The “colmado” is a thing there in the Dominican Republic. It’s like a corner drugstore or a bodega… basically, what you need, or want, you can get at your local colmado. They deliver. The important thing is that they deliver beer. Really cold, icy, beer. “Bien fria” is the phrase for an icy cold beer. That’s easy Spanish. So, if you find yourself at an Airbnb or some other place here, get the number of your local colmado, and learn the phrase “bien fria” so that you can get your beers delivered. The colmado will deliver anything they have to your home. Even a single egg.
There are colmados on every street, which is hard to tell from my blurry photos out of the car…
For the Dominicans, this is their local pub, bar, local watering hole, hangout, a place where they go after work, on the weekends, to get a “bien fria” and chill. Maybe followed by some dancing. Not your stuffy organized “dahnce” but just the pop-up impromptu salsa that happens because your feel it in your feet, your arms, your soul. The music is in your DNA. And it wants to get down and express itself.
The Dominicans will turn any place into a party, from their local gas station, barber shop, corner store, and so on — into a place to chill with beer and dancing. Not just their colmado.
This may be a class thing… not sure, but I don’t think that the “upper” class hang out at their local colmado… but I could be wrong.
Mexican food in Bogota? This is one of the most common questions I get. Americans (gringos) are obsessed with “Mexican food” and cry about how they miss Chipotle (an American fast food chain specializing in large burritos etc.). Well, too bad. Or take yourself to Gringo Cantina on Calle 80, 12A-29 (behind the Atlantis mall — or go south on Carrera 11, turn right on Calle 80, and it will be on your left.) The facade is painted in pale pink and blue with large letters that declare: NO MAMES.
This Mexican cantina that has been open for a month now and it doesn’t suck (This is a reference for those who speak Mexican slang). The owner is an Californian with some Colombian roots. He started La Xarcuteria but has sold that concept and no longer has a connection to it. This cantina is his third concept in Bogota. Way to go, entrepreneur!
The owner, Mike, came over to talk to us. His tacos, both corn and flour, are made in house. He is excited to be in Bogota for the start of its culinary revolution (and education). His dishes are small, refined, and fresh. The best dishes are the taco al pastor, the tongue taco (get over it, it’s delicious! Look up, as it is the first one shown in this posting) which he serves so it looks nothing like a tongue for the queasy. Make his day and ask for the taco al pastor without the pineapple (it is too sweet and overpowers the meat).
The sauces are interesting with one made from eggplant/aubergine. The warm tacos are served on warm Colombian pottery which helps keep the freshness. The cold smoked scallop dish was subtle and fresh for those who do not like tacos (and those that do). I would not order the shrimp salad again and the owner admits that this dish is only there to cater to local tastes. I liked the quesadillas with their crunchy fried exteriors and greasy, cheesy, and REAL steak inside (no ground beef, no shredded beef). I enjoyed when Mike and I commiserated about the difference between hard and crunchy as I told him that I like his chicharone/pork rind tostada (an open tortilla that is toasted). Ah, the thrills of foodie geeks!
Dishes came out at a heady speed and Mike left us to eat before coming back for a chat about flavor, sous vide, freshness, seafood, and where to eat in Bogota (so I have a few more to try!). He also kept sending out free dishes for us to try (full disclosure — although this didn’t influence my opinions — it just let me try even more of the menu).
This is a new place so let’s hope it does well. And, yes, he does make a chipotle sauce.
Also: I apologize for the blurriness (and awfulness — the one above which I took quickly as I waited for tacos — to show where the restaurant is situated) of some of the photos… it’s hard to aim and eat at the same time. But, I wanted to post this as soon as possible for the masses… all 37 of you, my readers…
Americans are obsessed with “Mexican food” of which there is a dearth of in Dhaka. But, as I have tried 100 restaurants in Dhaka, here are the three “Mexican” places (and my review rating of them):
Uno ~ El Toro, Gulshan 1 (3/13): Mexican. Must try: going on a night when they have avocados (!!!). This is the only real contender and yet…
Dos ~ Quesadilla, Road 11, Banani (3/13); The quesadilla was actually okay. Edible and not greasy. The “Mexican pizza” was a basic frozen pizza with some charred crumbled beef added plus a few loops of green pepper. The nachos were a plate of fried wonton skins covered in brown beans, cheese, and decorated with swirls of “mexican” sauce — a slightly sweet pink sauce. The garlic bread with melted cheese was so tasteless as to be useless.
Tres ~ Rush Tex Mex, Road 6, Banani (3/13): Burgers and fries. The advertised Mexican dishes were mysteriously not available… small place with two booths. Fries were okay.
Like a lot of things in the expat life, if you want it, you gotta make it. So we started our own Mexican Monthly Club. Getting enough avocados is the hardest part of making Mexican food in Dhaka. Let us see how it goes. Buen provecho!