ve stood the test of time because they make the world’s best sandwiches. That would be the courteous thing to do.

But being courteous is usually a disguise for a lie. It skirts around the uncomfortable truth. And the uncomfortable truth is that the sandwiches at Elkika Ilmenau are mediocre at best, as are those at all the other “fuentes”. At least that’s my take on it.

They defy everything a lover of the culinary arts holds dear. They, and the people that praise them, put quantity above quality. The more junk you pile on top, the better it is. Well that’s a lie. The truth is the more you pile on top, the bigger it is. And bigger rarely equates to better.

I could go on endlessly in detail about everything I don’t like about these sandwiches, from the stale and tasteless bread and the unseasoned meat to the horribly over pulverized green-colored baby food gushing out the sides. It would be a long list.

Almost as baffling to me as the fact that locals praise these places, is that whether you go to “Kika”, Fuente Aleman, Fuente Suiza or Fuente Mardoqueo, the sandwiches are almost indistinguishable. Every single one is a behemoth made the exact same way.

The only thing that distinguishes one of these “fuentes” from the other are the little paper caps or hair-nets the ladies wear that are making the sandwiches.

Even the décor falls short in these places. Unlike Lili Marleen, Confitería Torres and Bar Liguria, all of which take us back in time and display a beautiful and sometimes quirky Chilean personality, the décor in these sandwich shops only make we want to go somewhere else.

In Elkika’s defense, the ambiance is better than the chaotic madhouse, with an ordering system created in the ice age, that I have to endure every time some Chilean talks me into going to Fuente Aleman.

But this cloud has a silver lining. There are some really outstanding sandwiches in this city. Want a good sandwich? Go to La Maestranza. Go to El Camino. Go eat the lobster roll I had for lunch at the sophisticated Ambrosía Bistro. Even the sandwiches at La Sanguchera in the Costanera Center food court are better than these.

There! I said it. And I finally feel as if the weight of the world’s largest lomito, with double mayo and avocado, has been lifted from my shoulders.


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