Whether you sample local grub from a street vendor or dine in a gourmet restaurant, you're sure to be delighted by Colombia’s traditional cuisine. It's also diverse—classic dishes like ajiaco, puchero santafereño, and sancocho stews all use various meats, veggies, and potatoes. As for where to go, the picturesque cobblestone streets of the La Candelaria neighborhood are lined with bohemian cafés and romantic restaurants. Further north, the "Zona G" is the epicenter for gourmet dining. But good restaurants, both inexpensive and pricey, are sprinkled around the city—and they cater to the entire family. Those listed here will delight children and parents alike.
For more information about traveling with children in Colombia, see this article.
Mercado de Paloquemao
The colorful and vibrant Paloquemao is one of Bogotá’s oldest and largest markets. You and your kids could spend all day sampling all the exotic fruits on offer—from cherimoya (tasting like bubblegum) and guanabana to lulo and mamoncillo—and you still wouldn't be able to try them all. You can also enjoy them as fresh juices or smoothies at the market's celebrated Jugos Doña Vero.
Paloquemao makes a great early morning visit when it’s at its liveliest and stalls serve comforting breakfasts of hot arepas (corn cakes) and caldo de costilla (beef rib broth). Later in the day you can lunch on lechona (stuffed roast pork, served with rice, beans and all the trimmings). It's also a great place for kids to crunch on some roasted hormegas culeñas (fried ants—yes, ants). they’re a bit like salted roast peanuts.
Avenida 19 #25-04, Santa Fé, Bogotá
Restaurante Casa San Isidro
The candlelit Restaurante Casa San Isidro sits atop Cerro de Monserrate and is reached via a cable car—reason enough kids will want to eat here. It occupies a 1920s-era mansion perched on the mountainside complete with a panoramic terrace. But whether you dine in or out, the views are sensational so long as the clouds don’t encroach.
The menu leans heavily towards local classics such as ajiaco (chicken soup), bandeja paisa (meat platter), locally caught trout and the restaurant’s trademark lamb chops. Our favorite is the chicken in passion fruit sauce, served with coconut rice and a tropical salad. French influences also creep in, so you may find some of your favorite international dishes. And the wine list impresses.
Cerro de Monserrate
Andrés D.C. and Andrés Carne de Res
If you only visit one restaurant in Bogotá it has to be Andrés D.C., a legendary steakhouse in El Retiro shopping center in the upscale Zona T neighborhood. Part restaurant, part circus, this industrial-themed, four-story eatery has to be experienced to be believed. Roving clowns and improv actors stop by your table while you’re devouring platters of grilled meats. The 75-page menu is almost a book, and it includes such kid’s favorites as plátano maduro relleno de queso y bocadillo (baked plantains stuffed with cheese and guava). One level of the shopping center hosts La Plaza de André, a food court with various fast-food outlets.
Once you’ve been wowed by Andrés D.C., you’ll want to make the 45-minute drive from the city to the much larger and even zanier original, Andrés Carne de Res, located north of Bogotá, in Chía. Its massive labyrinth of dining rooms and dance floors provides a thrilling dining experience that's one-third Alice in Wonderland, one-third Beetlejuice, and one-third Pirates of the Caribbean. Kids get an entire zone to themselves, with a climbing wall, stilt-walking lessons, painting classes, clowns, and a playground. (For more day trips around Bogotá, check out this article.)
Calle 82 #12-21
Andrés Carne de Res
Calle 3 Norte #11A-56, Chía
La Puerta Falsa
There’s no better place to try signature Colombian dishes than La Puerta Falsa (The False Door). This historic, cubby-hole restaurant, just steps away from Plaza de Bolivár, is a favorite of locals. Have your kids try the ajiaco—a thick soup of chicken, potatoes, corn, and a side of avocado with white rice and a scrumptious Colombian tamale.
La Puerta Falsa is also a treat for two classic Bogotá breakfasts: huevos pericos (eggs scrambled with tomatoes and onions and served in a skillet) and chocolate santafereño (a hot cocoa drink accompanied by a chunk of white cheese and spongy cheese bread called almojábana). Kids will have fun dipping their bread and cheese in the chocolate, like local Bogotanos. You can also add a healthy fresh fruit juice: our favorite is mora (raspberry). By the way, Anthony Bourdain, host of CNN’s "Parts Unknown," referred to La Puerta Falsa's chicken-and-pork tamale as a “thing of beauty.”
Calle 11 #6-50, La Candelaria, Bogotá
Where it concerns kids, you can’t go wrong with a tasty pizza with plentiful toppings oozing with cheese. And in Bogotá, the pizzería of choice is Julia’s, which has locations throughout the city. The chef and owner is Chef Daniel Castaño, who brought his pizza know-how back from a stint in New York. His brick-oven-fired, Neapolitan-style pizzas come with a special sauce from tomatoes he grows himself. Get here early to snag a seat; all three locations are considered among the hippest, most popular eateries in town.
Calle 119B # #6-31, Usaquen
Calle 85 #12-81,
Carrera 5 #69A-19, Zona G
Restaurante Temático La Juguetería
Just when you think you’ve seen it all at Andrés Carnes del Res, you stumble upon La Juguetería, a wonderfully whacky restaurant in the bohemian La Macarena district, close to the Museo Nacional. The name loosely translates to “Game Place” and the restaurant is tricked out from floor to ceiling with dolls and toys. it's got everything from Star Trek figures and model aircraft to pedal cars and a giant Hulk figure. This is one meal the young ones will remember forever, while parents will be transported back to their own childhood.
The menu runs from soups and salads to churrasco (grilled meats) and seafood, while a kids' menu includes fish sticks, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese. There are also irresistible desserts such as strawberry cheesecake and meringue with fruits and Chantilly cream. Bring an old toy to donate and you’re given tickets for a free food item. It’s favored by local families for birthday parties, so reservations are wise.
Calle 27 #4A-03, La Macarena, Bogotá
Crepes & Waffles
With almost 100 outlets (including about 50 in Bogotá) there’s a good reason Crepes & Waffles is one of Colombia’s most successful restaurant chains. It specializes in a wide variety of delicious crêpes, including those with veggie, meat, and seafood fillings. Try the shrimp in curry sauce crêpe, served in a bowl with a basket of bread. Their French onion soup also earns top marks.
Then there are the signature ice-cream-topped waffles and tropical fruit milkshakes. They also serve ice-cream cones, frozen cappuccinos, and the list goes on and on. The owners who founded the restaurant as students have a social conscience as well. They only employ single mothers and other needy women with a family to support. It's reason enough for you and the kids to indulge in these sweet and savory treats.
Locations throughout Colombia