Colombia’s diversity in climate and culture allows for the cultivation of almost every fruit and vegetable imaginable. Couple that with the country’s high-quality livestock production, abundance of marine life, and incredible coffee, you have the perfect environment for chefs to explore every style of cuisine possible. As the biggest city in Colombia and the third-largest in South America, Bogotá boasts some of the most creative chefs and restaurants in Latin America. Here’s our top picks for some of the best food in town.
Located just beyond Bogotá’s city limits, in beautiful Chía, Andrés Carne de Res is a Bogotá institution known as much for its energy as its food. The restaurant seats 2000 people. That isn’t a typo. Almost every weekend they have to turn patrons away because they reach capacity. You might think it impossible to serve 2000 diners without compromising flavor and customer service, but somehow they pull it off. Enjoy a cold beer while you look over the 40-page menu. We doubt even the pickiest eaters will have a problem finding something they enjoy. Keep an eye on the restaurant’s Facebook page for a list of upcoming special events.
Owned and operated by one of the city’s most beloved chefs, Leonor Espinosa, Mercado calls itself a conscious kitchen. The farm-to-table restaurant prides itself on serving only the freshest ingredients from the most responsible local farmers. The ambiance is cozy and communal with an industrial character, unique to other restaurants in Bogotá. Taking advantage of Colombia’s wide array of local fruits, the restaurant makes their own version of soda in flavors ranging from passion fruit to mandarin. Everything on their menu has a connection to culture and tradition, taking the best that Colombia has to offer and creating something new yet familiar.
Perhaps one of Bogotá priciest restaurant’s, a meal at Matiz won’t be cheap, but it will be exceptional. Every meal is edible art, and the head chef, Diego Vega Coriat, takes every measure to ensure you eat both with your eyes and your mouth. The restaurant has three different menus with a wide range of options from land and sea. If you’re hoping to be surprised, the restaurant even does impromptu menus for diners willing to put their faith in the hands of the chef, using whatever ingredients speak to him at the time. You’ll be served the most colorful and exquisite plates, only knowing the ingredients when the dish is served.
You won’t find a better view of Bogotá than at Casa Santa Clara. Located at the top of Cerro Monserrate (Monserrate Mountain), the restaurant sits at more than 10,000 feet, giving diners panoramic views of the entire city. The only way to access the restaurant is by taking an aerial tramway, funicular, or by climbing, though we suggest the first two. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset and to see the never-ending city lights at darkness falls over Bogotá. Though there are two restaurants on Monserrate Mountain, we recommend Santa Clara for a real taste of Colombia’s most beloved dishes. You’ll get the best of food, service, culture, and scenery all in one.
Gordo is a little piece of Brooklyn, NY in Bogotá, Colombia. The trendy bar and restaurant serves a variety of American fusion favorites combining the best ingredients of both Latin America and the United States. You’ll find things like pork belly tater tots, fried chicken, and even s’mores on their menu. Their cocktail menu reflects their classic American style, introducing locals to drinks like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan. The restaurant’s mascot is an adorable mixed bulldog belonging to the chef and co-owner Daniel Castaño. If you’re looking to travel without ever leaving the city, Gordo is the place to go.
With three locations throughout the city, Abasto is a convenient and delicious culinary experience. It’s the perfect place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, serving Colombian classics as well as international favorites. It is very popular with locals looking for a good meal at a reasonable price. Check out their location in Usaquén to see the neighborhood’s colonial quarter which has architecture similar to the Spanish style seen in La Candelaria. There is a strong sense of pride from the use and exploration of locally grown, traditional ingredients. To further that mission, Abasto even has a small market where they sell the produce of the farmers that contribute to their menu.
Translating to The Deer and The Bear, El Ciervo y El Oso offers two unique menus for vegetarians and carnivores, so neither has to compromise to have one of the best meals in the city. The restaurant was voted as the best new restaurant of the competition Lo Mejor de Bogotá 2013. The chefs use the best of local, traditional ingredients to recreate Colombian favorites, in new and innovative ways. The rustic yet trendy decor offer the perfect escape from the busy, crowded city.
Arcobaleno is an oasis of old charm inside a quaint, cozy restaurant. It is decorated in the Spanish colonial style, typical of areas like La Candelaria. The walls are brightly colored in blue and orange hues, and the floors are tiled in beautiful patterns and mosaics. Along with the enchanting decor, they serve incredible food where international flavors meld perfectly with new Colombian fare. The owners Colombian chef Catalina Mojica and Italian chef Simone de Cia take pride in the labor of love that has become one of Bogotá’s finest dining experiences. Be sure to take cash to pay for your meal because the restaurant doesn’t take credit cards.
Contrary to what its name suggests, Mini-Mal is anything but minimal. Though small and often forgotten among the larger, well known restaurants in the massive city, the restaurant is an incredible celebration of Colombian culture and cuisine. The flavor pairings and combinations are authentic with a modern twist, exploring every facet of the country’s unique food. Sample a variety of their smaller plates to experience the diversity of flavors in Colombian food. The eclectic decor and ambiance is the perfect accompaniment to the creative geniuses in the kitchen.
Perfectly located close to many museums, Tábula is a mixture of Latin American and Catalan fair. Once featured on noted travel writer Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, the restaurant lives up to its hype. The restaurant’s motto is simple, ‘somos lo que comemos,’ which means ‘we are what we eat.’ The rustic kitchen prepares meals from the freshest ingredients, taking every measure to make as much from scratch as possible. They even make their own bread, even though there are hundreds of excellent bakeries throughout the city. The casual yet elegant restaurant lives and breathes the mantra that good food doesn’t have to be complicated; it just has to come from exceptional ingredients.