In the Chilean village of Villaseca, Entre Cordillera Restobar Solar cooks around 80 percent of their dishes with nothing but the sun’s blazing rays. The menu offers pork, chicken, and even pizza, all cooked in solar ovens in the courtyard that resemble satellite dishes. The staff places tea kettles in the center of the dishes, too.
The satellite dishes, which can cook salmon in just a few minutes, are not the only solar ovens. Owners Jorge Armindo and Luísa Ogalde also have boxes with transparent tops that heat slowly, like cars parked under the summer sun, and slowly cook meat for around four hours, producing a tender texture.
Cordillera Restobar Solar also boasts a solar-powered dehydrator to dry goat meat (ch’arki), which is used to prepare a traditional Andean stew called charquicán (made with potatoes and squash, usually served with an egg on top). Other dishes on their sunny menu are cazuela (made with lamb bones and jerk meat) and desserts such as a leche asada flan. “We cook dishes that are connected to our heritage culture here in the Atacama,”Armindo says. “From milk to meat, we use the whole animal.”
The restaurant, with its wooden structure and thatched roof, resembles a beach bar. But it’s their unique cooking style that draws visitors from all over Chile, as well as foreign tourists. And their location on the southern edge of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth, but which also boasts some of the highest surface irradiance on the planet, ensures constant sun and makes solar cooking a year-round affair.
Know Before You Go
While some dishes cook quickly, patience is important, especially on cloudier days, as some orders require hours in a solar oven.