Is Colombian El Corral Better than McDonald’s

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Day 203: Bogota, Colombia

Since arriving in Colombia nearly two months ago all I’ve heard is that Colombian fast food chain El Corral makes the best burgers – and much better than those made by McDonald’s.

I didn’t think was much of a scandalous statement as I don’t eat much fast food and when I do I’ll take a Whopper over a Big Mac.

In fact, I was content with the street vendor hamburguesas and didn’t bite (sorry for the pun) until arriving in Bogota.

The city is inundated with this chain this afternoon after traipsing around the streets for hours I decided to take the hamburguesa test.

El Corral Restaurant Interior

The restaurant itself is quite nice, somehow teetering on coffee shop chic and old diner design with vintage newspaper clippings and movie star charactures to add authenticity.

At 1pm there was a long line, which I took as a good sign. It gave me time to decide what I wanted but also time to realize that El Corral was expensive.

With the base hamburger at $5 and a combo at $8 I decided to penny-pinch and test the burger only.

El Corral Hamburger

I was actually surprised at the burger’s mediocrity. Sure it had size, as do all the street vendor burgers.

But it was also able to master the art of being both salty yet bland – as someone who cooks something this was something I did not understand.

Fortunately El Corral offers a number of condiments on the tables and a squirt of barbecue sauce helped ease the disappointment.

Verdict: I still struggle with the claim that it is better than McDonald’s. I don’t like either and El Corral is too expensive to give it another chance.

Perhaps I should have ordered a more expensive premium burger or maybe onion rings.

But this is a solid tie for second behind street vendors.

Join the Conversation

  1. Camels & Chocolate says:

    It definitely LOOKS better than a McDonald’s burger.

    Funny, I’d never actually eaten at McD’s in the US, other than a time or two as a very small child–until I started traveling extensively. I remember backpacking through Prague and Munich many years ago with three dudes from the UK who ONLY ate their meals from the McDonald’s $.99 menu. Meaning, so did I.

    Then, my husband and I went to Borneo for our honeymoon this summer and found ourselves eating there THREE times thanks to less-than-mediocre food everywhere else on the isle! I felt like such a sell-out =)

    1. Gerry Martens says:

      Guys, EL CORRAL is better any day than Rotten Ronnies, and Whoppers are just good and heap.

      There is one restaurant outside of Bogota in a small town called CHIA, this restaurant called EL GALAPAGOS is simply the MASTERS of Burgers anywhere in the world, the cheese and mushroom single is a serious challenge to finish, I am 215 lbs and it takesd me an hour t finish the double burger and have serious meat sweats halfway thru.

    2. It shows how mediocre you are. How can you even compare Mc. Donald’s VS El Corral?? Really?? I guess that’s shows the kind of person you’re.. Keep enjoying your .39cents cheeseburger!! Lol!!

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Frank that’s a really harsh generalization of the person I am based on my thoughts on a hamburger. But I think I’ll survive and I stand by what I wrote.

  2. I don’t like McDonald’s anywhere in the world, but my husband swears by their value meal (esp. when backpacking). Funny how almost every country has a McDonald counterpart. Colombia=El Corral; France=Quick Burger; Philippines=Jollibee!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      @Jen

      Oh I love Jollibee! Ten times better than anything at McDonalds.

  3. Nothing is more disappoing than a bland burger. Thanks for the tip. Next time I am in Colombia, I will def be avoiding El Corral!

  4. Fun to try local fast-food though! And I agree with Cames & Chocolate: it looks better than a BigMac.

  5. corral is only good when compared to presto – it is as expensive and terrible.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      @Boaz

      Oh I forgot about Presto, agreed it is terrible there!

  6. Did they have a veggie burger???

  7. I am with you on the whopper vs Big Mac, and that El Corral burger doesn’t look very good…

  8. I’ve never had a big mac but I do love the McD’s fries…burger at El Corral looks sad! Love the Spicy Craft Burger best! When you’re home there are a ton of new burger joints around Toronto to test out!

  9. David @ Malaysia Asia says:

    It looks very basic but if I were in your shoes, I would have ordered the best they had there. Burgers make my day.. anytime anywhere.

    David

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      @David

      I only had $10 on me and couldn’t afford the deluxe burgers although I may not have a chance again soon to eat onion rings and I do regret not ordering those.

  10. Cornelius Aesop says:

    I’ve found a few hamburger chains that were far better than McDonalds. I understand the craving for something familiar while traveling but a burger and fries is a burger and fries, and often McD’s will adjust their menu according to the country so it won’t be like the one from home anyways.

    If you make it to Peru I recommend Bembo’s and in Brazil Bob’s Burgers.

  11. holy flat bun batman…love that they have condiments on every table (first thing i noticed in your pic of the restaurant)…that’s a tell my friend…question- do they have vinegar as well? or is that a canadiana thing?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      @Nicole
      Unfortunately just ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce but vinegar and mayo would be nice.

      @Cornelius
      I’m definitely heading to Peru and will be sure to check out both, anything in particular to recommend?

  12. Cathy Sweeney says:

    Just goes to show you – pictures can’t convey taste! The pic actually looks great. What a bummer — especially the “salty and bland” part.

  13. No Vacation Required says:

    I think the snarky answer to your question is, “Isn’t everything better than McDonalds?”

    Having said that, they have free wi-fi which has been a lifesaver once or twice!

  14. I would have tried it, and then kicked myself for not staying the tried and true street food 🙂

  15. Nick Laborde says:

    I would say that most places have better burgers then McDonald’s. Of course I might be a bit bias being that I to am a Wopper person.

    At least they had some condiments to cover up the mediocracy.

  16. Wow, that’s quite expensive. I thought Colombia is not supposed to be that expensive? The burger bun looks a little bit thin.
    I don’t even like burgers, but I like to go to McDonald’s for it’s cheap meal or internet access.

  17. Devin the Travel Writer says:

    The only time I eat McDonalds is when I am a little homesick and returning from Asia and need something wholly familiar. And still I am usually reminded at how bad McDonalds is. I cannot El Corral being worse — although it doesn’t look great.

  18. Caz Makepeace says:

    As a vegetarian I couldn’t say if one was better than the other. I’d say they are both full of plastic food.
    The only good thing I can say about Macca D’s is the free wi fi and the not too bad coffee. Shamefully, Craig and I have spent a bit of time at McD’s lately drinking coffee as there is no where else in this #### home town of mine that stays open after 4pm to serve me coffee!!
    Okay home town rant over!

  19. I agree that the coffee in McD’s is surprisingly ok. The burger in the picture looks loveless. Nothing sadder than a loveless burger…

  20. I love reading about versions of fast food in other countries. I’m in Japan at the moment and although they have our western chains they also have Mos Burger and Freshness Burger. Though I’m not sold on Mos, Freshness burger is the bomb!

  21. I’m not sure there is a right answer when you’re comparing crap vs crap. Although, I heard the deep fried apple pies there were to die for.

  22. Oh I LOVE BURGERS & I LOVE BIG MACS~ When I am in Colombia Ill have to check it out and make a verdict.

  23. Zablon Mukuba says:

    from your post i will avoid those burgers when i go there and stick to McDonald’s burgers

  24. I would chose Burger King over Mcdonalds too 🙂
    We kinda lived on Mcdonalds a bit whilst in China as it was soooo cheap less than £2 for us both to eat!

  25. Javier Lozano says:

    Hey there! I’m from Bogotá. And OF COURSE El Corral is 100x better than McD’s, you just gotta eat the entire combo, and my personal and, for sure, best recommendation is the “Philadelphia Steak”, with some bbq sauce on it, and voilá, you’ll be eating an unbelievably simple but delicious food.

    If you want to give it a second chance any day soon, just send me an e-mail and I’ll personally take you there and some other great places and restaurants.

    Nice site btw!

    Javier.

    P.S.: I don’t even remember how I ended up reading this post, hehe, but it was nice.

  26. I love burgers even though I don’t eat fast food that much. I would give this burger a try, especially If it is considered the best burger in Colombia. I couldn’t pass it up. Although the price is a little high. It looks tasty.

  27. I hate paying that much for a bad burger. T

  28. The burgers at El Corral are OK but try some of the other items they offer at their sit down restaurants. The appetizers like the mushrooms are really good!

  29. So sad I guess you got something bad because of the rush or whatever… I tried multiple time El Corral in Medellin and loved it… the meat was big and of good quality, and all the rest was really good… plus the original choices (like having a fried egg in your burger).

    The fries were also amazing.

    +1 on the price side, you’re not really used to pay so much in Colombia… even for foreigner food chains.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know, so expensive!

  30. The true beauty in El Corral burgers is the special burgers with onion rings inside, the mexican burger, or the one that comes with eggs and beans inside. Also i would like to point out that El Corral was a lot better some years ago, they have been reducing the quality of their products to cut prices, @2004 El Corral was my favourite fast food place hands down.

  31. So you are too cheap to order a speciality burger and get a basic burger instead and complain about the taste…yah, makes sense….been there a few times, burgers Are far superior to mcd….

  32. Uh…it’s not that hard to be better than MCDonalds lol

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