World, Meet Chapinero

The average backpacker that travels to Bogotá will stick to La Candelaria, with a possible foray to the city’s Zona Rosa in the north. For a few days in the city, that’s about right.

But Bogotá is so massive, and there are cool little spots everywhere, that it’s worth getting to know a few more barrios if you plan on being in expat in Bogotá or just want to get to know the city better.

Chapinero
by Airín on Flickr

The heart of Chapinero lies between Avenida Caracas and La Septima, and Calle 53 and Calle 67 (roughly), though the greater Chapinero area is much larger. I live in the neighborhood directly to the west, so I spend a lot of my time here. The neighborhood is famous for being Bogotá’s gayest, and is sometimes called ¨ChapiGay¨.

Eat:

vegetarian lunch
lunch at La Esquina
  • Metro Arepa: Arguably the best place to get arepas in Bogotá, this tiny restaurant attracts people by the hordes. Every night after sixish, Metro Arepa is packed with patrons stuffing their faces with fresh arepas. Prices start at 2,600 pesos. Try to get there before 6 for extra elbow room.  Address: Carrera 10 y Calle 63
  • La Barra: La Barra is a Mexican franchise restaurant with a cool atmosphere and oversized portions. The Chapinero location is right on Parque de los Hippies in front of the park’s police station. Address: Calle 69a #5-08
  • La Esquina: La Esquina is a wildly popular vegetarian restaurant. It’s packed on weekdays for lunch, so you may have to endure a wait. Their set menu is normally soup, juice, a full lunch, and a dessert for 7,000 pesos. Address: Calle 61, 9-03
  • Bakery by La Esquina: Underneath La Esquina is an integral bakery that offers lots of fresh bread, healthy snacks, supplements, and vegetarian meat. Try one of their vegetarian empanadas: hawaiana, with vegetarian ham and pineapple, or vegetal, which is stuffed with veggies.
  • Gaiatri Arte Consciente: Hare Krishna meets chic at Gaitri. Sit at an Asian-style table on the floor and dine on an innovative vegetarian dish with a virgin cocktail. Sometimes they have live performances and events. The staff is very friendly. Address: Carrera 9A # 60-44

Coffee:

coffee
by jenniferkwarren on Flickr
  • Next to Metro Arepa is Teatro La Mama, which has an intimate café attached. The coffee is average, but the ambience makes up for it. Lights are dim, tables are small, and the music is chill. It’s a romantic spot, though is not just for couples. Try an aromática with fresh fruit. Address: Calle 63 #9-60
  • Parque Lourdes: On Carrera 13 and Calle 63 you’ll find Parque Lourdes, an entertaining place to do a bit of people watching. Upscale bakeries line the park on the right side of the church, all offering tintos and a view of the action outside.

Miscellaneous:

  • Hair: On Calle 64 just past Parque Lourdes, there are a cluster of inexpensive hairdressers that offer cuts for 6000 pesos.
  • Shopping: Carrera 13 is lined with shops selling everything you could be looking for, from pirated DVDs to Avon cosmetics. My favorite store is Arequipe, reminiscent of Forever 21 with decent prices.

What´s your favorite spot in Chapinero? Share your thoughts here.

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