Van Nuys, CA: Colombian Cuisine at Meson Criollo Grill Restaurant

On a Sunday afternoon, I walked into joy my friends at Meson Criollo Grill Restaurant.  The husband is from El Salvador and his wife a Colombiana.  She would order for me and plate could have been three dinners for me.   We started with these piping hot crisp empanadas.   I would go back for those alone.   Then my hearty meal of steak, egg, rice, beans and plantains were the feast.   When in pseudo Colombia you drink as they do so I order a Colombian soda.

As for the decor, it seem casual.   I was so into my food and company that I barely noticed.  The restaurant is located in a strip mall.

– Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

Meson Criollo Food

Colombian Hot Dogs, like other cities in the world, has hot dogs stands on the streets and this recipe is very popular with them. In Colombia we don’t grill the hotdogs or salchichas, we boil them and the toppings include cole slaw, pineapple sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and potato chips. When my friends and I would go out to dance, we would usually end up at one of the best hot dog stands located on Poblado Avenue in Medellin at 2 o’ clock in the morning.

If you are a vegetarian, like my husband, you can buy veggie dogs and use the same toppings.  SEE RECIPE

What is Fritanga?


In Nicaragua, a fritanga is the name used for restaurants that make authentic home cooked Nicaraguan foods. The staple foods at a fritanga are Gallo Pinto (Rice and Beans), arroz blanco (white rice), carne asada (grilled meat), tajada frita (fried sliced green plaintain), platano frito (fried ripe plaintain), maduros (sweet plaintain), yuca, queso frito (fried cheese), tortilla and cabbage salad. Fritangas also carry speciality foods on given days such as: Salpicon, Ropa Vieja, Carne Desmenusada, Enchilladas, etc and speciality drinks and desserts/pasteries.

In Bolivia Fritanga is a dish of Spicy Pork and Egg Stew (See Recipe)

Colombian Star Shakira Cooks Arabic foods


Singer Shakira has taken up learning how to cook Arabic food because it’s a tradition that runs in her family. The Colombian pop star with Lebanese blood has been taught by her aunt, and says her first dinner party was a great success. She says, “I’ve recently learned how to cook Arabic food. It’s great food and I don’t want the tradition to get lost in my family.” “My aunt cooks Lebanese food so I called her and she gave me all the recipes over the phone.” “I ended up doing a meal for six peoples which was really successful!”

Learn more about Shakira’s Arabic Ancestry