MELBOURNE | La Candelaria Cafe is a Colombian cafe that’s opened in the Brunswick East space that was formerly home to cafe, Poached. Half the menu offers a similar selection of classic Melbourne brunch options, but what’s exciting about this place is the other half of the menu, which is full of Colombian brunch options.
La Candelaria Cafe is inspired by the Bogota neighbourhood of the same name. It’s a historic neighbourhood in downtown Bogota, full of interesting architecture, museums, and history. As a visitor, La Candelaria is a must visit neighbourhood to learn about Colombian culture, and at La Candelaria cafe, owner/chef Steve Penalosa hopes to introduce Melburnians to Colombian culture and food.
Steve’s food is very homely. Recipes passed down from his mother and grandmother. Local and Colombian ingredients are used to create an assortment of delicious dishes, from the familiar to the lesser known in Australia.
There’s Colombian-style empanadas, with a thicker, crunchier exterior than the more common Argentinean-style found in Australia. Arepas are served plain, or with an assortment of sides like eggs and cheese. There’s also chorizo, baked eggs similar to shakshuka, and more.
For something bigger, the lunch menu features things like Mazorca Desgranada, Colombia’s answer to the HSP. It’s a mixture of fried corn, sauteed onion, chicken, beef, and oozy mozzarella served atop a bed of fries, fresh lettuce and tomato. The Picada is a great way to get a mix of things. It’s a plate of flavoursome grilled rump steak, chicken, and pork, along with papa criolla (small yellow Colombian potatoes), chorizo, sweet plantains, black pudding, fried yuca/cassava, guacamole, and chips.
As customers become more accustomed to the Colombian dishes on the menu, more are being introduced. Keep an eye out for the weekly and daily specials, where you’ll find all kinds of interesting specialties popping up.
To drink, it’s an assortment of espresso based coffees, soft drinks, Colombian drinks, smoothies, and juices. I recommend trying the lulada. It’s a refreshing drink that’s super popular in Colombia, made from the tangy citrus fruit, lulo.
La Candelaria Cafe
169 Lygon Street
Mon – Fri: 7:30am to 4:00pm
Sat: 8:00am to 6:00am
Sun: 8:30am to 3:30pm