In the comments section of my post on Tamales from El Salvador Pupuseria y Restaurante; "Black Belt Jonez" (BTW, I love the Handle - I actually saw the movie starring Jim Kelly at the old American Theater on Hotel Street in Chinatown) mentioned Sabores Colombianos which was close by. Funny thing, I had just noticed the place on the drive up to El Salvador Pupuseria. So, I put the place on my "list" and managed to visit a couple of times over the last few months.
The restaurant is located on the corner of University and 37th street. If I recall, this used to be a Thai Restaurant for a while. The folks working here always seemed so friendly and welcoming; though timing and service can be a bit spotty. The dining room is simple and functional.
Part of the strangeness is that the register and reception area is in a totally separate room, so if you walk into the dining area, they might not even know you're there for a while. These days, I grab a menu by the door and just walk to a table.
On my first visit; I went with a favorite from Antojitos Colombianos; the Lengua en Salsa. Here they give you a rather large bowl of soup to start.
The flavor of the Lengua en Salsa was good, the tangy sauce and vegetables; the condensed beefiness of the tongue. The portion size was quite large.
On the other side of things; the tongue was a bit more tough than I enjoy and the yucca frita wasn't crisp. The plantain was delish and I enjoyed the creaminess the avocado brought to the dish.
A few weeks later, I was in the area and thought I'd drop by for a snack....which would be anything but a "small bite".
The experience took on a rather strange tone as this woman walked up to the front of the place and started to display some rather odd behavior; like praying to the trash receptacle, then making stabbing motions at the telephone pole. Then, gasp....she saw me inside the restaurant and started making strange faces, then turned her back and started making bizarre hand signals to me. Since there was no one else in the place, I changed tables. Soon after, the police arrived and sent her along her way....apparently she was bothering some other folk as well. This is sad. I hope she gets some help with dealing with whatever demons she is dealing with.
I ordered an Empanada and also without really thinking the Arepa con Chicharron.
The empanada exterior was light and slightly crisp, though perhaps a bit more chewy than I prefer. The beef filling was tasty, but the shredded beef was a bit tough and stringy which meant that in one bite you'd take some of the nice crust, but pull all the filling out. The salsa was a nice, tangy, not very spicy addition.
I'm not quite sure why I ordered the Arepa con Chicharron. Perhaps it was a moment of weakness. But man, that was so much pork, for such a small arepa.
The arepa was quite nice; this wasn't stuffed, just a plain, moist corn cake. The pork was a mixed bag; the rind was super hard and tough, but everything else was a nice, fried, porky place. I used the salsa from the empanada, along with the lime to combat the richness.
We had a couple of fairly "cool" days this past May and on one my "shopping Saturdays", I decided to drop by Sabores Colombianos for some Ajiaco, the chicken and potato soup.
The portion size was quite large. Plus, it came with rice, capers, green salad, and the ever present half avocado. The soup had a distinctive grassy-bay leaf-artichoke flavor. When I asked, they told me it was a herb known as guasca, a traditional flavoring component for dishes like Ajiaco. There was a generous portion of shredded chicken and quite a bit of potato in this soup. Great flavor, but my only complaint was that it was served a bit too cold and quickly started to develop a "skin".
Still, quite a hearty meal in a bowl.
A couple of weeks later; after returning from our trip to Lima, Santiago, and Easter Island, I decided to take the guys to lunch. I thought they'd enjoy trying out some Colombian food, so we headed up to City Heights and Sabores Colombianos. I had them try some empanadas and also ordered a Papa Rellena.
This version was filled with beef, which was on the chewy side and could have used a bit more seasoning. Still, that crunchy crust, with a nice potato flavor with the boiled egg. This was quite filling.
Calvin got the Lengua en Salsa and I decided on the Sobrebarriga, which was flank steak with basically the same sauce as the Lengua en Salsa.
This was a bit more tender than the lengua, but was also no the stringy side. I do enjoy the tangy tomato based sauce. The yucca was as before, on the gummy side.
So JohnF is quite the eater, so I ordered the Bandejas Paisa for him.
Which he said was delicious and to both Calvin and my amazement polished off; after having an empanada and half the papa rellena! Good lord!
On one of my visits, I saw a gentleman who I believe was one of the Servers at Antojitos Colombianos. I'm not sure if there's any connection, though the food is a bit different. In my mind, I thought the dishes at "AC" were a bit better, but its been awhile, so perhaps I need to revisit. Still, I thought the food here was good in a rustic, homestyle kind of way and I don't think you'll leave hungry.
3695 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104