Middle Eastern Food in Bogota

The menu is certainly sexy.
The menu is certainly sexy.

Despite the expectation that due to Shakira’s existence, middle eastern food should be common here in Bogota — it’s not. These are the restaurants that I’ve tried and my review of them.

Al Khalifa, various locations, (5/13): I actually was quite awash in memories of Jordan, Bangladesh, and other Muslim and middle eastern countries when I ate here. Instead of Jesus Christ of Superstar, there was a Muslim version on the TV. The food wasn’t great but my memories are.

Beirut, Calle 117 #6-30, Usaquen, (12/13): It’s the upscale version of middle eastern food. Large and lofty.

Panaderia La 85 (Lebanese Bakery), Calle 85 near Carrera 12, (10/13): It’s not fancy. They sell Lebanese pita bread and products. They make kibbeh, hummus, and stuffed grape leaves, but I’m never sure if they have all the products all the time. I went with a friend of the owner.

Chicken on a stick, tabouleh salad, and falafel at Beirut.
Chicken on a stick, tabouleh salad, and falafel at Beirut.

Zatar, Carrera 5 #69-15, Zona G, (12/13): It was described as a hole-in-the-wall to me but it’s not. It’s hard to find only because they are in plain sight. Their awning is black with no signage. Just walk down the street from the Starbucks (oh, right, that doesn’t help). The food is good although a bit on the wet (saucy) and sweet side. The people who work there seem rather nice. At least that’s the vibe I got.

One final gripe… even I can make flat bread hot off the fire/oven… so I can’t understand why all these places serve me cold pre-made bread.

The bread spread at Beirut. The chile sauce is perhaps their version of harissa? It was HOT!
The bread spread at Beirut. The chile sauce is perhaps their version of harissa? It was HOT!

The World Market in Bogota at Codabas

The world's spices at the spice shop in the fruit and vegetable market.
The world’s spices at the spice shop in the fruit and vegetable market.

Where to find the world’s products in Bogota? Recently, I went to Codabas, a market in the northern part of Bogota. It’s up on Carrera 7 # 180. Codabas has a central building with fruit stalls surrounded by a parking lot of shops.

Inside the central building is a spice shop with every spice you didn’t know that you couldn’t find in Bogota. Cardamom. Chili mix. Fresh honey. Salt from the moon. Okay, I jest.

Clean fruit and veg.
Clean fruit and veg.

Some of the shops around the parking area include an Italian shop (they sell wine for less than 15,000 COP = $8 which is fairly cheap for Bogota) and other Italian items.

Frozen shumai dumplings.
Frozen shumai dumplings.

I was thrilled by the “Arabic” sandwich shop where I bought pita bread. (All of it. I also bought hummus. But, mostly, I was excited to find flat bread like I’ve found in the middle east.)

Hummus, babaganoush, labnah, and pita bread.
Baba ganoush, hummus, labnah, and pita bread.

Across from there is a Peruvian store but it was a bit pricey.

Arabic cafe.
Arabic cafe.

There were several fish shops which sold lots of frozen Asian seafood, like clams from Vietnam, and Asian foods (like frozen shumai dumplings). Plus, they sold a good brand (from Canada) of pickled herring. And squid ink. Just in case you were making squid ink pasta.

Pickled herring and squid ink.
Pickled herring and squid ink.

I will go back to explore some more but personally for vegetables (and especially for chiles and napa cabbage) I like the less sterile feel of Paloquemao a little bit better. IMG_8137Also, the Carulla on Calle 84 actually caters to the expats and carries many imported products.