The New York Times | 7/27/2009 12:00:00 AM
Bogotá Meets the World
Jul 27--A few years ago, Macarena — a neighborhood in central Bogotá backed against lush Andean mountains and wedged between office buildings and a bullring — was a run-down area mostly avoided by tourists. Largely thanks to an influx of arty locals and expats chasing cheap rents, though, it’s been cleaned up, nicknamed Zona M, and now hosts a buzzing scene, mostly centered on the side street of Carrera 4A.
“The people here have mundo,” said Peter Hoogeveen, a Dutch-born resident who runs Tapas Macarena (Carrera 4A, No. 26-01; 571-243-9004) with his Colombian wife, Maria Pinzón. He says Bogotanos “travel a lot, know a lot, are more open.” Open since November 2007, the restaurant is decorated with racks of wine, stacked watermelons and a hanging jamón Ibérico. It’s not uncommon to see Oxford graduate students, American classical guitarists and local social workers with Che Guevara beards sharing tables and nibbling on skewered beef with Indonesian-style peanut sauce (9,900 pesos, or about $4.70 at 2,100 pesos to the dollar).
That international flavor continues around the corner at Beograd (Calle 26, No. 4-76; 571-283-4866), where Katarina Markovich, a wiry self-described Serbian “war refugee” with curly hair dyed bright red, regularly takes breaks from cooking in her open kitchen to help first-time diners with unfamiliar Serbian dishes like the tasty karadjordje (26,500 pesos), a breaded veal with cream cheese and ham (“named for a great mustached hero,” she explained).
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