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Bolivia – its best cuisine and top restaurants

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Street food, La Paz, Bolivia

What is the food like in Bolivia?

 

Find out in our food and Top 10 restaurant guide, all sampled by our travel expert, Tom.

 

He writes:

“Bold, big and burgeoning – the best way to describe the food scene blossoming in Bolivia.

Servings are often as enormous as the Andean mountains that define this landlocked and beautiful country, so arrive with an appetite.

Meat features heavily in traditional cooking, but vegetarians need not fear as potatoes, yucca, quinoa, corn and many types of empanada snacks are rife.

 

Local specialities

Food from the Altiplano is generally suited to the high, cold climate, so there’s a lot of spice.

Dishes in the lowlands and Amazonic region of Bolivia tend to be comprised of yucca, fish, vegetables and fruit as these are the products most abundant in the area.

Tubers are widely used, particularly oca, (a sweetish potato), chuño and tunta (both varieties of freeze dried potato) and olluco.

The quinoa grain (a high-protein Andean armanath) is also commonly found in highland soups, which are frequently spiced up with aji (hot chili).

However, many temperate and tropical crops, trucked up from the Valleys, Yungas and lowlands, also feature in highland dishes. These crops include yucca (manioc), rice, bananas and other tropical fruits.

 

 

Where to eat – our Top 10

 

Now you’ve got the hang of the menu, read our Top Ten restaurants for eating out across Bolivia.

In no particular order:

 

Restaurants

 

  1. Gustu, La Paz

Emblematic, Gustu has taken up residence in the Latin Top 50 Restaurants guide and head chef  Kamilla Seidler uses only local ingredients, so all food and beverages are 100% Bolivian.

 

  1. Namas Té, La Paz

Only a few blocks from Plaza San Pedro, Namas Té is a wonderful vegetarian/vegan restaurant serving both Western and Bolivian dishes at incredibly affordable prices.

 

  1. Tambo Colonial, La Paz

Located on the second floor of Hotel Rosario, this beautifully decorated restaurant is the place to go for a night of exquisite food, impeccable service, and romantic ambiance.

 

  1. Natur Center, La Paz

Enjoy a salad, soup, vegetarian/vegan main course and dessert all for the unbeatable price of 26 Bs ($5 US). The set menus here changes daily and food is generally based on Andean-Indigenous cuisine.

 

  1. Papavero, Sucre

Estudiantes, Sucre, Bolivia (no web), phone: +591 72046380

For when you crave pasta, Papvero is a small, personal and wonderful place to eat. This is beautiful home made Italian cooking in the heart of Sucre in an understated and relaxed style. Good beers, too.

 

  1. La Taverne Restaurant, Potosi

Junin 12, Villa Imperial de Potosí, (no web) phone: +591 2 6230123

The service can be patchy here on occasion (e.g. slow) but the food makes up for it. Potosi is not awash with top end dining halls but La Taverne offers excellent meats, good wines and tasty salads.

 

  1. El Huerto, Sucre

Often listed as a buffet style restaurant – it’s not – going a la carte in this slightly out of town place is well worth it. There is a small outside patio, lovely service and the chef comes up with more modern takes on classic Bolivian dishes.

 

  1. Minuteman pizza, Uyuni

Avenida Ferroviaria next to Army base | Inside the Tonito Hotel, Uyuni (no web)

Hard to find, but worth persevering for because Uyuni has a lack of good places to eat. OK, it’s only pizza, but it’s a very good pizza and with good wine and definitely worth knowing about. Good vegetarian options, too, plus cakes.

 

  1. Martavinos, Cochabamba

Cochabamba has many good eateries, Marvinos seems to blend service, relaxation and top quality food better than the rest. Good fish dishes as well as meat.

 

  1. La Cupula , Copacabana

Attached to the Hostal Cupula, this cute and cosy restaurant offers views, attentive service and the best trout on the lake. The chef has a few wonderful variations on the traditional recipe and you’ll have to book up as it’s always full.

 

 

Sample dishes

Empanada, cheese pasty

Chairo, a La Paz soup with meat, veg, chuño and aji. Locals add llajua or halpahuayca, hot sauces set on the table.

Locro, tropical soup with rice, beef jerky or chicken, banana, potato and egg.

Anticucho, beef heart kebab on a skewer with boiled potato.

Palta reina, Avocado filled with chicken salad

 

Bolivian Salteñas, little pies filled with all sorts of goodness, usually a mix of meat, veg, eggs and olives.

Buñuelos, you can have these sweet or savoury – recommended are the ones stuffed with cheese!

 

 

Main dishes

Thimpu, a lamb soup/stew

Pique a lo Macho, a beast of a meal, which consists of bite-sized pieces of beef, sausage, onions, locotos (spicy peppers), boiled egg and thickly cut fries. It is traditionally made spicy and topped with mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup.

Plato paceño, fried cheese, potato, broad beans, corn & hot llajua sauce

Sajta de pollo, hot spicy chicken with onion, potato and chuño

Silpancho, fried breaded meat with rice, egg and banana

Pejerrey, white fish from Lake Titicaca

Tamales, ground maize steamed in banana or maize leaves, filled with meat or cheese; can also be served sweet, with sugar instead of meat.

 

 

Desserts            

Keke or torta, cake

 

Drinks

Singani, grape brandy-Bolivian national drink.

Chuflay, a mix of Singani and 7 Up

Chicha, fermented maize beer. Drunk mainly in rural areas of the Valleys around Cochabamba.

Cerveza, beer- there are several lager regional brands such as Paceña.

Vino, wine – the best Bolivian wines are from Tarija. Some are very good, including La Concepcion.

Api, a thick, hot drink made from red maize, cinnamon, cloves and lemon– delicious and warming.

Mate, herbal tea- the best known is mate de coca, which is often served to tourists on arrival in La Paz to ward off symptoms of altitude sickness. Many other herbal teas such as manzanilla (camomile), yerba luisa (lemon grass), yerba buena (mint), and inojo (dill) are available. Mate is usually served after lunch.

Jugos, in the tropics, fruit juices such as carambola (star fruit) and tamarindo (tamarind) are delicious.

 

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