Have you ever been to Galaría Alameda in Cali? It’s a fun place to visit and a great spot to try out exotic fruits and buy your veggies. But I’d never buy my meat there. It’s kind of like driving through a Colombian pueblo. You’ll pass the local butcher and the meat will be hanging unshielded on hooks from the ceiling in the burning mid-day sun. Flies are everywhere, and the smell reaches your nostrils a block before you reach the shop.
If you’re from North America or Europe and used to seeing your meat packed nicely and stored refrigerated, this might put you off. Heck, it might even make you want to go vegetarian. Luckily for you there are quite a few places that sell very high-quality meat in Cali. Here are my favorites…
LA 14 Supermarket
Especially the store in barrio Santa Monica on Avenida 6 has a great selection of meat. They don’t own or operate their own butcher shops. Instead, they rent the space to three local butchers, who do a great job at providing quality cuts for their customers. I’ve forgotten the name of it, but one of them sell matured meats and delicious homemade chorizos.
This location also has a little shop-in-shop only dedicated to selling lamb.
Is known as the most expensive supermarket in Colombia. Several of their locations have an in-house butcher. In Cali, their locations in Ciudad Jardín, Holguines Trade Center and San Fernando have the best selections of meat. Imports from Argentina is one of their specialties.
Carnes el Peñon
A small, independent butcher in barrio El Peñon with very good products. They can help getting specialty cuts like rib-eye that otherwise don’t come easy in Colombia. Don’t go too late in the afternoon as they tend to run out of products to sell.
The big San Diego-based membership shopping supermarket is the place to go if you’re looking for USDA imported meat. It is by no means cheap, but the cuts are beautiful, and they have several on display that you won’t see anywhere else, like the entrecote. Gringo paradise. Two locations: One in the north, in barrio La Flora. And one in the south, in Ciudad Jardín.
Super Inter’s slogan is “La mejor carne de la ciudad” – the best meat in town. To be fair, it’s ok, but by no means amazing. By one exception: Their pork is really good and they will often go out of their way to ensure that you get the cut you want. Even if it means lots of slicing and dicing. The San Fernando store is in my opinion their best.
Colombian words for different cuts
What is bola negra and muchacho?
To make matters super-confusing, Colombians have their own names for every single cut, many of whom do not figure in the English-Spanish meat glossary. To be honest, I buy they same cuts over and over again, so I couldn’t possibly translate them all for you. Use your eyes and try your way. If you like thick steaks like me, then avoid estilo mariposa. This is where the butcher cuts through your steak and opens it up to make it look bigger and cook faster.
Some of my favorite cuts are:
Punta de anca (pictured). I roast it in the oven or grill it on BBQ. Rub in garlic, thyme and salt.
Lomo caracha looks like a massive filet with a fatty edgy. For some reason, it’s not super tender, but still a decent cut for the BBQ.
Baby beef is a favorite among many girls in Colombia. Pretty sure it’s veal filet.
Lomo viche is the beef tenderloin. Delicious. Wrap it in bacon. Yummy. Ask your butcher to clean it up for you, if you don’t have a very sharp knife.
Costillas de res o de cerdo. Ribs from cow or pork.
Matambre comes from the pork and is a cut that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Many butchers don’t carry it or refuse to cut it for you, because it does take some extra effort. It’s the meat between the rib and the skin of the animal. Awesome on the grill. Marinate with chimichurri.
Lomo de cerdo is the pork tenderloin. Amazing on the pan with mushrooms, onions, and a bit of cream.
Tocinetta is bacon and can be bought either thinly sliced and pre-packaged or from the butcher in thicker slices. I prefer the latter. Sometimes I can even find it with the rib underneath, which makes for an excellent roast, Danish style.