I first visited La Tienda in 2009 with my German roommate Martin, his girlfriend, and her friend while I was living in Envigado.
The bar left a lasting impression on me, and while I didn’t realize it at the time, I look back now and know why I loved it so much.
La Tienda is the perfect reflection of Colombia itself: the culture, the music, the dancing, the people, the atmosphere, the drinks, the snacks, and the decor.
When my friend Ana mentioned she was going there this past Saturday with friends, I jumped at the chance to return to one of my favorite bars.
La Tienda has stuff plastered along the walls and hanging from the ceilings.
Tricycles, goats, numerous pictures of Jesus Christ, and plenty of Christmas lights to set the mood.
The slogan for La Tienda is that it’s December year round.
And after experiencing a festive Medellin in December a few months ago, I now know why that’s an ideal environment to set for partygoers.
I invited my new friend, Maverick Traveler, to join Ana and her friend Monique (sp?) for a night of drinking and dancing.
We arrived around 10 pm and the bar was full already. Like the last time I went without a reservation, seating options were limited.
We stationed ourselves on a wobbly upper level balcony that overlooked the rest of the bar.
We pulled up the little, painted wooden chairs, and ordered a bottle of rum. Ana takes hers with lime juice, while I go for 7-up.
Every table gets a bottomless bowl of popcorn and freshly sliced mango to nosh on, plus an older man with a giant bear occasionally walks around, delivering plates of boiled potatoes with a delicious coating of salt and lime juice, and mini empanadas.
You can skip dinner altogether with the amount of snacks they serve up (free of charge).
By 11 pm we were all dancing to the salsa, vallenato and reggaeton.
There was a Colombian family seated next to us who were going buck wild. The large patriarch (you can see in the background of the first photo above) was literally hanging from one of the giant speakers suspended from a ceiling rafter.
Ana and I both expected it to fall down on him, thus knocking him over the balcony onto the people below at any moment.
Soon the man was sharing shots of Aguardiente with us, as was the girl at the table next to us who I had asked to dance later in the night.
It’s hard to turn down these friendly offers, especially once the party is in full swing.
Late in the night, two male singers started walking around the bar, in a duel to see who could make the funniest jokes at the bar patrons’ expense.
Of course one managed to make his way atop the balcony, and the Colombians around us were all too happy to point out the gringos in their midst, which resulted in a joke at our expense.
These singers went on for about 10 – 15 minutes, without a break in their singing. And they’re for hire, so you can invite them to your next party!
I’ve been to a lot of bars and clubs in Colombia, and La Tienda remains one of my top 5 favorites.
The next time you need to take a break from the Parque Lleras scene, head for La Tienda. You won’t regret it.