Leo is a restaurant in Bogota, Colombia, and ranked 99/100 on the World’s 50 Best list and #10 in Latin America. The chef is Leonor Espinosa. She created the menu, which changes every year, based on the different ecosystems of Colombia, and according to what is written on the menu, with the “…support of biologists, producers and growers, this menu is based on local products and ancestral knowledge”.
Many restaurants claim to be some variation of farm to table and/or highlight local cuisine, but I believe Leo has done these things in the truest sense. The effort that has gone into the carefully chosen ingredients and dishes, is evident from looking at the menu you are presented.
Barcal is a restaurant in Medellin, Colombia that offers a tasting menu (and optional beverage pairing which we got) focused on Colombian cuisine. The meal highlights the great diversity of the country.
What is even more impressive, is that the chef, Miguel Warren Mora, is only 24 years old and started the restaurant when he was 20! He previously trained in San Sebastian. If he is already doing amazing things now, I can not imagine the type of food he will be putting out in 10 years. The meal was fantastic, with a few misses.
El Cielo is located in Medellin, Colombia. The chef, Juan Manuel Barrientos Valencia, trained at various places outside Colombia, including Arzak (which will become apparent as you will see late in this write up). At 23, he returned to Colombia and opened El Cielo. There are now locations in Bogota and Miami.
The meal started with the “expanding towel” which is interesting the first time its done, but I think its overdone and should be retired.
When doing research on where to eat in Cartagena, you will most likely come across La Vitrola. The New York Times wrote about it as do many other websites. This is supposed to be THE place to eat and be seen in Cartagena. Did it live up to expectations? NO.
It is supposed to be hard to get a reservation here. I booked through my credit card concierge service. I started with a shot of aguardiente.
Where as La Vitrola was mentioned many times in my research, and disappointing, this restaurant, Carmen, while also mentioned in many must “eat” guides on Cartagena, DID live up to expectations.
Also every local I spoke with agreed the place was good, and bartenders I spoke to spoke very highly of the bartenders at this place. In general, I found that Cartagena takes food and cocktails very seriously. You will be hard pressed to find processed food here, and I hope that with the increase in tourism to the area, this does not change.
La Cevicheria was a restaurant Anthony Bourdain visited on his show on Colombia. This is probably why when we went around lunch time, its was very busy, and we were told it was an hour wait. We put our name down, went to eat somewhere else, and then went back.
We were seated right away. Service was fast and friendly. This is more of a lunch spot. We ordered the Colombian ceviche and a mixed ceviche. Both were good, but not worth the wait. You can get good ceviche all over the city, and its not a particularly complex dish to make.