Okay so let’s take a break from talking about parties and let’s talk about FOOD: Mexican food (in Bogota)!
One of the things I grew up hearing way too often was “You must love spicy food! You’re Colombian!” or “Ugh I can’t wait to eat a million burritos when I come visit you!” (1. Colombian’s don’t do spicy. You average Mexican would giggle in the face of Colombian aji. 2. Burritos are not a thing here. They’re not even really a thing in Mexico… They were adopted by the Tex-Mex culture and then readopted by the rest of the world as Mexican food; but no matter where they’re from: Long Live the Burrito!)
When I arrived in Bogota almost two years ago (whaaat!), I (wrongly) assumed finding authentic Mexican ingredients would be as easy as it was in my native U.S.of A…. It is not that easy. In fact, it’s impossible. And unless you know a Colombian with some connection to Mexico, they have NO CLUE how to make Mexican food…. Fajitas are not beans and ground beef (aka a chili stew) wrapped up in a flour tortilla-meets-wrap! “Queso Cheddar” is NOT the infamous queso dip we drunkenly ate with chip after coming home from the bars (Hey Brooke!). Nuh-uh people of Colombia. This is blasphemy to my LA-Mexican food loving ass and THANK GOD I found La Verdad in La Macarena neighborhood to sort this all out while simultaneously eating a real taco for the first time in 6 months.
Es verdad! Hay comida mexicana (y buenaaaa) en Bogota, y es como la verdad!! Yaaaaa!
If you hang around El Centro, you’re familiar with the up-and-coming bohemian neighborhood, La Macarena. Filled with old buildings and colorful walls, this once dangerous corner of the city center has had a revival in recent years and has become the new quarter for artists, foodies, and those seeking a semi-expensive bohemian lifestyle. The streets are lined with quaint restaurants from around the world, each boasting the flag of their cuisine: Spanish, French, Basque, Japanese, Mexican…
We had left Barcu (I’ll get to that next week!) this Saturday ready for an intense amount of food when we stumbled upon La Verdad. Super kitschy and colorful, the Instgram filters in my head started going off and I knew we had to eat here (I also saw an amazing plate of tacos pass me. Sold.)
Inside, the restaurant is cozy and filled with awesome Mexican folklore and traditions: pinatas, the Virgin of Guadalupe, sugar skulls, and scenes from the old west plastered the walls. It has the perfect scene for late night cocktails (ie margaritas) or a long lunch with your friends.
Most importanly, the menu was filled with all my favorites from home! Green and red enchiladas, sopes, cochinita pibil, tacos al pastor, tostadas…. LA friends: how happy are you for me??!… And being the one who knows the lay of the lands (I’m still teaching Pablo about the truths of Mexican food), I chose the best from the menu.
Obviously, to start we needed an ice cold Tecate. The beer of my youth, drank from glass 40’s, underage in the backyards of all my friends (South Pas where you at!?). Tecate is a hard beer to find in Colombia, and I giggled as a remembered the summer nights of 2008, drinking the best “cheap beer” we could find smoking Camels. Oh nostalgia! Who new a red can could send me back almost 10 years?
This beer (I ordered it as a Michelada) pairs perfectly with their tortilla chips and salsa selection. It’s the kind of partnership that makes you believe you’re sitting in the sand on a beach in Playa Del Carmen, crunching and slurping away under the hot sun–even if its pouring rain and the taxi’s outside your window are laying down on the horn.
After the memories passed, I ordered us a plate of green chicken enchiladas, just like my grandma used to make. Oh. My. Gawd. They were good. Perhaps they lacked the love and tradition of my grandma (it’s the first dish I request whenever I return to LA), but they were delicious, nonetheless. The tortillas were corn (This is key! Super important here since Colombian’s find it impossible to make a standard corn tortilla) and the green salsa tangy and authentic. They went a bit light on the cheese for my taste, but the authentic-ness of the dish made up for it. Honestly, it was like having home served to me on a plate. Many thumbs up for this dish!
Next came the tacos; three gloriously piled street-style tacos sitting pretty on corn tortillas. They may not have been the $1.50 tacos from King Taco or a taco truck, but they were like the more elegant, older siblings and still delicious. Prepared with a more gourmet touch, we dug into my fave classics: al pastor, cochinita pibil and res. Orale guey! Juicy and classic with bursts of spice and flavor that would make Mexico proud! So, so proud.
I was more than full at this point, but Pablo insisted on a dessert. To be honest, nothing struck me as super authentic from this menu. It steered more towards traditional Colombian flavors wrapped in tortillas. We finally decided on a cheese and arequipe (dulce de leche/cajeta) quesadilla, which was nice but I would have preferred some pan dulce or churros. Just sayin’.
So Colombia (and vistors of Colombia looking for delicious food), I did the work for you. I found, quite honestly, the most authentic Mexican restaurant (even for Los Angeles standards!) in Bogota. So please, don’t ever serve me beans and ground beef as “fajitas” again. I will cry. And then I will go downtown and eat here, because it’s the real deal! La Verdad!