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Located in the small student town of Chia, around a 45-minute drive from central Bogotá, Andrés is a few steps beyond a regular restaurant—with 11 dining areas, two dance floors, at least five kitchens, and a climbing wall, the place stretches over a massive 2.76-square-mile (7.15km2) area. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people make the journey to Andrés five nights a week, with Friday and Saturday being especially popular. The restaurant can seat 2,000 people, and accommodate around 3,300, and Andrés employs somewhere between 400–500 staff on its busiest nights.
Andrés Carne de Res started back in 1982 when chef Andrés Jaramillo opened a small roadside restaurant with about 10 tables—he could probably never have imagined the dining and clubbing empire he would have built more than 30 years later. Andrés has evolved from a simple grill restaurant to one of Latin America’s best and most unique restaurants—what sets this place apart is the sheer theater of it all.
On entering the restaurant for the first time, guests are greeted by perhaps the most extravagant setting they have ever seen on a night out for dinner—the incredibly surreal décor is probably the most memorable part of the Andrés experience. The walls are covered in thousands of strange knick-knacks—many of which can also be purchased in an on-site store—ranging from giant ceramic cows to illuminated overhead installations. It can be a bit overwhelming to the first-time visitor to say the least.
The food isn’t exactly overshadowed by the décor either: with a frankly over-the-top 64-page menu, Andrés doesn’t do anything by halves. The specialty, though, is meat—or steak, to be more specific. Their grilled steaks are phenomenal, and guests can take a peek into the open kitchen where the food is prepared. The dish especially singled out by Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants for extra praise was the salt-crusted beef tenderloin. However, there’s something for all tastes on the Andrés menu, and even a special seafood bar where guests can choose from nine different types of ceviche alone. There’s no denying that this is one of Bogotá’s best restaurants by quite some distance.
And it’s not even over when you put your cutlery down and push your plate away: Andrés is also perhaps Bogotá’s most beloved nightspot. The farthest point of the dining room blends seamlessly into a huge dance floor, which in turn extends into an outdoor party area. The place stays open until 4 a.m., five nights a week, so revelers can truly make the most of their visit and enjoy both dinner and dancing, even after the slightly longer journey to get there. For those traveling with children, the restuarant is open for lunch, and there’s even a fantastic outdoor children’s play area.
Some people, wary of this long and somewhat pricey trip, are tempted to just visit the smaller—and slightly similar—Andrés D.C. offshoot in the Zona T party district of Bogotá. But they are missing out: Andrés Carne de Res is a bigger and more impressive beast entirely. Don’t believe us? Check out this video of the madness of Andrés and then make sure you book a table next time you find yourself in Colombia’s capital.