Safety brings change. In the last several years great strides have been made insuring safer travel to the small towns around Bogotá. The increase in weekend tourists escaping the city have prompted a new business for many of the farms. Dotting the two lane asphalt roads are numerous outdoor restaurants. Beef and chickens raised on the farm as well as fruits and vegetables grown there make up the dishes offered. The meat is cooked over an open fire on a grill called a parilla.
Last weekend the magic words to get me going flowed from my neighbor’s mouth. “I’m buying,” she said. “Let’s go to a farm restaurant near Tenjo that my friend owns.”
When it comes to free excellent tasting food you do not have to ask me twice. A total of eight people piled into two cars and we headed to the town about an hour from the city. Large bright colored pinwheels led us to the entrance of La Granja (the farm). A spider twice my size, a grasshopper that six people can fit on, and a 15 foot ostrich greeted our entrance. A larger than life tin man announced valet parking.
Walking past a bench seat for eight and made entirely out of tree branches we encountered an area of tables and chairs surrounded by potted green plants. Color erupted everywhere. The owners designed the restaurant to help adults enjoy their time there without bored or complaining children. Surrounded on three sides by eating areas is a miniature golf course. A small animal farm of animals is showcased out back. Well tended donkeys, llamas, goats, rabbits, pigeons, chickens and ostriches delight children. Three fenced in areas with an overhead covering are set up for children activities such as painting, playing instruments or working puzzles. One or more young employees supervise each of the areas and entertain the children.
The large amount of welded art items catches everyone’s attention and adds much to the ambience. These art pieces greet you at every view. Some pieces are purely decorative, while others are functional such as lights and handrails.
In talking with management I found that one member of the farm family teaches welding for a government school. The farm pays for the materials and the students’ final project is to design and weld an art piece.
The food is delicious. One thing that is noticeably better in Colombia is the meat. And then when it is cooked on a parilla, even better. All the amenities and great food do come at a price. While other of these farm restaurants are less expensive, the cost here averages about $15 USD a plate. Not bad for American wages, however one must consider that for over 50% of Colombians that amount equals a day’s pay.