Enjoying Onces in Bogota

Enjoying Onces in Bogota

Elevenses, on the surface, seem to be a particularly British tradition, a break for something light and sweet between breakfast and lunch, a time to gossip, a time to catch up, a time just to be. Lo and behold, Colombia somewhere along the line adapted this tradition in a particularly Latin fashion.

From 11 in the morning, elevenses in Colombia got translated to 5 in the afternoon. The mid meal break is still called Onces (Elevenses) though the break in question is here enjoyed not between breakfast and lunch but between lunch and dinner.
The time to enjoy Onces in Bogotá is five-ish or thereabouts. Colombians eat dinner late, so how about Elevenses somewhere between 5 and 8? Don’t ask. Just enjoy!

Agua de panela, hot chocolate and tamales were once common fare for Onces, but these days the choices go way beyond that. There are cookies and all kinds of sugared sweets, and coffee and aromáticas, and various bread related snacks. The story goes around that it was some Jesuit priests who invented late afternoon Onces in order to have a cover to drink aguardiente to keep Bogotá’s evening chill at bay. The traditional area of Bogotá for Onces was downtown, where Salones de Onces (Elevenses Tea Rooms) were commonplace many decades ago. Some of these original Salones de Onces survive even today, but nowadays you can enjoy Onces in cafes throughout the city.
(To visit the venues mentioned in this article, check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Bogota)
Image Courtesy of: Colores Mari

1. La Romana

La Romana
If you are at the Gold Museum or the Emerald Museum in the late afternoon, La Romana is a just a short block away. Located on the south west corner of the Plazoleta Rosario right in the heart of the emerald district, and easily spotted by its red awnings, this café exudes history. There is nothing hip or contemporary here, just a soothing connection to the not so recent past. La Romana has been here since 1964. As I exited la Romana at around 5.30 very recently, I held the door open for two elderly Bogotano women arriving for their Onces. i.e. here you are privy to a connection to a downtown Bogotano tradition, almost overlooked, not gone, not forgotten.
Where to find it:
Avenida Jiménez (Calle 15), #6-65, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 334 8135

Working Hours:
Mon-Fri: 07:30am-08:30pm
Sat-Sun: 09:00am-05:00pm

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2. Philippe Pastelaría Light

Philippe Pastelaría Light
Patissier Philippe has 3 locations in the city, but I like this one on Calle 109 (109th Street) best. It is a busy place for Onces in an interesting part of town. Calle 109 is lined with one home decorating store after another, and the street gives you a sense of how those who can afford it like to outfit their homes in Bogotá. Philippe is also within walking distance of Unicentro. This location was very recently renovated and now has a much more contemporary vibe than it did. Philippe has wonderful fresh squeezed juices, but it’s main claim to fame is that all the delicious baked goods made here are sugar free. How they do this? They use a product called Fructolight. The results are best savored in person. There is indoor and outdoor space to enjoy your Onces. Philippe is also a good people watching place, which after all is another reason to be out and about at this time of day.
Where to find it:
Calle 109, #17–10, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 213 1366, 612 8221

Working Hours:
Mon-Wed: 07:30am-07:30pm
Thu-Sat: 07:30am-08:00pm
Sun: 08:30am-06:30pm

Offline reading and travel directions:
With GPSmyCity App you can read this article offline on your mobile device, use the embedded offline city map and GPS navigation, as well as create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured in the article.

3. Masa

Masa is a very fashionable, well-designed, high-ceilinged space in the Zona G area, accessed by a wonderfully over-sized door. There are two outdoor areas, and an indoor space with a central long communal table similar to Le Pain Quotidien. The menu lists 12 different kinds of juice, all good, and you can have your chocolate hot or cold here. Masa makes the best crusty sourdough bread in the city, though for Onces you may want to try their super over-almonded almond croissants or their sour grape and poppy seed dessert cake.
Where to find it:
Cll 70, #4-83, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 211 0899

Working Hours:
Mon: 12:00pm-09:00pm
Tues-Fri: 07:00am-09:00pm
Sat: 08:30am-09:00pm
Sun: 08:30am-05:00pm

Offline reading and travel directions:
With GPSmyCity App you can read this article offline on your mobile device, use the embedded offline city map and GPS navigation, as well as create a self-guided walk to visit the venues featured in the article.

4. Pastelería Florida

Pastelería Florida
The Pastelería Florida is one of the original Salones de Onces in Bogotá. Open since 1936 , the restaurant has just recently undergone a facelift. The retail bakery is now set in a glass-cased oval walk-in area directly accessed from the street, just a block away from the also refurbished Teatro Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. The street in question is Carrera Séptima or 7th Avenue, an avenue which along these blocks must be a long way from what it was in the 1940's. And yet, here at the Pastelería Florida, a doorman will hold the door open for you, and you will have a choice of rooms to sit in. On the main floor, though upgraded, the dining room still feels somewhat Howard Johnson 1980's-like. Upstairs, the Republican Room is a better choice. Here ask for a Chocolate (CHO-KO-LA-TE). You will first get a plate with a large non-descript roll and two slices of cheese. And you will be wondering, what?

Then comes a serving pot with hot chocolate. The hot chocolate here, they say, comes with a secret ingredient - much like Coca Cola. Bogotanos pour their hot chocolate into their cup, and then sliver their cheese slices and add them to the chocolate to achieve a mixture of sweet and non-sweet. You can now drink your hot chocolate and chew on your roll! At the end, you will have to use a spoon to savor the last of the cocoa covered cheese at the bottom of your cup. Welcome to Onces in Bogotá!
Where to find it:
Carrera 7, #21-46, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 341 0340

Working Hours:
Mon-Sun: 06:00am-10:00pm
Second Floor Room: Mon-Sat: 12:00pm-08:00am

5. La Tarta

La Tarta
La Tarta in Usaquén is just a block off the main square. On Sundays though busy, it can seem like a refuge when Usaquén is overrun by families and sightseers out and about for an afternoon of Artesanias. During the rest of the week la Tarta offers a tranquil site for winding down the day in the late afternoon. This corner colonial building houses a wonderful Salón de Onces. Here, the shuttered windows and solid walls guarantee a connection to Bogotá’s past. Onces are a time to reflect, to connect or reconnect, to meet with loved ones, to observe, and generally just to be and La Tarta is a great place to do just that in Usaquén, in the north of Bogotá.
Where to find it:
Calle 117, #5A-14, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 619 1886

Working Hours:
Mon-Sat: 09:00am-07:30pm
Sun: 09:00am-07:00pm

6. La Puerta Falsa

La Puerta Falsa
The fake door, the wrong door, the inauspicious door, La Puerta Falsa has been here since 1816 - that's what the sign outside the restaurant says, and who are we to differ. For whatever amount of time that the restaurant has been here, la Puerta Falsa is still a pull for those visiting Bogotá for the first time. It helps enormously that the cafe is just a half block from the Plaza Simón Bolivar, the geographical center of the city. This shoebox size café offers deliciously sweeeeeeeet concoctions for Onces. Many are those who have fallen victim! The site is truly small but La Puerta Falsa offers an enormous welcome to Onces and to centuries past in Bogotá.
Where to find it:
Calle 11, #6-50, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 286 5091

Working Hours:
Mon-Sun: 07:00am-08:30pm

7. Pastelería San Fermin

Pastelería San Fermin
The Pastelería San Fermin is located smack-dab in the middle of Chapinero, right across the street from the Lourdes Park and the Lourdes Church. San Fermin has recently undergone a significant updating and refurbishing and is now a very pleasant site to enjoy Onces in the late afternoon. The café offers a large selection of pastries and breads, not to mention gelato and hand-made chocolates, and if you sit toward the front of the restaurant, you will have a great people watching perch as San Fermin has large windows right on 63rd Street, which teems with people at this time of day. In addition, you get to observe the comings and goings and always entertaining encounters in Lourdes Park directly opposite.
Where to find it:
Calle 63, #11-53, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 235 2594

Working Hours:
Mon-Sun: 07:00am-09:00pm

8. Dulce Mini-Mal

Dulce Mini-Mal
Dulce Mini-Mal; the name in Spanish is a wonderful play on dulce minimal (minimal sweet) and dulce mini Mal (a little decadent sweet). This café is located in Chapinero Alto (Upper Chapinero) and it is the perfect place for quiet neighborhood Onces midtown. The owners of Dulce Mini-Mal also have a wonderful nearby restaurant and their particular emphasis is on Colombian flavors. Here is this romantic spot, you can enjoy exotic offerings like a chocolate and beer pie (yes), a beet and red wine cheesecake, spicy brownie balls, an Almojábana and native red fruit flan, and so much more. You may have to walk uphill from 7th Avenue, Carrera 7, to get here but the treats are worth it!
Where to find it:
Calle 57, #4-09, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 235 2016

Working Hours:
Mon-Fri: 11:00am-08:00pm
Sat: 09:00am-08:00pm


9. Café de la Peña, Pastelería Francesa

Café de la Peña, Pastelería Francesa
Café de la Peña is a sweet french bakery in the Candelaria area of the city. It you want a quiet and romantic spot to enjoy your Onces, this is it. The walls of the cafe are lined with contemporary art work, and there are different areas for sitting, including one that feels like your own private library. The courtyard in back is full of charm. Café de la Pená roasts its own coffee to insure freshness, and the sweet offerings here include chocolate tartlets, pralines, millefeuille, a creme caramel and knockout coffee eclairs. Enjoy the romance!
Where to find it:
Carrera 3, #9-66, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 336 7488

Working Hours:
Mon-Sat: 08:00am-08:00pm
Sun 09:00am-06:00pm


10. Il Pomeriggio

Il Pomeriggio
Il Pomeriggio is a very European style café located right at the Centro Andino shopping center at Carrera 11 and 82nd Street. This is one of the toniest shopping areas in Bogotá, and Il Pomeriggio fits in very nicely here. There is a genteel indoor seating area or an outdoor choice with heaters under glass. The cafe has long been known for its espresso and strong coffee, and the Italian menu has no shortage of food accompaniments. Here you can dawdle away the late afternoon with miniature cheese sandwiches, panini, antipasti and of course dolci. If you’ve been craving a Baileys Panna Cotta for Onces, Il Pomeriggio is the place you’ve been looking for!
Where to find it:
Carrera 11, # 82-00, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 616 8616

Working Hours:
Mon-Sun: 07:30am-12:00am

11. Bagatelle

Bagatelle has several locations around the city, but this one close to the Zona T is my favorite. For some reason, the pastries and deserts which are on display in glass cases as you enter the restaurant here, stay clearly front and center in the mind’s eye until you are ready to order them! The seating area has a leafy outdoors feel - though with heaters. The food offerings include arepas, sandwiches, panini and bagels. And as this is a French bakery, look forward to macaroons and madeleines with your Onces here.
Where to find it:
Calle 82, #9-09, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 621 2614

Working Hours:
Mon-Fri: 06:30am-09:30pm
Sat-Sun: 07:00am-09:00pm


12. Castellana 104

Castellana 104
The popular Castellana 104, in the north of the city, is on broad Carrera (or Avenida) 19. As you enter Castellana 104, there are tempting glass fronted display cases filled with breads, pastries and miniature sandwiches on either side of you. You can eat casually in this front area or even on the high childlike stools outside. Or you can be seated in the more restaurant like rooms to the back. Castella 104 has the traditional hot chocolate, Chocolate Santafereño, for Onces, and there is no shortage here of additional treats to accompany. Locals love this place.
Where to find it:
Carrera 19, #104-49, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 214 1475

Working Hours:
Mon-Sat: 06:30am-10:00pm
Sun: 07:00am-09:30pm


13. Krost Bakery

Krost Bakery
This is the newest, hippest and friendliest Salon de Onces in Bogotá. When Krost Bakery opened up in Chapinero Alto only a few blocks from my apartment just recently, I was very happy. Krost is a variation on crust, and everything here is freshly baked. Everybody (including me) raves about Krost’s Rollo de Chocolate (their chocolate croissant). Try it with a hot chocolate or a Hot Milo (a different and very Colombian hot chocolate drink). Krost makes a wonderful cinnamon apple turnover/croissant and if you see this coming out of the oven, have it immediately. Krost has a couple of tables off Calle 61 as you enter. Do not be deterred! Walking into the aroma of the bakery past temptation in the display cases on your left, you will come to a laid-back and cozy interior courtyard. Enjoy your Onces here. Krost Bakery is only a block off busy Carrera 7, but this is a world apart.
Where to find it:
Calle 61, #5-30, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 349 0052

Working Hours:
Tue-Fri: 07:00am-07:30pm
Sat-Sun: 08:30am-06:00pm


14. Zukerino

If you are walking in or near Virrey Park, Zukerino is just a short block away. This corner location is a busy hangout for Onces. The official address is Carrera 17, but the entrance is around the corner on Calle 90. There are some outdoor tables (with heaters), but most people seem to prefer to be indoors. For Onces here, there are quiches, empanadas, and pizzettas. On the sweeter side to accompany your cappuccino or mochaccino, you can have cheesecake, a brownie, or even better a Torta Mousse (a mousse cake) in a variety of Colombian flavors, mora, maracuyá, limón, curaba or guanábana.
Where to find it:
Carrera 17, #89-41, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

(57 1) 236 6636

Working Hours:
Mon-Sat: 07:00am-08:00pm
Sun: 09:00am-06:00pm
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