Where to eat in Cali

Arab Influence on Colombian Cuisine

 
OBELO | Los Turcos

In the late 19th and early 20th century there was a mass migration from what is now Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Palestine to Latin America. Immigrants were looking to escape repression and hardships of, the then, Turkish Ottoman Empire. Yet ironically, they were called Turks, or Turcos, in their new homes in Latin America.

My family immigrated from Lebanon to Colombia in 1890. Like many others, they brought their culture and cuisine from the Middle East.

Los Turcos is a popular, authentic Lebanese restaurant in Cali. They've been serving up traditional dishes since 1960. Although they relocated from their original location, the vibe hasn't changed a bit.

Hummus, Babaganoush, Tabouleh and Tzatiki with Pita.

Hummus, Babaganoush, Tabouleh and Tzatiki with Pita.

Liver with fried onions and potatoes.

Liver with fried onions and potatoes.

Arab Platter,  Bandeja Árabe , marcona almond rice, fried  kibbe  with onions, tabouleh and warm grape leaves.

Arab Platter, Bandeja Árabe, marcona almond rice, fried kibbe with onions, tabouleh and warm grape leaves.

 
OBELO | Los Turcos
OBELO | Los Turcos

Panela on the Menu at Platillos Voladores

 
OBELO | Vicky Acosta

While visiting Cali we met Vicky Acosta, the Executive Chef and Owner of one of the best restaurant in the city, Platillos Voladores. She shared with us the delicious and inspiring ways she uses panela.

OBELO | Rollitos de Chontaduro

To start, Rollitos de Chontaduro. These savory spring rolls are filled with chontaduro, parmesan and ricotta cheese, served with a decadent panela and cayenne pepper sauce.  

Chontaduro is a unique fruit that's popular in Cali and along the Pacific Coast. It has smooth red skin, a starchy texture and earthy flavor that makes it taste more like a potato than a fruit.

OBELO | Platillos Voladores

Vicky made us some special, off-menu Chorizitos. Little sausages between fried queso costeño and tortilla, drizzled with a guarapo and panela sauce.

OBELO | Posta Negra
OBELO | Posta Negra

Next we had the Posta Negra, a beef dish originally from Cartagena. It's a panela marinated cut of tri-tip, or punta de anca, slow cooked with wok veggies. Then topped with fried onions and served with Arroz con Coco, rice cooked in coconut milk.

OBELO | Lomo Banano
OBELO | Lomo Banano

We also had an amazing dinner-meets-dessert dish, Lomo Banano. Beef tenderloin with an Amaretto-Panela glaze, topped with a caramelized banana and cinnamon. It was the ultimate sweet and savory combo. 

 
OBELO | Platillos Voladores
OBELO | Platillos Voladores
OBELO | Platillos Voladores
OBELO | Platillos Voladores
OBELO | Platillos Voladores
OBELO | Platillos Voladores
OBELO | Platillos Voladores

Colombian Ceviche

 
OBELO | Ceviche
OBELO | Ceviche

Colombia has its own take on Ceviche. Traditionally it's fresh fish and/or shrimp mixed with ketchup, mayo and fresh herbs, and served with saltines.

Because Cali is located close to the pacific ocean, which is just over the mountains heading west, these Cevicherias get really fresh fish all year long. 

You can find Cevicherias all over Cali, this one was right behind Galerîa Alameda, known for it's fresh produce, meats and cheese. These Cevicherias have become a main attraction around La Galeria, especially for those who want to get back on their feet after a long night of drinking aguardiente and dancing salsa. 🍸💃