When most people think about South American food, they think empanadas: the meat-, cheese- or fruit-filled hand pies that are ubiquitous on the continent. But Karen Perdomo says Colombian empanadas deserve their own category. While most empanadas are made with flour or cornmeal, Colombians use hominy for their empanada dough. Perdomo says she’s doing this at her newly opened Colombian restaurant, The Colombian Spot, in the South Side, to maintain authenticity.
“We have to boil the corn [to make hominy] and [then] grind it,” says Perdomo. “Then [we] hand-form the dough and fill with grilled chicken or slow-cooked brisket. We want to keep it authentic.”
Originally, The Colombian Spot was a stall in the Pittsburgh Public Market, but lost that venue when the market closed down in February 2016. A year later, Perdomo has re-opened the stall as a bigger, sit-down restaurant. Perdomo says this gives her the ability to serve an extensive Colombian menu.
She is excited to debut her recipes for ajiaco, a chicken-and-dumpling soup; bandeja paisa, a platter with red beans, rice, pork belly, chorizo and fried plantains; stuffed arepas, traditional Colombian bread made of cornmeal; and sirope, a cane-sugar drink with cinnamon and lemon. Perdomo says she will also import fruit pulps not available in the U.S. from Colombia, giving people the opportunity to try new juice flavors. She wants to offer recipes from every region in Colombia.
“It’s like walking into Colombia — that is the experience we want to go for,” Perdomo says of her eatery.
But Colombia Spot will nod to the American palate, too. Perdomo says the menu will include an arepa burger, which stuffs a beef patty with bacon, coleslaw and cheese. (Perdomo adds that the arepa burger is gluten-free.)
Colombian Spot is set to open sometime this week; its hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
2019 E. Carson St., South Side. On Facebook, search “The Colombian Spot”