Beyond corrientazo: Bogotá restaurants for a ‘power’ lunch


[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he corrientazo is a sly trickster, rife with carbs and over-cooked proteins. It may save your wallet, but not your cholesterol count, as even the smallest deep-fried pork-rind will have you gloating, then bloating. Between the run-of-the-mill corrientazo and the city’s many high end restaurants, there’s been an empty void. Until recently.

Finding a culinary “middle way” has gotten easier over the years as healthy lunchtime offerings of garden salads, soups, and the right nutritional ingredients your body needs have been sprouting up in this taxing city. From relatedly-recent franchises such as Freshii with their wraps and assorted detox juices, to Bogotá’s favourite bakery cafés, where artisanal breads are layered with roast beef or brie, the specialty sandwich now tops the executive diet.

Even though one can never underestimate the attraction of an ajiáco, many food entrepreneurs caught on with the sandwich-salad combo years ago, namely Eliana Amador, founder of Lina’s.

With several venues across the city, Lina’s flagship in the Centro Andino is a great place to start when looking for a grilled panini, croque madame (or monsieur), crevette bisque or generous carpaccio. A carefully put together lunch with soup and salad platter will not set you back more than $30,000 pesos.

Bread and pastry makers Maison Eric Kayser are newcomers to the city, and with various locales between the Zona G and Chicó, they have added a lunch special as part of their daily offering.

Brot and Masa, well-known for their pastries, artisanal breads and lazy Sunday breakfasts, have also joined-in the obligatory “let’s do lunch” recommendations.

There’s no shortage of upscale, European-inspired food chains in the capital (Bagatelle and Philippe to name just two), nor crepes, served hot and cold. The ubiquitous Crepes and Waffles’ origin-conscious Arte-Sano in the Zona G (Cra 5 No.70A-08) is also a favourite for a personalized protein lunch.

This restaurant chain’s founders pioneered more than two decades ago the concept of the affordable middle way and their philosophy went national, then global. Crepes and Waffles is always consistent with its comprehensive breakfast-to-dinner menu.

The surge of green in Bogotá encompasses organic speciality markets such as BioPlaza to many urban orchards growing perishables for our kitchens and tables. Restaurateurs also know that having “eco” on your plate is not only good for business, but your diet.

Luz Beatriz Vélez’s two venue Abasto (Usaquén and Quinta Camacho) strikes that perfect balance with savoury dishes in a relaxed, food market setting. Her lunch offerings cover plenty of New World terrain, from a corn tortilla soup with avocado and farmer’s cheese to a quinoa and cherry tomato salad.

Abasto’s sandwiches (Mozarrella, Turkey and Three cheeses) are prepared with their in-house oven baked bread.

The lunch culture is changing in Bogotá, and quickly. Even though a meat and potato diet will continue to turn many a table in the city, the green option, continues to grow, offering variety and a new take on what that “power” lunch can do for mind and body.


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