30 years in the making: a Colombian wining, dining, partying institution
There are some places that go beyond ordinary and become legendary. Andrés Carne de Res in Chía (about 40 minutes outside of Bogotá) is one of these places. Ask just about anyone in Bogotá what a tourist should do before leaving the country, and chances are that Andrés will be one of the many things they recommend.
When I was little I named my pretend restaurant Diana Carne de Rana. Carne de Rana translates to Frog Meat – not a lot of things rhyme with Diana, so rana was the best I could do. The point is, I was very aware of this place even in my childhood and now it’s still one of the best places to have an unforgettable time.
Opened by Andrés Jaramillo in 1982, this was once a little roadside grill and it hasn’t stopped growing since. Andrés and his team are constantly innovating and paying close attention to the details, making this restaurant/rumbiadero/night club a timeless classic.
The menu is extensive (the current “edition” has 62 pages), but as the name of the place implies, the various cuts of beef (res) and other meats of Colombian and Argentinian origin are the most popular. There are also several vegetarian options as well as an array of Colombian cuisine. It’s a great place to sample Colombia’s food and festive spirit, all in one crazy place. As the night carries on, the lights are dimmed, the music gets louder, the dance floor gets packed and the party goes on until 3am.
The quality of the food and service is usually excellent and on top of that you have a crew of actors, clowns and musicians wandering around the restaurant entertaining guests and honoring visitors with sashes, crowns and serenades. This place has a thing for making everyone feel special – can you imagine what a birthday is like here? They go ALL out, embarrass the hell out of you, and you can’t wipe the smile off your face. It’s all in good fun and they do a great job.
Amid the chaos of pumping music, intoxicating celebration, throngs of people dancing and mingling, hundreds of tables, bric-a-brac decoration with a Colombia edge, the eats and drinks, and then some, the servers always seem to have everything under control. Most are university students and their attitude is always surprisingly up-beat – working as a server in Andrés must be like getting a masters degree in working under pressure.
As far as prices go, they can be pretty steep and a lot of people complain about it saying that you spend your entire salary on one visit (this may be true especially if you earn in pesos), but what you get in return is a one of a kind experience. I go maybe once a year, if that, and I always have fun. It isn’t cheap but I’ve been to my share of restaurants and clubs and none compare to the Andrés experience.
Andrés Carne de Res now has a second location in the city called Andrés D.C. (and a separate food court, La Plaza de Andrés). Conveniently located right in the middle of the Zona Rosa and keeping with the same style, food and festivities of the original in Chia, it’s a great party option if you don’t want to make the trip to Chía.
It’s highly recommended to make reservations for both locations, especially on weekends. If you have children you can’t get in after 6pm, so go for lunch and let the kids enjoy a ton of activities. Keep in mind that after a certain hour, and even with reservations, you still get charged a cover. The last time I went to Andrés in Chía, we organized a group of 15 friends from Colombia, Australia, USA, Holland, Venezuela and Spain and rented a small van – it was perfect, affordable and we didn’t have to worry about driving back afterwards.
Remember the Harvard study that says that buying experiences, not possessions, leads to greater happiness? Well, let’s go with that theory and make some memories surrounded by good food and music, a lot of laughing and dancing, and most importantly, some Colombian spirit.
Andrés Carne de Res/Chía: Variante a Cota, Chía (or just ask a local)
Andrés D.C.: Calle 81# 11-94 El Retiro