down stairs with trays of grilled meats and bottles of scotch and
aguardiente, apparently having as much fun as the patrons.
Andrés DC is in Zona T, the liveliest of Bogotá’s half-dozen
food-and-drink– rich neighborhoods. The city, hemmed in by
mountains to the east and the Bogotá River to the west, sprawls
along a north – south axis. Most of the wealth — and all of the
dining districts — are located north of the Candelaria, Bogotá’s
historic Colonial center. In Zona T, the party district, pubs and
clubs (Pravda, Balzac, La Brasserie and La Villa, to name a few)
stand cheek-to-jowl along the T-shaped pedestrian mall at Calle 83
and Carrera 12a. Ten blocks north is Parque 93, home to celebrity chef Leonor Espinosa’s Mercado, along with well-regarded
local chains such as Bogotá Beer Company and Juan Valdez, a
rapidly expanding high-end coffeehouse that’s giving Starbucks a
run for its money. Other hot zones include La Macarena to the
south, Usaquen in the far north, and in between —Zona G —
right up against the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes.
A DELICIOUS OPPORTUNITY
In 2013, after moving to Bogotá from New York City and falling
in love with Zona G, husband and wife chefs Claudia Oyuela
and Raphaël Haasz chose the charming neighborhood of winding, hilly streets and brick houses for their new pastry shop and
café, Grazia (Italian for “grace”). He’s French, she’s Colombian;
the couple met while working for Daniel Boulud in Manhattan.
They saw opportunity in Bogotá.
“When I came here, I could see the food scene was heating
up,” Haasz says. “I call it a boom now, but I believe in four or
five more years, the gastronomic scene will be stable and Bogotá
will be recognized as a world capital.”
Grazia, whose L-shaped patio is an ideal respite from
Bogotá’s busy streets, currently serves breakfast and lunch, with
plans afoot to offer dinner. (The ambitious couple also recently
launched a line of artisanal, all-natural ice cream.) The fare is
light and elegant— gnocchi with pea puree, salmon poached
in citrus juice — including dessert, a glistening, ginger-infused
lemongrass yogurt mousse with blackberry-like mora and curls
of white chocolate.
As if I need further proof of Bogotá’s “food boom,” I meet
Maria María Gutiérrez, owner of the new company Foodies, which
offers restaurant walking tours throughout Bogotá. As we’re talking,
Lucho Carrión, a chef who recently moved here from Spain and
captains another popular spot called Bruto, pops in for breakfast.
Grazia, I learn, is a hangout for off-duty chefs. Inevitably, talk turns
to favorite Bogotá restaurants: Salvo Patria, Gordo, Mini-mal, Black
Bear and the granddaddy of them all, the 62-year-old Pajares Salinas.
“That’s an institution!” says Oyuela. “All the visiting presi-
dents go there.”
“And all the chefs come here,” I say.
“They like our food, and I’m proud of that,” she says. “The best
confirmation for me is when our colleagues come here to eat.”
When chefs come to Bogotá to cook, that’s confirmation, too. p
HOTEL FOOD BOOM
The very night I arrived in Bogotá to begin
my culinary exploration, the JW Marriott
Bogotá, where I stayed, launched its own
new restaurant, Circo, with a blowout bash
featuring four live bands and endless trays
of food and drinks. Circo, which serves
gourmet pizzas and fine wines in the
hotel’s elegant central terrace, is part of
a broader dining makeover led by newly
hired executive chef Dante Filosi. The
hotel also features a French restaurant,
Monet Brasserie; La Mina Steak & Lobster
Restaurant; and another new addition, the
Japanese Nau Lounge, a sushi bar with an
extensive cocktail list.
“Local interest in restaurants is explod-
ing,” the hotel’s marketing coordinator,
Marcela Malagon, told me. Opened in 2010,
the 264-room JW Marriott, located in
the heart of Bogotá’s financial district, is
known as a top hotel. “We want to become
more of a dining destination.”
Given the hotel’s close proximity to
three of Bogotá’s finest collections of
restaurants—Zona G, Zona T and Parque
93—that makes perfect sense.