A little girl wandered between tables. A couple held hands across a two-top. Cee-Lo sang from the radio at La Placita, the Colombian restaurant nestled in a corner of a Hollywood strip mall.
La Placita Restaurant and Bakery offers breads and dishes in a style found in
the Northern valley region, I learned my Colombian friend JJ who has lived
in South Florida for nearly a decade. "Hard workers, big personalities,
and savory food," is how he described the area that's north of his homeland in Bogota.
Before taking a seat, we headed toward the
deli case of baked goods, where he gave a lesson in Colombian breads 101: "This one's salty. This one's sweet. Haven't you ever had this one? It's very common," he said. They were all new to me.
favorites were the Bunuelos, baked with cheese that's like feta, though a bit dry. "Better fresh out of the frier," said my friend. The
roll is dipped in coffee or hot cocoa, and is most commonly
served around Christmas. The guilty pleasure was the Almojabana, a
button of buttery cheese bread.
Back at the table, we perused the menu and I pointed to a country platter of carne asada, chicharone, chorizo, arepas,
maduros, and frioles: a medley of popular dishes. JJ had
other designs for us. "We're here for the soups."
was the special, with oxtail having sold out. The day before, the
restaurant offered tripe (cow's stomach), often touted for its medicinal abilities. I was glad
to miss it.
Ajiaco from La Placita is a green-flecked soup with a touch of cream that features chicken
breast and stock, two types of Colombian potatoes (one that's very soft), half an ear of corn,
capers for acid, and the distinctive guascas herb that I loved.
Part of the daisy family, it reminds me of a combination of the bitterness of collard green
and soap of cilantro.
At La Placita, portions are huge and prices are cheap: Six rolls to-go
were $5. Two entrees with drinks and sides were less than $30. Though I
still feel illiterate in Colombian fare, it's food I'll go back for with or without
my sherpa. As the temperature dips later in the fall, I'll
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surely crave Ajiaco again soon.
La Placita Restaurant and Bakery
6700 Stirling Road