Eating American Food in Colombia

Trying the local "ethnic" food

October-November 2019

Filed under: colombia

As part of our travels abroad, Tiffany was particularly interested in learning about ex-pat/digital nomad life. Part of that experience is both eating the local food but also trying to satisfy cravings for food from back home. Even if you’re not craving food from home, restaurants these days all around the world are becoming more global and everywhere you look there are pizzas, hamburgers, donuts, “Chinese” food, and even buffalo wings on each street corner. Plus if you know anything about us and food you’ll know that we love delicious and authentic food as well as Michelin starred meals but we also love to ~torture ourselves~ try weird fast food meals (see: Mac ‘n Cheetos). Anyways, enough rationalizing of our strange food choices - just know we have our reasons.

Buffalo Wings

About a quarter mile from our Bogota Airbnb was a place called “Buffalo Wings,” just one of the many local places that apparently specializes in wings. We decided one night to check out our local BDubs. When we walked in it was packed - so packed they even had a rope line to stand behind while waiting for a table. The menu was filled with American classics like nachos, mozzarella sticks, burgers, wings, fries, and chili dogs. It was also filled with not-so-American classics like “onion mush”? We still have no idea what it is.

You can try more than one sauce when you order wings, but we opted out of trying such flavors as “Twister,” the three BBQ variants, and “Asian Oriental,” and stuck with the classic “Buffalo Original” at the picante heat level, along with a side of fries.

The wings arrived and were not spicy whatsoever. They tasted more like butter than buffalo sauce. The fries were also quite disappointing. Even more amazing, the celery and carrot sticks accompanying the wings were strangely limp (especially the carrots) and the ranch sauce (no bleu cheese dipping sauce option) did not taste like any ranch dressing that we had ever had. Everyone else around us gobbled down their wings with gusto, leading us to conclude that Buffalo Wings is to buffalo wings as Lulu’s in Evanston is to real dim sum. A real disappointment.


Undeterred by our wings experience (apparently), the next night we decided to get hamburgers. We had many options, as Bogotanos love burgers. We chose a place called La Hamburgueseria, in the upscale Usaquen neighborhood, as we were trying out a nearby coffee shop earlier in the afternoon.

As we were seated, they turned the TV to a random NBA game (think Sacramento Kings, where nobody present would possibly have a rooting interest), which to us felt authentically American. They were also blaring 1980s American rock, which was typical for Colombian bars.

Similar to Buffalo Wings, La Hamburgueseria’s menu consisted of more than its namesake, and included steaks, hot dogs, and even ribs. Brian was tempted to get the Juicy Lucy AKA “La Jugosa Lucia” but ended up getting a 220 gram classic hamburger con queso, while Tiffany branched out with a burger/choripan hybrid, along with a side of tiny roasted potatoes recommended by our server. We were pleased to discover that the burgers were actually quite good. They even came out medium rare! Tiffany’s had a strange cheese on it, but otherwise we were quite satisfied. Tiffany definitely should have just stuck with fries instead of the tiny roasted potatoes, but otherwise we were very happy with our experience at La Hamburgueseria.

We later visited one of the other options for burgers, a Colombian chain called Home Burgers (which inexplicably uses curly brackets in the logo: H{}me Burgers). We found ourselves in need of a quick lunch before a tour while in Medellin, and close to a Home Burgers location. Side note: You’re kind of always close to a Home Burgers location if you’re in a fashionable area of a Colombian city. Home Burgers is growing like a fast food version of WeWork. They have somewhere around two dozen locations, with more in the works. Around the corner from our Airbnb, we saw a crew starting work on a Home Burgers location, and monitored their progress daily as we passed by. The crew worked around the clock, and - no exaggeration - the restaurant went from hardhats required to open for business during our week-long stay in Medellin. An incredibly impressive construction project. Back to the meal: Home Burgers is kind of like In-n-Out Burgers -- a very simple burger joint where you only have a couple options for your burger, and that’s it. We did see a placard for a limited-time chicken sandwich, but we stuck to the straight-up burger. And Home Burgers delivered. It was near the top of our meals in Colombia. They make really solid hamburgers with fresh ingredients. We really enjoyed having a solid American-style hamburger abroad. In fact, we won’t be disappointed if Home Burgers ends up in the States.


Finally one of the more popular non-Colombian foods here is pizza. Our neighborhood had a few Pizza Huts and Papa John’s-es, along with local chains and even corner restaurants that sell both Colombian cuisine and pizza.

Apparently there are citywide weeklong events that local restaurants participate called Burger Master and Pizza Master. As far as we can gather, each restaurant makes a specialty burger or pizza during the corresponding week, and then the masses vote on which one is the best. We never saw any restaurant claiming to have won either competition, so either every place we passed lost, or they were still counting votes when we left.

The first pizza joint we visited was on our regular walk to the supermarket, and was participating in Pizza Master so the only pizza we were allowed to order was their specialty pizza which consisted of prosciutto, arugula, mozzarella cheese, and balsamic vinegar. It was fine, but we would not consider them to be masters of pizza.

The second place where we ate pizza was a well-reviewed and popular specialist in Neapolitan pizza, Julia. Julia is such a successful and popular spot, that there’s actually an imposter Julia located a few blocks away. We can’t be 100% sure that we ate at the right Julia, but regardless, one of the Julias delivered a solid funghi pizza. We were very pleased.

Results: two roaring successes, one minor success, and one epic fail. Stay tuned for our ongoing adventures with American food interpretations around the world.