After calling East Carson Street on the South Side for six years, The Colombian spot has expanded and found its way into the heart of Oakland with a new location.
The Colombian spot is owned and managed by Karen Perdomo and her husband John Ortiz. Perdomo said they are a couple looking to bring Latin American food to the Pittsburgh dining scene.
According to Perdomo, the original location opened in 2015 as a “small eatery” on the Pittsburgh Public Market. a street market in the Strip District. When the market closed in 2016, Perdomo and Ortiz were forced to close and adjust their plans. They wanted to open in Oakland, but couldn’t find a vacancy at the time.
“The change has been dramatic because we went from a small common room in a market to a full-service restaurant in the heart of the South Side neighborhood,” said Perdomo. “We opened our doors there in March 2017 with a full-service menu and acquired a liquor license in 2019 so that we can now serve beer and cocktails.”
Aside from the number of changes they have seen, the duo are excited to bring their business to Oakland. Perdomo said bringing The Colombian Spot to Oakland would help increase its popularity. She said the area’s various universities and hospitals and their diverse surroundings make the neighborhood a great opportunity for them.
“The advantages we have in Oakland are the cultural diversity and the high pedestrian traffic,” said Perdomo. “Due to the lack of Latin American restaurants in Pittsburgh, we saw a great opportunity.”
Foods served at The Colombian Spot include empanadas, arepas, and tostones.
Many dishes are made from scratch to preserve the flavor and preserve aspects of Colombian culture. Perdomo describes empanadas and arepas as “artisanal” foods. arepas are a filled cornmeal cake dish that is important in Colombia and Venezuela. Empanadas, on the other hand, are a pastry that can be baked or fried and can contain several different fillings.
Perdomo said the process of preparing the food is tedious, but this is what sets The Colombian Spot apart from other restaurants.
“Some of our meats are smoked and sous vide cooked for 36 hours, the empanadas and arepas are hand-made, our side dishes, including our beans, are made from scratch,” said Perdomo. “Although we keep our authentic Colombian taste, we also try to blend with other Latin American cuisines and cooking techniques.”
Perdomo said the restaurant’s growth was a “great achievement” as she believed there were no other authentic Latin American restaurants in the area.
Carolina Forero is a manager at The Colombian Spot in Oakland. Before working at the Oakland site, she was employed at the South Side site for several years. Originally from Colombia, she says that working in the restaurant makes her feel at home.
Forero said there were no other places in the area like The Colombian Spot. She said the company prides itself on the authenticity of the food, the wide range of gluten-free options, and the dining experience. She also said the entire menu is gluten free and everything is naturally seasoned.
“We put so much effort into the entire Colombian experience that people immediately notice the difference to other places,” said Forero. “Our entire menu is made from scratch, gluten-free and with natural ingredients so it’s almost like home.”
Nina Bischoff, a Pitt alumna and resident of nearby Edgewood, will initiate Instagram account Dedicated to be a Pittsburgh Foodie. She said she first visited The Colombian Spot years ago and it is different from many other places she has eaten.
“It differs from other restaurants I’ve eaten because of its consistency,” said Bischoff. “The fact that it stays true to its roots and offers tasty gluten-free foods makes it great.”
Like Forero, Bischoff emphasized the importance of the gluten-free options that The Colombian Spot has to offer.
“It’s so aromatic and homemade. I always get [the sauces] at the side, ”said Bischoff. “I tried it originally because it was advertised as gluten-free, which is what I am, and fell in love with the first bite.”
Bischoff said she strongly recommends getting the “Reina Pepiada” and an empanada with one of the homemade sauces. Overall, she recommended the restaurant and what it has to offer.
“I always recommend this restaurant to people. It has a very accessible menu, even if you’ve never eaten Colombian food, ”said Bischoff. “When I visited, the staff were friendly, courteous and courteous, and you are always full.”
Forero said the atmosphere, coupled with the dining options, makes The Colombian Spot like no other. She said it was like her second home.
“When you walk into the restaurant you can feel the tropical and colorful atmosphere,” said Forero. “The music, the murals, the food, everything inside makes you feel like you’re in Colombia.”