La Candelaria is one of Bogota’s most fascinating neighborhoods, both bohemian and historic. It’s uncomfortably crowded down by the main plaza but takes on an eerie calm up by Chorro de Quevedo, the fountain and plaza where they say Bogota got its start.
I can feel the history as I walk on the quiet streets past buildings whose foundations were laid in the early 1600s. The cobblestone streets are crowded with red tile roofed houses painted in vibrant colonial colors. Occasional splashes of street art invoke the past and present, modern and historic, European and indigenous.
I found Prudencia on one of those quiet cobblestone streets. Well, I didn’t discover it all on my own – I was on a street food tour with La Mesa Food Tours and the owner, Nicole, suggested we step into Prudencia to have a look around.
I was surprised by the brightness inside the restaurant. The high glass ceiling sits atop canary yellow walls and white molding, and line drawings extend over the walls. Ornate chandeliers give a touch of elegance while bales of hay at the entrance give it all a country feel.
Look up and you’ll catch a glimpse of the second-floor wine cellar bathed in muted lighting and somber decoration. The enormous open kitchen was jumping with activity, and a wood fired oven warmed up another cool Bogota morning. I knew I’d return.
The tasting menu
And I did return. A few friends and I were downtown doing a volunteer work and we decided to give Prudencia a try. As we walked in I again had that impression of light and ease.
The menu is a fixed tasting menu, just one simple sheet with all the delicacies of the day laid out. However, when I asked, the waiter said I could request just one dish off the menu (he also noted that people rarely do).
The menu is divided into Amuse, Main, Salad, and Dessert sections. You’ll have a choice of main dishes – there’s always a vegetarian option and several poultry/meat/fish choices. The list of wine recommendations appears on the right, and the two price ranges you’ll find at the bottom are for the full menu (and vary depending on your choices).
The gourmet look of the meals surprised me – frankly, I hadn’t found that level of cooking in La Candelaria. The finely crafted dishes were precisely pulled together with well thought-out combinations. They smoke their own meats, produce their own spices, and are constantly experimenting with new recipes – and all that hard work shows.
The pickled appetizer was small but delightful. The crispy kale (which is grown out back in their vegetable garden) covered the main dish like a shell, and I pulled it back to reveal salmon and sweet potatoes. Delicate and flavorful.
For dessert I reveled in the best poached pear in a city that doesn’t understand that poaching does not mean stewing it to death. The whole tasting menu was almost too much food (and this is from a woman who knows how to eat).
Mario and Meghan are the owners. Mario was a chef in the U.S. and Colombia, and it was a joy to watch him in the kitchen. Meghan’s delicate and sweet touch is felt throughout the restaurant.
This husband and wife duo have put together what is now my favorite spot for a gourmet meal in the heart of La Candelaria. I’m not alone in my impression – the restaurant was packed the whole time we were there. And it was a pleasure to see the content look of the waiters and kitchen staff who are from all regions of Colombia and beyond.
Prudencia is open for lunch every day (noon-4pm) and on Friday evenings. The menu changes daily with original and surprising choices that are never repeated. Visit their Facebook page to get the menu for the following day.
Carrera 2 #11-34, Bogota