A wee gem in the Wellington’s street food repertoire, Puro Chile is well worth noting as an interesting spot to try the next time you’re in the Willis Street area. Nestled in the Grand Arcade and billing themselves as “NZ’s only Chilean diner,” they’re being very well received by Wellingtonians, with a second foodtruck location on Molesworth St in Thorndon.
The focus is unabashedly on the food, as well as including their customers in friendly Chilean hospitality. Though not the biggest space, the size of Puro Chile is seemingly filled to the brim with the infectiously vibrant presence of its owners. It’s quite a welcome- the huge Chilean mural spanning the entire space, to the photos and maps strewn around the walls and the friendly conversation upon entry. Vivacious Latino tunes play over the scene (“God I wish this playlist was named Hispanic at the Disco”- lunching companion), accompanied by singalongs from behind the till.
The dishes themselves are superb examples of streetfood done well. Food is served on paper plates and drinks arrive in their original vessels, which add to the casual street-food easiness of the place.
If you’re there for a quick lunch, foremost mention needs to go to the empanada. Redolent of some sort of pie, I highly recommend the cheesy salmon, spinach, capers and mushroom empanada ($9). Folded into a disc of pastry and baked, the crust was crisp and the filling lived up to its name- I was completely satisfied after this baby. The completos, noted as a Chilean hot dog, are also delicious slathered in avocado and tomato relish with a drink for $10. For afters, you cannot leave without trying an alfajores- smooth caramel sandwiched between two crispy shortbread-esque biscuits and dunked in chocolate ($4-$4.50). They also do delish vegetarian options ($11 tomato, avo, salsa verde, american salsa and grilled cheese sandwich, anyone?)
Whether you’re already a lover of Chilean cuisine or a newbie to the flavours of South America, add Puro Chile to your to-do food list (Oh, I’m the only one who does this? So be it).