bogotá barbecue

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Feeling exhausted from our job hunt and nostalgic for Texas summers, Seth and I went in search of some good ol’-fashioned barbecue. If you recall correctly, the only positive experience we’d had of smoked meats in Colombia was during our trip to Chía—nine months ago. I had recently read about La Fama, a restaurant in our neighborhood owned by a Colombian with devout respect for North American barbecue. (He reportedly flew Tom Mylan and Brent Young of Brooklyn’s The Meat Hook into Bogotá to serve as consultants!) Needless to say, we were looking for any opportunity to sample the fare.

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The place was a bit difficult to find, mostly due to my error in writing down the address. As soon as we stepped into the covered porch, though, we felt our stomachs grumble in response to the heavenly aroma of wood chips, smoked meat, and tangy sauce. Our host led us to one of the only non-reserved tables available (Reservations at a barbecue establishment? What?!), and we immediately ordered two iced teas. Sweet but not Wanda Neuvar sweet, the sugary drink hit the spot just right. We then followed up with an order of jalapeño and pepper jack cheese sausages. As we enjoyed the sausages’ surprising amount of spice and flavor, our eyes wandered around the space. The exposed brick walls, coupled with the picnic tables and barbecue pit, really made the restaurant feel legitimately rustic. Seth watched group after group order a round of draft beer, and before he knew it he was summoning our waiter for a Club Colombia of his very own.

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Soon came the real star of any barbecue restaurant: the barbecue! The menu suggests each person spend about COP$40,000 (US$20), so for our bandeja we ordered three meats—morillo (hump, or moist brisket), pecho (lean brisket), and cerdo desmechado (pulled pork)—with two sides—mac and cheese and papas criollas  con suero ahumado y chimichurri (bite-sized Colombian potatoes with smoked sour cream and chimichurri). Because the barbecue sauce predictably leaned on the sweet and tangy side à la North Carolina, it paired best with the oh-so-tender pulled pork. Both cuts of brisket were perfectly delicious, but we were especially impressed by the sides; the mac and cheese was smoky and rich, while the papas criollas introduced a pleasant Colombian spin on the Texan staple of potato salad. With no room left for dessert, we waddled out of the restaurant sa-tis-fied.

La Fama is good barbecue, period. New York or North Carolina, Texas or Colombia, this establishment holds its own.

[first photo courtesy of Carlos Beltrán and La Fama]

[La Fama: Calle 65 BIS # 4-85, Bogotá-Colombia]

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