Our Bogotá culinary experience tour is the best way for visitors and those living in the capital to enjoy the wonders of the city’s cuisine. The biggest challenge is deciding where to dine and what to eat, because the options in Bogotá are almost infinite. And take your coat. Come sun, rail or hail, your hunger will be sated.
Welcome to Heaven: Molecular gastronomy
Bogotá is immense and therefore a challenging place to get to know. Besides experiencing its museums, the cultural diversity of its people and its ever-changing urban landscapes, it’s essential to visit the Zona G fine dining zone. This culinary quarter blends modern architecture with colonial charm and serves mouthwatering flavors.
One must-visit spot is El Cielo (Heaven, in English) This restaurant was the brainchild of Juan Manuel Barrientos, a renowned young chef from Medellín, who has captured the essence of Colombia and served it on a plate.
El Cielo opened six years ago, offering modern Colombian cuisine characterized by avant-garde cooking methods such as cryo-cooking, accelerated osmosis, vacuum cooking, spherification, induction and deconstruction, ensuring every one of its unique dishes is a scientific and culinary work of art.
Ideal for any occasion, the restaurant serves several menus to satisfy its visitors, who also sample the top-quality wines and champagnes from its exquisite cellar.
Anyone for a picnic?
Chef Alejandro Cuellar’s restaurant, Canasto Picnic Bistro, in the north of Bogotá is perfect for those who love healthy food. Once visitors have explored the streets of the Zona T and visited the nearby parks of Virrey, Chico and the 93, there’s no better place than Canasto for great food that’s fresh, locally-sourced and prepared to perfection.
Canasto is ideal for those looking for a quiet spot to work and hold a meeting or host a fun celebration or event. Its chefs are passionate about vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free cuisine. The best option for a brunch with a Colombian spin is the delicious French toast, the classic roast beef arepa and the eggs served with asparagus. Canasto serves incredible fruit bowls too, including apple and cinnamon, and parfait.
Diners seeking a filling lunch should consider the juicy ‘horseback beef’ (steak in tomato sauce with a fried egg) the mushroom risotto or the grilled artichoke. Delectable lighter bites include avocado on toast, quinoa and ceviche.
Local by Rausch
Jorge and Mark Rausch, internationally-recognized and two of Colombia’s best-known chefs, created Local to pay homage to Colombian cuisine. This restaurant, in the 90th street with 11, is at the heart of an emerging gastronomic quarter, serving its diners on a fabulous terrace.
This innovative eaterie goes beyond traditional takes on Colombian fare, with the Rausch brothers determined to make their mark on every dish. The treats on its enticing menu include their famous ‘ajiaco empanadas’, arepas topped with lamb stew and fried dough balls stuffed with the uniquely Colombian cevichified chicharron.
The classic Cartagena ‘posta negra’ beef, pork belly cooked in a vacuum, black mojarra fish with mashed yam and shrimp rice are among the many stand-out choices here. For dessert, diners are invited to try Colombian meringue with guanabana (soursop) ice-cream, a typical wafer piled high with Colombian achiras, the dreamy hot chocolate cake or beer ice-cream floating in the much-loved malta drink.
El Chato, created by chef Alvaro Clavijo, typifies the foodie Quinta Camacho zone. Besides being at the heart of this thriving dining neighborhood, this charming restaurant offers the ideal opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in a soothing atmosphere with a distinctive family feel.
El Chato combines much-loved ingredients from the surrounding area with its chef’s careful touch. Signature dishes include the delicious arracacha bread, chicken hearts, pork cheeks and ducks’ eggs. Diners can also opt for the juicy lamb saddle, crispy pork, tasty fish from the Pacific and the ‘chato rice’.
Music is the main ingredient at Gaira Café. This lively restaurant is owned by Guillermo Vives, brother of the beloved singer-songwriter Carlos Vives, ensuring the rhythm of Colombia’s Caribbean coast beats at the heart of every dish.
The menu is an ode to Colombian coastal food prepared by the region’s legions of grandmothers. Its nostalgic flavors include the acclaimed egg arepa, cheesy carimañolas and the innovative mango biche carpaccio. The Cartagena blackened beef (posta negra) was once the secret recipe of Auntie Mary and Auntie Ceci and is an unmissable choice, as are the juicy ribs and fish fillets.
The spirit of Colombia’s Caribbean coast is best conjured with the country’s favorite rum, served with a smile at this eaterie close to Bogotá’s 93 Park.
Monserrate mountain is one of Bogotá’s most important sights and a place of pilgrimage for the thousands of tourists who visit the capital each year. At 3,152m it towers over the city and, of course, it offers the best view in town.
Foodies will find two splendid places to dine on top of Monserrate. The first is the mountain’s flagship restaurant, the Casa San Isidro, with a history stretching back more than forty years. Its menu varies with the seasons. Visitors can choose from the best of fish from the Mediterranean and southern Chile during the fish season, or visit when the French-inspired menu or the lobster menu (available in September) is on offer, or during wine and champagne season at the end of each year.
The Casa Santa Clara carries with it the character of Usaquen, where it was built in 1924 before being moved to the top of Monserrate mountain. This restaurant takes delight in offering the most traditional dishes of Colombian gastronomy, such as the mero fish, grilled pork cutlets, Tolima tamales and the Coffee Cultural Landscape’s bandeja paisa, as well as sweet desserts made from the mamey fruit.
Every diner earns their right to devour these hearty dishes having climbed the mountain on foot, or by funicular or cable car, and strolled around the top, enjoying Monserrate’s beautiful church and the hummingbirds that flit across the mountain.
The ‘False Door’: Traditional Food
At the heart of the capital, in the colonial La Candelaria quarter, sits La Puerta Falsa, (the ‘false door’ in English) one of Bogotá’s oldest and most traditional restaurants. It’s characterized by its splendid colonial architecture and the hundreds of locals and visitors who hurry through its doors every day.
The hundreds of years of history within this restaurant’s walls urge it to offer the most typical of Bogotá’s dishes, including tasty almojabanas and filling tamals accompanied by the rich hot chocolate served local-style, ajiaco soup, innumerable cheeses and treats such as colaciones and sticky coconut cocadas.
7 de Agosto plaza
Visitors fond of food who want to undertake gastronomy tourism must visit at least one Bogotá plaza to browse the diversity of ingredients on offer in the Colombian capital.
One of the most visited is 7 de Agosto plaza, easy to reach from almost anywhere in the capital. Among the locals’ favorite restaurants are the Trattoria de la Plaza and Doña Segunda, best known for its striking and typically Colombian ‘picada’, which brings together famous Colombian ingredients, such as chunks of chorizo sausage, criollo potatoes, fried plantain and various meats, all served as finger food.
The best way to wash down a picada is with a cold beer or a ‘refajo’ that blends beer with a local soft drink.
Bogotá’s gastronomy is creative, delicious and unique and given the tremendous variety served across the capital, it’s worth undertaking a Bogotá gastronomy tour to taste the best of the best and sample the many flavors of Colombia.