This isn’t gourmet cuisine. This is a more is more philosophy of food. Colombian food is hearty; make no mistake about it. Typical Colombian cuisine contains a great deal of meat, along with rice, sometimes beans and almost always potatoes.
Despite that, the variations on this theme are some of the best dishes available in the country, and make for some delicious, at times insurmountable feasts. Here are some of the most popular:
A monster of a meal. The bandeja paisa contains shredded meat, chicharron, avocado, sausage, egg, beans, rice, arepita and quite often more. As the name suggests, it is most often eaten in the Paisa region of the country, and you’ll find the biggest, most delicious portions around Medellín.
There are many variations on this, but some of the most popular dishes are Mojarra, Bagre and Sierra. The fish are fried whole, so will often come served as they were caught (only cooked and fried, obviously). Usually accompanied by rice, beans, salad and fried plantain.
Ajiaco is a soup made from 3 different types of potatoes (Colombia has a huge variety of potatoes), as well as chicken, alcaparra, mozorca and rice. There are arguments about where to get the definitive Ajiaco, but we recommend the Ajiaco Santa Fe found in Bogotá.
Sancocho is a soup that comes in different forms. Fish sancocho is extremely popular, as is a kind of ‘mixed grill’ sancocho, where several different meats are thrown in, including chicken, pork, beef and sometimes more. One of the best around can be found in Andres Carne de Res.
Lechona is a typical dish from the Tolima region of Colombia. It consists of a stuffed pork (with its head still visible), and very often arepas on the side. The pork is stuffed with yellow peas, onion, rice and various spices. To ensure the meat is tender, lechona is often slow-cooked for up to ten hours.
The real Lechona, the pride of Tolimenses (people from Tolima), is cooked without rice and is much tastier than the one you usually find in Bogotá.
Posta Negra is a traditional dish from the Caribbean Coast, in particular Cartagena. In English, it is known as ‘Black Topside Beef’, although thanks to the variations on the recipe, it’s rare that any two servings will be the same. The meal is basically very lean, finely cut beef marinated in onion, vinegar, garlic and other herbs. Served with rice.
Mote de Queso is another dish from the Caribbean Coast. It is a soup made of onion, garlic, lemon, Costeño cheese and something akin to yam, or yucca.