Review of Leños & Carbon – a taste of Colombian gastronomy

The good thing about having friends from different cultures, is that you can find out where in London to get authentic foods from around the world.

One of my childhood friends is from Colombia, and she introduced me to Leños & Carbon – THE place for Colombian food in her opinion. She’s a regular there with her family, so I had no reason to doubt her!

Located less than 10 minutes walk from Elephant & Castle underground station, Leños & Carbon is a great place to eat at whatever the occasion. The moment you walk in, you get a nice homely feeling and you can smell all the lovely aromas coming from their kitchen.

My friend warned me about the large portions. So I was restricted as to how much I could try. Shame when everything on the menu looks so good!

After some debating, we settled on the following:

Yuca Frita (£4.00) - deep fried cassava, which is a root vegetable that I would describe as being a cross between a sweet potato and parsnip. Yummy when dipped in the garlic aioli.

Empanadas (£1.50 each) – this was my first time trying Colombian empanadas as I’d only had Spanish and Argentinian ones previously. I’d say they are all very similar – little folded pastry parcels encasing a meat filling. But these Colombian empanadas were distinctly different. The pastry was much thinner and less doughy than the others, and it reminded me more of the Jamaican patties. So delicious that I could’ve eaten 3 by myself!

Calamares Fritos (£6.50) – the least Colombian dish of the night, but yummy nonetheless. Especially with the special Aji sauce. Like OMG I dipped everything in it. It was like a really creamy, thick salsa but spicy and with strong citrus and coriander flavours. I’m told that every family makes their own version so you’ll never get the same one twice!

Bandeja Paisa (£13.50) – this was a plate of many dishes, which would be perfect for those who like a bit variety. Here we have rice, a bowl of stewed kidney beans, minced beef, chorizo, pork belly, fried egg, fried ripe plantain, fresh avocado and rustic corn bread. It was nice to dip into each element on the plate, and the best part was the pork belly as the whole slice had been deep fried until super crispy.

Cazuela de Mariscos (£6.50) – probably one of the best seafood stews I’ve ever eaten. It was very similar to eating a Thai curry, but without the spice. It was served with a salad, a large plantain chip (savoury) and rice. I would’ve preferred if I had more rice so I could soak up all of the super yummy coconut sauce that was left over. There were loads of seafood in the stew too like prawns, mussels, baby octopus and shrimps. A really good option if you don’t fancy eating meat.

Overall, for my first Colombian restaurant experience, I was really impressed. The food was tasty, hearty and really well priced. I think Colombian food is really underrated, and I can’t wait to go back to Leños & Carbon again so I can try out the rest of their menu.


Address: 113 Elephant Rd, London SE17 1LB

Phone: 020 7407 8865

Opening Hours: Monday – CLOSED, Tuesday to Thursday 12:00 - 21:30, Friday to Saturday 12:00 - 23:00, Sunday 12:00 - 21:00