Closer to the city centre, I’m sure a lot of people get this far and think they’re at La Vega, not realising that they still have to cross the street to get to “La Vega Chica” and go another block further to even reach the entrance of the enormous “La Vega”.
Tirso de Molina also has a lot of the things that La Vega offers; fruit and vegetables, cheeses and cold meats, dried fruits and nuts, general produce stores, etc; but on a smaller scale, and generally a little more expensive. It’s handy if you just need one or two things and can’t be bothered going the extra distance to La Vega.
Upstairs, it has a range of tacky clothing stalls, and lots of little restaurants, including a pretty decent Mexican and a Thai restaurant that I’ve heard good things about, as well as lots of traditional Chilean food.
It’s a good place for tourists or foreigners to experience “cheap ‘n’ cheerful” traditional food in a possibly more sanitary environment than La Vega proper.
I like Tirso de Molina for the fresh fruit juice stands, where you can pick whichever combination of fresh fruit that you like to be blended up, right before your eyes. Get in quick though to specify “no sugar” before they add half a cup or, worse still, that horrible artificial sweetener.
So, whether as a quick alternative to its bigger neighbour, for a cheap bite to eat, or for a fresh juice, Tirso de Molina is one of the things I love about living in Santiago.