Gallery: La Columbiana [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
by Bill Koelzer
The native cuisine of the South American country of Colombia is rich and varied. Colombian food varies regionally and is inspired by indigenous, Spanish, African, Arab and some Asian influences, and Colombian coffee is world-renowned for its high quality.
Happily for San Clemente, 68-year-old Miss Eddy Bashoor, has just imported this exotic fare to town, serving it at her new North Beach restaurant she proudly calls “La Columbiana.”
This eatery has been Eddy’s dream ever since she came to the US at age 22, with her four-year-old son Harold, to act as nanny of her sister’s daughter. Being very attractive and living in LA, she was soon hired in sales at the legendary lingerie store, Frederick’s of Hollywood.
At age 28, Eddy worked for the famous Michael’s Restaurant in Los Angeles at Los Feliz and Hiperian, where she recalls waiting on celebrities like famed regular, TV news anchor Jerry Dunphy.
She moved to Florida for a time, working in the medical field, and at age 50 came to Orange County as manager of the first Olamendi’s Mexican food restaurant.
She says, “That’s where Carlos Olamendi taught me to cook Mexican food—In fact, sometimes today I still give several Colombian food dishes a south-of-the-border twist.”
Eddy next leased and ran the kitchen at the Knuckleheads Sports Bar for four years, then managed the Bread Gallery sandwich and salad firm in North Beach, as well as catering parties for seven more years.
All totaled she waited nearly 50 years to have her very own San Clemente restaurant. Finally opening the La Colombiana on N. El Camino Real in August, she features her own recipes and those of her mother. And Eddy is always there, meeting and greeting customers with a huge smile and often a hug for the regulars.
She says, “This is something I’ve waited my whole life for, so, naturally, I want to be present to experience it fully as often as I can. The first day the restaurant was open - we thought maybe a few people - drive-by’s or pedestrians-would notice and stop in. But we were literally overwhelmed.
“Suddenly there were 40 customers in here, all day long, all ordering food and beer and wine, and only me with my sister, Deisy, and several untrained waiters to handle it all. Needless to say, we were truly happy and gratified, but also disappointed that we could not meet all their requests in rapid time. However, dozens of those customers have returned, saying they understood and want more.”
Eddy’s son, Harold Alzate, a most successful LA and Orange County general building contractor, who began putting up condos in San Clemente in 2010, secured a lease on one third of the building at 1640 N. El Camino Real, the former site of the Sea Breeze Café. But due to structural technicalities, he could not complete the restaurants renovations for nearly a year, and in the meantime still had to pay the rent.
“I didn’t care,” he admits. “This was the precise location I wanted for my mom’s restaurant for years. If I had to pay a year’s rent to keep the location, so be it, because some things are just worth it in a close family.”
Harold is an avid surfer, often at Trestles Beach, and his lively energy is typified by his designing of the café’s bright colors.
Pointing to the wall, he says, “In order to make it homey and friendly, we gave La Colombiana’s interior the very same colors as the Colombian flag… tri-rows with horizontal bands of yellow, blue and red.”
Menu wise, in Colombian food, some of the most common ingredients are: cereals such as rice and maize; tubers such as potato and cassava; assorted legumes; meats, including beef, chicken, pork; fish; and seafood. Colombian cuisine also features a variety of tropical fruits such as, feijoa, arazá, dragon fruit, granadilla, guava, lulo, soursop and passion fruit.
Contact La Columbiana restaurant at (949)441-7656, or visit