TODAY COLOMBIA by ·When I travel, more than sightseeing, I love to eat. Eating the national dishes of the country when traveling tell me much more about its people and its culture then a work of art in a museum. It’s a sensorial journey that involves all the senses. How could you resist?

Although some foreigners claim to love a few of the national dishes Colombia has to offer, typical Colombian food is not internationally recognized as many foreigners will tell you that Colombian specialties are generally bland, meat-heavy, overly fried, and a carb overload. However, it hits home for many Colombians as it’s what they grew up with and is a reminder of mom or grandma’s cooking, their youth and their land (something which they are very proud of).

So if you’re in Colombia and want to taste a piece of Colombian pride, I invite you to try the most popular Colombian food, which I have listed below.

I am sure there are specialty restaurants in Bogota for each dish/drink listed below, but when you are out about about visiting the city it can be a drag sometimes to go out of your way to find a specific address to feed your starved self. Therefore, I have made it easy and provided you with places that are in reach and easy to find as a tourist.

1. HOT CHOCOLATE WITH CHEESE WITH AN ALMOJABANA  AND/OR A BUNUEL

Chocolate con queso Credit to IG @Tefylokura Almojaban to the left and buñuelo to the right. Credit to IG @mivillarrica
Chocolate con queso Credit to IG @Tefylokura

Almojaban to the left and buñuelo to the right. Credit to IG @mivillarrica
Almojaban to the left and buñuelo to the right. Credit to IG @mivillarrica

Hot Chocolate with Cheese (usually mozzarella or peto) sounds like a strange combo. Colombians typically have this for breakfast or ‘onces’, the 5’clock afternoon snack. If you care to do the same, take the cheese and drop it in your hot chocolate until it melts. Accompany the warm drink with an almojabana (baked cheesy bread ball) or a buñuelo (fried cheesy bread ball).

2. TAMALES

Tamales con chocolate caliente y almojabanas. Credit to IG @Panparapan_
Tamales con chocolate caliente y almojabanas. Credit to IG @Panparapan_

There’s different types but essentially they all contain, chicken/pork, cornmeal, chickpea and other veggies wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. My personal favorite is a tamal santafereño for breakfast.

3. SALPICON

Like a chunky smoothie.
Like a chunky smoothie.

4. LECHONA

This is how you can locate it in the streets .Basically rice and pork.
This is how you can locate it in the streets. Basically rice and pork.

It’s easy to spot lechona from far as it’s hard to miss the roasted pork head.

5. ENVUELTO

Envueltos de maiz. Credit to IG_decorandoando_b
Envueltos de maiz. Credit to IG_decorandoando_b

Cornmeal with cheese and butter steamed in a corn husk. Sounds so simple, but sometimes aren’t those the best things in life? For this particular item, avoid Andres Carne de Res, they taste nothing like the real deal.

6. JUICES

There’s no place in the world like Colombia when it comes to fruit. Credit IG_elcocineroviajero
There’s no place in the world like Colombia when it comes to fruit. Credit IG_elcocineroviajero

In all the countries I have traveled, no other place has the variety of fruits that Colombia does. Take advantage and drink up! My personal favorite is Guanabana or Soursop.

You’ll find it on every menu of every restaurant but some are more watered down than others. You’ll also find guanabana juice on the streets, but don’t trust the water they use.

7. AREPAS

There are many arepas but the arepa de choclo is everyone’s favorite
There are many arepas but the arepa de choclo is everyone’s favorite

Foreigners don’t seem to understand why Colombians can’t live without their arepas. They’re so dry and bland. Colombians will inarguable say something along the lines of, “Yes, that’s because you have to put, cheese and salt and butter and…and….and on top!” Save yourself the tasteless arepas and try the popular, arepa de choclo, arepa boyacense and arepa de huevo which are some of the most beloved amongst foreigners. And no offense, but we all know Venezuelans have upped the arepa game with their stuffed arepas!

8. PICADA

IG_verdadesmasticadas
All parts of the pig in one plate. Credit IG_verdadesmasticadas

In this communal basket of food to be shared with friends, you’ll find all parts of the pig stuffed, fried and grilled, potatoes, arepas, envueltos, corn, and more. Have you heard of the fritanga? A Fritanga is basically the same parts of the pig, but fried everything. If you want to save yourself the calories, this is the “healthier” version.

9. EMPANADA

Empanadas colombianas. Credit to IG @gq_wine
Empanadas colombianas. Credit to IG @gq_wine

Colombians empanadas are fried (what a surprise!) and most commonly filled with meat and mashed potatoes. Take a first bite and fill the empanada with ají and guacamole for a real kick.

10. CAZUELA DE MARISCOS

Cazuela de mariscos. Credit to IG_kellyladrondeguevara
Cazuela de mariscos. Credit to IG_kellyladrondeguevara

Seafood stew with coconut cream. My favorite Colombian dish! Originating from the coast of Colombia, no two are the same.

Sopas de Mama y Postres de la Abuela is a chain of typical Colombian food that’s easy to find and serves some really tasty dishes. Don’t hesitate to get the cazuela de mariscos.

11. AJIACO SANTAFERENO

Ajiaco santafereño. IG_ponchomejia
Ajiaco santafereño. IG_ponchomejia

This is the most representative dish of Bogotá. There is no way you can leave this city without having their famous soup. It’s a chicken and potato soup that is served with a side or rice and avocado which it to be mixed in the soup. To top it off, you can add capers, extra cream and ají to bring up to heat.

12. BANDEJA PAISA

Bandeja Paisa. Credit to IG @blastyoficial
Bandeja Paisa. Credit to IG @blastyoficial

Probably the most emblematic dish  and the most famous Colombian food, the bandeja paisa comes from the region of Antioquia. This used to be the breakfast of workers who had long and hard day ahead of them. This extremely heavy dish come with beans, chorizo, chicharron, ground meat, morcilla, fried egg, plaintain, arepa and avocado. Be prepared to enter a food coma.

13. AGUARDIENTE

Aguardiente Antioqueño. Credit to IG_andres_me_now35_
Aguardiente Antioqueño. Credit to IG_andres_me_now35_

It’s not a dish but it doesn’t matter. You can’t leave Colombia without knocking back a few shots of this anise-flavored liquor.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Everywhere. At every party, restaurant and event.