If you want a real Santiago experience, look no further than La Vega Central. Located just north of Santiago Centro at Metro Cal y Canto on line 2, La Vega a great place to go just to people watch, but even better to do some heavy-duty grocery shopping. Andrés and I go every so often, primarily because I love smoothies and it’s the cheapest place to find kilos upon kilos of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and bananas. Not to mention any other fruit or vegetable that you could possibly think of.
Produce is not the only item up for purchase at La Vega
Because there are so many vendors selling the same items, prices are competitive on top of the already extremely competitive prices with the supermarkets or individual street vendors. For example, I bought a kilo (2.2 pounds) of strawberries for about $3.25 from a street vendor near my work. We went to La Vega that same week, bought more strawberries that equaled a little over $2.00 a kilo. If I would have gone to the grocery store, it would have been upwards of $5.00 a kilo. Huge price differences, same quality.
My recommendations for a visit to La Vega: Leave the car behind, walk or take the metro with a pull cart or a backpack. Parking is complicated and the area poses a higher risk of damage or theft. Only bring the money you want to spend, cash only, and leave the credit cards at home. They’re worthless when trying to purchase anything at La Vega, but priceless in the eyes of a pickpocket. Camera’s are great and picture taking is no problem, but tourists stand out like a giant, awkward pimple. If you bring a camera, bring a friend (or a nice Chilean husband) to keep their eyes peeled while you’re snapping shots of decapitated lambs heads and up close and personals of bananas and carrots.