Colombia has undergone something of a transformation in recent times. Having emerged from over 50 years of civil war, the country is rightly top of many must-visit destination lists, with a vibrant culture, incredibly friendly locals and a mouth-watering culinary scene. Though it might not enjoy the prestige of its Latin American counterparts Mexico and Peru, Colombian gastronomy is now coming into its own.
As the home of more than seven million people and the bustling capital of this exciting nation, it’s no surprise that Bogotá has more than its fair shares of excellent eateries. While some, such as Andrés Carne de Res, Criterión and Harry Sasson might steal the accolades and the column inches, there are plenty of hidden gems, fledgling restaurants and street food stalls which offer equally delectable delicacies. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the lesser known highlights from around the city.
Carrera 4 No 8-58 (La Candelaria)
This lovely little gem of a family restaurant is tucked away in the side streets of La Candelaria and though it might be tricky to track down, it’s well worth the effort. The food is traditional home-cooked fare, with a stuffed chicken breast to die for and a chocolate volcano that has to be tasted to be believed. But aside from the cuisine, the quaint décor and grandmotherly service will make you feel right at home among nostalgic settings.
Carrera 4ª No 26b-34
Is there anything that two slices of bread can’t improve? Not according to the owners of Sandwich Taller, who have harnessed all of the culinary delights of the Caribbean coast, then stuffed them inside homemade buns for a truly terrific taste experience. As well as the local fare, there are also some creative creations from other parts of the world, including a US-inspired pork belly number with crunchy onions, coleslaw and mustard and a Middle Eastern-influenced falafel option.
Calle 19 No 25-04
It’s hardly a secret amongst locals, but this traditional farmer’s market is not your typical tourist destination. Despite that, it’s pretty much a must-visit during your time in the Colombian capital thanks to the unique insight into local culture and cuisine it offers. Like many of its South American neighbours, Colombia has an incredibly diverse array of fruit on offer and Paloquemao is perhaps the best place to sample it, while its food stalls and cafes are a great option for a more substantial meal.
Calle 56 No 4a-53
Bogotá boasts an unusual but unmissable clandestine supper club scene, with restaurants which only pop up on certain days of the week or month. Castro Cocina, open every Thursday, is one of the best. Started by a journalist who decided he preferred a career in gastronomy, the restaurant’s menu includes an appetizer, a soup, two main items, a dessert and unlimited wine. For best results, arrive with an empty stomach.
Calle 50, No 20-26
Founded in the Chapinero neighbourhood in 1934, Doña Elvira now boasts two locations which serve the best of Colombian cuisine in relaxed and understated environs. Menu options include such local delicacies as roasted pork chops cooked in cola, stuffed chicken necks, fish stew or, for those who simply can’t settle upon a single item, the mixed platter provides an overview of everything this excellent eatery has to offer.
Carrera 3ª, No 26b-52
This Mexican locale lends a whole meaning to the term “hidden gem”. Upon making a reservation, you’ll be given detailed directions to an unmarked door in the neighbourhood of Macarena, through which you’ll need to circumnavigate several others before you arrive in the restaurant. What’s more, you won’t be presented with a menu at all; instead the chef will simply keep serving small plates of exquisite food until you declare yourself full. Sound unusual? It is… and it’s incredible.
If you are looking for another way to experience some of Bogota's amazing food, why not join our small group tour, limited to just 8 exclusive guests.