From the coffee tradition to starred restaurants, Bogotá holds a piece of each flavor of the country
Azahar: Cl. 93B, #13-91
In Bogotá, eating well is an art and any time is the right time to try the greatest local gem: coffee. The capital’s nice temperatures are an excellent pretext to try another local gem: coffee. It’s easy to find a good cup at Azahar, where the variety of beans changes periodically. For a complete experience, CataciónPúbica offers tastings under the supervision of a barista. The toasting is done right there, in a kind of laboratory where beans from all over the country are selected and prepared.
Now that we are hungry, there’s no other place like Bogotá to have Colombian food. From the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic, from the Andes to the Amazon, here you can find anything. If you want something simple, head to Misia, owned by awarded chef Leonor Espinosa. Her menu includes arepas and refajos (a drink made with soda and beer), green plantain salad, and juice from an acidic fruit known as lulo. Traditional delicacies that, when prepared right, are transformed into a tribute.
Misia: Cra. 7, #67-39
The same chef is in charge of the elegant restaurant Leo. At the back of the menu, there’s a map depicting the origin of each ingredient of the tasting menu comprised of 16 courses and 15 drinks. The variety of dishes ranges from fermented coca leaves to national rum, including capybara meat and mandarin lemon leaves: everything served here is deeply rooted in the country.
One of the pioneers of this renewed national gastronomy is Mini-Mal, a restaurant in the modern neighborhood of Chapinero. Let yourself be amazed by beef ribs in black yucca sauce with a side dish of ants. Some vegetables and leaves on the menu even come from the vegetable garden right in front of the house.
The same happens at Huerta Bar, which is surrounded by vertical gardens used in the alchemy of angostura bitters. The other ingredients arrive fresh from markets like Paloquemao and go through an exhaustive smoking and mixology process.
Something changed when Eduardo Martínez traveled to the Colombian Pacific Coast to investigate its diversity. The agronomist was enchanted by the ingredients and techniques he found and, four years later, he returned to the capital as a cook.
His passion drove him to open Mini-Mal alongside his wife, Antonuela Ariza, and their restaurant was a pioneer when the time came to give a new meaning to the expression Colombian cuisine. In 2001, Martínez opened a restaurant in a house previously owned by his grandparents in the sophisticated neighborhood of Chapinero.
Almost every ingredient used at Mini-Mal comes from projects that support small farmers. Even the name Mini-Mal comes from the idea of making the most out of resources to cause minimum impact. “Our principle ended up creating brand value,” he says. “Diners come to discover their own identity.”
Perhaps the most illustrative recipe of this gastronomical offer is the palmira rolls. The inspiration comes from sushi (typically prepared with rice, seaweed, and varied fish and vegetables), symbolizing the sophistication of an imported dish. Filled with humor, Martínez presents a dish with similar aesthetics, but prepared with familiar ingredients: banana, costeño cheese, and avocado. This sweet irony comes with a side dish of Colombian pride.
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