A Palestinian-run joint that is more than just an upscale kebab shop, Khalifa will have you licking the plate clean, especially if you order one of their fantastic platters: almond or lentil rice in perfectly small quantities with kibbeh, warrak, tabbuleh and baba ganoush, high quality shawarma chicken and lamb and thin khubz bread. It is all pretty authentic, and the decor – Quranic verses translated on Arab designs – and music – devotional chanting – make for a mix of religious clientele jostling with the indifferent.
By far the most famous restaurant in Bogotá, Andrés Carne de Res is a huge space in Chia, on the outskirts of the city, which has also opened up a more accessible branch downtown, simply called Andrés DC. The decor is wild, with all manner of paraphernalia hanging from the ceilings of the multi-floored building. There are assorted characters that dress up and potter around, poking or staring at customers. The hostesses move around purposefully with their clipboards and earpieces, juggling VIP expectations with the hoi polloi. We never actually got a proper table after waiting more than two hours (with a reservation made an hour or so before that), so settled on our lot – a small table on the side of the bar, with limited views and very much removed from the action.
The vegetarian platter was excellent, cocktails are supercharged, and music is loud – but Andrés CR is famous as a steakhouse first and foremost. The selection of dishes, sides and beverages is the hugest I’ve seen of any restaurant in the world, and the menu can be daunting; you may end up ordering according to your budget and appetite as prices are eye-wateringly high. Go in a group, and take the opportunity to hit the dancefloor, especially if you’ve paid the $10 cover charge on weekends just for the privilege of entering.
Conjoined with a Rasta boutique, Nativo serves up wholesome vegetarian food, with just enough meat dishes to count on one of Mickey Mouse’s hands. Their veggie choices, however, are numerous and can be difficult to choose from. We tried the veggie burger ($3.50) and the Rasta crepe ($4) in which the pesto flavours and grilled mushrooms stand out; ingredients are fresh and herbs are liberally used to lift the combos. Artisanal beers are a good accompaniment, courtesy of the Bogota Brewery Company. Reggae and Roots music emanate from the speakers in the shop, and service is quick and friendly – watch out for the owners’ cute kids running around.