Seth and I began our work-free Saturday with a trip to Casa Mexicana, an interior Mexican restaurant just south of the Zona T. We were both craving something warm, spicy, and familiar, so it was the perfect choice.
We arrived around two in the afternoon, which was about half an hour before the weekend lunch rush. We secured a cozy table on the second floor right next to the balcony, so we had a perfect view of the restaurant and the other diners’ plates. After ordering our fresh juices—guanabana en leche for Seth and lulo en agua for me—we decided to share a quesadilla. The starter was small by Tex-Mex standards but perfectly cheesy and ooey-gooey. Not to mention, the complimentary salsa—a smooth mixture of smoky chipotles in adobo and several other hot peppers and spices—was just right. For his main course Seth chose the carnitas, while I ordered the enchiladas mole. “Are you familiar with mole?” our waiter cautiously asked me in Spanish. “Yes, of course,” I replied, realizing that he was attempting to gauge my spice tolerance. (Note: On a ten-point scale, the average Bogotano has a heat tolerance of 1.) Seth’s carnitas, which came with fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, and refried beans, were perfectly cooked and seasoned. Meanwhile, my enchiladas and their namesake sauce were outstanding (and actually spicy!).
Many of the other patrons’ dishes looked equally delicious. Several families shared tacos and margaritas, while a few solo diners enjoyed sopa de tortilla or enchiladas verde. Unfortunately, we did not spot chiles en nogada on the menu, but we suspect the restaurant serves it as a special from time to time.
Attached to the restaurant is a small shop which sells a variety of dried chiles, jarred jalapeños, handmade tortillas, and fresh cheeses. Seth and I bought a sizable jar of chipotles en adobo which we cannot wait to use.
After our heavy lunch, we walked to the big Juan Valdez on Calle 73 for some late-afternoon caffeine. Seth sipped a rich moca while I enjoyed a smooth capuchino. Can you believe that nearly seven months into our stay, Seth had never visited the oh-so-famous Colombian coffee chain? Well I couldn’t, and I thought it was something that needed to be remedied immediately. Our visit was even made extra special, as the barista effortlessly scribbled a chocolatey “coffee” script atop Seth’s drink.
[Casa Mexicana & Casa Mexicana Express: Calle 80A # 14-8/18, Bogotá-Colombia]
[photo of Casa Mexicana courtesy of degusta]