How Could Anybody Not Like Cafe Colombia’s Carbtastic Patacon?
Every Tuesday our Profiled Lunchers make my lunch wishlist grow longer and longer. At the top right now… Chin Ma Ya downtown (courtesy of Nina), Ho Ho Kitchen in Mid City (courtesy of Nick), and the deli counter at Rose Café and Market on the west side (courtesy of Lilly). But on Monday I was craving some Colombian home cooking, so I took Lunch’er Dan’s advice and headed to Cafe Columbia in Burbank.
I know how some people here feel about carbs (and fried pork… and fried carbs with fried pork). And even though I’m guessing those people don’t read Midtown Lunch I do want to issue this quick warning as a courtesy to them… it’s about to get ugly.
Dan, who is actually Colombian, agreed to come with me… although he warned me that some of his co-workers didn’t love the place. (Carb haters, no doubt!)
Cafe Columbia is a sit down restaurant, and not everything is under $10. But they’ve got a great lunch special for us cheap ass Midtown Lunchers. $6.95 gets you a salad or the soup of the day, plus a chicken or beef dish that changes every week.
This week the dish was steak, but they were happy to swap in chicken for Dan (so I’m guessing it works vice versa?) The chicken was slow cooked, and tender with some good flavor. The plate could have used some beans but for $7 it’s tough to really complain.
Especially since it also came with the soup of the day (a tasty creamed corn number.) Chicken and steak and soup are well and good, but I couldn’t resist ordering the one under $10 dish off the “House Specialties” menu: “Plato de Patacon”.
I’m not a big salad guy, but don’t let the photo fool you… beneath that pile of healthy looking stuff is a plate size fried “pancake” made of platanos (unripe plantains) topped with pinto beans and your choice of meat (chicharron, chicken or chopped sirloin.) Clearly I went for the chicharon- and when they’re done this way, they are possibly the best form of pork… giving you a single bite nugget of meat, fat and crispy skin. Some might find it too dry, but I find it perfect. Pour the Colombian aji over the top, a semi spicy green sauce made of jalapenos, bell peppers, onion, cilantro and lime juice, and you’re in business! In the plantain department I much prefer maduros (the sweet ripe plantains) to platanos (the dryer, not sweet ones) but there is nothing bad about a giant fried unripe banana pancake… and they end up giving you a couple of maduros on the side for those who crave a bit of sweetness with their Latin food.
So for those who are keeping score… fried plantains + fried plantains + beans + fried pork + spicy green sauce = deliciousness! And if you don’t agree, you’re crazy. Ok, not crazy… just food challenged. There’s nothing wrong with eating this stuff. You just have to exercise a ton when you’re done. (Just kidding. I don’t exercise, and would never suggest that others should. I was just trying to be more “L.A.”)
As for the rest of the menu, there is plenty more Colombian awesomeness to try. Their sweet arepa is delicious, and their soups are also good. (And even though it’s $13 I might have to try their Bandeja Paisa… a thin cut of sirloin steak with chicharron, patacon, maduros, pinto beans, and rice topped with a fried egg, and served with a cheese Arepa. Holy mackerel!)
According to Dan their Ajiaco Santafereno soup is just like his mom makes, and after I tried it I decided I would like to spend some time with his mom. (Not in that way! Don’t be dirty. I’m just saying I’d like to get naked, jump in a bathtub full of Dan’s Mom’s soup, and drink my way out. Is that wrong?)
- I want to eat Colombian food that tastes like somebody’s mom made it
- I love carbs. Pile ‘em on!
- Fried pork FTW.
- Everything comes with sweet plantains
- I love Colombian soup… and these guys are the masters
- Latin American food like this isn’t flavorful enough for me. I prefer Mexican.
- Colombian steak is pounded too thin. And is usually too dry.
- I’m “allergic” to carbs
- I prefer black beans to pinto beans
- Their aji could be spicier. Just sayin’.
Cafe Columbia, 222 So Glenoaks Blvd. (nr. Olive Ave.), 818-558-3985