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The Carretera Austral - Eating and sleeping
Eating and drinking
Although limited, there are some variations from Chilean cuisine: Coyhaique has sushi, Peruvian food and some excellent high-end restaurants. The German settlers of the region in the early 20th century secured an ongoing supply of decent bread, cakes and savoury snacks (kuchen). Lamb (cordero), where available, is excellent; beef is abundant but rarely cooked to the standard found on the Argentine side of the Andes. Seafood is common and vegetarians, even vegans, may actually find this region to be more compatible with their food tastes than Argentina. A number of restaurants offer a vegetarian option.
Many restaurants offer a menu del dia (set menu with limited choice), which are generally very good value and popular amongst the locals. Many cabins, and some hostels or hotels offer self-catering barbecue facilities (parrilla/asado), and oft en these are included in a separate outhouse, called a quincho. Ideal for groups, this is basically a building available for rent with tables, plates, cutlery, etc, where guests can prepare their own food, usually lamb or steak, bought privately or arranged through the hotel/hostel.
Options abound along most sections of the Carretera Austral. Wherever people live there is a hostel or a casa familiar, but in peak season these can fill up quickly, particularly in towns such as Lago Verde, Puyuhuapi, Raúl Marín Balmaceda, Puerto Río Tranquilo, Villa Santa Lucía and Caleta Tortel. There is a bewildering range of names for accommodation in Chile, each referring to a specific legal structure. Budget accommodation tends to be referred to as hostal, residencial or hospedaje; cabañas (cabins) can range from cheap to positively pricey options; lodges and hotels tend to be mid price and upwards. Confusingly the term spa can refer to a spa (sauna, pool, massages, etc) or to a legal structure of a company in Chile. Camping is possible in every town, and if not, wild camping is usually tolerated.