If you love meat, you love bandeja paisa. But because you live in Northern Virginia, you might not know it yet. That’s because Colombian restaurants in the region are few and far between. But this weekend, I was craving Colombia’s unofficial national dish and was able to find it in Leesburg.
Colombian’s Place is one of four vendors at ChefScape at the Village of Leesburg. Chefscape is a food incubator, which helps fledgling restaurants to get off the ground by gaining experience and fans as a food-hall vendor. Diners use their phones to order, allowing them to select dishes from as many of the vendors as they choose. But really, when you’re tempted by bandeja paisa, your eye doesn’t stray too far. There’s no room.
My first impression was shock that I had paid just $16 for the stacked plate of delights. Well, a stacked takeout container. But what the dish was missing in presentation it more than made up for in flavor.
The highlight, as with any bandeja paisa worth its (ample) salt, was the chicharron, a length of skin-on pork belly so crispy that the plastic utensils I was given did nothing to cut through. My dining partner and I were left savagely biting into the pork bit by bit, which only amplified the rugged enjoyment. Our knives worked just fine on the spice-filled chorizo, and we didn’t need them for the lightly seasoned ground beef that filled another corner of the plate.
But it’s not all meat—though my dining partner thought it was another sausage at first glance, a whole plantain sat atop a soft bean stew, which mixed with aromatic rice with every bite. An egg oozed its soft center into the beans when I cut in, creating an even richer sauce. A single arepa on top was pleasant enough, but I would have liked one more to really fill it with all the flavors the platter had to offer.
Bandeja paisa, with its cholesterol bonanza, is a sometimes food, but when that sometimes arises, I know that I’m heading to Colombian’s Place. // 1602 Village Market Blvd. SE, Suite 120, Leesburg
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