Andres Carne De Res is a Bogotá institution, cited alongside Monserrate
and the Museo de Oro as one of those pride of the city tourist
attractions that absolutely cannot be missed. This
restaurant/disco/cabaret extravaganza is located in a small town called
Chia just past the northern city limits, about an hour from the center
of the city. A night out here is certainly an unforgettable
The first obstacle to surmount is actually getting to Chia. Going in a taxi will be rather expensive, especially since it´s wise to make arrangements for the journey back into town as well. Paying a taxi driver to wait around for the 6 or 8 hours you could easily spend in this place could be pretty unpleasant on the wallet.
A cheaper and more enjoyable option is to club together with a group of friends and hire a van or a small bus. This way you can listen to whatever music you like at full blast and partake in a few cheeky shots of aguardiente before you arrive. The wisdom of this last point is undisputed as the drinks inside are extremely expensive – think $10,000 for a beer.
As you wheel up to the car park you are presented with the spectacle of a vast building festooned with fairy lights and glowing decorations, and once inside the visitor is rendered speechless by the sheer size and intensity of the place. A huge cavernous barn absolutely dripping with coloured lights, Catholic regalia, mannequins and curly wrought-iron decorations, with tables thronged with people on a big night out, while nimble waiters weave their way in and out of the crowds laden down with huge steaks, bowls of ajiaco and trays full of elaborate drinks.
While you sit sipping your very nice mojito (served in a rather large bowl), bands of actors sidle up to you dressed as mariachis or fashionable Japanese teenagers and treat you to a fleeting serenade, while all around you Virgins look down amiably on the revelry. Several tipsy customers can be spotted wearing “Happy Birthday” sashes in the colours of the Colombian flag, and all around groups of friends tuck in to the extensive food and drinks menus before heading to one of the massive dance floors.
The music is a crowd-pleasing mix of current hits, old favourites and lots of salsa and vallenato, and it seems that almost everyone in the place is dancing, shouting and laughing with friends.
The founder of the restaurant, Andrés Jaramillo, sees the vitality that fills Andres Carne de Res as a reflection of a quintessential Colombian experience – riding the bus: “I spent my childhood and adolescence riding buses, that’s how I got to know and experience life. I want my restaurant to be like that, like a bus that’s full of people, a place that’s always alive.”