The food of El Norte Grande is simple but quite good. Along the coast you can enjoy fresh seafood and shellfish, including merluza (hake), corvina (sea bass), ostiones (scallops), and machas (similar to razor clams but unique to Chile), to name just a few. Ceviche (a traditional dish made with raw, marinated fish) is a Chilean (and Peruvian) specialty found in much of El Norte Grande, but make sure you sample it in a place where you are confident that the fish is fresh. Fish may be ordered a la plancha (grilled in butter and lemon) or accompanied by a sauce such as salsa margarita (a butter-based sauce comprising almost every shellfish imaginable). As you enter the interior region you'll come across heartier meals such as cazuela de vacuno (beef stew served with corn on the cob and vegetables) and chuleta con arroz (porkchop with rice). In San Pedro, you'll find dishes that feature native meats like llama and vicuña.
People in the north generally eat a heavy lunch around 2 pm that can last two hours, followed by a light dinner around 10 pm. Reservations are seldom needed, except in the poshest of places. Leave a 10% tip if you enjoyed the service.