What’s up guys
One of the most challenging things about running a food tour is trying to fit everything into the one tour. Bogota is a massive city with pockets of good food scattered all over and unless I find a way to teleport people around, it is impossible to cover everything.
Also, since I am not always in the city, I don’t want anyone to miss out on the great local food just because they couldn’t do the tour.
With that in mind, I have written up this food tour for you at a total cost of zero. Nothing. Nadita. Not even a dollar or a peso. Just eat the food and let me know what you think about it okay?
You will need a few things for your food tour. I suggest you pack the following:
- An appetite (Most important thing)
- Umbrella/Rain jacket (Bogota’s weather is as predictable as President Trump’s twitter account)
- Cash (This is Colombia. Electronic payments are not common)
- Sunscreen (Bogota is situated at 7000 feet give or take some change. If it is sunny out, you will get burned without sunscreen.)
- This article
- Toilet Paper (Optional)
Keep in mind that this food tour is not designed for you to do in quick succession. That is, unless you have some crazy high metabolism, don’t feel the need to rush it. Stroll around casually and let that food digest. Check out the amazing graffiti scattered everywhere. Pull out your camera and snap some pics of the gorgeous colonial architecture in La Candelaria. Sip your coffee slowly and watch the world go by. Hit some museums. Buy some souvenirs. You’re on vacation!
First Stop: Pasteleria La Florida (Breakfast)
Carrera 7 #21-46
You’re going to begin your morning at one of the oldest and most important cafes in all of Bogota, La Florida. This is a great place to order a traditional Bogotano breakfast. I recommend getting a Tamal Santaferreno and washing that down with a Chocolate completo. A Colombian tamal is a mish mash of rice, corn, chicken and pork fat wrapped up in a plantain leaf and steamed until everything is soft and gooey. It’s a heavy breakfast so if you’re not a massive eater you could share it. If you are hungover, you will enjoy this even more. They also have a huge range of breakfast options if the tamal doesn’t tickle your fancy.
A word on the chocolate. You may have heard that Colombians do all sorts of weird things with cheese like putting it in their hot chocolate. Your hot chocolate will come with a block of cheese and a cheese bread called almojabana. Here is your chance to not look like every other confused gringo. Pick up that cheese like a pro, break it up and put it in your hot chocolate and forget about it as you sip your delicious hot chocolate. When you finish it, you will be pleasantly surprised with a mini-cheese fondue waiting for you at the bottom of the mug. Hooray!
Pro tip: For you sugar fiends, don’t forget to pick something from the bakery. The pastries are awesome and the little chocolates aren’t so bad either.
First Coffee stop: Café Pasaje
Carrera 6a #14-25 (On Plazoleta del Rosario)
After your massive breakfast, you’re going to walk down the Carrera Septima, towards the Gold Museum. A visit to the museum is optional and a great way to walk off the food and see some amazing gold jewelry although keep in mind they shut on Mondays. From the gold museum you are just a hop and skip away from the Plazoleta del Rosario where you will find the iconic Café Pasaje.
This coffee/bar is an old school rolo (Bogotano) hang out that used to be really bohemian. It is said that many Colombian writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez used to go there to drink coffee and write. The place feels like a weird mix of an American sports bar and an old European café and is one of my favorite places in the city to have a pit stop and people watch.
Students and office workers come here during the day to drink tinto (cheap Colombian coffee). I’m going to clear up one of the biggest myths about Colombia. Most Colombians do not drink what westerners would consider coffee. They drink tinto. Most of the time tinto comes in a plastic cup which is served out of a thermos on the street by a bloke who has about ten other thermoses on the back of his wooden trolley.
Modern coffee shops with expresso machines are a new thing in Colombia.
Consider your tinto more of a cultural experience rather than a coffee experience (I will tell you the place to go for that later). If the thought of drinking crap coffee is too much for you to bare, Café Pasaje also has a full selection of local beer. I recommend a Club Colombia Negra or Roja. Poker is also good.
Walk around and Lunch
After your energy drink of coffee or beer, you can officially step into La Candelaria. A zig zag routine is probably best if you have the time to explore and appreciate the buildings. Just be careful as the sidewalks are tiny so you’ll most likely be weaving in between university students, cars, office workers and stray dogs.
Hopefully you are hungry again because it should be approaching lunch time by now. Colombians tend to have lunch between 12:30pm and 2pm on average. I have outlined three restaurants all of which are must eat so I will let you pull your hair out as you decide which one you prefer.
Prudencia (My number 1 pick), Carrera 2 #11-34
This is a fantastic restaurant that only opened up in 2016. I met the owner, Meghan by chance on one of my first food tours so if you see her around please give her a shout for me.
They do a set menu everyday which comes with a starter, choice of a main, salad and dessert. It’s not cheap by Colombian standards but for western standards it’s more than reasonable. They also have a vegetarian menu and fish if meat is not your thing. They make their own bread, cure their own meats and grow their own vegetables. If you like fresh food, this is the place to be.
Prudencia is hands down one of my favourite restaurants in La Candelaria and my first choice for a high-end lunch at a great price.
You can check out their Facebook page here for their daily menu.
Quinoa and Amaranto, Calle 11 #2-95
This is a cute little vegetarian restaurant located right in the heart of La Candelaria. If you want a home cooked meal made with fresh ingredients and the love of grandma’s kitchen, this is the place to check out. You will feel as though you are dining in someone’s home. They also do a daily set menu which comes with soup, lunch, fresh fruit juice and a mini dessert.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to pick up a vegetarian empanada on your way out. They are amazing!
Capital Cocina y Café Calle 10 #2-99
This is a modern restaurant that is located way up back in La Candelaria. You might have to climb a couple of hills to get there but it’s totally worth it for the great meal you’re going to get. They also do a daily set menu which you can wash down with a glass of wine or fruit juice. The portion sizes are generous and if you are a meat eater, this is a great place to lunch. I recommend the pork chops.
Afternoon coffee: Papaya Gourmet, Carrera 3 #12c-90
If my calculations are correct, you should be pretty full by now and craving a decent coffee. Great. Make your way towards Carrera 3 and check out Papaya Gourmet. Started by a couple of Aussies in 2016, this is hands down one of the best places in the city to have a proper cup of coffee (They have one of the top barristas in the country). They also have a good range of café style food if any of the lunch options I mentioned didn’t jump out at you and you just want something light. Try the flat white as it’s the only one that’s legit Australian in Bogota.
Bonus stop: Grab a chicha at el chorro de quevado (Corner of Carrera 3 and Calle 12b)
Okay by now you probably just want to hop in a cab and head back to your hotel for a cheeky snooze. However, if the guys at papaya gourmet did their job well and you still have a bit of energy, I recommend you head up to el chorro de quevado to try out some chicha. El chorro de quevado is a little plaza located at the top of La Candelaria where students and street performers congregate to chill out, play music, waste time, drink and people watch. It’s a great place to hang out in the afternoon (especially on Fridays) and one of the most authentic Bogotano experiences you can have.
For you history lovers, el chorro is also home to the oldest church in Bogota.
A little word about Chi cha. Just like the tinto, it’s not a particularly pleasant drink. I know, I know. What kind of food tour offers up two unpleasant beverages? But seeing as you my dear reader is a cultured connoisseur of all flavours sweet and foul, you must try the local chi cha. This fermented corn drink has historical significance as the local indigenous community began making it hundreds of years ago when foreigners started selling beer to the locals. It’s a long standing tradition that lives to this day as hordes of broke Uni students still drink the yellow bevy for a cheap way to get pissed (that means drunk in Australian).
You can find chi cha at any of the little shops just off that cobble stoned street that leads up to el chorro.
Pro tip: After the chi cha, head up to the top level of El Gato Gris for a glass of wine. It’s a quirky multi-level restaurant that’s great for a drink and a chat. The atmosphere here is fantastic especially when they have live music.
P.S: If you enjoyed this food tour, you will also enjoy my market food tour because we really take it up a notch on the adventure scale.
P.P.S: If you are interested in more of these free food tours, please leave a comment below as I am thinking of writing more up of these for different neighbourhoods.