Rey Guerrero is the chef and mastermind of Pescadería Gourmet, an eclectic seafood restaurant whose façade is a colorful as the food served.
Located near the computer tech malls of the Carrera 15, this food warrior from Cali has decorated his venue with warm hues and plenty of Afro eye-catching art, to remind his patrons that the Pacific thrives in the heart of Bogotá busy commercial north.
“People come to learn about the Pacific, smell the Pacific, taste the Pacific,” says Rey as the last of the late lunch patrons reach for their umbrellas and filter out into the rain soaked street.
The restaurant’s generous serving sizes ensure patrons clients get their fill of all of the above. For those new to Pacific food, the chef recommends the arroz putiao, a rice dish tossed with seafood, or Fantasía del Rey (King’s Fantasy) which allows for six items to be chosen from the menu.
Many of the dishes’ names have sexual connotations, as caleños have a penchant for an aphrodisiac-rich diet. For example, the toma seca drink contains cane liquor and herbs proclaimed a secret by the women who pick them.
“They say Bogotá is a conservative city, but the people who come in are always very curious!” Rey says with a laugh.
But don’t let the term aphrodisiac frighten you off! Though often associated with libido, it mostly refers to the energizing, strengthening quality of the food. Whatever you choose, it is guaranteed to be a delicious change from the usual fare available in most restaurants in Bogotá.
Guerrero was born in 1970 in Cali and grew up watching his mother work magic in their household kitchen. He studied gastronomy at the Universidad del Valle and subsequently got jobs at various restaurants.
After moving to Bogotá in 2000, he realized something was missing from the cold city: the delicacies of the Pacific. He couldn’t find a good piangua or patacón endiablado anywhere he looked.
So Guerrero opened for business, first as a catering service operated out of his apartment. Five years ago, the restaurant opened its doors.
The Pescadería Gourmet’s mission is “to introduce people to Pacific food of a new level.” In order to accomplish this, Guerrero imports his ingredients from the same vendors month after month. And he knows them each by name.
“I get the best longaniza in the country from Doña Isabel,” he says, “and Doña Clara always reserves me some cocada.”
Though such ingredients could assuredly be purchased for much cheaper in Bogotá, importing them from Calí is very important to Guerrero. Just like it’s important his other cooks come from the coast.
With over 56 plates on the menu, all of them are inspired by his home.
“We want to be loyal to traditional ingredients and use them to try new combinations,” Rey says.
The restaurant hosts dancing nights and cooking classes, and continues to offer a delivery service. There’s also the “Chef at Home” option. Rey will come to your house and cook for your next dinner party!
Pescadería Gourmet is a gastronomic destination. This explains why the restaurant’s odd location has not been an issue. People don’t just stumble upon it, they plan to go there.
Though the cafeteria-like atmosphere doesn’t quite reverberate with menu’s prices, the quality of the food certainly does.
“Here we cook from the soul,” Guerrero says again and again. So if you’re in search of culture, soul, and delicious comida pacífica, head over to Pescadería Gourmet.
Calle 77 No. 14-24