Behold, the power of sporadic, single-issue food blogging. I've only done two installments of my “We Need More Colombian Food in OC” posts. My next one was going to be an ode to the formidable pile-o-proteins (and fats, and carbs) known as the bandeja paisa. Now, instead of just teasing everybody about how gut-bustingly awesome this dish is, I can tell you where you can order one: Today is opening day for Colombian Cuisine in Laguna Hills.
In a comment left yesterday on that first post was a link to the Facebook page of Colombian Cuisine, which, starting today, is sharing an Alicia Parkway address with Mitze's Kountry Kitchen. Mitze's is a breakfast place, which works out just fine for Colombian Cuisine's owners, husband and wife Julio and Rocio Macia.
“Mitze's is keeping their same schedule,” Julio Macia said by phone today. “We've got the lunch hour [they open at 11 a.m.] and dinner.” The Macias are both Colombian-born–Julio is from Bogotá, Rocio is from Cúcuta, near the Venezuelan border–and have lived in Orange County for some 25 years. They've run a variety of small businesses, Julio says, but have always wanted to open a restaurant that served “comida tipica colombiana“–traditional Colombian food.
They're starting with a limited menu of seven dishes, including such favorites as sobrebarriga (flank steak), empanadas (masa-molded and deep-fried–I generally prefer these to the pie-crust Argentinian kind) and tamales (wrapped in plantain leaves, like Veracruz/Yucatan Mexican ones). And the “reina de la cocina” (queen of the kitchen), as Julio calls it? Bandeja paisa.
Once a specialty of the state of Antioquia (in Colombia, paisa is a nickname for residents of that state), it's pretty much become the national dish. Any Colombian restaurant that isn't aggressively region-specific will have in the menu–and really, why the hell not?
Red beans. Rice. Platanos maduros. An arepa. An over-easy, sunny-side-up or poached egg. A strip of crisp chicharrón, complete with skin. Those are the non-negotiables. There's always a beef component, as well, either seasoned ground beef or carne asada. Sometimes it comes with sausage–chorizo or morcilla (blood sausage). And for something a little lighter, sometimes a slice of avocado. Maaaybe, as in the picture above, a perfunctory salad.
Basically, it's like a South American Thanksgiving dinner for regular dinner, only without the green bean casserole. If you don't know anything about Colombian food, try this first.
Follow the first link in this post for a 10-percent-off coupon to Colombian Cuisine, and if you make it there before any of us Weeklings, let us know what you think.
Colombian Cuisine at Mitze's Kountry Kitchen
25381 Alicia Pkwy., #C
Laguna Hills, 92653