Las Americas Cafeteria, a hidden gem in Brixton market….

This little place in Brixton market might not be everyone’s cup of tea but for me it encompasses everything that I love about the multiculturalism of London. Part butchers, part money transfer shop, part Colombian cantina, it’s a bit of a mish-mash but there’s always a lively atmosphere and they sell authentic homemade Colombian hot snacks such as empanadas, esfihas (Brazilian pasties for want of a better description), sweetcorn fritters, arepas (Colombian style pancakes made with cornflour and cheese), battered plaintain with cheese in the middle, and deep fried pork belly strips.

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I walked past here for a couple of years without even noticing it as the front of shop doesn’t exactly scream delicious food inside, it looks more like a phone accessory shop or internet cafe but I was pleasantly surprised to find a butcher selling Colombian chorizo amongst other things, and a breakfast bar serving authentic Colombian savoury snacks inside.  Everything is homemade in the kitchen at the back of the shop and sold out the front.

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I recommend you try the butcher’s Colombian chorizo sausage if you’ve never tried it before, it differs from it’s Spanish counterpart in that it isn’t flavoured with paprika but still has the same coarse texture and can be used like a regular sausage in all kinds of cooking. Traditionally they are eaten with arepas (Colombian pancakes) or as part of a bandeja paisa which is a traditional Colombian meal that comprises of several meats, eggs, beans rice and plaintain, kind of like a Latin all day breakfast I guess! Don’t be put off by the fact there is a butcher’s in here by the way, they provide all the meat for the hot food on sale so you know everything is as fresh as could be.

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There aren’t any meals on offer here as such though, just a selection of light bites that range from about £1 to £1.50 each so I usually pick 3 or 4 depending on how starving I am. I couldn’t tell you the exact names of all the items but they are consistently good and especially when accompanied by the house salsa which for me is the star of the show. I usually polish off an entire bowl of it with my food, it’s made with roughly chopped tomatoes, onions, spring onions, chilli, garlic, and a secret spice blend which no-one will divulge. They sell jars of it for around £2.50 and I promise you it is thoroughly addictive.

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The best way to enjoy Las Americas Cafeteria is to prop yourself up at the bar with some snacks on your plate (paper plate I should point out, with plastic cutlery) and pretend you’re in another continent on your travels, the Colombian music and Spanish speaking locals make this easy enough but get yourself a bottle of Colombiana just to complete the picture and you’re away. Alternatively you can have any food to takeaway if you so like.

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The guys who run the place are super friendly, Ive already reached high five status and I always leave with a big smile on my face for the fact that nobody who isn’t Colombian seems to know this place exists! Go and ave a butcher’s for yourself, it’s located on Pope’s Rd which is directly opposite Electric Avenue underneath Brixton train station.

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