Skip to Content

Delicious Chilean Empanadas on Easter Island

EDITOR’S NOTE: Traveleater Kyle G. Roesler describes his experiences eating empanada on Easter Island, the setting for his latest novel The Navel of the World.

When I travel, I’m seeking three things: moments of transcendent beauty, unique culinary experiences and inspiration for the short stories and novels I write. I found all three during a 2015 visit to Easter Island with my wife, Angela.

Transcendent beauty? Well, the volcanic, rain forest carpeted island surrounded by hundreds of miles of nothing but deep blue Pacific is a fantastic tableau. But, of course, that’s not why most people visit. The moai statues, created with hand tools hundreds of years ago, are the eternal draw to this isolated corner of the world, further from other civilians than any other (including astronauts on the International Space Station!). Getting a chance to see the moai, both the completed ones and the ones in-work in the original quarry, is an experience like no other.

NATIONAL DISH QUEST:  Chilean Empanada

Ahu Tongariki – moai and statues – Easter Island – Rapa Nui – Isla de Pascua” by David Berkowitz, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

Save This on Pinterest!

No time to read this now? Click on the red save button and pin it for later!

Tray of Chilean empanadas

Photo by GRAPHICALBRAIN via Pixabay


The food that I most enjoyed on Easter Island was the Chilean Empanada. The modifier is very necessary.

About ten years ago we travelled to Argentina and enjoyed their take on the empanada: small meat pies the shape of a half-moon and the size of a Chinese pot sticker. These were definitely appetizers, unless you order half a dozen of them. In Chile, just across that long border along the spine of the Andes, empanadas are much bigger.

As I wrote in The Navel of the World, my novel set on Easter Island:

“In some countries they are quite small, the size of a big ravioli, but here on Easter Island they’re bigger, the size of a sandwich.”

NATIONAL DISH QUEST:  Chilean Empanada

Empanadas” by Javierosh, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

The best place we found anywhere in Chile to get delightful empanadas is on Easter Island. The restaurant is on the main street in the only city, Hanga Roa, and is called Empanadas Tia Berta. The pastry is light and flaky and big; they really fill up a plate and only hearty eaters would think of ordering more than two empanadas. The meat fillings are flavorful without being heavy or soupy; I remember carne and pollo being available, but I don’t think you can buy a bad empanada there so try what you like. And, on an island where costs are generally sky high, the price is very reasonable. If you ever visit Easter Island, one or more stops at Empanadas Tia Berta is highly recommended.

As for inspiration, Easter Island was very effective there, too. The extra-long runway of the island’s airport (to accommodate emergency landings for the Space Shuttle) caused me to imagine hijackers using Easter Island as a place to get off a large airplane before they crash it into the sea. The Navel of the World was completed and published two years later. I made sure to include information about all the interesting locales on Easter Island, so it serves as a great introduction for potential visitors. Oh, and it is partially narrated by a dog; how cool is that?

Download The Navel of the World from Amazon. It’s available for Nook and iPad, and in paperback. Please note these are Amazon affiliate links.

Feature photo: “Feliz 18…!!!” by mabel flores, used under CC BY-ND 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

Found this article useful? Help us help other travelers by sharing it!


Thursday 11th of August 2022

I was really exited when I saw on the front page of Goggle a story about Chilean Empanadas. I do need to clarify for everyone that In reality the Empanadas are found all over Chile. There is no need to go all the way to Easter Island to enjoy one of The best traditional food items that Chile has to offer, which there are many. Now, if you are able to go and visit Easter Island , please do so. The journey it’s amazing and the destination it’s out of History it self and Since you are there an Empanada would not be a bad idea.

JB & Renée

Saturday 20th of August 2022

Thanks for sharing Ivan!


Sunday 15th of August 2021

Get us the recipe

JB & Renée

Sunday 15th of August 2021


INGREDIENTS • One unripe 8" plantain

METHOD 1. Go suck it.

Balkan Peninsula

Friday 4th of August 2017

Nice post, I learn something new. Thanks!