When I booked my trip to Bogotá, I chose to stay in the Santa Barbara neighborhood. When I asked around, everyone said it was safe, but pretty far from the center. What finally sold me on the neighborhood was the awesome Airbnb I found (ask me about it if you're going to the city). What I had no idea about is that a short walk from Santa Barbara is the Usaquén neighborhood of Bogotá. Sure, Santa Barbara may not be cool and trendy, but Usaquén is. It's a lovely neighborhood filled with cobblestone streets that emanate from its central plaza. There is tons of shopping, art, a flea market, but most importantly, there is food. There is amazing food. If you like to eat, Usaquén will quickly become a regular place while you are in Bogotá on vacation. These are (IMHO) the best restaurants in Usaquén.
***This is a work in progress since I'm here for another month. Come back soon for more yums.
The Best Restaurants in Usaquén
Bistronomy: FRENCH: So far, this is my favorite restaurant in Bogotá. It is the creation of the Brothers Rausch and a treat for a Francophile such as I am. The restaurant has a refined but casual dining atmosphere and a solid wine list (much better than I've seen in most of Colombia). The food at the restaurant is not 100% French, but they do serve some dishes from Alsace (Chocrute on Sundays), and Burgundy (the cassoulet was so damn good, it cost $45,900 COP - around $17.50USD). Antonio had the sous vide Ox Tail ($42,900 COP - $14.60USD). It was deboned and put back together and simply delicious. We went back on the weekend for dinner and to our surprise, there was live music. The food was just as good the second time around.
Bistronomy is located at Carrera 6 #119-24, Bogotá, Colombia
Phone: +57 320 4515668
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri 12–11PM, Sat 12–5PM, Closed on Sunday
La Provence de Andrei: FRENCH: There must be some serious Francophiles in this area because I found not one, but two awesome French restaurants in the neighborhood. La Provence serves food from the South of France (kinda obvs, right?). The atmosphere here is quaint and comfy. Servers wear the classic striped shirt of Provence. The menu was a tad too large (I like a smaller menu - makes it easier to choose), but the dishes were classic Provence. I went with a simple dish, Salade Niçoise ($36,400 COP - $12.50 USD). It was done right - anchovies, beautiful tuna cooked the way I like it (medium rare). The only thing I would ask the restaurant to change is to serve a Provence Rose by the glass. Wine is the one thing that always leaves me wanting in Colombia's restaurants. The wine list was good here, but I can't order a bottle by myself - so...if you're reading this Andrei - get a nice rose on your btg list. Other than that this place was lovely - did I mention they sent me off with freshly baked chocolate croissants? What a lovely touch.
La Provence de Andrei is located at Carrera 6 #117-44, Bogotá, Colombia
Phone: +57 1 7523279
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat 12PM–12AM, Sun 12–8PM
Madam Tusan: CHINESE-PERUVIAN: Decent Chinese food is hard to come by in Colombia. Good Chinese food is even harder to find. To be honest, it's not 100% Chinese. The restaurant is Chino-Peruvian...and it works (I've always liked this combination). Peruvian cusine has a long history of Chinese influence. My favorite thing about the restaurant was the open kitchen. You could see that everything was made super fresh, super clean, and immediately. I went with a simple dish - Wonton soup. Antonio had the Lomo Saltado. Both were quite nice. One big snafu - most of the dim sum had shrimp in it (the options that did not were not things we'd normally order), so this was a bummer since Antonio cannot eat shellfish. I'd ask all Chinese restaurants to always offer shellfish free options of their dim sum. It would make him so happy. I've heard they have some awesome cocktails, so I'll be back soon to report on that.
Tip: Go for lunch, it is generally empty as opposed to in the evenings.
Madam Tusan is located at Carrera 6a #119b54, Bogotá, Colombia
Phone: +57 1 6371061
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat 12PM–12AM
Taj Mahal: INDIAN: It is rare to find spicy food in Colombia. Most Indian restaurants serve fine enough Indian food, but asking for spicy hardly ever gets you good heat. Not at Taj Mahal. We asked for spicy & we got spicy. Besides that, the food was tasty. Antonio & I shared the Maharaja Thali which consisted of a starter, 3 main courses, raita, cachumbar, basmati and naan. The dish cost us $58,500 COP, which is around $20USD. The butter chicken that came with the dish was ridiculously good. Flavors of cardamom, fresh meats, and fair portions (for US standards - not Colombian standards) are all at the Taj Mahal in Usaquen.
Tip: Spicy means spicy here.
Taj Mahal is located at Cl. 119b #6A-34, Bogotá, Colombia
Phone: +57 1 3002790
Hours: Mon Closed, Tue-Sat 12–3PM, 7–10PM, Sunday 12-4PM
Casa Vieja: COLOMBIAN: I was hesitant to visit this place since it had lukewarm reviews online. However, the reason was clear in seconds after I tasted the food. Colombians were rating a Colombian restaurant in Colombia. They are way harsher on this place because it is priced higher than most places. There is a reason for the cost. The food here is spectacular. If you want to sample Colombian cuisine in a lovely setting, this makes for a perfect place. They serve food not just from Cundinamarca (the State where Bogota is located), but offer dishes from other places of the country. The picada was excellent ($27,900 COP - roughly $9.50USD). It said it was for 3 people, but easily fed 4 of us and included empanadas, chicharron, morcilla, papa criolla, yuca frita and guacamole. They even had cow tongue ($31,900 COP - roughly $11 USD) on the menu (I know you're probably grossed out, but it is really tasty - just remember how you used to hate ox tail). The tongue was beautifully cooked, tender and came in a creamy sauce. The one thing I would not recommend here are the fruit juices. This was the only let down in the place, but it is so minor that I am still giving this place a HUGE thumbs up.
Tip: If you go on weekends, either get there early or make reservations. The place gets packed quickly.
Casa Vieja is located at Cra. 6a #117-35, Bogotá, Colombia
Phone: +57 1 2133246
Hours: Mon-Sat 10AM–10PM, 7–10PM, Sunday 12-5PM