Bogotá has seen its fair share of failed revolutions. The Revolución de la Cuchara, a vegan movement, is not one of them. Where others have faded away, this one has flourished as an integral part of the exponential growth of veganism, vegetarianism and generally non-meat, fish or poultry cuisine served up in Colombia’s capital during the last five years.
Whilst the buildings may be grey, Bogotá’s mindset is greening, as shown by the mass protests on agro-policy and campesino welfare in August last year. And there are unprecedented openings of locales offering a range of exciting and traditionally-eaten Colombian food.
Quinoa, chia, amaranth, arracacha, basul, yucca, yam, sapodilla or even the ice cream-bean (guama) are just a few ingredients you can find close to your door.
So what do Colombian-owned restaurants have to offer the vegan citizens and visitors of Bogotá in 2014? I went on a week-long mission to find out.
Felipan offers a bakery downstairs, lunch upstairs. I was not impressed by the fact that I could only buy the cake to take away and couldn’t sit and eat it unless I bought lunch.
I could not get a coffee either. The cake, however, was pleasant enough – so if you are in the area and just fancy a cake on the go, by all means have a look. I didn’t stay for lunch as it seemed a bit pricy.
Calle 51 No.9-73
La Revolución de la Cuchara
La Revolución de la Cuchara offers great service, huge portions, good taste and very reasonably priced. Cushions provide a nice option and the wall paintings ooze character. The chips (French fries) are like the ones I buy at a British fish and chips. Soups are experimental and always improve my Spanish vocabulary. Downsides, the free salad bar can be a bit repetitive and you often have to work out if the dishes of the day contain enough protein. Also being new, it is only open 12 to 3 pm which means on hard long working days you have to find somewhere else.
Cra 9A No.60-44B
La Toscana is a student/teacher style canteen with classic style deco, which is perhaps not surprising given its close proximity to one of Bogota’s many universities. Its self-service but the staff is friendly enough.
To test them out I took a friend along and asked for an extra bowl and cutlery. They were very obliging. The taste is very good and there are various vegetarian options but I found it on the slightly expensive side.
Carrera 8 No. 48-70
Loto Azul is a nice restaurant located in the city’s centre. The Indian corner upstairs is a must if you visit there. The menus and ingredients are interesting. They do good stew (or in Spanish lay terms) a cazuela.
Portions are large and being a foreigner they welcomed me with a complimentary tea. The only downside is that you do come away smelling like grease, which is not so good if you have a business meeting after.
Cra 5 A No.14-02
Pan de Nobles
The best thing about Pan de Nobles is that there are three options to choose from and they are all next door to each other. The fast food bar and the bakery are open long hours, seven days a week which is great on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
The plantain leaf-wrapped tamal is awesome, as are the variety of cakes whilst the empanadas remind me of home. It’s just a shame that they have a Coca Cola coffee machine, which just kinds of spoils it slightly.
Cra 9 No. 60-83
Pizza La Vecina
This is the student hang-out. The service is excellent, the drinks are cheap and the place is clean. Food portions are good.
That said, not being a fan of soggy pizza the first mouthful was unpleasant. They did re-cook it for me. My other slice was burnt slightly which was a shame.
Cra 8 No.45-13
As a non-meat eater P.F. Chang’s is arguably a place to take your girlfriend or boyfriend out for San Francisco-inspired Chinese. Appetizers are very vegetarian, gluten free such as their hallmark lettuce wraps and crispy green beans. There is also a section on the menu dedicated to Vegetarianos and after you experience the food and service, you won’t mind a bit of a wait at the door. A true sign of Colombian business acumen stirred in with a ‘Buddha Feast’ and a wholesome take on Lo Mein.
Cra 9 No.82 -19