I just want to start by saying that I am so excited to be writing this post about my vegan adventures in Bogota, Colombia. I am first generation American in my family but have been visiting Bogota and other cities and towns of Colombia since I was a kid. We would spend almost every summer in this amazing country where I have such great childhood memories. Our adventures back then consisted of flagging down taxis that would drive us through the immense city of Bogota to get from one family member’s house to the other, or taking a local bus, and ride into the rural outskirts to meander through the gardens and fields of my grandfather’s small farm.
Most of all I remember the food. Almost everything we and others did always revolved around food! My great grandmother would already be making lunch just as we are finished eating breakfast, or we would be greeted with snacks or desserts for every family member we visited depending on what time of the day it was. IT WAS INCREDIBLE! Clearly I’ve always had a passion for food LOL!
This past weekend was the first time I’ve been back to Bogota since 2011. It’s been a while and it felt so good to be back! Obviously things have changed in the past six years but I was delightfully surprised to see that it wasn’t just me, the city had too. I thought I was going to have a hard time finding local vegan spots to try out but the opposite occurred. The vegan community in Bogota is blossoming like a beautiful, cool, trendy-ass flower! I found fourteen fully vegan restaurants/cafés and well over 20 more vegetarian, yet vegan-friendly options as well! This weekend I was able to try three of these spots and let me tell you, they were a vegan dream!
It all began with me trying to figure out where the vegans of Bogota ate or frequented for food. I like to think it was destiny that Brough me to this first little shop but in reality it was Happy Cow LOL. Thank the universe for Happy Cow! Anyways, as I was scrolling through the list, I came across this Tiendita Vegan. My jaw dropped when I saw that it was literally a mini vegan mart! I don’t know why but I didn’t expect something so cool and easily accessible. When I finally visited this shop I spoke to the girl that works there and she gave me the low down on all the really good plant-based cafés in the city. While I was there I bought some goodies to have at home during my stay.
The first place we decided to try out is Fractales. It is technically a vegetarian restaurant but is able to adapt their meals to be vegan-friendly. They are not like most restaurants or cafés we are used to here in the U.S., they don’t have a full menu. The whole concept is just to have a daily menu that includes one full meal from the soup and juice of the day to the main entrée and dessert. This is the classic lunch special idea in Colombia, so I appreciated that they incorporated this tradition as their business model.
On Thursday the menu of the day included the following:
- Feijoa (exotic fruit that I had never heard of) juice
- Quinoa veggie soup
- Burrito: beans, seitan, grilled veggies (NOTE: I had to ask for no cheese)
- Smashed butternut squash
- NOTE: I did NOT have the dessert since in had dairy in it
I give Fractales a 8 OUT OF 10 because of it’s uniqueness in traditional Colombian business and serving styles. It was A LOT of food for a relatively cheap cost and my only “complaint” is that it’s not 100% vegan. Vegans, you know how awesome it feels to not have to read the menu a hundred times to make sure there is no animal-based ingredients in a dish! Even though I did have to veganize the meal a little more, the food still proved to be delicious!
The next day I had lunch at another recommended spot called De Raíz Cocina Café. This is a fully vegan kitchen serving mainly locally sourced, organic ingredients. For starters I just loved that it was made in a beautiful, old, traditional Colombian home. It really adds to the local vibe they are going for and just made me warm and fuzzy inside.
Here I tried their sandwich made of “mozzarella cheese”, basil, avocado, tomato, onions and other grilled veggies. The sandwich was accompanied by thick-cut fries with a cashew based dipping sauce! I’d rate this a 9 out of 10. The meal was super tasty and filling, but I also felt incredibly healthy and good afterwards.
For dessert I couldn’t decide between two options…so of course I just got both! I couldn’t remember the last time I was able to enjoy a “cheesecake” since I’d become vegan, so I ordered that; and the chocolate/coffee tiramisú just seemed like something I’d really enjoy, so I got that too! I give the cheesecake an 8 out of 10 only because it was more like a crumbly based pie, rather than a cheesecake texture. The tiramisú was an 8 out of 10 as well! It was delish, I just wish the portion was a little bigger! It came in a tiny cup so I found myself craving more after I basically inhaled it HAHA!
Caballete & Berenjena
The last sit-down vegan restaurant we visited was Caballete & Berenjena Veg Food. This was my personal favorite! They had an elaborate menu of various cuisines made vegan. They had a more traditional Colombian section, an Asian food section, Italian, and of course the classic burger and sandwich section of the menu. They also have large selections of appetizers, soups, salads, and desserts!
This time around I managed to get some family to join me in my adventure which was perfect because I got to try three entrées! For starters we order some natural, fresh juices which were a combination of passionfruit and mango and the second was a minty limonade. We also got and appetizer which was called “Caballeritos”. They are little plantain cups filled with hogao and cilantro pesto. From the first bite this was a 10 out of 10! These bite-sized green banana cups were heaven!
The three entrées we order were all under the Italian section of the menu. Those looked the most intricate and tasty and we were not disappointed!
- Homemade spinach and mushroom ravioli with pomodoro sauce (8 out of 10)
- Mediterranean goulash seitan with sliced polenta bread and veggies (9 out of 10)
- Seitan and plantain lasagna with pomodoro sauce, cilantro pesto, and potato-based “cheese” (10 out of 10)
Let’s just say I’ve been dreaming about that lasagna since I got back and can not wait to attempt to make my own!
We planned on ordering dessert because they all looked just as amazing as everything else we had tried, but we were so full and satisfied that we chose to pass on the sweets.
Overall this was my favorite of the three vegan spots we visited because first, the food was unmatched but also the ambiance and service we experienced while there. The food may be most important but sometimes I realize how important these extra things can be to driving customers back for more. I felt so happy and in my element there, and I think many other vegans and even non-vegans would agree!
Since this restaurant is located in the midst of an old small town called Usaquén, we decided to continue our adventure and stroll through its main square and streets. Although originally it’s own town, it is now a community or neighborhood within the city of Bogota.
Apart from indulging in these vegan restaurants we went on other daily adventures such as driving into downtown, the political plaza, and the rural mountain-side. Here are some beautiful photos from my trip. Hope this makes you want to travel to my second home. Enjoy!