We think of ‘meat and potatoes’ cuisine as boring, and while it describes cuisine in Bolivia well, the food here is anything but dull. Expect a wide range of meat with plenty of exotic flavours and spices, washed down with traditional, unusual beverages.
Here’s what you need to know about food and drink in Bolivia.
Food in Bolivia
Breakfast is quite a low key affair, many cafes in Bolivia serving a selection of chopped fruits covered with yoghurt, with a range of toppings like nuts, honey, or gelatin.
You might also find Salteñas, meat and potatoes baked into buns with a sweet or spicy sauce. These are just as filling as they sound.
You’ll find plenty of food stalls in Bolivia selling buns throughout the day, offering different kinds of meat and additional fillings like cheese and fried onions.
Other options include anticucho (beef hearts grilled on a skewer), salchipapa (thinly sliced fried sausage), and chorizo sandwiches.
Bolivia is where the potato was first grown, so you’ll find it served with pretty much everything.
Have you ever eaten llama? This is your chance!
Restaurants in Bolivia serve it as a traditional dish, along with guinea pig. These will come with llajhua, a spicy sauce a bit like Mexican salsa.
If you don’t fancy those, beef and chicken are just as common. Dinner in Bolivia often consists of pique a lo macho, grilled chunks of meat in a spicy sauce, or silpancho, beef pounded into a thin patty and served with an egg on top.
It is possible to find vegetarian food in Bolivia if you know where to look. Big cities have a few veggie restaurants, and markets will offer things like fried potatoes, rice, eggs, and salad at a very good price.
Drink in Bolivia
The most traditional alcoholic drink in Bolivia is chicha de colla. It’s made from fermented corn and drunk from a rounded bowl. Customarily you’ll spill some on the ground before and after drinking as an offering to the Inca earth goddess Pachamama, but some tourist bars in Bolivia may not be thrilled about that.
Bolivia has a number of local beers, the most popular brands being Paceña and the slightly more expensive Huari. You’ll find these in most bars and restaurants.
Bolivia also produces its own wine from vineyards in the Tarija region. You can visit the wineries themselves, or pitch up at one of the many wine bars in Bolivia to try a tipple or two.
If you’re not interested in heavy drinking in Bolivia, it offers plenty of alternatives: juice bars, shakes, and other weird concoctions are available in abundance.
Traditional drinks include Licuado (water or milk blended with fruit and sugar), mocochinchi (peaches and spices brewed together in water), and api (a corn-based drink which is tastier than it sounds).
Be a little bit careful when you’re ordering drinks in Bolivia, as even innocent looking juice drinks are sometimes blended with a shot of something alcoholic. Keep an eye on what’s being poured!
You’ll also find some great, fresh coffee in Bolivia, although the quality can vary.