Get the full culinary experience in Bogotá. Read on for our Culinary Highlights of Bogotá food guide by Colombia Travel Expert, Izabela Zielińska.
A wise man once said: “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” When it comes to traveling and food, I would add that there is no deeper way of understanding people’s cultures and traditions than by trying what’s on their plates and tables. It’s important to notice that our first step after we arrive in a new place is to head to a restaurant. Tired and hungry after a long trip, we just want to eat something nice that will satisfy our basic need of feeling full. From stomach to heart, that is sometimes the simplest way to gain one’s attention and admiration. This is what happens to many tourists that come to visit Bogotá. They don’t even know what to expect from the culinary world of Bogotá, but they fall in love after just a few bites.
Until now, the capital of Colombia hasn’t been noticed for its delicacies. But now local people have realized what they have to offer, and Bogotá has become one of the most famous and appreciated food capitals in South America with many sophisticated gourmet restaurants as well as traditional local small gastronomies.
Before I focus on giving some suggestions about where to eat, let me lift the veil of secrecy and share with you the highlights of the Bogotán cuisine.
Appetizers-Culinary Highlights of Bogotá
Ajiaco Soup Let’s start with soups. Ajiaco soup is warm and nutritious and will leave you with a renewed energy after a day of sightseeing. Ajiaco is one of the most common and representative soups on Bogotános’ tables. This rich and creamy soup is made with a couple of varieties of potatoes, chicken and a herb called guasca that gives it a unique taste. The dish is served with arepa (a kind of bread made of maize), avocado, sweet plantain, cream, and caper. The best ajiaco in the city is served in traditional restaurants in La Candelaria (historical area of Bogota).
Changua Another soup served for breakfast is changua – a mix of milk, boiled eggs, bread, cilantro. As you can notice, people in Bogotá kick start their day by eating very nutritious and quite heavy meals.
Mondongo For those who like more adventurous culinary experiences, I recommend mondongo soup. The most important ingredient of this beef and vegetable stock is beef tripes.
The variety of soups you can find in Bogotá is astonishing. Among others worth mentioning I would list: Sopa de Patacones (green plantain soup), Frijolada (bean soup), and Sancocho de Pescado (creamy fish stock soup).
Main Course- Culinary Highlights of Bogotá
After a bowl of soup, it is time for the main course. You can come across a wide variety of culinary opportunities.
Bandeja Paisa Although local people will tell you that bandeja paisa is from the Paisa Region, it’s a very typical almuerzo (lunch) dish for Bogotános. One of the very best gastronomy highlights of Bogotá indeed. You can find it in almost every traditional local restaurant. It’s a delicious mix of rice, beans, meat, sausage, arepa, plantane, eggs and avocado. The portions are always big and the dish itself very delicious, so make sure to bring your appetite.
Chiguiro Peruvians and Ecuadorians have guinea pig and Colombians have a chiguiro (capybara) that is served with other kinds of meat, arepa, plantane, avocado. It’s a bit tricky to find it nowadays in Bogotá, but for meat lovers, it’s one of the most interesting experiences.
Lechona Another meat dish worth mentioning is lechona. Very impressive when you see it for the first time: a roasted pig (with ears, snout) stuffed with rice, onions, peas and spices).
Desserts- Culinary Highlights of Bogotá
Arequipe It is one of the most significant ingredients of Colombian desserts. Arequipe is equivalent of Argentine dulce de leche, caramelized milk with sugar. It’s used for milojas (thousand leaves) dessert, a pastry filled with cream and arequipe.
Postre Tres Leches Another mouth watering dessert is postre tres leches (three milk dessert), a sponge cake soaked in different kinds of milk.
Santafereno Last but not least, while in Bogotá don’t hesitate to try chocolate santafereno, hot chocolate served with a piece of white cheese that melts in a warm beverage.
Below you will find a list of the most recommended restaurants in Bogotá that will serve you the highlights of local cuisine:
Buen provecho! (Enjoy!)