The most important tip I can give you on Bolivia local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting Bolivia, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in Bolivia
The cuisine of Bolivia might be called the original “meat and potatoes” — the latter (locally called papas from the Quechua) were first cultivated by the Inca before spreading throughout the world. The most common meat is beef, though chicken and llama are also easily found. Pork is relatively common. Deep frying (chicharron) is a common method of cooking all sorts of meat, and fried chicken is a very popular quick dish; at times the smell permeates the streets of Bolivian cities. Guinea pigs (cuy) and rabbits (conejo) are eaten in rural areas, though you can sometimes find them in urban restaurants as well.
A common condiment served with Bolivian meals is llajhua, a spicy sauce similar to Mexican salsa. Some notable Bolivian dishes: Pique a lo macho – grilled chunks of meat in a slightly spicy sauce with tomatoes and onion, on potatoes Silpancho or Milanesa – beef pounded to a thin, plate-sized patty, served on a bed of rice and potatoes, with a fried egg on top (Similar to wiener schnitzel). Street food and snacks: Anticucho – Beef hearts grilled on a skewer, served with potatoes and a spicy corn sauce Salchipapa – Thinly sliced sausage fried with potatoes Choripan – Chorizo (spicy sausage) sandwich, served with grilled onions and lots of sauce Mid-Morning snacks typically consists of any of several of meat-filled buns: Salteña – A baked bun filled with meat and potatoes in a slightly sweet or spicy sauce.
Be careful when you take a bite, as the sauce will drip all over! Tucumana – Like a salteña but fried Empanada – Similar to a saltena, often filled with cheese as well as meat Cuñape – A small roll filled with cheese, similar to Brazilian pão de queijo. The bread is made from cassava flour. Many people also start off the day with some concoction involving fruit: Ensalada de frutas – Many different fruits chopped in a bowl of yogurt. Very filling. Some stalls may have honey, nuts or gelatin on top, if you like.
Vegetarians will find decent to very good options in Gringo-places around the country. But also at market places, there are good vegeratian options on offer (usually potatoes, rice, fried egg and salad for about 7Bs.) In bigger cities, there are some (decent to good) fully vegetarian restaurants.
What to Drink in Bolivia
Juice bars appear at most markets. Shakes (either with water or milk) are 2-3Bs. Locals can be seen drinking Vitaminico, an egg, beer, and sugar concoction or “Vitima” which includes coca leaves. Licuado – Water or milk blended with your favorite fruit combination. A big spoonful of sugar will be added unless you specifically ask them not to.
Try the milk and papaya licuado. Vitaminico – Don’t ask what’s in here. Many fruits, milk, sugar, a shot of beer, and, if you wish, a whole egg (with shell). Mocochinchi – A drink made by brewing peaches and spices together in water. Very good but some people are turned off by the shriveled peach which is typically served with each glass. Api – A traditional corn base drink usually found in the open-air markets. If you didn’t know it was corn you’d never guess it though because this stuff is good. Chicha de camba, chicha de maiz, chicha de mani – non-alcoholic chichas, made from corn and similar stuff. Very popular in the East of the country.
Alcohol The legal drinking/purchasing age is 18, however enforcement is lax. But in bars and clubs, expect hash treatment if your not the legal age. As the age limit is a lot more enforced in those places. As bar and club owners can get fined. Bolivia Altiplano traditional alcoholic drink is chicha de colla, a whitish, sour brew made from fermented corn and drunk from a hemispherical bowl fashioned from a hollowed gourd (round-bottomed so you can’t put it down).
It’s customary to spill a bit of chicha on the ground before and after drinking it as an offering to Pachamama, the Inca earth godess. Singani is a grape liquor that’s mixed with Sprite or ginger ale with lime garnish to make a cocktail called chuflay. There are a number of local beers, the largest being Paceña and its high-end brand Huari. El Inca is a very sweet low-alcohol dark beer (think Guiness with sugar and a lower alcohol content). Orange Cocktails are a popular drink too! Tarija is located at 1924 meters above sea level, and is known for its wine-making, vast vineyards, and award-winning wines.
Hence you can visit and taste wine at its beautiful wineries, such as: Campos De Solana, Kohlberg, Casa Vieja, Valle De Concepción, and Casa Real, where the famous Singani is made.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.