Put the Chipotle burrito down. Cross the East River for some new flavors, a colorful energy, a true taste of Colombia and to revel in the late night happy hours. Get warm here on a Monday or Wednesday, and avoid the well-packed Park Slope space on weekends, when young, attractive couples and large groups return for good eats and birthday serenades by a staff shaking maracas.
The atmosphere at Bogota Latin Bistro is as toasty and welcoming as the food; the walls are red and full of whimsical paintings. The traditional aji, a spicy sauce the owners cheekily label the Colombian ketchup, sits on every table. Their sense of humor is what makes Bogota stand out on a block of stylish restaurants and Brooklyn boutiques. But rest assured, Bogota takes its Central and South American food seriously.
Take your time, munch on the complimentary platanitos and browse the selections. The staff is friendly and won’t mind if you need a minute, and you definitely will because the menu is monstrous. The chefs at Bogota are nothing if not thorough, from the everyday arepas (cornmeal pancakes eaten like bread, start at $2.50) to the more elaborate seafood dishes (try the catfish tacos $16). Two, maybe three people can comfortably share the bandeja paisa, a nice, hearty sampler plate including grilled skirt steak, pork chicharron, fried egg, rice, beans and an arepa ($20).
Wash it all down with a mojito; try the passion fruit flavor. If you’re in a big enough group, get a pitcher but think carefully about ordering a second one; at about $34 a pitcher, the cost adds up quickly. On the upside, all bottles of wine are half price on Mondays.
Authentic and delicious, Bogota is a standout in restaurant-saturated Park Slope. The biggest drawback? They’re closed on Tuesdays.
How to get there: Take the B, D, M, N, Q, R, 2, 3, 4 or 5 train to Atlantic Avenue / Pacific Street stop in Brooklyn. Head southeast on Atlantic Ave toward Flatbush Ave. Make a slight right at Flatbush Ave., then turn right at 5th Ave. (Bogota Latin Bistro, 141 5th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217, 718.230.3805, bogotabistro.com)
Photo: Courtesy of Bogota Latin Bistro