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Colombia - Bogota and Medellin recs

Looking for some good eats... anything goes, seafood and vegetarian recs would be good too, just not fancy or too expensive. Gracias!

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    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Sam, unfortunately not this time. However if things work out, I may be living/working down there soon! If you have any recs for "must haves" while in Colombia, I would greatly appreciate it!

      1. re: Pablo

        We will have to go CHing if you come to liveand work here.

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          I'd be interested in your recs for Cali...

          1. re: cscsman

            1. Grenada in Barrio Grenada for slightly upscale
            2. The Argentinian meat place 50 meters up the road to Dapa
            3. The original Los Turcos across from the CAM
            4. Los Bomberos in Palmira for beans and meat for lunch
            5. Palo Alto for coffee
            6. Der Kaiser Hause for (good!) German
            7. The traditional market, La Alameda, for greart lunches
            8. Le Petit France for Alsatian
            9. My place

    2. We just got back from 3 days in Bogota. There was great food. Nazca (calle 74, #5-28) was delicious Peruvian food in a very modern place. The food was cheaper than in a city is the US but the wine seemed to be more expensive. We also had tapas at a place called Donostio in the central city and they had some pretty delicious meats and a special spice from the Amazon. The other place we went to was Casa San Isidro which is on the top of Monserrate. It's a fancy French restaurant and the food was pretty good for such a touristy place. It's pretty dark inside but we sat on the inside terrace and enjoyed a beautiful view of Bogota. The filete res and chocolate molton were especially good.

      1. Medellin is not nearly as cosmopolitan as Bogota, so the restaurant choices are pretty slim. Most of the restaurants are pretty casual affairs and many are located in malls, which is probably a relic of the security concerns over the last couple decades. In Oviedo Mall, there is a cafe (Cafe Le Gris) that is nice. Across from Oviedo is Anita Cafetiere, which I think is the best option in Medellin. Anita, the chef, is Cordon Bleu trained and she knows what she's doing. She's hamstrung by the inavailability of many ingredients, though. In Parque de Lleras, there are little cafes all around the park and it's a fun place to hang out. The food is fine, but nothign earth shattering. In the Park 10 Hotel, there is a restaurant (I cannot remember the name), but they serve good fish entrees.

        Food in Medellin is a really casual affair, which is why the best places to eat are not swanky affairs. On your way to the airport, there is a little town called San Antonio de Pereya (or something like that) that has wonderful empanadas and an unbelievable dessert place located around the main plaza on the weekends. Even closer to the airport is a restaurant called Dona Rosa that serves the best chicharron con arepa in town, but it's a totally casual place.

        1. The ajiaco at La Casa Vieja in Bogota is delicious.In La Zona Rosa there are some empanada restaurants that have a huge selection of condiments to cover the empanadas in a variety of flavors.

          1 Reply
          1. re: streetgourmetla

            I concur with el Ajiaco from Casa Vieja...good chicken stew for sure.

          2. Oh! Have fun! I was in Bogota a few years ago and you cannot miss Casa Medina. It's a wonderful french restaurant and the inside of the restuarant is gorgeous....it's filled with antiques. I also like the past at Sol de Napoles.

            1. I just got back from two weeks in Bogota and Medellin, so here are some current recs...

              Andres Carne y Res: Beyond being one of the funnest places I've ever spent a night, the food was really good. Their chicharron was crispy to the point that it was addictive. Their patacones were enormous and crispy. The steak was perfect. For anyone who goes to Bogota, it would be a shame to not make the trip out to Andres -- dancing, drinking, people-watching, eating, etc.

              Donostia: We went to this casual Spanish-inspired place for lunch. I think it was the best meal I had in Bogota. The ravioli that I had was near perfect. The lamb burger served with polenta was fantastic. The boquerones were great. The "congelado de crema y bocadillo" was astounding -- one of the best desserts of my life. I begged the chef for the recipe, which he kindly shared. And three of us at a ton of food and drinks for about $70 total. They also played a great music selection. The restaurant next door, which is the same chef, looked very promising, as well.

              Criterion: This was the most refined restaurant we ate at. The service was impeccable. The food was very good, except for the desserts. I started with the pate and they served an enormous slice of pate that was almost enough for my entree. We both had fish for our entree and both were very good. Again, the portions were really big. Given the richness of the food and the size of the portions, we had little appetite for dessert. But we wanted to see what they kitchen would do, given how good everything else was. The desserts turned out to be so-so. But it was an excellent meal in total.

              Harry Sassoon: I was not impressed. It felt like they were resting on their laurels. Sure, ten years ago, I am sure the egg roll or sushi was groundbreaking in Bogota, but not today. For an American eater, none of the foods were new or interesting. The service was good and the setting was pretty nice. And I liked the fact that they served pappadums in the bread basket -- that was addictive.

              Medellin does not have nearly the range and quality of Bogota's restaurants. Frankly it's a lot more provincial. I've spent a lot of time in Medellin visiting family, so I've eaten just about everywhere at this point. I like Herbario (in Poblado) because it was more refined than anything else I've seen in Medellin. The chef is good friends with the chef at Donostia -- it's got a similar Spanish-Colombian streak running thruogh the menu. The ceviche de mero is outstanding. The pork tenderloin I had was very good, too. The desserts were very good.

              For traditional Colombian food in Medellin, I ate at Ajiacos & Mondongos Exquisitos for the first time. This place is great -- my favorite restaurant in Medellin. It is in Poblado, not far from Parque Poblado. They've converted an old house into a restaurant, so think about lots of small rooms with eclectic decoration. The menu is pretty small -- frijoles, ajiacos, or mondongos. I got the frijoles and it was great. Their lemonade is great, as is their masamora. And it's all really cheap -- less than $10 per person.

              Going towards Rio Negro, I compared Dona Rosa and Sancho Paisa. I would say that Sancho Paisa has the better food. I had some empanadas and patacones, which were fresh and good. And afterwards, stop by the store to pick up a panelito de coco -- unbelievable. I need to get more of those ASAP.

              1. It's probably too late to be of any use to you, but just got back from there. The food was great but I suspect it would have been better if my spanish skills were better (level 1 Rosetta stone just doesn't cut it). In Bogota, the food I had was OK, not great (Casa Vieja and the Mexican place next to it (Frida's?) and the two restaurants in the Tequendama). Donostia was better, but as far as I can tell Colombians seem to really like well done meat. There were some really cool booths at the market across the street (on Calle 7 near Museo Nacionale) that had grilled meats and a whole stuffed pig that looked and smelled great (pics attached). I didn't try it though, I never have street food when I'm travelling (not usually at home, either, depending on presence/lack of sanitation facilities at the vendor's booth), but that's just me. Lots of others were partaking.

                Medellin was much better. By then I'd figured out that rare in Colombia is "one quarter", not, "less cooked", "red", "juicy" or any other way I was trying to communicate that I didn't want meat the texture of balsa wood. We didn't venture too far off, there were some really good places near the Sheraton in Poblado: an Italian place called Tramezzini, Cafe Gris in the Oviedo Mall, and Provencia just a couple of blocks away, within walking distance. The ambience is just unbelievable, all open-air places with lush greenery. For some reason beer in Colombia is dirt cheap but wine is really expensive. Not sure why: cheap chilean wine is about $20 in the stores (and $60 in the restaurants) while beer is about 80 cents in the stores and $3 in restaurants. Wine prices in Medellin are a lot more reasonable.

                I found Colombian beef to be really good (especially when I got it cooked the way I like it), pork was flavourful but always overcooked so I stopped ordering it. The fish was meh, I ony tried the local freshwater fish in Bogota (the name escapes me but it started with a B, at Casa Vieja) and it tasted like catfish, which I dislike, but it was well prepared and not overcooked. There's Chilean sea bass on just about every menu, it looked really good but I won't order it.

                4 Replies
                1. re: hsk

                  hsk, yes, most Colombians like their meat steel furnace blasted. You need to ask for "termino quarto or azul". Street food is very safe here (and in most developing countries). You are at the most risk at higher end hotels. Colombia produces a lot of beer, but not wine. Good beer is cheap. Wine is not. You might have eaten bagre = catfish.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Thanks for the info! I like blue rare but it never occurred to me to order it "azul". I said "roja" but it didn't seem to register. It looks like I'll be back fairly soon to some other parts (Santa Marta in September if things work out) so I expect to be working on my Spanish over the summer. How do you order pork moist but not rare? I like pork pink but not bloody, the two times I had it it was white and quite dry, I tried to order it "medio" but the waiter talked me out of it.

                    1. re: hsk

                      You really have to describe it, "... me gustaria la carne de cerdo no tan cocida, mas bien me gusta la carne todavia rosada y jugosa..." or some such.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        I have to echo Andres Carne de Res - I was brought there by two Colombians and recommended it by a third - food is good, not amazing but good, but the experience of it is totally, completely worth it - one of the most fun parts about Bogota. Do not miss it!