Beli’s Sazón has been on the road since 2017, but somehow I didn’t manage to stumble across it until late last year. When I finally did, I discovered what I’m pretty sure is the only truck in the area specializing in Colombian street food.
I also discovered a hidden gem that doesn’t get the Instagram love it deserves. (Can something that’s constantly on the move be called a hidden gem?) Everything I sampled on that visit was as good as or better than anything I’ve had in a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
It was all so good, in fact, that I knew I had to track the truck down again for a follow-up visit. Purely in the interest of research, you understand.
The summary conclusion of my research: Order whatever you like, you can’t go wrong.
Oh, you want details? OK, here goes:
Colombian-style empanadas are made with white cornmeal dough (they get their golden color from a spice blend), fried to a crisp, blistery turn. They’re available with your choice of chicken or beef filling, both succulent and redolent of cumin and garlic. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. They’re relatively small (classic street vendor hand-pie size), and they’re only $2 each. Go ahead and get one of each, and decide for yourself.
Beli’s street food version of patacon pisao, fried green plantain “cups” with a variety of filling options (try the cheese), are served four to an order. If you took my advice and got one of each empanada filling, try the cheese patacon.
The arepas are first-rate, too. Thick, soft pockets made of corn are cooked on a griddle. They’re split and generously filled with your choice of seven proteins, ranging from vegetarian soy sausage to the mixed arepa, a carnivore’s bonanza of chicken, beef and chorizo.
Whichever you choose, the finishing touches — molten mozzarella and a popular Colombian blend of mayo, ketchup and spices — mean you’ll need plenty of napkins. Try the traditional ham, and you’ll understand why it’s the most popular arepa on the streets of Bogota.
Which happens to be the hometown of Belisario Rengifo Gonzalez (he works the window) and his wife, Clara Ines Duque Rincon (she does most of the cooking). Gonzalez will proudly tell you that, except for the chorizo (which they import from Colombia) they make virtually everything from scratch. That includes grinding their own corn for the masa.
No wonder I can’t stop thinking about those empanadas.
Prices: Empanadas $2, arepas $7-8, patacon piscao $6-8.