Have you ever tried Colombian cuisine? South American food boasts more than just flavorful meat dishes and nowhere is that more evident than in Colombia.
The country’s unique culinary culture is shaped by its regional diversity, history, and altitudes that make up for its distinctive cooking styles and tastes.
Colombian food is incredibly diverse, flavorful, and often surprisingly easy to make. Whether you’re cooking for yourself or gathering with friends or family, there are plenty of unique Colombian dishes to explore. Let’s check some out!
Colombian Food – Best Colombian Soups
From Sancocho to Ajiaco, Colombia serves up an array of palate-pleasing soups.
Bogota is home to some of the country’s best soups, with Ajiaco as its signature dish.
Made from chicken, potatoes, corn, Ajiaco is a must-try delicacy. It gets its unique flavor from a combination of local herbs found in Bogota called guasca.
2. Caldo de Costilla
This beef soup will surely hit the spot if you are in the mood for something hearty. A rich Bogotan stew, Caldo de Costilla is made with shredded beef shanks cooked in a broth along with potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and cilantro.
It is usually served with white rice and fried plantains or yuca (cassava) chips on the side.
3. Cazuela de Mariscos
For seafood lovers, Cazuela de Mariscos (seafood stew) is a must-try dish when visiting Colombia.
This zesty stew hails from Cartagena on the Caribbean Coast and is made with freshly caught shrimp, crab meat, squid rings, clams, mussels, and vegetables, all cooked in a flavorful broth infused with garlic and cumin. Serve it up with some white rice for an unforgettable meal.
Sancocho is arguably Colombia’s best soup. Widespread throughout the country, it is particularly popular in the coastal city of Cartagena.
Sancocho is often served during special occasions such as birthdays or holidays, but you can enjoy it any day.
Best Colombian Street Food
Whether you’re a fan of spices or prefer milder dishes, the country offers a wide variety of offerings. Here are a few of them.
5. Mango Biche con Sal y Limón
If you’re looking for classic Colombian street food, you’ll want to ensure you get a taste of Mango Biche con Sal y Limon.
This green mango specialty hails from the port city of Cartagena and, with a liberal dose of seasoning, delivers a real flavor kick.
Arepas are incredibly versatile corn cakes that can go with just about anything. Often used as sandwiches, they can be gobbled up with fillings of cheese, eggs, meat, or beans.
Arepas in Magdalen are often stuffed with ground beef, pork, or chicken.
Meanwhile, those from the Cartagena region are often made with cassava flour and unrefined sugar and are light and fluffy.
If you’re looking for a savory treat in Colombia, delicious empanadas are not to be missed.
Empanadas are deep-fried cornmeal dough pastries filled with savory ingredients such as cheese, chicken, or beef common throughout the country and regionally adapted. You can find them everywhere in Colombia. In Bogota, empanadas can either be a savory meal or a sweet dessert, depending on the filling.
If you’re looking for some of the best street food in Colombia, head to La Perseverancia Market in Medellín for a classic tamale. Tamales are a traditional Latin-American dish with maize-based dough filled with various meats, vegetables, and proteins.
Colombians have been relishing these delicious handmade parcels of goodness for centuries, and La Perseverancia Market is renowned for having the most exquisite tamales.
For bangers and mash with a South American twist, have yourself a serving of Salchipapa. Imagine fried potatoes with chopped sausages, all smothered in coleslaw, chili sauce, and ketchup.
Whether it’s their signature spicy flavors or the warm atmosphere of street vendors selling this beloved dish, you won’t be disappointed with a stop in Bogotá for a pile of Salchipapa—a great Colombian snack to try.
Best Colombian Meat Dishes
Every region has its famous dishes, but some of Colombia’s best meat dishes are listed down.
10. Sobrebarriga Sudada
Colombians take their meat dishes seriously, and Sobrebarriga Sudada (flank steak stew) from the Cundiboyacense region is a testament to that. This traditional dish takes toughened flank steak and slowly cooks it until it becomes wonderfully tender – the kind that falls apart with gentle prodding.
It is combined with a sofrito of onion, garlic, and tomato and is served alongside rice and ripe plantains, making for a delicious dish.
11. Carne Oreada
The marinated steak of Santander, Colombia, known as Carne Oreada, is a popular and delicious dish rarely found outside the region. Prepared by marinating the steak with spices before being sun-dried outdoors, this specialty offers an unbeatable flavorful, and chewy consistency.
The marinade used to prepare Carne Oreada typically contains ingredients like white vinegar, garlic, salt, and cumin that combine to produce an exquisite flavor unique to South American cuisine.
Best Colombian Restaurant Dishes
If you want a unique culinary experience, head to your local Colombian restaurant. There’s no doubt you won’t have to look far for unbeatable flavors and dishes that will have you coming back for more
To experience Colombian cuisine at its finest, you must try Patacones (Tostones). This Caribbean coast dish originated in Colombia but can be found all over Latin America. It’s an addictive appetizer made from unripe green plantains.
Making these delicious bites involves lightly deep-frying or pan-frying green plantains, pounding them between two plates until flat, and then refrying them.
If you have the stomach for raw seafood, Ceviche is worth a try. Consisting of raw shrimp marinated in lime or lemon juice and parsley, with a punchy coastal flavor that is sure to entice your tongue.
For a truly authentic Colombian experience, try Ceviche from the coastal regions. It’s sure to leave you wanting more.
14. Bandeja Paisa
If you’re visiting the Andean region in Colombia, your gastronomic tour will only be complete once you’ve tasted its national dish, the Bandeja Paisa. This hearty entrée consists of beans, grilled steak, rice, plantain, chicharrón (crispy pork belly), and an arepa; it’s a treat for the taste buds and your appetite.
The blend of textures and flavors makes it a must-have on every foodie’s itinerary. And if that isn’t enough to make this tasty plate unbeatable, the portion size is big enough to share with the whole family.
Best Colombian Drinks
Have you ever wanted to hydrate yourself with Colombia’s bold yet sweet flavors? Colombia’s delicious drinks are some of Latin America’s best.
Originating in the coastal city of Santa Marta, champús is a beloved source of refreshment for locals and visitors.
This incredible beverage is beloved for its unique and flavorful combination of ingredients, like dried corn, pineapple, mashed lulos (also known as naranjilla), cinnamon, cloves, panela, and orange zest. It’s mostly made up of ice, perfect for cooling off on hot days.
Lulada is a refreshing drink made from lulo fruit.
With a tangy flavor complemented by sugar or honey for sweetness, lulada can be a smoothie or blended into ice cream for an extra special treat. If you visit Colombia, try this delicious beverage.
17. Coco Loco
Coco Loco from Colombia is sure to be your new favorite if you’re a fan of coconut-flavored cocktails. This crazy blend comes from the Caribbean coastal city of Barranquilla. It is equal parts rum, tequila, and vodka with coconut cream, coconut water, and lime juice poured over ice in a half-shelled coconut.
Aguardiente (or “Aguardiente Antioqueño”) is a popular spirit in many cities throughout Colombia, but it is particularly famous in Medellín.
It is the most consumed spirit in the region and is deeply ingrained in the culture and customs of the people of Antioquia, where it is produced. It is often used as a shot and flavoring ingredient in traditional dishes.
Best Colombian Fruits To Try
19. Granadilla (Sweet Passion Fruit)
Granadilla, also known as sweet passion fruit, is a delicious fruit native to Colombia. The pulp and edible seeds make for a healthy and natural dessert, bursting with sweet and tart flavors. Originating from the Amazon Basin region of Colombia, the bright yellowish-orange exterior reveals a juicy pulp perfect for making preserves, compotes, and ice creams.
Granadilla is sold in markets throughout Colombia, making it one of the best fruits this Latin American country offers.
20. Jugos Naturales (Fresh Juices)
One of the best foods you can try when visiting Colombia is jugos naturales or fresh juices! You can find this deliciously smooth and refreshing treat on almost any menu throughout the country.
The local chefs blend a magical combination of sweet fruits, sugar, and either milk or ice to make these drinks. Many of these tasty concoctions feature fruit native to Colombia, like guanabana, maracuya, lulo, and naranjilla.
Other Tasty Colombian Dishes To Try
With plenty of tasty dishes at your fingertips, there’s never been a better time to explore the gastronomic delights of Colombia.
Calentado is a tasty and nutritious traditional meal enjoyed throughout Colombia. It’s typically made with leftovers from the previous day’s meals, combining carne asada (grilled beef) with beans, plantain, rice, and ingredients like egg, avocado, or cheese.
Commonly served for breakfast or brunch, Calentado is a favorite amongst Colombians for its flavor and comfort-food status. Often considered a “hangover cure,” it can also be served at any time of the day and appeals to various culinary preferences.
22. Obleas (Thin Wafer Sandwich)
Obleas are made from two thin wafers filled with an array of sweet or savory fillings, such as white cheese, guava paste, and condensed milk.
Obleas can be found all over Colombia, and each region has its twist on this classic treat. For example, in Bogotá, obleas are often served with chocolate sauce, while in Medellín, they’re filled with guava paste. No matter how you enjoy them, obleas satisfy your sweet tooth cravings.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) – Colombian Food
What Is a Typical Breakfast in Colombia?
A typical breakfast in Colombia is Calentado, a dish consisting of rice, beans, and eggs cooked together in one pan. It’s usually served with avocado slices and a side of arepa (a type of flatbread).
What Is Colombia’s National Drink?
Colombia’s national drink is Aguardiente, an alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane. It is typically flavored with anise and has a sweet yet fiery taste.
What Is Colombia’s Main Dish?
Colombia’s main dish is Bandeja Paisa, a hearty and comforting plate made with rice, beans, ground beef or chorizo, chicharrón (fried pork rinds), and plantains, and topped with a fried egg. It is one of the most popular dishes in Colombia and can be found in restaurants all over the country.
Conclusion – Colombian Food
Colombian food is a must-try for everyone with its instinctive ingredients, savory seasonings, herbs, and spices. The options listed above are just some of the delectable dishes that the country has to offer.
When you’re in Colombia, savor these distinctive traditional foods for an awesome culinary experience. You can even try them at home!
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock /Julia-Bogdanova