You might want to avoid using Buses Queilen: they use their own terminal about 1.5km from the town center, and I didn't enjoy the walk with all my stuff. Plenty of other companies use the municipal terminal, a warehouse that's not in the middle of nowhere, or take Cruz del Sur. Or there are taxis, probably for about US$2.
I'm staying at Hostal Lluhay, which is a low-cost place for grown-ups: every day they come clean your room, make the bed, and leave you new towels (some days scratchier than others). Breakfast is fine, but the "kuchen," at least this week, has a top layer of Jell-O. (Kuchen is normally a German-originated fruit crumble dessert.) But here's the view from the common/dining room:
It's also a couple blocks from the town center, and the dining room has a very nice fireplace that eventually gives off heat.
Curanto is pitched as the culinary awesomeness of Chiloé. I've had curanto and its slightly smaller sibling pulmay (back at Sacho in Castro), and while I don't want to be jaded and negative, it's basically a clambake, but not as good. The shellfish, especially the clams, are full of sand, which I guess means they don't clean them (by leaving them alive in clean, sand-free water for a while). The sausage, chicken, and pork end up steamed, which gives them a weird texture and flavor. The broth was mediocre-to-tasty. Feel free to try it as a cultural experiment; I think it's vastly over-hyped, but I'm a food snob with a lot of seafood experience.
- Retro's Pub - Probably the winner, given I'm avoiding Chilean food. Excellent service, good-enough nachos (made with Doritos, so don't expect them to satisfy a purist)`, excellent burgers (if slightly awkward at 6-7 inches wide).
- Kuranton - Where I had the curanto. Meh.
- La Botica de Café - Chilean-style sad espresso and no wifi, but it's smoke-free and pleasant, with excellent desserts. Ordering a ristretto gets you good espresso.
- El Embrujo de Chiloé - I asked them to run the espresso machine for 30 seconds and they still failed. Ordering a ristretto was much better. Wireless, and nice people.
- DH Pub - Hiding up Pudeto a few blocks from the center. They have Chilote beer, which isn't good (at least the lager/blonde), but they made a mighty whiskey sour and it came with some kind of fried-dough snackies with spicy cheese.
Stuff To Do:
- Pingüinera Puñihuil - Penguins! Humboldt and Magellanic. Pictures here. It's a 3-4-hour jaunt unless you take the Mar Brava bus from their garage on Calle Anibal Pinto, which will leave you waiting on the beach for a couple hours. (I hitched a ride back with a private group.) If you've got an extra US$15 it might be worth a tour group, which will include other stuff; otherwise, take the bus or a taxi to the beach yourself and arrange with one of the two of three companies that actually take you out on the boat. Penguin verdict: cute and worthwhile, in beautiful secluded scenery.
It's a nice little town. I'm skipping the trip to Quemchi, which I'm fine with, since I was only going to a Chilote restaurant there. Ancud is an adorable little town, and for Chiloé in general, I could easily spend another week or more traveling around to different towns and islands.