Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Aug 3, 2007 11:39 PM

Columbian regional specialties?

Hey Hounds. I'm looking to find out more about regional Columbian dishes, specifically the carribean Cartanega. Anyone care to show off their knowledge of what the local specialties are, or share some great food experience you've had there? Or, know of a good book/website I can consult that is good for Columbian food? The coffee I am well acquainted with, but other than that, I don't know much. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. ColOmbian foods don't vary all that much by region. Arepas vary somewhat, although you find different types where ever you are. Foods are not spicy. Tamales done in banana leaves, rice, beans, potatoes, guisados, soups, maduros, patacones, the bandeja paisa are ubiquitous. Chicken stew--and its regional variations--make up the national dish. The Bogota version, ajiaco, is good--having capers and sourcream added at serving. Most people don't eat fish. Beef is all range/grass fed and very good; although Colombians like steaks sliced thinly and super well done (carbonizado to us). The range of fruits and vegetables available is awesome.

    Cartegena is perhaps distinguished by its sweets and for the seafood cocktails sold by street vendors.

    Good high end restaurants have emerged over the last 10 years or so in most cities.

    1. I haven't been to Colombia, but here's my post of my first encounter with ajiaco con pollo on the San Francisco Bay Area board.

      La Candelaria
      31810 Alvarado Blvd, Union City, CA 94587

      2 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Hi, Melanie. Yes, I'd forgotten the avocado. In addition to potatoes, a good ajiaco will have a bit of cassava and perhaps other Andean tubers. I always add in a lot of capers and sour cream. Our local sancocho de pollo doesn't have capers or cream.

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Thanks, Sam, we were trying to figure out what gave ajiaco its body. Here's a link to a discussion of the arepas at a newish SF place.

          Mr. Pollo
          2823 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      2. I lived in Medellin for over a year in the middle 50s
        " SANCOCHO " was on my plate at least twice a month

        1. In that wonderful black comedy set in Medellin, "Our lady of the assassins", which plays like a mix between Kubrick and Visconti, one character says, lets go far far away to New York City. And the reply... no, too many Colombians. Most of the Colombians live and eat near Roosevelt Av and though I've never been to Medellin, and in fact the closest I've gotten to Colombian is reading Conrad's Nostromo, whenever I go to a Colombian resto on Roosevelt Av in Queens, I always get the plato montanero. There are a lot of other Colombian dishes, some I've seen only in cookbooks. I think the coastal regions have special seafood dishes. But I've never tried to find them. So this post is a panegyric to the plato montanero.

          The mountain platter, which some people have tried to make the Colombian national dish (but people from Bogota and the coast oppose) is indeed a mountain of food. It is too blg for the biggest platter so it's usually served on two huge plates, sometimes three. It contains... a huge floppy top round steak, a piece of fried pork belly as long as my forearm and half as big, rice, brown beans, two fried eggs, some fried plaintains, an arepa, maybe an avocado. There's also bread and salad in case you're still hungry.

          I think it's more a symbol of abundance than a dish people like to eat, but whenever I get one on a cold winter day I devour it all in a fit of gluttonous ecstasy. My favorite part is the pork belly, the chicharron. I skip dessert though.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Brian S

            Arroz con Coco usually with Mariscos (from Choco department) is a regional specialty sometimes found in Medellin.

            Cartagena I found to have a more international feel with a lot of Middle Eastern food on offer, the Ceviche in CTG is forgettable IMO.

            I agree that the fruits are amazing almost everywhere.

            1. re: Sam Salmon

              a proper Arroz con Coco (preferably w/ some accompanying roast beef tenderloin) is probably my favorite Colombian dish. so delicate yet satisfying when done right.