Fusion is the watchword of many Bogotá restaurateurs, who are running Mediterranean, Italian, Californian or pan-Asian influences through typical Colombian dishes, but reinvented homegrown cuisine is on the rise. The best dining destinations include Zona Rosa, Nogal and Zona G; also recommended is the slightly boho scene in La Macarena, just north of La Candelaria.
With a stream of excellent, stylish choices, up-and-coming dining district La Macarena is holding true to its local roots. It's the kind of area where passersby are likely to pop in and chat with diners. La Macarena is a dozen blocks north of La Candelaria (east of Carrera 7 from Centro Internacional and on up the hill).
There are also many worthy choices on Calle 29bis, just northeast of the Museo Nacional.
Chapinero & Chapinero Alto
Grittier Chapinero is home to many of the city's vegetarian restaurants. The close-knit Chapinero Alto artistic community boasts all kinds of quaint neighborhood cafes and has the city's newest and trendiest dining scene.
Bogotá's primo dining area fills a couple of blocks of converted brick houses and offers a mix of excellent eateries (Argentine, Italian, French), about 10 blocks south of the Zona Rosa.
Zona Rosa & Parque 93
Within the Zona Rosa, the 'Zona T' is named for its T-shaped pedestrian zone filled with bars, restaurants and a few chains; there are also oodles more options on surrounding blocks. Ten blocks north, the more sedate Parque 93 and Calle 94 have even classier spots.
Once a village to the north, Usaquén has been enveloped by Bogotá – but it still lives at its own quiet pace. You'll find a smorgasbord of chic dining, all within a few blocks of the tranquil plaza.
Andrés Carne de Res
You cannot describe the indescribable, but here goes: the legendary Andrés Carne de Res bar-restaurant is an otherworldly entertainment cocktail that's equal parts Tim Burton, Disneyland and Willy Wonka – with a dash of junkyard kitsch and funhouse extravaganza. No, wait; a Swedish tourist said it better: 'It's like eating dinner in a washing machine.' Whatever! Andrés blows everyone – even repeat visitors – away with its all-out fun atmosphere, awesome steaks (the menu is a 75-page magazine) and surreal decor. For most, it's not so much a meal but an up-all-night, damn-the-torpedoes spectacular.
The catch is that it's out of town – in Chía, 23km north toward Zipaquirá. An Uber from Bogotá costs COP$27,000 to COP$48,000 depending on demand (skip the restaurant's highly overpriced taxi service). A party bus to Andrés on Friday (COP$70,000) and Saturday (COP$80,000) leaves at 10pm from Hostal Sue Candelaria, returning in the wee hours – prices include admission and booze on the bus. Alternatively, save a bit of money getting there by catching a Chía-bound bus from inside the TransMilenio's Portal del Norte station from the Buses Intermunicipales platform; buses leave every two minutes until 11pm (COP$2700, 30 minutes). See for yourself if a visit to Andrés isn't the most insane night you've ever had.
For a more sedate location closer to town, Andrés D.C. is also an option, but it lacks that certain something.
Bogotá has some surprisingly worthy chain eateries, many of which once dominated their speciality before the rise of movements like Third Wave coffee, gourmet burgers and craft beer. The best of the lot by a landslide is Wok; its excellently executed, sustainably sourced Asian-fusion food is some of the best you'll find in South America. Other Bogotá-born staples to keep an eye out for include El Corral, with excellent fast-food hamburgers; Crepes & Waffles, a do-it-all, diner-like chain; Bogotá Beer Company, with corporate craft-beer pubs; and Juan Valdez, a Starbucks-like coffee chain – and there are more where those came from (La Hamburguesería for burgers, Julia for authentic Italian pizza, Tostao' for coffee and bakery items – you get the idea.)
You'll find branches in most neighborhoods, particularly in the north, and a few have even gone international. They're a solid bet for a quick, dependable and consistent bite, pint or pick-me-up.