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).