With Moorish influences, tapas have colonized Bogotá’s La Macarena district. Manzanilla. Cava. Rioja. Whatever the choice, tapas are the “in” Old World food. An authentic tapeada – a crawl from tapas bar to tapas bar – sampling the best that each has to offer, is nearly impossible to do in Bogotá except in this bohemian neighbourhood on a Thursday and Friday evening.

A quick tapa primer: montaditos and tostas refer to foods accompanied by bread slices, similar to the Italian bruschetta. Banderillas, a nod to bullfighting lingo, skewer food with toothpicks, but don’t take small bites; put the whole thing in your mouth. Alioli is a garlicky mayonnaise. Boquerones are white Spanish anchovies cured in vinegar and packed in olive oil. Escabeche are cooked marinated foods, while vinagreta is reserved for marinated uncooked foods. Tortillas refer to omelettes, not the Mexican kind. While not exhaustive, this list should help get you started. ¡Salud!

A true tapeada in my book requires at least one good drinking buddy, lively music, freedom to explore and a desire to eat. Popular spices, as in most traditional Spanish food, include garlic, saffron and red pepper.

Tapas Macarena

Founded by Peter and Maria Hoogeveen, Tapas Macarena was established in 2007. This cozy corner of the Macarena, with only seven tables, is as close to Andalucia as you can get, where patrons spill onto the sidewalk and music sets the tempo. Try the crunchy morcillas al chutney with a luscious though not sweet, uchuva sauce. Not necessarily a typical tapa, but that is the point – tapas with a twist. The patatas a lo pobre are equally unique where the star is a perfect sunnyside up egg and the potato supporting actor. Jamon serrano, scallions, crispy potatoes all enveloped by a glossy egg with piquant sauce served on the side. Yum. Its intimate setting makes this my favorite stop in La Macarena.

Carrera 4A No. 26-01

Gaudi

As its name suggest, Gaudi is Catalan-inspired dining on two floors. Along with all the Iberian staples, many of Gaudi’s dishes involve potatoes, cured ham and seafood. Some are saucy, others dry, but the common element in the dishes is that they convey a special approach to eating; one that invites camaraderie and spontaneity rather than highlighting a particular technique. Gaudi is a very popular restaurant for large group events. Enjoy the specialty drink, sangria!

Carrera 4A No. 27-54

La Taperia

La Taperia is designed to make tapas the focal point or the main meal. Live music and flamenco take the stage on Thursday nights, and when the band is not playing, feel free to plug in your iPod. The menu is more varied than at Tapas Macarena. World flavours pervade as in the beef carpaccio laced with Dutch cheese and the antipasto de chorizo served with edam. Different types of banderillas are offered: chicken and beef laced in ketjap, the Indonesian peanut soy sauce, as well as Cajun chicken wings and Colombian caramiñolas. La Taperia serves small plates of popular pleasers. The angle here is community, where many come as strangers and leave as friends

Carrera 4A No. 26B-12