Since Easter Island wasn’t a part of the slave-sugar-rum triangle that helped mold the history of the Caribbean Islands, rum isn’t the obvious island drink.
Instead, try some pisco.
A grape brandy, it’s most often served as a Pisco Sour, and unlike in the U.S., most drinks are presented in a champagne flute rather than a rocks glass.
If you don’t care for hard liquor, try a Michelada. They’ll bring you a salt-and-chili-pepper-rimmed glass containing a couple inches of lime juice, into which you will pour your beer.
The most common beer I saw was Cristal, which is made in Chile and available everywhere.
Fresh seafood is an obvious thing to enjoy on an island. One of the local specialties is ceviche, which is a raw fish salad “cooked” by lime juice. If you enjoy sushi, it’s worth giving this a try. It features the flavors of fish, lime, chiles, red onion, cilantro, ginger and avocado.
Try the local fish served with mashed taro root instead of mashed potatoes, though potatoes are certainly available as well. Mashed taro root looks like white potato and tastes like sweet potato. At Haka Honu restaurant overlooking Pea Beach, you can watch people surf while you enjoy grilled fish with mango chutney served over mashed taro.
Because Easter Island is part of Chile, that means plenty of red wine and red meat. Combine the two with tender beef roasted in Malbec — and then washed down with more Malbec.
The most delicious beef sandwich I’ve ever had was the Lomo Italiano. Lomo is beef tenderloin, but I was confused by the “Italiano” part. The sandwich has thick layers of mayonnaise and mashed avocado (much more of each than you’d expect to see on a sandwich) and a slice of tomato. “How are those ingredients considered Italian?” I finally asked the instructor at a Chilean cooking class. Turns out the name refers to the colors of Italy’s flag — green, white and red. Mystery solved!
If you like avocados, you’re in luck as they are served with absolutely everything. I even had toast topped with mashed avocado for breakfast at one point — and it was pretty good.
Above all, be prepared for an adventure at every meal, especially if you speak little Spanish. Always ask, “Habla Ingles?” and be prepared for the waiter’s English to be about equivalent to your old high school Spanish. About half the time I ended up being served something quite different from what I thought I was ordering, but everything I had was good.
Especially the Lomo Italiano.
The “compleato” is a hotdog that makes a Chicago-style dog look positively bereft of toppings. I recall lots of avocado (of course), sauerkraut, tomatoes, mayonnaise, peppers and more. I had thought that by ordering a hotdog I would be having a fairly light dinner, but in fact I was unable to finish it.
Even though avocado, taro, limes and bananas are growing everywhere, chickens walk about unimpeded, and I saw at least one herd of cows chilling out beneath the palm trees, most foods are shipped in from Chile at great expense, so don’t expect anything to be cheap. And if you’ve combined your island adventure with some time in mainland Chile, you’ll find the menus are much the same.
The good news is you probably will not fully grasp Chilean currency, so learning that your grilled fish dinner at Haka Honu cost 12,500 pesos isn’t going to faze you much, because you will need to look up the exchange rate online and do some math to figure out what you just spent, and you aren’t going to have online access very often. And anyway, if, like me, you paid $2.50 in American money for a Diet Coke as your first island purchase, you really don’t want to know how much anything is really costing you anyway.
Have another Pisco Sour.