The Vega Central was founded in 1895 by Agustín Gómez García. Santiago's main wholesale market has a little bit of everything. At it's entrance, there are many small vendors that sell everything from dried fruits and nuts to affordable cleaning products (where the hostel shops!). Cross through to the back and you'll find the real treasure of the Vega, the fruit and vegetable market from which best place to buy the produce in Chile. Vendors sell a variety of vegetables and and tasty fruits such as the bumpy green chirimoya, cucumber fruit, and the tuna; not a fish but rather a yummy cactus fruit (the tuna fish in Spanish is called 'atún'). The Vega is part of the 'real' Chileans life. Not to be confused with its somewhat sanitized cousin, the Mercado Central which is translated as 'Central Market', La Vega Central is the real thing.
One of my favorite stores here (pictured right) is a small shop that sells naturally dried (without added sugar) fruits like mango and pineapple, nuts and even sunflower seeds which I had a hard time finding before. Not only do I stock up on my favorite snacks here but I can also find cheap whole wheat flour that I use to make the bread for the hostel's breakfast but you can also find things like rice flour for any of you gluten sensitive people out there.
From the Patronato subway stop on line 2, walk south on Recoleta about a block and turn right onto Antonia Lopez Bello. The entrance is about half a block down the street. Opens daily around dawn and closes in the late afternoon, at about 6 pm although the fruit and veg vendors usually start to close up earlier.
Just about every Tuesday, Charles (that's me) makes a Vega run in the mid afternoon to stock up the hostel for the week. If you're interested in going with him, just let him (me) know.