Bogotá for Foodies – a Guide to the exceptional Colombian Cuisine

bogota für schlemmer

Bogotá for Foodies

Colombia is known for its excellent coffee – I can't quite confirm it since I don't drink any. But Colombia has so much more to offer than just this hot beverage. Together with La Mesa I toured through the streets and tried so many delicious dishes, snacks and drinks in the capital. The following yummy things were part of the walk:

Arepas

= corn dough filled with pretty much anything – egg, cheese, meat, … you name it!

I do like Colombian Arepas, but they are by far not as tasty as the ones from Venezuela. If you ever get the chance to try some, go for it and think of me!

Arepa Kolumbien
Arepa con Huevo
Arepa Kolumbien
Fresh and hot arepas are found almost everywhere

Chocolate Caliente

= hot chocolate! Colombians loooove cheese and they also put it in their hot chocolate! Might sound a bit crazy, but trust me – it's delicious! Another very popular hot beverage is Agua de Panela – and they add cheese as well!

Chicha

= fermented corn drink – tastes like Austrian Most or Cider.

Chicha is a very typical Colombian drink and it is even prohibited! But Colombia wouldn't be Colombia if that made people stop drinking it. So it's illegal, but the authorities don't bother prosecuting.

A while back there were quite some problems in Colombia, because people drank too much and were too borracho too often. Also the beer lobby was on the rise and started some campaigns agains Chicha – people should drink beer instead. The result: Chicha was prohibited.

In La Candelaria – a barrio of Bogotá – you'll find many bars that sell Chicha. On most doors some signs with “Hay Chicha” are found – that means “we have Chicha”.

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Try to see if you like it – I prefer a fresh Limonada instead.

FYI: Chicha is also known in other countries, eg. in Venezuela. But there it is a rice drink and yes it's just yumyumyum!

Bogota für Schlemmer
Chicha

Ajiaco

= soup with three different types of potatoes (papa criolla, papa blanca, papa roja). It's served with chicken and corn – since I arrived in Colombia I haven't eaten meat, but the soup together with rice and avocado was heavenly!

Bogota für Schlemmer
Ajiaco
Bogota für Schlemmer
Ajiaco with rice and avocado

Jugos Naturales

= fresh juices

I just talked about the amazing Limonadas here in Colombia (and all over Latin America). Especially tasty is Limonada de Coco and Limonada de Hierbabuena. You'll find small stores or vendors everywhere.

Colombia is a paradise for fruit-lovers like me – there's so many fruits that don't even have a proper word in other languages AND the fruits are sooooo cheap!

Make sure to try Jugo de Tomate de Arbol – tree tomato juice! Or Jugo de Lulo – very Colombian!

Patacón (con Queso)

= fried plantain (with cheese)

You'll absolutely love this! Patacón and plantains in general are often served as sides. There are so many different bananas and plantains in Colombia, I lost track. Some of the fried plantains are very dry and chrunchy, some are juicy – I like the those one the most.

Bogota für Schlemmer
Patacón con Queso

Tamales

= corn dough filled with pork and vegetables. As I already told you, I don't eat (much) meat, that's why I only had some of the dough. Not my taste, but if you like meat – you'll  like it!

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Bogota für Schlemmer
Tamales

More yumyumyum dishes that you need to try in Colombia

  • Mango with salt and lime – sold by street vendors
  • Guanabana Juice – sweet and one of my favourite juices
  • Fejoa – looks like a little cucumber, tastes sour, but good
  • Churros – originally from Spain, but also found in Latin America. Churros are fried dough sticks topped with sugar and other things
  • Platano Frito – fried plantains, are eaten like crisps
  • Obleas con Arequipe – my favourite dessert in Colombia – two huge oblates with Arequipe (condensed milk)
  • Brevas con Arequipe – Figs filles with Arequipe

Bogotá for Foodies – La Mesa Food Tour

I took part in one of La Mesa's Food Tours in Bogotá (they do offer tours in other Colombian cities as well). Three hours walking through the city with a guide and seven stops with food and drinks. I've described most of the food and drinks we had in this blog post. It's truly a pity that our guide didn't know much about the origins of the local dishes and lacked food vocabulary to tell us more about the ingredients. A few weeks before I had joined the Free Walking Tour and their guide knew soooo much about the food and Chicha!

The La Mesa Tour costs 50 US$, which I find quite a lot of money for that little food. Note: We didn't get full plates, we just got to try them, I was still hungry after the tour. Note: I didn't have the Tamal because I don't eat meat. The food we got during the tour has an approximate value of 7 US$.

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Another thing that bothered me was that I was asked if I didn't like anything when I signed up for the tour. I told them that I didn't eat meat and I'd prefer veggie, but was willing to try some of the meat dishes. On the spot, the guide asked again about preferences and I told her no meat for me please – which she arranged partially.

I was really looking forward to the tour, but it wasn't really what I expected it to be. Maybe because I had already known all of the dishes we tried during the tour.

Last words

Those of you that don't have much time in Bogotá (and have 50 US$ spare), and still want to learn a bit about the city and the local dishes, go ahead and book with La Mesa.

Alternatively, I highly recommend the Free Walking Tour, there you'll also try some typical dishes and drinks! There's also a Free Food Tour that a friend took part in and liked it too. Sure they have a different business model in mind, they work on tips – you only give them tips if you like the tour – and I LOVED IT.

Those of you that have more time, I'll recommend just walking around the Candelaria in Bogotá and you'll find many places that serve those dishes. Most of those you'll find also in different parts of Colombia.

So, enjoy it! Buen provecho!

Keep on travelling

Note: I got invited to take part in this tour. Of course, La Mesa was not happy with this article and asked me not to publish it. “If you are unwilling to change anything in your blog, then we would prefer you not post it.”

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13 Comments

  • Love your Blog. It was wonderful meeting you in Cartagena. I wish you well in your studies and your travels. I hope to meet up with you again in the future.

    • Hi Heather!
      It was lovely getting to know you and to see Rose again! I had an incredible time with the two of you! I’m sure we’ll see each other again somewhere! You’re always welcome here in Austria too!

  • Some very unusual food items here, specially the rice with avocado. Seems quite dry otherwise, but I suppose the soup balances it out. Few people can imagine so many vegetarian food options in Columbia.

  • Some very unusual food items here, specially the rice with avocado. Seems quite dry otherwise, but I suppose the soup balances it out. Few people can imagine so many vegetarian food options in Columbia.

  • I lived and worked in Bogota for 3 months and I loved the food there. I never did any of the food tours but every day we would go to lunch at a new place. I tried so many different foods, though I did get used to having some kind of plantains with every meal!

  • Thanks for sharing your honest opinions! It does seem quite expensive for what you actually get, but the food does look amazing! Not too sure about the cheesy hot chocolate but I’d love to try it!

  • Warning! This is not a post to read before breakfast! I need to book to tickets to Bogota right now. I’m so hungry. I would love to try all of the dishes and the chicha!

  • The spread of Colombian cuisine made my mouth water! Chicha sounded delicious and quirky. 3 different types of potatoes in Ajiaco, that’s amazing. I would love to try every single one of them. This is so tempting.

  • I am not fan of Colombian food, maybe because I was traveling on a budget and always eating el menú del día, which was everyday more or less the same. I enjoy a “bandeja paisa” from time to time and that’s it. The big exception is, in my opinion, the great fruit juices for very cheap. Endless fruit juices which taste super good. ps: 50$ for a food tour in Colombia is very expensive!

  • Love all the food it all looks amazing! I think i would love to try those tamales and the natural fruit juice! Yum thanks for sharing!

  • Love love love this post. I came here from the Blogging Squad and what good timing, I’m going to Colombia for two weeks at the end of May. I can’t wait to try out all the amazing food. I’m a vegetarian so I’m glad most of the things you mentioned are veggie, just hope I can find a vegetarian version of the Ajaccio soup.

    Following your adventures around the world now X 🙂

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