Who’s the chef? Alvaro Clavijo may seem to have suddenly appeared on the Bogotá dining scene, but he has a strong background working in some of the best restaurants in the world. After studying at hospitality school in Barcelona, he spent several years in Paris, working at Le Bristol and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon before moving to New York to cook at Per Se and Atera, then Noma in Copenhagen. He returned to Colombia in 2013, opening El Chato in Quinta Camacho neighbourhood in 2015 and later moving it to its current location in Chapinero Alto.
On the menu: Clavijo’s cooking is influenced by his time in Europe and the US, but the produce is Colombian, and the style very much his own. The menu changes according to what’s in season, but usually features classics such as Arroz El Chato, the house rice with chicken and vegetables, as well as mushroom tartare and squid-ink-stained rice crisps with crab. Among the desserts featuring local fruits, Meringue and Lulo is a don’t-miss option with tangy guanábana, crunchy caramel and perfect miniature peaks of meringue and lulo fruit granita.
What’s in a name? ‘El Chato’ is a term of endearment used by Bogotá locals. Clavijo decided to apply the word to the restaurant’s affection for local ingredients.
The vibe: Off a busy street in Bogotá’s Chapinero Alto neighbourhood is El Chato’s main dining room, a casual and relaxed space with wooden tables, centred around a square bar serving excellent cocktails. Upstairs is a light-filled lounge area with a view of Clavijo’s spice library and the open kitchen, where tattooed Clavijo and his team can be seen at work.
Admirable initiative: After shuttering his restaurant during the first lockdown in Colombia, Clavijo cooked for a shelter of 65 people, including kids and the elderly, who couldn’t go out because of the quarantine.