Food – a taste of Bolivia

by on 4th March, 2016

Food – a taste of Bolivia

Bolivia, landlocked and hidden in the middle of the South American continent is not widely known as a “foodie” destination, and yet you will be pleasantly surprised at the offerings you will find to tickle your palate.

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.

These are the Andean Trails team favourites  – and it’s making us hungry just thinking about them!


Kathy, Andean Trails’ director enjoys tucking into 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. If you can finish a plate of pique on your own, they say you are truly “macho”! Smaller portions are simply called pique; pique macho is a huge portion.


Alan likes the most popular Bolivian snack, Buñuelos. You can have these sweet or savoury and he recommends the ones stuffed with cheese!


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


Kat  loves Bolivian Salteñas– little pies filled with all sorts of goodness, usually a mix of meat, veg, eggs and olives. She says: “Perfectly hand-sized snacks – they have kept me going on many bus journeys I’ve taken in the past!”


Jaira Rivera, member of the Andean Trails team in Bolivia, recommends a widely known dish in Bolivia: Peanut soup.

An essential part of its varied cuisine and well known for its multiple ingredients and flavours. Peanuts are ground and boiled in water along with mutton or beef, peeled potatoes, peas, chopped onion, toasted garlic, oregano, pepper and salt, sometimes noodles or rice are added, depending on the cook’s taste, as well as crispy French fries and parsley to complete the soup.

Being such a powerful meal, it can be served as a main course, but as Bolivians are known to be good eaters, it’s part of the menus of almost all the restaurants as the first dish, reason why its popularity has grown and crossed the borders becoming a not-be-missed dish when visiting the country and maybe take back home a couple of bags of ground peanut to prepare it.

Certainly a soup that no one can refuse and which is enjoyed immediately by almost all who taste it for the first time, it does not only give you good energy but a great feeling of satisfaction.

And if that hasn’t got your bellies rumbling yet, read on for other things you’ll most likely find on your menu:



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


Main dishes

Thimpu, a lamb soup/stew

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



Keke or torta, cake



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.

From all of us at Andean Trails, enjoy your Bolivian meal, ¡BUEN PROVECHO!

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