Around the World in Houston: Discover Colombia

Photo courtesy of The Colombian Folkloric Ballet

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences. Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

From heritage festivals and language meetups to restaurants serving up authentic bandeja paisa, here’s how to experience the vibrancy of Colombia in Houston.

Annual Festivals & Cultural Events

  • Houston Colombian Fest InternationalThis annual festival brings together Houston’s Colombian community in celebrating Colombian Independence Day, with food and drink, music and dance, and family-friendly activities. The 2018 festival will be held on Sunday, July 22 in Downtown.
  • Houston Latin Fest Celebrate Latin heritage through music and dance, art, food, and drink at this multi-cultural festival.
  • Houston Latino Film Festival Enjoy cinema without borders at this non-profit film festival, which screens films from all over Latin America, as well as Spain, Portugal and the U.S.
  • Carnaval Américas This event showcases Latin American countries represented in Houston and surrounding communities, with live music, authentic eats and culture from countries including Guatemala, Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia and more.

Museums & Cultural Organizations

  • Latin American and Caribbean Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston This departments boasts a core collection of modern and contemporary art with more than 550 emblematic from Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and works by Latino artists in the United States.
  • Talento Bilingüe de Houston Located in the East End, this bilingual, non-profit cultural center strives to enhance Houston’s Latino arts experience through collaboration, education, and preservation.

Colombian Food & Drink

Restaurants & Food Trucks

  • Andes Cafe – This colorful East End kitchen spans the lands of South America, meaning you can find authentic and delicious Colombian specialties like calentado con huevos (a traditional breakfast plate), homemade Colombian sausage, empanada, “arepita” corn patties, and Colombian-style hamburguesa. Wash it all down with an agua panela, fresh juice, or Colombian coffee.
  • Colombian Cuisine Restaurant This westside spot rocks traditions like arepa and tostones, sancocho de pollo soup, bandeja paisa platters, whole red snapper with creamy coconut, deep-fried tilapia, and lengua (tongue) in salsa criolla.
  • El Paisa BBQ Set in the middle of a strip center parking lot off Richmond, this no-frills Latin American spot offers carne asada, empanada, and Colombian-style burgers and hot dogs.
  • El Rincon Paisa Restaurante You’ll find authentic Colombian eats at this family-run restaurant, with offerings including breakfast places, morcilla con arepa, tamal, picada, mondongo (tripe soup), bistec a la criolla, mojarra frita (whole-fried tilapia), and Colombian albondigas (meatballs). Wash it down with natural juices, mazamorra, and aguapanela.
  • Fabian’s Latin FlavorsRight near Market Square Park, this cool eatery boasts a Latin-inspired menu, with Colombian-style specialties including bandeja paisa and milhoja dessert.
  • Gran Colombia RestauranteGet traditions from morcilla (bloow sausage) con arepa and shrimp in coconut sauce to bistek a la Criolla and milanesa at this Colombian restaurant on the northwest side of town.
  • La Calle Gourmet Hit up this food truck and you’ll be treated to Colombian-style maicitos (corn), arepas, and hot dogs.
  • La Fogata Restaurant On the southwest side of town, this Colombian restaurant offers traditional tastes from patacones (fried green plantains) to arroz con pollo.
  • La Olla Restaurant With locations in Katy, Spring, and Southwest Houston, La Olla boasts a menu of Colombian-style specialties from bandeja paisa and arroz con camarones to chuleta a la calima and hamburgesa. Stop by for cheap lunch specials or feast at dinner.
  • La Ruana Restaurant Head to this westside hole-in-the-wall for traditional Colombian breakfast plates, soups, meats and seafood, bandeja paisa and more.
  • La Sazon Colombiana This family-friendly northwest haunt offers bistec a caballo, carne a la plancha, huevos con patacon o arepa, tamales, lengua en salsa and more.
  • Los Perros This Washington Ave food truck slings arepas, burgers, and loaded Colombian-style hot dogs.
  • Mi Recuerdo Colombian & Mexican Restaurant This northwest restaurant mixes Colombian and Mexican fare, with offerings from arroz con camarones to tamal valluno.
  • Mi PueblitoWith locations in Woodlake/Briar Meadow and Katy, this lively Colombian restaurant offers an authentic eats and fresh cocktails. Start with arepas, buñuelos, ceviches, and aborrajados (deep-fried sweet plantain), then move onto dishes like bandeja paisa (a rice, beans, and meat plate with fried egg, plantain, avocado, and corn patty), arroz con pollo, broiled whole snapper, coconut seafood stew, and lengua en salsa criolla (Colombian-style tongue with Creole sauce). The eatery offers traditional breakfasts, desserts, and baked goods like arequipe and flan, too.
  • Mono’s Colombian Restaurant Dine on shrimp in coconut sauce, fried red snapper, and arroz con pollo at this Sharpstown Colombian spot.
  • Paisa’s Twin Colombian Restaurant This westside spot offers authentic tastes like bandeja paisa, cazuelita de frijoles, and lengua en salsa Criolla. Kids menus are also available, featuring baby bandeja plates, salchipapa and fries, and mini perro.
  • Palma de Cera Over at this Katy haunt, you’ll find dishes from Colombian-style empanadas and sanchocho de cola (oxtail soup) to pollo a la criolla and pargo rojo frito (whole-fried snapper).
  • Parrilla ColombianaHead southwest down Bissonnet and you’ll find real deal Colombian-style arepas, empanadas and more at this hole-in-the-wall.
  • Pique Pues This food truck offers Colombian-style hot dogs and fusion eats from quesadilla to arepa.
  • Tasty Arepa Find this food truck for some of the tastiest arepa in town.

Grocery Stores & Bakeries/Sweet Shops

  • Pan Riko Get buñuelos, almojábanas, and tamales tolimenses at this Colombian bakery and café.
  • Risaralda Bakery Hit this bakery for pan de queso, buñuelos, pan aliñado, breakfasts, and natural fruit juices and coffees.
  • Fiesta Mart With locations across Houston, Fiesta offers a lively atmosphere and no shortage of flavor. Shop for locally-sourced produce, fresh meats and seafood, housemade tres leches and baked goods, and grocery items like fruit nectars and frijoles.

Language Classes, Education Centers, Groups & Meet-Ups

  • Habla Houston Learn to speak Spanish through weekly classes, interactive meetups and more.
  • Spanish over CoffeeBrush up on your Spanish language skills with all-level classes that help you learn through conversation. Program experiences include dinner parties, game nights, scavenger hunts, and grocery shopping.
  • The Houston Spanish Language Meetup This language group is open to anyone interested in practicing and improving their conversational skills in Spanish, with meetups offered throughout the week.
  • Colombian Folkloric Ballet Formed in 1983, this non-profit ballet company promotes and preserves Colombian culture among the youth of the growing Colombian community of the Greater Houston area. The group puts on folkloric ballet performances, workshops, and community outreach programs throughout the year.
  • Latin Women’s Initiative This nonprofit organization strives to make difference in the lives of Latin women and their families by providing both financial and volunteer support to several local nonprofit organizations in the Houston community.
  • Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice Known as HACER for short, this Rice University student group sponsors social and cultural events.
  • GCSW Hispanic Student Association at University of Houston The Hispanic Student Association of the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work represents a community of students committed to the principles of empowerment, solidarity, and social justice for Hispanics.

Other Notables

  • BBVA Compass StadiumFútbol fans can get their fix at this EaDo soccer stadium, home to both the Houston Dynamo and the Houston Dash.
  • Club Tropicana Dance the night away to Latin music at this popular nightclub, which hosts musical acts, DJs, and specials like ladies night.
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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .