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Bogata, Colombia, rec's

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timmychanga Oct 1, 2010 10:19 PM

Hi, I am posting on behalf of a friend on her way to Bogata, was wondering if anyone could reccommend some good places to grab some excellent local food! Cheers and thanks for any help.

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  1. c
    cflevy RE: timmychanga Oct 14, 2010 05:59 PM

    Is it too late? Just saw this post. Am a former NY'er now living in Bogota and can help.

    13 Replies
    1. re: cflevy
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      nycgenki RE: cflevy Oct 22, 2010 08:12 AM

      Hey, I'm interested also. I did enjoy Andres Carne de Res when I was there but looking for places to try next time.

      1. re: nycgenki
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        jbespin RE: nycgenki Oct 28, 2010 07:49 PM

        Do you want tradicional "comida tipica" or good chefs. Its a huge difference. Probably the only places that are 'fancy' and serve Colombian food are Club Colombia, Matilde Lina, Leo Cocina y Cava, Habemos Papa. The "Colombian" food is excellent but a little expensive. If you have to go to one place go to Andres Carne de Res (or Andres DC in the city). If you prefer more fine dining restaurants or more 'typical' places, please tell us. There is great Peruvian food (the three best places in Lima have places here), also good "alta cocina" locations though these are in rough areas for a tourist. Criterion is good (french influence) and they have a bakery. Usaquen is a village that became encompassed by the city and has many choices.

        1. re: jbespin
          Elchilango RE: jbespin Nov 17, 2010 05:05 PM

          I am also replying to this. I am a professional food critic and writer based in Mexico City .
          I'll be in Bogotá 3 days, beginning of December and would like recommendations. I am more interested in 'comida típica' (we have Gastón Acurio's places here too). And certainly don't care about fancy, unless it's really worth it. Thanks in advance for your help.

          1. re: Elchilango
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            quimbaya RE: Elchilango Nov 18, 2010 08:35 AM

            One option would be one of the numerous asador/parrilla type places. The last one we went to was called Mi Gran Parrilla Boyacense, migranparrillaboyacense.com, the Avenida Chile location. Their arepa boyacense was absolute top notch. Soups were excellent too. Meats weren't so great though. And the worst part, no chigüiro. Chigüiro asado is definitely worth seeking out, always delicious. I know in Suba there's several places that serve it, but I'm sure there's plenty of others all over the city.

      2. re: cflevy
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        ryan RE: cflevy Jan 30, 2011 11:21 AM

        Hi - if the offer still stands I'm heading to Bogota for two weeks and would appreciate any recommendations for great food. I'm not interested in the high-end, but willing to go out of my way for the best aji, the most delicious arepa, etc. I'll be with family so tourist-friendly isn't a prerequisite.

        Thanks!

        1. re: ryan
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          jbespin RE: ryan Feb 1, 2011 08:29 AM

          So comida bogotana is a little different from the stuff we see in the states because (my guess is) that the vast majority of the Colombians here are paisas (the region where Medellin is). This food will be better in Antioquia but, in Bogota there is a chain called Las Acacias which is nice.
          For comida tipica the better stuff (like a lot of cities) is in the little family places -ask your family. But the larger places are good too. Casa Vieja is very good and varied. La Puerta Falsa (in Macarena) and La Tienda del Cafe in Usaquen are nice for coffee, pastries etc. Club Colombia is a little expensive but excellent. La Mona is a good grill near 85. Habemus Papa in Usaquen is nicely decorated and has a varied menu.
          "Comida costeña" is very popular (thanks to Leo of Cocina y Cava) and she serves it elegantly. For more traditional, La Vitualla (casual) or Puerta Colombia (upscale). A typical dishes is the fried mojarra (like mahi, I believe) with fried plantains, coconut rice. Also soups (mote de queso, a cheese and yuca soup, or beef consommes). Fast food version, La Bonga del Sinu is very good. A friend’s restaurant near parque 93 serves very good Colombian style Lebanese, Akle.
          La Calera is a town on the outskirts up the mountain, and there are several grills and places that serve steaks and the fish from the local lakes, with a view. Worth the drive for the scenery, but ask because there are several and I can't remember the names right now. For a nice afternoon meal, especially on weekends, there is a place called Entrepués (kil. 23 via Tunja). They greet you with aguardiente, have live music and the food is very good. Also, I can't recommend Andres Carne de Res enough for a beginner. DRD is right about the experience as the focus, but I still believe the food is very good. In Chia, the town where it is located, there are several excellent places nearby as well.

          1. re: jbespin
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            ryan RE: jbespin Feb 1, 2011 11:05 AM

            Thanks a ton.

            1. re: ryan
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              jbespin RE: ryan Feb 3, 2011 03:08 PM

              My pleasure. Hope it helps.

        2. re: cflevy
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          lzuckerm RE: cflevy Dec 26, 2011 09:20 PM

          Hi, i see that your post is over a year old, but I'd love a rec on where to dine for our 3 nights in bogota in feb. 2012. We're definitely going to andres carne de res but not sure otherwise. Heard recs for harry sasson, la mer and leo cocina. What would you advise these days?

          1. re: lzuckerm
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            cflevy RE: lzuckerm Dec 26, 2011 09:40 PM

            Sure, those places are fine but Harry Sasson and La Mer won't leave an "indellible" imprint on your experience there. Definitely go to Leo Cocina y Cava, and make rezies before-hand. Note that the menu is so different and interesting, even to Colombians, that there is a glossary of terms (of the ingredients) so have fun exploring and asking questions. Have the Coroso Martini as an apperitif; divine even if you don't imbibe much.

            I would also recommend a vey small and charming place in Usaquen called "Abasto". Yes it's organic fare, but I'm not recommending it for that reason. It's run by a woman who is very avant guard for Colombia. The people in the kitchen are mostly women from the coast who are amazing cooks and who really know how to bing the best out of the food, local style. Here you will get the freshest of ingredients which is not common in Bogota. Feel confident in rdering fish here as well, something I'd generally not recommend in Bogota (except for the trout which is always frsh in Bogota - river fish) and would tell you to only order on the coast. The ambiance is very casual, rustic and easy. Make rezies too.

            Abasto
            Cra 6 . # 119b - 52
            Usaquen
            011 57 1 215 1286

            Note that Usaquen is replete with restaurants but most are not much to write home about if you're looking for an experience. They are all places where you can eat, though. Usaquen is also fun for walking around as it is a colonial enclave right in the middle of Bogota. Abasto is special though, and "off the beaten path".

            Happy to think about other options if you'd like some.

            Enjoy!

            1. re: cflevy
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              wanderlust21 RE: cflevy May 4, 2012 11:20 AM

              Thanks for posting such great info. I'm a hound coming from SF. I have two nights in Bogota and have made a reservation at Leo Cocina for one dinner.

              Can anyone make a recommendation for late night dining in Bogota? My flight gets in late and I'd like to grab a bite at around 11 p.m.

              Also, if anyone has recs for lunch or snacks in Zona T or anywhere near the major tourist attractions that would be helpful. Thanks.

              1. re: wanderlust21
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                SusanB RE: wanderlust21 May 6, 2012 08:30 AM

                Here's an excerpt from my trip report (posted on travel websites). We only spent 4 nights in Bogota in late February and really enjoyed our stay there. We stayed in La Candelaria (at the Casa Deco hotel), which worked out well for us. I had some problems with the altitude, and there are so many sights near the hotel. I appreciated being able to go back to the hotel and 'recover' a bit during the day.

                Anyway, here goes:

                We found the food in Bogota to be very good. La Candelaria is dead on Sunday night, so when we arrived, we asked for advice on where to eat and ended up in an Italian restaurant around the corner from the hotel. Food was great (I had vegetarian lasagna with pesto) and we were hungry. The owner is quite a character.

                We ate 1 lunch at La Puerta Falsa, a restaurant that dates from the 1800’s. We each ordered the hot chocolate completo – it comes with buttered bread, a roll and cheese – apparently you’re supposed to dip the cheese into the hot chocolate. We also shared the biggest tamal I’ve ever seen. The whole meal came to 15,000 COP (under $8.50 for the 2 of us).

                Another evening, we picked up arepas at a little local hole in the wall kind of place. Cheap and delicious, washed down with a big bottle of Colombiano soda.

                We did splash out on a couple of our meals. One night we took a taxi to 69 Oyster Bar where we had made a reservation. This was probably my favourite meal of the trip. We started off with a half dozen oyster shooters (I had never eaten raw oysters, but the chef insisted) and then a salad ‘tower’ of eggplant, tomato and cheese. I ordered grouper wrapped in bacon, with black rice and some veggies. John ordered tuna with a balsamic reduction and crispy yucca straws. We shared the chocolate and orange mousse. Cost (including a martini and glass or 2 of wine for me, mineral water for John and 2 coffees) came to $130. The chef there is so friendly, so enthusiastic about the food, and it is terrific. There was a couple of Bogotanos sitting next to us, and we got into a conversation with them – it was just a wonderful evening.

                One afternoon, we took a very long taxi ride up to Usaquen. Usaquen was a village at one time, but now that area is part of the city. The main square is still there, and surrounding it are a lot of restaurants and bars. We thought that we had reservations at 80 Sillas (I had made them over the web), but they didn’t seem to have them. 80 Sillas means 80 seats, and that’s what they have, and fortunately we were able to get in. Rather than each ordering an appetizer and a main, we ordered just apps – 2 different ceviches, fish cakes and mushrooms baked in a cream and white wine sauce with cheese. The bread provided by the restaurant is a pita bread, with a hummus type spread. We also split a chocolate mousse with pistachio nut topping and had 2 cafes con leche. All of the dishes were excellent and when we left, we were both very full. 88 Sillas had been recommended by a Colombian friend of mine, plus it was one that John had discovered in his research. It came to about $62 for both of us (including a couple of beers for me).

                The taxi ride back was again very long – probably much longer than it should have been because John asked the driver to take us to Parque Simon Bolivar, instead of Plaza Simon Bolivar .......... at least taxis are cheap and we ended up with a bit of a tour of the city!

                We also had lunch up on Monserrate. It was surprisingly good. I say ‘surprisingly’ because the mountain is a huge tourist attraction and we weren’t expecting much. But we ordered ceviche (again), a plate of Colombian appetizers and a salad with a whole egg, lots of avocado and good greens. It was all quite good. We also had a dessert – a mild, kind of cream cheese, with uchuva on it and some arequipe (caramel sauce) on the side. It was really tasty.

                Our final dinner was at a well known restaurant called Leo Cocina y Cava. I had made a reservation through the web before we came to Colombia. After our experience with 80 Sillas, I decided I should call to confirm. They didn’t understand my Spanish and only 1 person there spoke English, but I thought that it was clear. Anyway, we got to the restaurant and they had reservation for someone called Sara but I’m still not sure if that was supposed to be Susan or someone else. At any rate, we did get a table and it was well worth it. We shared an appetizer of cariminolas (like croquettes) with smoked rabbit, served with sour cream and a pepper sauce. For my entree, I had the sea bass fillet in a snail stew, served with black coconut rice, cooked in a banana leaf. John had the roasted goat leg, marinated in beer, coriander and spices, with a puree of peas and what tasted like sweet potato. He said that it was his favourite entree on the whole trip. I had a fabulous cocktail to start, and also a couple of very good glasses of white wine. Dessert was a banana cake with coconut ice cream, some chocolate sauce and toasted coconut. I think the bill was around $130. Service was quite good, although as I mentioned before, only 1 person there speaks English. They have an English menu, but we only had the Spanish version when we were there. (Luckily we had looked at their website before.)

                1. re: SusanB
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                  wanderlust21 RE: SusanB May 9, 2012 09:54 PM

                  Susan - Thanks for the tips, particularly the descriptions of specific dishes, I'm looking forward to the food in Bogota.

        3. d
          DRD RE: timmychanga Nov 19, 2010 08:15 AM

          I was in Bogota in Sept 09. I went to some of the places jbespin refers to. Andres is about the experience, not the food. Without a doubt, Leo Cocina y Cava was the best meal I had. Also enjoyed Club Colombia and Astrid y Garcon? (Gaston Acurio's place) but not in same league as Leo Cocina y Cava.

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