Chef CJ Jacobson’s Guide to Bogotá, Colombia
48 hours in Bogotá with chef CJ Jacobson.
Chef Chris "CJ" Jacobson may be best known for competing on Top Chef, including winning Top Chef Duels. He's also the chef at Girasol in Los Angeles, where he cooks hyper-seasonal New American food, and is working on a new restaurant with Lettuce Entertain You.
I haven’t been on vacation for more than four days in a row in the last 15 years, so I was stoked to get a trip through Latin America on Crystal Cruises for winning Top Chef Duels. I finished my cruise in Cartagena and spent a couple of days there before heading to Bogotá, which is a really beautiful city. There are two Four Seasons hotels opening (the Four Seasons Casa Medina is now open) and the people there helped me out with an awesome guide. What a lot of people don’t realize is that it’s almost 9,000 feet up, so you get tired walking around and the average temperature is between 55 and 70 degrees all year.
WHERE TO EAT
Surprisingly Great Lionfish Ceviche: Criterión
I ate at a place called Criterión from Jorge Rausch; he’s, like, the main guy in Bogotá. He’s using lionfish for ceviche. It was the first time I had ceviche with raw shaved coconut in it. So delicious and, texturally,it’s just so fun to chew. Calle 69 A #5-75 Zona G
Killer Corn Pie: Restaurante Tábula
This small plate spot was superbomb. I had grilled octopus, traditional brie with lulo shrub and almonds, chorizo with preserved lemon chimichurri and corn pie with honey, which was amazing—it's a different variety of corn than we are used to. Calle 29 Bis #5-90
Juicy Salt-Roasted Chicken: El Comedor
The owner, Paula, is a queen. I loved the salt-roasted chicken. They also had these addictive fried cheese balls that are traditional in Bogotá.>Carrera 5 No. 74-52
WHERE TO SHOP
My guide took me to markets like Paloquemao. There is an insane amount of fruits and vegetables there that I’ve never even seen before: mangosteen, tomate de arbol, maracuya, curuba, pitahaya, guanabana, cherimoya, feijoa. Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao – Avenida 19 # 25-04
I bought traditional pottery in Bogotá. It was classic black, very bulky and rustic. I saw it first at Tábula, then sought it out. It’s not that hard to find.
WHERE TO STAY
Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina
It's in a restored 1940s building and it’s the Four Seasons' first hotel in Bogotá. A second hotel, Four Seasons Hotel Bogotá, is opening next year. Avenida Carrera 7 #69a-22