Coming into Bolivia, neither of us knew what to expect of the food. But three weeks and a lot of dining experiences later, we discovered some of our favorite dishes here. In this post, we hope to provide you with a better idea of Bolivian cuisine and what you should try if you get the chance to visit. Just make sure you're not too hungry before reading this post...
A visit to Bolivia would not be complete without trying one of their favorite dishes: fried chicken. As in most cases, the dish comes with a side of rice and potatoes as well as mayo and a spicy sauce. Not the healthiest but it sure is delicious once in a while.
Pastel de queso & buñuelo
Two breakfast favorites. Both fried (of course). A pastel de queso simply consists of a piece of cheese wrapped in sweet fried dough. A buñuelo is even more simple. Just a deep fried piece of dough served with powdered sugar and honey.
A drink most commonly served for breakfast with a pastry such as the ones described above. Made from a combination of purple and/or yellow corn (which explains the two colors), sugar, cinnamon and cloves, the drink is served warm, which is well suited for a country where it is often very cold.
The Bolivian empanada. Salteñas are baked savory pastries usually but not always filled with spiced meat (chicken, pork, beef) mixed in a sauce with veggies and can include hard boiled egg. They are typically served in the morning. Street stalls often run out of them by lunchtime.
Mondongo & Albondigas
Eating lunch at the markets in Bolivia is an unmissable experience. Since it's cheaper to go out than cook meals, the market is always full for lunch. Just imagine tons of tables packed in right next to each other with the cooks screaming at you to come eat at their stall. There is quite a list of dishes to try but the mondongo and albondigas were definitely our favorites. The first is tripe (beef and pork) served with red pepper, mote corn (that yellow stuff) and potatoes. Albondigas are meatballs and are prepared throughout South America. Here they are served with a tomato sauce with a side of rice and potatoes two-ways (one baked and one dried).
Burgers (street cart style)
I apologize for the less-than-great-looking picture but I had to add this meal to the list. Another typical dish, usually eaten for dinner. "Just" a burger served with onions, pickles, mayo, ketchup, mustard and a spicy sauce as well as fries and a piece of hot-dog (which was already eaten by this point but served on that toothpick). I'm not gonna lie and say this was the best burger I've had but for just a little more than a dollar, it was totally worth it.
Fruit cups and juices
I imagine that at this point you're wondering how in the world does one survive in a place full of fried, greasy goodness. The answer to that is fruit! One of the great things about Bolivia is its easy access to tons of delicious fruits, which means there's lots to have for no money at all. The fruit cup below only set us back $0.85 while both fruit juices combined were $1.16.
Ok. I'm done now. Hopefully, you've enjoyed reading about our favorite Bolivian dishes as much as we did eating them and that you're not starving to death or caught at work licking your computer screen ;) Check back later this week for our top 5 to-do's in La Paz.