I’m not a sports fan by any means but when the Colombian U-20 team won a few games this month, I have to admit, I got pretty excited. It’s always nice to have a winning team. That is, until Mexico came along and booted them out of the World Cup.
A sad day indeed, but it was good while it lasted and those boys made us proud….and hungry. So naturally I felt like trying out a popular spot for typical Colombian cuisine…El Portal de la Antigua.
The best way to try a bit of everything is by ordering the appetizer sampler basket which includes 4 empanadas, patacones (fried green plantain), pieces of morcilla (blood sausage), chicharrón (fried pork skin), and arepas with ají and hogao (a very common, popular and homey mixture of tomatoes and onions that you can put on pretty much anything and everything).
My main course wasn’t exactly pretty to look at but it tasted like comfort. Bistec a caballo or steak on horseback, is something i’ve always had when visiting and living in Colombia. It feels like a brunch thing for me, maybe because of the fried egg, but it can be eaten any time of day. The meat was wonderfully tender and the tomato and onion topping was soaked up beautifully by the side order of white rice.
We also ordered a Bandeja Paisa – the Department of Antioquia’s emblematic dish. It’s a wise choice to eat this earlier in the day because it isn’t exactly light fare: white rice, beans (not pictured – they came separately), chicharrón, ground meat, avocado, fried sweet plantain, chorizo, fried egg and an arepa.
There are several other options from different parts of Colombia and a good list of typical desserts, and even if you aren’t that into Colombian food, there are still a lot of alternatives to choose from.
I’m well aware that this kind of food can be found for a lot less in more “authentic” places, but sometimes paying for convenience (and cleanliness and service?) is worth the extra pesos. So yes, El Portal de la Antigua might be a little overpriced, but I had a good experience and would recommend it to locals and visitors alike.
On a side note, the main dining room has the ambience of a bus terminal – sorry, but it’s true. Try to go on a sunny day and sit at one of the four tables on the front patio or opt for delivery – EL PORTAL EXPRESS – it’s hard to be sure, but it seemed like the portions are bigger when you order delivery.
(El Portal Express for delivery)
Calle 85 # 12-80
Tel: 530.1710 / 610.5630