Michael: El Pórtico has it all, ambiance, great Colombian style food, a playground for the kids, a coffee shop and a church. All these features contributes to a dual personality. Depending upon the time of day it can be a restaurant for the family or a romantic dinner. But this Bogotá area establishment goes well beyond being just a restaurant. There are many buildings on the property indicative of what a working finca (farm) might have looked like many years ago. In addition one building houses a gift/coffee shop. The church easily handles small weddings while the restaurant caters the reception.
Graciela: Over 45 years ago my parents brought my sister and I to this restaurant located near the town of Chia. It is near kilometer 19 near Autopista Norte. In those days the drive took much longer. Today the eating establishment is about 15 minutes from the Bogotá border.
Over the years I brought my children to enjoy everything the multi-building property provides. And when Michael first came to Colombia it is where we ate dinner the first time.
On a couple recent visits the owner, Doña Yolanda, came over to our table for a chat. We asked her about the land. To our surprise we learned that when she and her husband purchased the property almost 50 years ago it was empty. They constructed all the buildings you see. Much of the material came from demolitions which is why it looks older than it is. She told us that the columns and arch for which the restaurant derives its name came when they tore them down in central Bogotá.
Michael: The menu offers something for every taste. Of course they have the Bogotano Ajiaco. And do not miss trying at least one or two of the entradas. For a Colombian experience I recommend the empanadas and Patacons. The taste of whatever dish you receive always delights the taste buds. Rather meaning in 45 years neither my wife nor I have ever received a bad meal.
For what you receive the prices are reasonable. You can find both more expensive and less expensive in the area, but you cannot beat the value in our opinion. And you will save when compared to the prices in many of the restaurants in the gringolandia areas of Bogotá.
An excellent time to visit El Pórtico is on a weekend for lunch. Everything is in full swing then. Carriage rides around the property are available. Attendants on stilts and dressed in festive outfits assist children in the playground area.
After lunch my wife and I enjoy a leisurely stroll around the property taking in the sights and architecture. That works up just enough appetite for a tinto (coffee) at the gift shop next to the bullring behind the restaurant.
The majority of our visits have been on Saturday nights. El Pórtico is our favorite romantic night restaurant. Tablecloths, candlelight and usually soft music set the atmosphere. In years past they often had a dance band playing. But that seems to have died out. And now I wonder if the atmosphere is about to change more. On our last visit they hosted a party (probably a wedding reception) in the room adjacent to the restaurant. Music from the musicians of questionable ability blasted so loud from the room that my wife and I could not enjoy a pleasurable conversation. What I heard kind of reminded me of my son’s expression of, “If you can’t play well, then play loud.”
We will see if management, which Doña Yolanda says has been turned over to her children, fixes that condition or supports loud parties over the restaurant business.
Longevity is a sign of a good restaurant. This prominent Bogotá area restaurant easily meets that qualification. Whether you are looking for a day out soaking in the ambiance of a finca from long ago or want a special night out with dinner then El Pórtico is the place to go. A visit will leave an impression you will talk about back home.
Take a walk around the grounds with us.