Maybe it’s the altitude — at an elevation of nearly 9,000 feet, Bogotá is one of the highest capitals in the world — or maybe it’s the cluster of fluorescent-green peaks that serve as its dramatic backdrop. Whatever the reason, everyone who’s visited the sprawling city lately seems to leave utterly breathless.
There’s an undeniable, intoxicating energy pulsing through the streets of Bogotá today. A generation of young Bogotanos that, by and large, has grown up outside the shadow that drug violence and political strife cast over the country for decades is coming of age, and they are bringing with them a spirit of brash optimism, creativity, and national pride that’s transforming much of the city — particularly the hilly neighborhoods along its eastern edge.
Chapinero Alto, Chicó, La Macarena, Quinta Camacho — these are just some of the formerly residential areas of Bogotá that have become the cradle of some of South America’s most exciting cooking. Dishes merge the region’s native — and, in many cases, long-forgotten — ingredients and techniques with modern sensibilities, like albacore tataki seared in native achira leaves, and slow-braised pork with a fermented sauce made from local coffee husks. Inspiring it all are the comforting classic foods of this part of Colombia — cheesy arepas and empanadas, rich soups, leaf-wrapped tamales, crisp grilled meats — that still serve as the hearty foundation of the city and its residents.
With its year-round great weather, eminently navigable streets, buzzing art scene, and almost overwhelming abundance of natural beauty, Bogotá is primed for travel. Add to that an electrifying new culinary movement and direct access to the boundless pantry of the Amazon, and this dynamic city is an unmissable place to eat.
Crucial Pre-Trip Intel
- From tipping to taxis, everything you need to know to eat well in Bogotá
- Your cheat sheet to Colombian food
- You could stick to the classics — but here’s why maybe you shouldn’t
The Quick-Hit Itinerary
- The 30 essential restaurants of Bogotá, mapped
- All the best places to drink — and salsa dance — in the Colombian capital
Why the 3,000-person Colombian food party known as Andrés Carne de Res is so utterly worth it.
Coffee has long been Colombia’s most famous export, but it’s only recently that Colombians themselves have had easy access to the good stuff. Here’s where to savor Colombian coffee at its finest.
Other Things to Know:
- Know your Colombian fruits — and eat as many of them as humanly possible
- Where to drink excellent coffee and chocolate and support Colombia’s peace process all at the same time
Editor: Lesley Suter
Consulting Editor: Juliana Duque
Art Director: Brittany Holloway-Brown
Contributors: Amanda Kludt, Liliana López Sorzano, Pablo Medina Uribe, Juliana Duque, Karen Attman, Andrés Bermúdez Liévano, Ryan Sutton, Ana Luisa González Pinzón
Photography and videos by Alejandro Osses
Illustrations by Manu Montoya
Copy Editor: Rachel P. Kreiter
Fact Checking: Julie Schwietert Collazo
Thanks to Rafe Bartholomew, Matt Buchanan, Sonia Chopra, Milly McGuinness, Adam Moussa, Ellie Krupnick