We had breakfast fairly early and though it was close to lunch were in need of a pick-me-up while exploring quaint Barichara. We hadn't truly committed to eating at the city's famed Color of Ants restaurant so popped into this bakery on the main square for a coffee. Panaderia Central is a very cute, simple but upscale looking place with nice furnishings and obviously popular with locals as well as tourists. There are limited tables so if you see one, grab it before ordering!
Favorite Dish: We decided to have a bunelo and pan de yucca with our espressos in case we bypassed lunch. The bunelo was one of the better ones we had on our travels around Colombia. Fresh, doughy and not overly cheesy as some can be. The pan de yucca was typically tasty. The espressos were potent and reasonably priced considering the shop's strategic location. Our bill came to 4400 COP ($2.20).
On the corner of Carrera 6 & Calle 6, catty-corner to the square's cathedral.
The Color de Hormiga (Color of Ants) sure sounded good in our guidebook but it was also very expensive in the scheme of our budget so we didn't make a definite plan to go there. Still, there was no way we would be in such a small town as Barichara and at least not have a look at it. We even went as far as making sure to go on a day it was open as it is closed on Tuesdays. Barichara was charming but small so after a couple hours of wandering around there wasn't much more to see and the good light for photography had long passed by the time lunch rolled around. It was also a hot sunny day and though the city's park was very pleasant, how long can you sit in one place without growing antsy. The restaurant was on the edge of town on a very quiet street high on a hill and looked charming from the outside, with a very cool sign featuring marching ants to their door. Once inside, we were pretty much won over. It was an open air place entirely covered by a high bamboo ceiling and with its elevated orientation, it let in all day's breezes and none of the sun. It overlooked a lush courtyard that features two small pools. The furnishing was simple but somehow elegant. Some light music played very softly in the background. We looked at the menu only as a formality. We were pretty much hooked.
It's a fairly large place so obviously popular despite its prices but we were the only ones there even though it was close to noon on that Monday afternoon. We took our time deciding on our meals as we were in no rush but soon settled on two of their steak options. Doreen ordered the filet mignon in a blue cheese sauce and I opted for the same cut of meat drenched in a sauce made of the restaurant's signature delicacy, the fat-bottomed ants the region is noted for: hormigas culonas. It took some time for the meals to be prepared and to be honest, when we arrived our waiter had not yet done so. The owner actually took our orders. Not to worry, we were there to enjoy the ambiance and escape the midday heat. That we did for over two hours, sipping on a delicious if pricey beverage made of freshly squeezed orange juice mixed with fresh ginger. They were so refreshing that we had three each! We still think about this drink to this day.
Favorite Dish: The meals came out and were very nice size though we were a bit disappointed by the side dishes. Both featured the same: a small salad with an admittedly tasty dressing and fried plantains that seemed mass-produced. It seems that for these types of prices, more imagination could be put into the accompanying sides especially when the meals themselves were so amazing. Doreen's steak was thick, cooked perfectly to her rare stipulation and succulently juicy. The blue cheese sauce was exquisite. My filet was cut in two for some odd reason but despite it being thinner, it was still cooked to perfection as I requested it bloody and it was just seared on the outside and warm within. The sauce was delectable and the ample ants were crunchy and scrumptious. Doreen tried one alone with the sauce and said she could eat them too, even if they looked odd. The cuts of meat were large but I was thankful to get some of Doreen's meal, it was equally good to mine.
Many upscale places in Colombia include tax and service charges on top of their bills which can be around 25% but this one just adds the service of 15%. Our meals along with the six beverages came to 62,000 COP ($31). We decided it was very good value for the quality of food and not really as expensive as it seemed on first inspection. One thing you find in Colombia, is you get a lot more meat (not to mention much better quality meat!) when you pay more money and this was no exception. It was equal to a few meals at the typical cheap places were generally frequent. Well worth the splurge if in Barichara!
The atmosphere was basic, although the large carved wooden chairs were quite decorative. The sincere and helpful owner was prepared to please with a selection of local dishes and grilled chicken that was delicious. Nothing fancy, but a fair price for a tasty meal of generous proportions in Barichara.
Favorite Dish: The Pollo Asado was irresistible and came with a tasty salad and potatoes although there were other items to choose from. The typical rice and chicken soup was also devoured quickly by everyone who had the pleasure to order it.
"Color de Hormiga, C8, No. 8-44. If you visit only one restaurant in Santander it should be this one. Billing itself as “atypical” food, Color de Hormiga specializes in all things ant; the hormiga culona is a large-winged ant often eaten as a snack in the region. Here, the chefs have taken this to another level with fine steaks or chicken served in ant sauce. What’s more, the restaurant’s setting – on a terrace with a pretty garden and views onto the town below – is a delight." From Colombia FootPrint Handbook.
Guía Lonely Planet.... Color de Hormiga como recomendado !!!!
"Literally named "The Color of Ants", Barichara´s best restaurant specializes in dishes made with the region´s famous delicacy. The filet mignon drenched in ant sauce and topped with fried ants is a must. There are also many insect-free dishes, like the scrumptious lamb curry and steak with blue cheese. Don´t forget to sample the extensive wine and dessert list. The lovely tatched-roof, open -air restaurant faces a lush garden and fish ponds"
Favorite Dish: Whether you are daring enough to try the ants or not still give it a try. The food was one of the best meals I have eaten in all of South America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
To come to the restaurant you have to go up some narrow stairs. The restaurant is an open-air restaurant under a thatched roof. I had one of the lunch options with chicken. Before the chicken meal I got a big soup. To drink I had Pepsi cola. The lunch was 8000 pesos (July 2008).
La Breza is open between 12 - 18.
Half through my meal everyone’s attention, and mine, turned to the TV, and someone turned up the volume. It was just a few days after the liberation of Ingrid Betancourt and other people who had been in Farcs captivity. They where interviewing people and showing pictures from the release. My Spanish is not so good, but pictures can tell a lot.