La Condesa Irina Lazaar

This is a little hidden gem in Bogota, Colombia. It took me about 5 visits to Bogota to discover this place, not even my local frieds knew about it and at the time of this writing it doesn’t even show up on Maps or Google Maps if you search for the name, even though it’s been open for 7 years already!!!

This is a lunch spot ONLY. Reservations recommended. Open Mon-Fri from 12 to 3.30 only, the place serves mostly the political crowd of the nearby city hall and offices (the corruption must be adding to the flavor ;-)). It’s closed Saturday and Sunday and it’s nestled inside the old beautiful, historical and slightly sketchy (at night) La Candelaria neighborhood.

American-Mexican owner and chef Edgardo Areizaga is a really sweet guy and a jazz lover, so if you are in a jazz group or on tour there make sure you stop by and bring him a CD! He’s got great food stories and even produced a jazz CD of a local trio that he wanted to support. What a guy!
He mentioned to me he wants to start opening other restaurants and cook less so try to go soon while he’s still there doing the cooking (although he said if he hires other chef they have to be better than him…).

La Condesa Irina Lazaar serves no wine (except for one local brand of Rosé -although you can probably bring your own wine and have them uncork it) but they have beer and other drinks (none of the amazing Colombian juices though). You walk in to a small dining room with about 8-10 tables and one step up, almost staged, is a big open kitchen where you can watch the chef and his two assistants prepare your food.

The restaurant has no menu but when you walk in Edgardo greets you and tells you what’s good that day. When I arrived he said the steak, the pork chops and the salmon were the thing to get today and he told us to sit down at table 7 by the window. A few minutes later he came to the table and said “I’m making you the steak and I’m making you the pork chop and I’ll make you a little sausage starter”… he kinda ready our minds… hmmmm… why argue?

The italian-inspired sausage starter with tomatoes was actually amazing. The steak cooked rare was delicious, juicy and tender. The huge pork chop was a tad dry if you ate it without the marbled fat around it (which I was at first trying to do to be “good” to by body) but when I cut into the fat and ate the meat and the fat together all the flavors and the consistency came there beautifully, with the right amount of juice and meat. Both mains came served with potatoes and a good salad and the appetizer was served on a bed of delicious cooked tomatoes.

The only dessert available was a chocolate cake which was very good, but I don’t think it was made in house…

This is probably too gringo if you are looking for local food but otherwise definitely worth a visit… and if you are a jazz musician especially so!!!

Cra. 6 #10-19, Bogotá, Colombia

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