What is La Paula?
A Chilean bakery and café that specialises in empanadas and dulce de leche sweets.
What's it like?
Step through the nondescript shopfront and you'll find a festive interior strewn with Chilean flags and giant crepe-paper rosettes and streamers in patriotic red, white and blue. You'll hear a constant soundtrack of Spanish dialogue as locals pick up takeaway orders of sweets from the bakery, or sit down for a quick snack whilst watching Chilean cable TV.
What should I order?
Empanadas are the specialty: a stuffed pastry that comes baked or deep fried. Empanada de Pino ($3.70) is the most traditional, filled with beef mince, onion, olive and boiled egg, but you'll also find tuna, chicken, ham and seafood. Empanada de Queso ($2.60) is particularly good, deep fried until its special blend of cheeses is deliciously gooey.
The lomito pork sandwich is Chile's answer to fast food. A towering lomito completo ($7.80) gives you the lot - tender pork slices, tomato, sauerkraut, lettuce and lashings of mayonnaise in a soft white bun. Chacarero is the beef version: a combination of thin slices of steak with tomato, mayonnaise and sliced green beans that sounds odd but surprisingly works. You'll also find completos hot dogs (from $3.50) that are amped up with tomato, sauerkraut and mayonnaise. Everything tastes even better with the addition of palta (avocado). Wash it all down with mote con huesillo, a summer drink of sugar and cinnamon served with cooked barley and a rehydrated whole dried peach.
How about dessert?
A display cabinet shows biscuits sandwiched with manjar, the Chilean version of dulce de leche caramel made from condensed milk. Berlin custard-filled donuts are a popular local treat that originated via the large German community in Chile, but the store pick is the tres leche, or three-milk cake, a butter cake soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream and then smothered in blowtorched meringue.