My excitement after discovering an ideal restaurant for groups in New York will never get old. It would be one thing if these sorts of discoveries were a regular occurrence. However, given the number of occasions we all eat out in large groups, they are never as easy to come by as we all would like. I know I just recently preached a similar tale back in the winter as I shared my wonderful group dining experience at Barbossa with you. But, it's true. The options for eating out in large groups that actually leave you in a festive mood are few and far between. And if it always takes me over six months to find another gem, well then, point proven.
Bogota, my latest group dining finding located in Brooklyn's Park Slope, is hardly new to the scene. Open for over five years now, it has been satisfying diners looking for a celebratory atmosphere and authentic Latin cuisine for many years. I will start to blame my full-time residency in Manhattan as the reason it has taken me so long to happen upon this spot. However, there is really no excuse as its constantly packed dining room on even a Monday night indicates Bogota is more than just a neighborhood joint. There are unbeatable specials nearly every night of the week that keep the regulars and attract those from afar.
And no matter the night of the week you end up here, I guarantee it will be hard to pass up on the pitchers of mojitos or other mixed drinks. With a bar full of infused liquors such as jalapeno tequila or black cherry gin, the greatest challenge of the night will be deciding how to satisfy your thirst. No matter your choice, it will pair perfectly with the plantain chips and homemade pico de gallo served at every table. You may also have a hard time deciding on the rest of your meal since the many options are so appealing. Whatever you choose or even as you choose, I highly recommend ordering an empanada sampler. This allows a sampling of four made with either Colombia cornmeal or Argentinian wheat. My favorites of the former was the chicken and potato and of the latter was the beef picadillo with chipotle tomato sauce. For vegetarians, the black bean and feta as well as the goat cheese with queso blanco are excellent options. You will also find other great sharing options in arepas, chips, quesadillas, and patacones sections.
For main courses, options range from large soups and salads to sandwiches and main dishes. Whatever your Latin craving may be, it can certainly be satisfied. I highly recommend the tortilla soup and it is quite a filling option. The soup is made with chicken, spicy chipotle broth, tortilla strips, avocado, sour cream, jack cheese, and cilantro. This hearty dish has the perfect combination of heat and fresh flavors. Depending on your mood, you can choose from beef, pork, poultry, seafood and vegetarian main courses - all to be accompanied by your choice of sides. My favorite is the jalapeno grilled catfish served with jalapeno marinade, fruit salsa, and tartar sauce with the sides of gallo pinto (sauteed black beans, white rice, cilantro, and onions) and vinegar based red cabbage salad. Both paired perfectly with the fish. Although I imagine they would do so next to skirt steak chimichurri, chicken mole, or any other hearty dish served.
It is amazing that one restaurant covers so much ground with one simple kitchen. There is no doubt that here you will find your favorites from both Central and South America and done so quite authentically. Although, I have to admit I am speaking from what I can only imagine to be authentic as I have yet to visit this part of the world. In my imagined Latin culture, I also envision group outings to be more than a regular occurrence. How could they not be in a land with such festive cuisine? In proclaiming such praise for this Brooklyn group dining find, I believe I've found the perfect opportunity for me to verify the authenticity of Bogota's food and setting. Looks like it is time for an adventure to Latin America! Until then, I stand by this recommendation on completely solid ground.
Bogota Latin Bistro
141 Fifth Avenue
(Park Slope) Brooklyn, New York 11217
FOOD RATING (Out of 5):