Comida Tipíca, La Puerta Falsa

Parts of this post originally appeared on my former blog: Red Wine and Lipstick. 

La Puerta Falsa is one of my favorite places in Bogota. Tucked away in the heart of El Centro (one block from Plaza Simon Bolivar) and a total hole in the wall, it serves up some of THE BEST classic Colombian dishes.

I stumbled upon this place with my cousin a few years ago. We popped in for a quick bite after a long day downtown. It wasn’t until I sat down with a piping hot tamale, that I recognized it as the famed Puerta Falsa, seen on Parts Unknown and other foodie blogs across the web. The place is considered the oldest restaurant in Bogota, and has only served classic dishes, or comida tipíca for over 100 years.

I usually take my tourist friends and family here after a day of museum hopping and exploring El Centro, because its the perfect place to warm up on a rainy Bogota day and refuel after hours of walking. The menu is simple and straight forward: Chocolate Completa, Agua de Panela (sugary water, cheese, and bread.), Tamale, Ajiaco (potato and chicken soup), and assorted classic Bogota sweets from the cashier case.

Chocolate and/or Agua de Panela are classic afternoon snacks when you want to warm up with something sweet. Do not be deterred by the cheese however! It’s meant to be dipped in the chocolate or agua–so you absolutely must do this! You want the full local experience, don’t you?!

Colombian tamales are different than a Mexican tamale: they’re wrapped in a banana leaf and the maza is much less sweet than you’d expect. (Did you know: corn is not sweet here like in the U.S.!) It’s filled with giant chunks of chicken and pork and corn kernels and warms you from the inside out. True comfort food.

When it comes to Ajiaco, I prefer a home cooked soup. The broth is based off 3 different types of potato and then you fill your bowl with shredded chicken, corn, capers, avocado, and a bit of cream– it’s the quintessential Bogota dish. The national dish of Bogota, DC, if you will and it’s a staple at any big family lunch. You simply cannot leave Bogota without trying this soup. For visitors, I always recommend they stop at La Puerta Falsa to try some Ajiaco! It’s the closest version to home you’ll find!

The truth is that while this joint happens to be my favorite, there are a dozen like them on the same block, all serving up similar dishes and all fantastically delicious and comforting. The menu is limited, but if you go with a group of 2-4, you can order one or two of each thing and all share (depending on how hungry you are).

 

3 Comment

  1. Thanks for this great introduction to what the different dishes actually are… I tend to get lost there 😉 When I visited Bogotá, I went by Puerta Falsa with some Colombians friends but unfortunately, we passed when it was closed 🙁 Will have to come back and try it out! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Andrew says: Reply

    This place, and the block itself sounds terrific! My gringo friend asked me what kind of cheese is used in the hot chocolate. My dad in NJ likes to make this on weekends. he calls it literally “chocolate con queso con leche con pan” and he says it lightning fast – so it sounds quite charming. The cheese he uses is an american brand called Babybel. It is a small wheel of cheese wrapped in red wax. I know that it isn’t the cheese that is used in the dish. But he forgot the name of the cheese. Would you know the name?

    PS Those tamales look so good.

    1. admin says: Reply

      Great question about the cheese! Well, in Bogota it’s called “queso blanco” which is essentially a semi-soft, mild cheese that melts. Depending on where you are in the world that differs. A babybel cheese could definitely work… I would also experiment with a mild Monterey Jack or Mozzarella. The key is for the cheese to be very mild in flavor! Hope this helps!

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