Colombian foods are as varied as they are delicious. Each region has it’s own flavours and core dishes. Outside of cities, local restaurants don’t cook much beyond their regional specialties. Because of this focus, restaurants are usually reliable. We found the food in Colombia to be some of our favourite throughout all of South-America.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a taste of a few of our favourites from a country we love for its food as much as anything.
Arepas are synonymous with Colombia. Find these fat corn breads being charred over coal stoves on streets throughout the country. Fillings range from beef to egg with some arepas split open and used as a sandwich bun. Our favorites ares those found in Cali stuffed with oozing melted cheese, careful not to burn the top of your mouth.
Green Mango with Salt
While its normally best practice to steer clear of unripe fruit, an exception should be made for this Colombian delicacy, the tart green mango. Served sliced up in a cup and sprinkled with salt, this common fruit snack is sold along the streets and beaches of north Colombia. It is the perfect refreshing snack to beat the stifling heat.
Colombia sees your Full English Breakfast and raises you a Bandeja Paisa. A staple in the mountainous areas of Colombia, it is the perfect late breakfast to nurse a hangover. This huge meal is ostensibly for one but more comfortably shared. Served on a platter, a Bandeja Paisa includes rice, frijoles, fries, spiced ground meat, chorizo, fried plantain, and an arepa all topped with a fried egg and avocado. Find the Bandeja Paisa in the northwest of Colombia in the Antioquia Department surrounding Medellin. This is definitely one of our favourite Colombian foods.
Found in central Colombia, lechona, or lechon asado originated in the Tolima region. Lechona is a dish comprised of roasted pig stuffed with rice, peas, onion, and spices cooked on an outdoor oven for ten plus hours. Served with boiled potatoes, an arepa and a sliver of pork skin this is a serious meal. For those of you passing through Medellin, check out Doña Lechona or Alberto Lechona for a sample of this delicious Colombian recipe.
Paletas known as ice-blocks, ice-lollies or popsicles can be found on almost any street corner along Colombia’s north coast. Homemade and in a huge variety of flavours and colours they are the perfect solution to the beat the heat of the Caribbean. Check out La Paletería in Cartagena for our favourite paletas.
Chuleta Valluna (Fried Pork Chop)
The menu del día is everywhere throughout South America, and Colombia is no exception. Served at lunch time, a menu del día comes with a soup for a starter and your choice of main dish. Our favorite main or ‘segundo’ in Colombia is the chuleto valluna, Colombia’s version of pork schnitzel. A complete meal including a drink costs around $2 USD so you don’t need to worry about breaking the bank.
Langostino, or spiny lobster is a specialty from the northern part of the country. This is no white tablecloth affair. Locals pluck huge rock lobsters straight from the warm waters of the Caribbean and serve them up, split, basted, and grilled with a side of plantain, rice, and salad. Find langostino served at small beachside restaurants in villages along the coast. Whole lobsters start from less than $10 USD, shoes optional.
Pan de Bono
Originating in central Colombia, these fluffy fried pastries are slightly sweet and flavoured with cheese. They make a great on the go breakfast. Find them throughout Colombia but especially in Central Colombia. A few pans de bono are perfectly paired with a cup of Colombian coffee.
Colombia is widely regarded as one of the best coffee producing regions in the world. This is due to the unique combination of elevation and climate found in the foothills of the Colombian Andes. Colombians typically enjoy brewed coffee without milk. The coffee is often weaker than other styles of coffee, but in good cafes brewing premium Colombian coffee, it is easy to see why Colombian coffee is so famous. To dive further into the coffee culture of Colombia, you must visit the stunning coffee region.
Limonada de Coco
Limonada de coco is the signature drink of Colombia’s Caribbean Coast. Made with coconut, lime and lots of sugar this refreshing drink will definitely help you beat the stifling heat of Northern Colombia. Try spicing it up with a shot of rum during happy hour!
What do you think? Are your favourite Colombian foods on our list? What would add? Let us know below!
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