You know when you find yourself really craving a particular kind of food? It happened to me this morning. I was finishing an article I was working on when suddenly my mind started wandering to thoughts of deliciously meaty kibbes, smooth hummus with a hint of lemon and warm pitta bread. In my mind, I was back at Al Banun Arabic restaurant in Suba, in northwestern Bogota. I’ve mentioned Al Banun in my blog post on 23 great places to eat in Bogota, but now I want to give it some exclusive publicity and encourage you all to venture off Bogota’s beaten track to experience this food for yourselves.
The Al Banun backstory
Al Banun, a small, humble, Syrian-Arabic restaurant run by Almotaz Bellah Khedrou and his wife Jessica, comes with quite a backstory! Watch this video or have a read of this article, which recounts Almotaz’s story and his incredible journey from Damascus to Bogota in detail.
To cut a long story short, Almotaz is one of six Syrian refugees living in Colombia. When he arrived in Bogota, after years of trying to flee the war and join his wife in Colombia, he found it difficult to find a job. His mother, who still lives in Damascus, suggested that he open a Syrian restaurant. She taught Almotaz how to cook different Syrian dishes over Skype and he started out with a food cart in Suba. Almotaz’s food cart was soon the talk of the neighborhood. Eventually, business was going so well that he managed to open the small restaurant where he now works. He imports all of his ingredients from the Middle East and he’s proud to be able to offer his customers authentic Arabic food.
My boyfriend Javi and I took an Uber up to Suba because I’d seen the Buzzfeed video, heard about his story and we wanted to try the food for ourselves. It’s excellent, delicious Arabic food. They offer a couple of combo options for 16,000-22,000 pesos (about $6-7.50 dollars) which include a variety of delicious Arabic nibbles, such as kibbe (a fried meat ball), Tabule (a type of salad), lamb kebab, falafel, or a Shawarma (chicken/meat wrap) with fries. Almotaz is really friendly and happy to talk with all of his customers. He speaks pretty good Spanish and some English too.
Al Banun events catering
The last time I went there Almotaz told me that he’s trying to grow the events catering side of the business, so if you’re looking for a caterer for a party or work event, Almotaz is your guy! Whatsapp him on (+57) 315 407 65 34, and there are also contact details on the Al Banun restaurant website, and let him know what you need and when.
It’s worth the trek up to Suba
Suba will be quite far out of the way for most people – the restaurant is on cra. 95 with calle 151 – 44. But it’s worth the journey! Why not make a day of it? If you go for lunch, you could combine it with a trip to the nearby Parque Mirador de los Nevados.
Climb to the top of the park, enjoy the views over Bogota and on a clear day or early in the morning, you might catch a glimpse of the snow-capped mountains in the distance. This’ll help you to work up an appetite for the delights in store at Al Banun!
According to the website, they are open:
Tuesday to Friday – 4-10pm
Weekends – 12-10pm
They are closed on Mondays and on Tuesdays following a bank holiday Monday.