Entertainment in Bogotá

Pubs, Cafes and Restaurants in Bogotá

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Eating in Bogota

Bogota has a rich and diversified dining scene, with options ranging from eateries offering typical local dishes to high-end restaurants with Colombian or international cuisine. Most trendy restaurants are clustered in areas such as Zona G, Quinta Camacho, parts of Zona T, Parque de la 93, Usaquén, or in neighboring Chía.

Days for dining out are generally Monday through Saturday, as Sunday most places will be closed. It is advisable to reserve in advance, especially on weekend evenings. The dining hours are rather early compared to other countries, as kitchens generally close at 9:30 p.m.

Breakfast is usually offered in bakeries and for lunch most restaurants also have the option of fixed menus for a lower price.

Colombian Specialties

Colombian cuisine is not among the best known on the continent for its variety. Traditional dishes generally consist of meat, with significant portions of carbs on the side, in the form of potatoes, rice, manioc, pasta, plantains or a combination of these.

However, a new generation of Colombian chefs are taking advantage of the richness of available ingredients, from local produce to Amazonian fruit, and reinventing their country's traditional diet. Typical fish-based dishes of regions such as the Caribbean and the Pacific coast are an addition to the diversity of the now multicultural Bogota cuisine. 

Traditional dishes include:

  • Ajiaco Santafereño – The ultimate Bogota dish, it is a thick soup with chicken, corn, several varieties of potato, seasoned with guascas, a herb endemic to the region. It is served with avocado, cream and capers.
  • Bandeja paisa – Although not typical to Bogota, but to the Antioquia region, it is one of the most famous Colombian dishes, consisting of pork, beef, blood sausage, served with a side dish of beans, rice and avocado.
  • Sancocho – A hearty soup made of pork, beef or chicken, with potatoes and vegetables.
  • Arepa – Roasted, baked or fried corn cakes, arepas come in a wide variety of textures, flavors and forms. Usually salty, they may be accompanied with hogao, a sauce made of onions and tomatoes, or filled with cheese or even fried eggs.
  • Empanada – The Colombian variety of this South American dish is a deep fried dough filled with chicken or beef. A popular evening snack, it is eaten with some type of spicy sauce.
  • Patacon – Fried plantain slices usually served with hogao, guacamole or on the side of a larger dish.
  • Tamal – Eaten mainly for breakfast, tamales are generally made of chicken, eggs, rice and minced beef, cooked in a bijao giant leaf.
  • Lechona – Piglet carcasses stuffed with pork, rice and peas, and oven-baked.
  • Changua – This controversial breakfast soup contains milk, onions, cheese, eggs and cilantro.
  • Arroz con coco – Coconut rice, typical of the Caribbean and the Pacific coastal cuisines. Served usually with fish.

Vegetarian Dining in Bogota

Vegetarian restaurants are not common, and vegetarian lunch menus are not typical either. You are more likely to find vegetarian eating out options in the upmarket areas in the North of the city, as well as in neighborhoods such as Chapinero or Teusaquillo.

  • Quinua y Amaranto (Cll 11 #2-95) – Fully vegetarian restaurant, with fresh and local ingredients
  • Caballete y Berenjena (Clla 120a #6-25) – A popular vegetarian restaurant in the Usaquén neighbourhood.
  • La Revolución de la Cuchara (Kr 9a #60-44) – The Bogota branch of a popular vegetarian activist organization and restaurant chain.
  • La Cocinita Verde (Kr 9 #60-96) – Serves some excellent vegetarian burgers.
  • India Gourmet (Kr 19b #92-52) – Vegetarian Indian cuisine in the Chicó area of the city.
  • Crepes & Waffles – While not exclusively vegetarian, this quality restaurant chain has a wide array of vegetarian options.

Fast Food and Street Food in Bogota

Colombia is a paradise for street food. Available at any time of the day and almost any street corner, it ranges from healthier fruit options to deep fried delicacies. Caution must be exercised, but the rather chilly climate of the Colombian capital makes street food generally safe from serious health risks, unlike in the hot cities the Caribbean coast.

Must-try street food includes arepas, empanadas, obleas (a desert of two waffles stuck together with caramel sauce or marmalade), churros (fried sweet pastry), stuffed potatoes, fried thin banana slices, fritanga (deep fried pieces of pork) or salpicon (chopped fruit in a juice made of soft drinks).  Bogotanos are generally proud of their street food and will warmly recommend it to you, insisting that even Mick Jagger tried it a few years ago.

Fast food options are plentiful as well, with local hot dog and burger chains competing with international ones.

  • Sandwich Qbano – A popular sandwich chain, has a wide variety of options
  • Hamburguesas El Corral – burgers made of Angus and other types of beef. Also has a high-end business line, El Corral Gourmet.  
  • Sierra Nevada Burgers and Shakes – Innovative variations of classic burger and fast-food recipes, a good quality option.
  • Kokoriko – Fried chicken and other options are on the menu of this popular fast-food chain.
  • Presto – One of the first 100% Colombian burger restaurant chains, now present throughout the country.

Restaurants in Bogota

Choosing the best restaurants from the thousands of available options is an impossible task. Some of the most representative names include:

  • Andres Carne de Rés – Probably the most well-known fine dining restaurant in Bogota and its surroundings, it is an experience in itself. An eccentric decor matches a new and fresh look at the Colombian traditional dishes. It is highly recommended to reserve beforehand.The same atmosphere is found at Andrés Plaza, Andrés D.C. and Andrés Express.
  • Leo – Named one of Latin America's top 50 restaurants, it is owned by Spanish chef Leonor Espinosa. Innovative cuisine with prices to match the experience.
  • La Bodega de Abasto – A delicious, yet reasonably priced option in the North of Bogota, very popular with the locals.
  • Casa Santa Clara – One of the two restaurants on top of the Montserrate Mountain, it has an excellent Colombian cuisine with an unbeatable view of the city.
  • La Puerta Falsa – Another classic of the Bogota scene, this typical restaurant opened in 1816 is popular with tourists due to its location just near the Primate Cathedral, in the city center.
  • Crepes & Waffles – a popular choice for lunch and dinner, these restaurants offer gourmet menus at an affordable price.
  • La Casa Vieja – a traditional restaurant near the old historical center, it probably has the best ajiaco in town.
  • Harry Sasson – Owned by the homonymous world-famous chef, the five restaurants belonging to this small chain offer among the most exquisite dining experiences you can have in the Colombian capital.

Tipping in Bogota

Tips can be included or not. When preparing the bill (la cuenta) the waiter will usually ask if you wish to include a service fee to your payable amount. Service fees are usually between 10-15% of the total amount, and if included on the bill they can be paid through credit card.

Drinks in Bogota

A bustling Latin American metropolis, Bogota has a wide array of options for drinking and dining out, for all tastes and budgets. Bogotanos love to meet up over beer or aguardiente, and if you're the non-alcoholic kind, you can never go wrong with an aromatica, or a cup of Colombian-grown coffee. And although it's not the country's salsa capital, be prepared for some of dancing along with your dinner and drinks, even in restaurants.

Any day of the week is fine for going out, but beware that most places close on Sunday evening, and taxis are difficult to find.

The legal drinking age for alcohol is 18.

Coffee in Bogota

Coffee is the Colombian quintessential drink. As one of the world's top coffee producers, it is no wonder this South American country has a deeply rooted coffee culture. The drink can be bought nearly everywhere, from street vendor stalls to high-end restaurants and speciality coffee shops. Any time of the day is appropriate to have a coffee, so don't be surprised if your Colombian friends ask for a cup of tinto late at night.

While, paradoxically, it is not easy to find good-quality coffee in the country because the best beans are exported, Bogota is the place to discover the most exquisite Colombian coffee of origin. From the mild flavors coming from the renowned Coffee Triangle (Eje Cafetero) to the strong varieties growing in the Sierra Nevada or Nariño, or the smooth aromas from the plantations in Huila, you will be guaranteed to have access to a wide range of brands and varieties.
Knowing how to ask for your coffee in Bogota is essential in order to blend in make yourself understood. Don't trust your knowledge of general Spanish – the version spoken in Bogota is slightly different, and if you make any confusions, your tastebuds will feel the difference: 

  • A tinto is the right word for the black coffee – even though in other countries it means red wine. Tintos are generally unsweetened, but you can sweeten it either with sugar, or with panela, a dry sugarcane juice very popular in Colombia.
  • Perico is a coffee with milk in Bogota, though in other regions you will need to ask for a pintado.
  • And, lastly, don't ask for a café, unless you also want it with milk, though the ratio of milk is usually higher than for a perico.   

Cafes in Bogota
You can buy tintos at nearly any street corner, and a higher quality version is offered at one of the city's chain coffee shops such as Juan Valdez, Oma and Café Tostao. However, for more subtle tastes and complex brewing methods, head to one of the city's many specialized coffee shops. The coffee scene has been growing in the city in the last few years, and some of the recommended places are:

  • Varietale (Calle 41 #8-43) – One of the best coffee shops in the city
  • Amor Perfecto (Kra 4 #66-46) – The first high-end coffee chain in Colombia, established in the late 1990s; has shops in most of the trendy areas.
  • Azahar (Parque de la 93) – one of the trendiest coffee shops in Bogota, in an old shipping container that was used to export the best coffee in Colombia.
  • Libertario Coffee (Calle 71 #5-34) – One of the best places to taste rare brewing methods by  famous Colombian and visiting baristas.
  • Catación Publica – a small coffee shop in the Usaquén neighborhood, offering unique preparations and even a coffee-tasting session.
  • Cafe Cultor (Calle 69 # 6-20) – a coffee chain that supports indigenous coffee growers and victims of the Colombian armed conflict.

If you would like to experience the more traditional side of the Bogota café culture, head to:

  • La Florida (Kra 7 #21-46) – One of the oldest cafés in the city, with a charming atmosphere reminding of the early 1900s.
  • La Romana (Av. Jiménez  #6-65) – A classic of La Candelaria city center, this coffee salon is famous for its pastries and tinto.

Other Non-Alcoholic Drinks

  • Water – Tap water is not only safe to drink, but Bogota is lucky to have one of the purest reserves of freshwater in the world. Nevertheless, bottled water is still widely offered, whether still (agua sin gas) or sparkling (agua con gas).
  • Hot Chocolate – One of the most typical drinks of the Colombian capital, chocolate santafereño is a staple of any Bogota breakfast. It is usually served with pastries (almojabana or pandebono) or bread, and a piece of cheese that, in authentic Colombian fashion, you should drop in the hot liquid until it melts.  
  • Aromatica – Another classic hot drink, and they are either herbal infusions (aromatica de hierbas) or fruit infusions (aromatica de frutas).  
  • Fruit juice – Colombia is one of the countries with the highest varieties of fruit on earth, and juices made of fruit pulp and water or milk are available in most restaurants. 
  • Aguapanela – A popular Colombian drink, it is an extremely sweet sugarcane water, usually served hot, with cheese.

Non-alcoholic beverages are generally served at any local neighborhood bakery. With their colorful benches and standard offerings of sweet pastries, bakeries are undoubtably a key element of the Bogota daily life, ideal for people watching or simply relaxing on a rainy day.

Alcoholic Drinks

Bogota has a wide offering of alcoholic drinks, especially of the distilled type. Rum is widespread, mostly because sugarcane is one of the main crops grown in the country, and Colombians have an acquired taste for whisky, particularly on special occasions. The most common distilled spirit, however, is called aguardiente,a strong anise-flavored firewater that elicits love-or-hate reactions from anyone who is not accustomed to its taste.
Chicha, a fermented corn beverage sold in the old La Candelaria historical center, while one of the must-try drinks in Bogota, is hardly common on regular social occasions.

Keep in mind that as wine is not produced in Colombia, it is unusually expensive compared to other South-American countries and the availability of good-quality wines is limited.

Beer is the most common beverage for casual nights out. Local brands include Club Colombia, Aguila and Poker, even though international brands are also available. Additionally, local artisan beer is becoming increasingly popular. Bogota Beer Company is the first to open up the scene more than a decade ago, and its brand, BBC, is probably the most popular craft beer in the Colombian capital. Bogota Beer Company has pubs throughout the city, with a trendy atmosphere and excellent beers. Other popular artisan beer places are:

Most bars and pubs are concentrated in a few areas in the North and East of the city, in the popular Zona T, Parque de la 93, Usaquén and Zona G. 

Liquor Laws in Colobia

The legal drinking age is 18 and you will be asked to provide an ID at the entrance of bars or when purchasing alcohol. The newly implemented City Police Code also prohibits consuming alcoholic drinks in public, with significant fines for those who are caught.

Drinking and driving is completely forbidden in Colombia.

Update 20/08/2018


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