the urbanist: bogotá

Where Two of Bogotá’s Hottest Chefs Eat Every Meal of the Day

Marietta in Bogotá. Photo: Felipe Pizano/Courtesy of Marietta

One question every visitor to Bogotá has is where to eat. There seem to be more restaurants than people these days, many of them local chains you’ve probably seen elsewhere (Juan Valdez Café, Crepes & Waffles, etc.) or beautifully designed spaces full of beautiful people and sad food. We asked two of the city’s most promising young chefs to tell us where they go for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the occasional late-night snack.

Sergio Meza, chef at Villanos en Bermudas

Masa. Photo: Ian Allen/Courtesy of Masa

“The Villegas sisters, Mariana and Silvana, started Masa, a café and bakery, on 11/11/11, and it’s probably the best breakfast in town, with things like shakshuka, danishes, and doughnuts with local flavors. More European-style, but still, their bakery is up there.”

Mesa Franca. Photo: Courtesy of Mesa Franca

“I can never decide where to go, so I rotate between Mesa Franca and Salvo Patria. Both of these guys are in our neighborhood and always deliver quality, local-style dishes with a twist. For example, Mesa Franca might serve mussels with chicharrón, and on Thursday nights, it has a DJ play salsa while they roast suckling pig. Their cocktails are spot on: Think a gin-and-salvia sour. Salvo Patria, meanwhile, makes its own charcuterie and has dishes you won’t find anywhere else, like rabbit ragú and even pastrami, plus decent classic cocktails and Colombian craft beers. Occasionally, I’ll go and nibble on a bar snack, like their sardines, with a glass of wine at Café Bar Universal. It’s more internationally influenced than other spots, but their veggie options like roasted cauliflower are ace.”

El Chato. Photo: Courtesy of El Chato

“Álvaro Clavijo trained with chefs like Pierre Gagnaire, René Redzepi, Thomas Keller, and Jorge Vallejo, so you can say he knows a trick or two. Dinner is particularly great at his restaurant, El Chato, which relocated to a larger space in Chapinero Alto last year. It has a one-page menu full of local products and great technique. Everything from the sweetbreads with coconut yogurt to the lamb ribs with Feta cheese is thoughtfully plated. My favorite restaurant in town.”

Guerrero. Photo: Simón Gómez/Courtesy of Guerrero

Late-night snack
“While Guerrero doesn’t stay open that late, it’s what I would like to eat late at night. Francisco del Valle runs the best sandwich shop in town. Hands down. I’ll order their giant, two-hand sandwiches like the chicharrón with sweet potato or fried mojarra [a type of fish] on naan.”

Álvaro Clavijo, chef at El Chato

“At Abasto, I always have the arepa de huevo, which is a fried corn cake filled with egg, and I always have it with potato broth flavored with coriander and raw onions. I finish the whole thing with granadilla juice, which is very Colombian. The delicious fruit looks a lot like pomegranate. But my favorite breakfast by far is Empanadas de Pipian. I come here three days a week. I had a dinner in November with Iñaki Aizpitarte [from Le Chateaubriand in Paris] at my restaurant and we were invited to a lot of restaurants. He ended up having breakfast, lunch, and dinner at this place. He even took some Empanadas de Pipian back to Paris frozen. I always eat their tamales, too. This is a must in this city.”

“Normally I’m working and I don’t have time to go anywhere, but when I do, I go to Doña Elvira, a place that has been open since 1934, though forgotten by a lot of people. It’s one of the most traditional Colombian places ever. I always eat the morcilla de gallina, a local style blood sausage made out of a chicken neck and rice, plus rice and beans. The baked pork chops are good, too.”

Villanos en Bermudas. Photo: Courtesy of Villanos en Bermudas

“I like to check out what Villanos en Bermudas are making. Their tasting menu uses the best local and seasonal ingredients they can find and it changes every day, plus the chefs have worked for some of the best restaurants in the world, like Boragó and 99 in Chile. Otherwise I’ll go with my girl to either Wok, Marietta , or Wabisabi. Wok is an Asian-inspired concept, with a lot of locations around town that use local ingredients. It sounds weird, but it’s great comfort food. I always eat their [Thai or Cambodian] curries. Marietta is a new French restaurant opened by chef Mathieu Cocuelle, who I met in Paris working for Pierre Gagnaire. He came to Bogotá for a year to open this place, and it’s getting better and better each day as he learns more about Colombian ingredients. Think: avocado soufflé with chocolate. Wabisabi is a run by an older Japanese chef and you can only pay in cash. He makes an amazing katsudon.”

Desayunadero de la 45. Photo: Courtesy of Desayunadero de la 45

Late-night snack
“It’s hard to find late-night eats here, but Desayunadero de la 45 has existed forever. The good thing about this is that it’s open 24/7 and they serve patacones con hogao, which are fried plantains with a stewed tomato sauce. They also have black pudding sausage and chorizo, plus all kind of arepas and a greasy beef and potato soup that is very tasty.”

Where Two of Bogotá’s Hottest Chefs Like to Eat Out