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Sep 27, 2009 12:03 PM

Bogota & Villa de Leyva report

We spent 5 days in Bogota & Villa de Leyva this month, and had some excellent meals. Highlight was Leo Cocina y Cava in Bogota - Colombian fusion by chef Leonor Espinosa. An excellent meal - quality of food was outstanding, and quality of service and atmosphere not far behind. One of the best meals I have ever had. Had very good meals at Club Colombia (traditional Colombian) and Astrid y Garcon (Peruvian), and decent meals at Harrys and Harrys Bakery.

Villa de Leyva is a wonderful colonial town, about 3 hours from Bogota. It obviously draws weekenders from Bogota, because dining options were very limited on a Monday night. We heard excellent reviews of a French restaurant (forget name), but it is only open on weekends like many others. Most restaurants are in (almost) hidden courtyards, close to the main square. Casa Quintero, just off one of the corners of the main square, has approximately 15 small restaurants. One of the few that was open turned out to be excellent - Tierra Buena. Fresh, traditional Colombian cooking - hearty tomato based soup, bean dish and good seafood.

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  1. I had the opportunity to spend 6 weeks in Bogota. Thought I'd share my food experiences with anyone else who may be headed there.

    Overall, I cannot complain about the food in Bogota! I had some very memorable meals. I agree that Leo Cocina y Cava was one of the best meals I've ever had. Service, atmosphere, and most of all, food, were incredible. The martini de coroso, made with a local amazonian fruit, was delicious. The food is modern Colombian, and really allows you to discover the flavours of the country. A must for visitors to Bogota.

    Another must is Andres Carne de Res. This is not just a restaurant, it is an experience. Prepare for sensory overload. The sounds and sights are a lot to take in but only add to the fun. Dinner and dancing for people of all ages. Food is traditional colombian fare done very well. It`s about an hour outside of Bogota proper, and the restaurant offers a taxi service (for a cost). Some people say you haven`t been to Bogota if you haven`t been to Andres Carne de Res. I don`t know if I would go that far but I highly recommend the place for a fun night out with lots of good food and fun.

    Around town, the Bogota Beer Company is a popular pub type hangout and microbrewery. I`m not a beer drinker so I can`t really comment. They have pub type snacks with a Colombian twist. This was not my favourite place, probably because I was dragged there twice a week by coworkers though I don`t drink beer... popular with expats.

    In Usaquen, there are several good choices. 7 16 steakhouse was quite enjoyable. La Tarta is a nice bakery as is La Goconda. Lots of places in the area I didn`t get to try. There are also lots of decent choices in Zona G, Zona T and Zona Rosa.

    Downtown, la Puerta Falsa is a must. It`s a tiny place that`s been there since the 1800s. Traditional hot chocolate with cheese and tamales.

    Must tries in my book are pastel gloria (a sort of flaky turnover stuffed with guava paste and cheese), pan de queso (cheese bread) and other similar breads, ajiaco (chicken and potato soup, this is my favourite colombian dish and though I had many tasty versions, I particularly enjoyed the one at the cafe in the gold museum), bandeja paisa, arepas...

    Hope this is helpful to any future Bogota visitors!

    I also had a fair bit of yummy street snacks such as empanadas and patacones; the places I came across all seemed clean and were tasty.

    15 Replies
    1. re: bunnylicious

      Hi! I have been living in Bogota the past 4 years! I can't seam to be able to leave!!! Well, the cold canadian winter got to me at one point and I dont miss it. But if anyone needs more recommendations or have more specific questions, please ask! There is SO much more to Bogota than La Candelaria (the hostel Hub). No need to say that Bogota is a very fast growing city and restaurant and Bars are closing up as fast as they open! There's a new Andres Carne De Rez in Bogota now. The other one is 45 minutes away from Bogota! It became an institution over the years and I really like to go for a nice lunch! But now, the new one is 3 stories high (Hell, purgatory, paradise...yes, as always, very original) and it's called Andres DC.
      But any questions and recommendations according to you style, send them this way! Would love to make your time in Bogota as amazing as mine! Cheers!

      1. re: pasc01

        Totally agree that Andres Carne De Rez outside of Bogota is a must - the 45 minute drive didn't seem very appealing in advance, but it is absolutely worth it. Not for the food but for the overall "sensory overload"! Have never seen anything even close to resembling the experience. Impossible to give a clear picture of it in words. There are easy & reasonably priced options on getting there. Ask at your hotel or call the "restaurant". If you drive, they have staff who will drive you and your car back to Bogota for a reasonable price.

        1. re: DRD

          We had made arrangements with a taxi driver to take us there and pick us up for a decent price. When we got there, we found out that the restaurant also offers a pick up and drop off service for a slightly lower price, so well worth contacting them. I think that reservations are also a must... we reserved and had our table the whole night!

        2. re: pasc01

          how is the new andres carne de res? i live in toronto myself and love it but can certainly see the appeal of living in bogota!

            1. re: streetgourmetla

              Great report! Are reservations necessary for the Bogota Andres as well ?

              1. re: meezba

                Thanks.It would be advised, otherwise you're in for a wait, especially on weekends. We were told about 30-40 minutes, but I talked my way into getting seated right away.

          1. re: pasc01

            Thanks for your excellent suggestions. We are heading there and are wondering where two foodies who don't like to stay out too late should stay. Thanks for your suggestions in advance.

            1. re: SarahKC

              I'm starting to plan a trip to Ecuador, and we think we may take advantage of a stopover in Bogota. Leo Cocina y Cava sounds wonderful. I can't find a website for them - any idea of what a dinner for 2 would cost? Thanks.

              1. re: SusanB

                Leo Cocina y Cava was totally worth it! I believe we spent about 200$ for two of us, which included 2 apps, 2 mains, 2 desserts (one on the house because we were curious about the cola roman ice cream but werent sure if we should order it since we didn't know what it was... they were kind enough to comp us one!), and probably about 6 alcoholic beverages total. The food without the alcohol was probably about $100 for two. Service was excellent, food was fabulous... I still dream of the seafood stew that I had... and the carpaccio...

                  1. re: SarahKC

                    Call 286-7091. I think I had originally called about 2-3 weeks in advance and was told it was too soon, so I called about a week before and got a reservation. I went on a Thursday night and it was quite busy, maybe one empty table.

                    The restaurant is located down a small alleyway so if you take a taxi, you probably won't be dropped off right in front of the restaurant. As I recall, we were dropped off by a flower shop a few doors down. It wasn't the easiest place to find for our poor taxi driver, but maybe a different taxi driver wouldn't have had such a hard time, I'm not sure. Taxis are really cheap there so I don't think he was trying to rip us off :)

                    1. re: bunnylicious

                      thanks. i was hoping there was a way to make a reservation online as I am in San Francisco and do not speak Spanish. No luck, huh?

                      1. re: SarahKC

                        Don't think it can be done online... and I don't know if they speak English. Time permitting, your hotel could make a reservation for you - Bogotanos are generally very customer-service oriented!

                        1. re: bunnylicious

                          I got to this conversation too late, I'm sure, but I'm a foodie from Manhattan who now lives in Bogota. I can try to help, for future reference on any questions or needs. These days, Andres DC really does require rezies well in advance (esp Thurs-Sat), whereas you only need a few days/one week to make a rezie at Leo.

        3. Does anyone have more currents urrent recs for Villa de Leyva? I'm going in a couple weeksc

          2 Replies
          1. re: glutton

            Off topic question, but important to me! How steep is the road from Bogata to Villa de Leyva? I'm terrified of steep drop offs- won't do Hwy 1 in northern Calif, for example. But would love to go to VDL when I'm in Bogata next month. Thank you!

            1. re: nehcterg

              You're fine. The drive is not incredibly mountainous, if you take the route through Chia and Chiquinquira. The route between Villa de Leyva and Tunja goes through the mountains, but there were not many steep drop-offs. The road is big and the ascents/descents are fairly gradual, so it's really not too bad. I have been on far scarier roads elsewhere. Hwy 1 in California has many more steep drop-offs (and far more severe drop-offs) than what I saw on this drive.