What to eat and drink in Bolivia

Ever had a llama tenderloin? Right here’s your probability, possibly with a glass of Tarija wine. Bolivia’s meals is as various as its inhabitants and you will find new delicacies to pattern in each city.

Markets are a very good place to start out, although the steaming pots of unfamiliar concoctions may take a look at virgin tastebuds. Freshly-blended fruit juices will little doubt grow to be a each day behavior, whereas high-altitude Yungas espresso is now out there in a lot of new cafes popping up round Bolivia.

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The restaurant scene is prospering in Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and – greater than anyplace else – La Paz the place you’ll be able to pattern modern takes on conventional drinks and dishes. Irrespective of the place you end up – be it the tropics or the excessive Andes – you’re sure to seek out colourful road snacks and elaborate meals making good use of Bolivia’s huge larder. This is a information to a few of Bolivia’s finest meals experiences.

Snack on Salteñas

These ubiquitous yellow-orange turnovers are a staple mid-morning snack discovered throughout Bolivia. Smaller, stouter and sweeter than conventional empanadas, they usually pair a protein (beef, pork or rooster) with olives, raisins and potatoes. The juiciness of the filling comes from added gelatin, and lots of connoisseurs add the Bolivian salsa llajua for an added kick. Anticipate a tasty movie in your fingers and a heat glow in your stomach.

The place to strive it: Salteñeria El Hornito in Potosí.

Boost tea time with a cuñapé or sonso de yuca

Take tea time to the subsequent degree with afternoon treats like cuñapés. These tacky yuca bread rolls will be discovered in lots of Bolivian cities, however are commonest within the east, the place they’re typically generally known as chipá (usually close to the border with Paraguay).

Cuñapés can grow to be fairly addictive, so for those who develop a liking for them, you’ll additionally wish to strive a sonso de yuca, which is a tacky cassava bread that’s usually grilled on a giant bamboo skewer over smoldering charcoal.

The place to strive it: El Secreto de Mama in Riberalta.

Pattern each unique fruit South America has to supply at a Bolivian fruit juice stall © Dudarev Mikhail / Shutterstock

Style the rainbow of Bolivian fruit juices

Bolivia packs a continent’s value of topography into a comparatively small package deal, which suggests you’ll find a large array of fruits you’ll have by no means tried earlier than. Recent juices are among the best methods to pattern them, with widespread choices together with chirimoya (a custard apple), tumbo (the banana passionfruit) and tuna (which comes from the prickly pear cactus).

Within the Amazon basin, you can even discover loads of asaí (the antioxidant-rich palm berry higher recognized overseas as acai), which is used to make smoothies or bowls topped with fruits and grains.

The place to strive it: In regional markets resembling Santa Cruz’s Mercado Abasto.

Attempt Okay’alaphurka, the stone-heated soup

The place else are you able to sit again and watch as a server drops a sizzling volcanic rock into the center of your soup? Such are the thrill of consuming okay’alaphurka, probably the most well-known dishes within the southern metropolis of Potosí. Produced from a base of corn flour, this stone-heated soup additionally contains potatoes, dried charque meat, floor ají chili peppers and chachacoma leaves – all served in a big earthen bowl (for apparent causes!).

The place to strive it: Kalaphurka Doña Mecha in Potosí.

A steep street lined with shops and restaurants in Tarija, Bolivia
Take a break from exploring the beautiful streets of Tarija and luxuriate in a glass (or two) of the native wines © Karol Moraes / Shutterstock

Swirl wine or sip the brandy in Tarija

A few of the world’s highest-altitude vineyards lie close to the city of Tarija, which has seen main investments during the last decade in each wineries and extra refined, textured wines. Tannat is the star grape right here, and producers resembling Campos de Solana and Aranjuez have gone head-to-head with winemakers from this purple varietal’s homeland, France, in worldwide competitions.

In the meantime, the Muscat of Alexandria grape, which dominates Bolivian vineyards, goes into the pisco-like spirit singani, an eau-de-vie that’s blended with ginger ale or lemon soda for the favored cocktail chuflay.

The place to strive it: Past Tarija, one of the best place for singani or wine is Gustu in La Paz.

Attempt the meal that fueled the Incas

The hearty Aymara dish of charquekan, widespread in southwestern Bolivia, is made by rehydrating dried llama meat. This creates a stringy, salty protein that’s then draped over colourful native potatoes (or giant corn kernels) and served with cheese and boiled eggs.

The place to strive it: Charquekan Orureño ‘El Puente’ in Oruro.

A woman sits surrounded by bags of coca leaves for sale in La Paz, Bolivia
Coca leaves are a good way to fight altitude illness in Bolivia © Markpittimages / iStockphoto / Getty Photos

Style the bitter kick of coca leaves

Coca leaves are sacred to many Indigenous teams within the Andes of South America, the place they’re used for numerous ceremonial and medicinal functions. Regardless of their infamy overseas as the bottom ingredient for cocaine, in addition to the unique Coca-Cola, they’re a staple throughout Bolivia, flavoring every part from mildly stimulating liqueurs to bitter IPAs.

Inns in locations such because the Salar de Uyuni or Lake Titicaca usually serve friends an infusion of dried coca leaves, known as mate de coca, which is essentially the most pure approach to fight the consequences of altitude.

The place to strive it: Inns in southwestern Bolivia or on trekking excursions within the Andes.

Refill on a pique a lo macho

This hangover killer is a heaping mess of beef, sausage, boiled eggs, gravy, peppers and onions – all served over french fries. Most Bolivians wouldn’t order a pique a lo macho for one. It’s – just like the equally carb-heavy plate silpancho (schnitzel-style meat over a fried egg, rice and potatoes) – usually shared amongst teams of mates.

The place to strive it: Miraflores Restaurant in Cochabamba.

Fried empanadas sit on a plate next to a cup of api de maíz morado
A sizzling cup of api de maíz morado is the right approach to begin your day in Bolivia © FilmLabStudio / Shutterstock

Heat up on a chilly altiplano morning with api de maíz morado

This sizzling drink made with floor purple corn, cinnamon, sugar and cloves is a well-liked breakfast merchandise within the altiplano. Thick and hearty, it’s usually accompanied by fried donut-like pastries known as buñuelos. Devour the 2 collectively, and you may most likely skip lunch.

The place to strive it: The markets of La Paz, Oruro, Potosí and Cochabamba.

Vegetarians and vegans

Vegetarian choices are on the rise in Bolivia, however meat nonetheless dominates most menus, significantly within the countryside the place some cooks shall be unfamiliar with vegetarian or vegan diets. Many Bolivian dishes are naturally vegan, together with the meatless model of sopa de maní (a protein-packed soup made from floor peanuts and noodles) or humitas (floor corn steamed inside corn leaves, just like a Mexican tamale).

It’s additionally widespread to seek out vegetarian plates based mostly round yuca, potatoes or the supergrain quinoa. Each vegans and vegetarians will discover essentially the most choices in La Paz, the place the plant-based fantastic eating restaurant Ali Pacha has been instrumental in creating revolutionary meatless variations of many conventional dishes.

Meals value making an attempt

Sopa la Poderosa A “highly effective soup” from Tarija made with greens, rice… and bull’s penis.

Anticuchos Grilled cow’s coronary heart on skewers, served at markets or road stalls – search for them within the streets of La Paz.

Chuño This conventional altiplano staple is made by laying potatoes out in a single day to freeze, permitting them to thaw the subsequent day and repeating the method over a number of days. The potatoes are then crushed underfoot to take away the pores and skin and the liquid. The approach was developed by the Incas some 800 years in the past; the freeze-dried potatoes might then be transported by llama caravans like modern-day packets of chips on a bus. If you’re within the highlands in June you may even see potatoes being not noted to freeze; the approach remains to be widespread in rural areas near Oruro.

A 12 months in meals

Easter (March/April)
Throughout Easter week, Bolivians eat sopa de te’qo (vegetable soup) and biscocho de Semana Santa (spherical, flat biscuits).

Within the first week of August, Villa Tunari within the Chapare area of the Amazon Basin celebrates Amazonian fish dishes within the Feria Regional del Pescado.

Bolivians have a good time Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) with a household feast. Historically, the meal contains picana, a stew made with rooster, beef, lamb, greens and potatoes, and lechón al horno (roast pork). On Christmas morning, a well-liked breakfast is buñuelos con chocolate (a candy, gentle doughnut with chocolate dipping sauce).