One of the best meals I’ve eaten in Colombia came at Hotel Camino Real in the historic city center of Popayán. This award-winning restaurant offers excellent French and Colombian food in an elegant setting.
We made reservations for 7pm on a Saturday night. Our table was set in an intimate side room off the main dining room and we were promptly attended to. The menu has some intriguing choices, but Marisol and I both decided for the six course set menus. Marisol had Menu 1 and I had Menu 2.
The meal started off with a selection of cheeses and bread. Blue cheese, gouda, and brie were the cheeses of the day. Next came the first dishes. Marisol’s was ravioli de langostino (shrimp ravioli) and mine was langostinos a la Gabardina (breaded shrimp). I didn’t care too much for mine but the raviolis were delicious.
Next came nido de espárragos con vinagreta (asparagus spears in vinaigrette) for Marisol and ceviche de corvina (sea bass) for me. Both dishes were good but we were happier with the ceviche. A granizado de mora (iced blackberries) came after these dishes in order to clean our palate.
For the main course, I had steak a la pimienta negra (black pepper steak) and Marisol had the solomillo en reducción de vino tinto (tenderloin in red wine reduction). Both came accompanied by sautéed vegetables and mashed potatoes. The meat was cooked perfectly and had an incredible flavor, and the sides were the perfect complement.
Finally, we were able to choose any one of the desserts off the menu. I opted for the pie de manzana y nueces con helado (apple and nut pie with ice cream) and Marisol had the Eduardo Santos (a fruit cassata). My pie was disappointing because it was a little too overcooked but the Eduardo Santos was great.
In the end, our bill including tip came out to COP$131,000, probably a quarter of what a meal of this quality would cost at a restaurant in the United States or Europe. Hotel Camino Real is one restaurant that should be at the top of your list while visiting Popayán. Reservations are recommended.