The most important tip I can give you on Paraguay 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 Paraguay, 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
Paraguayan food is one of the most diverse in south American region. Paraguayans commonly enjoy typical food several times a week all year round. You’ll find much of the standard South American cuisine here with some Brazilian influence as well. Also highly popular are empanadas (meat/egg stuffed in a pastry and baked) and milanesa (breaded and fried chicken/beef/fish) – these are considered fast food, and are also found in other countries in the region
If you order a hamburger at a restaurant, expect it to come topped with a fried egg. Asado (BBQ) is great, and prices are quite reasonable – 20000 Guaranis ($4.00 US) will get you an all-you-can-eat buffet at many nice places. 5000 Guarani is enough to pay for a hamburger. Paraguayan food isn’t particularly spicy, so those who can’t tolerate spices won’t have problems here. There is a lot of traditional food. Chipa-a bread baked in an outdoor oven or “tatacua”, usually made out of mandioca (manioc) flour.
Mandioca is often substituted for potatoes. Sopa Paraguaya is a form of corn bread are two of the most well known. Sopa means soup, so it is very interesting to be actually eating a solid soup, probably the only one in the world. Mandioca, or Mandi´o in Guarani (It is similar to a potato, and is normally eaten boiled but can be fried). It is eaten almost everyday by Paraguayans, and many have it growing on their land. Tortillas in Paraguay are different than in other places in Latin America.
It is more like a fried dough (made with Paraguayan cheese). Try Sopa So’o if you get the chance–it is Paraguayan cornbread with bits of pieces of meat often marinated with garlic and lime. Mbeju is a mandioca starch and paraguayan cheese based flatbread. Lido Bar- Paraguayan institution. Sit at the bar and talk to lady waitresses who have been working there for the past decades. Bolsi- similar to the Lido, but with a more international vibe. Fiambrería La Alemana- Paraguays biggest german charcuterie. Past the front sales spot is a bar where local taxi drivers and alike come to eat a snack. Incredibly hygienic. Check opening hours. Ña Eustaquia- traditional Paraguayan food. La Vienesa- with many stores located in Asuncion.
Traditional french style coffee-bakery and patisserie with a small but cozy neighbourhood restaurant. Lomitos El Gordo – Family restaurant located in San Lorenzo run by paraguayan personality Gregorio Rojas High end: Tierra Colorada- arguably the best chef in Paraguay, Rodolfo Angenscheidt, has open his own restaurant a little over a year ago. The best local ingredients cooked under culinary perfection. Un toro y siete vacas- Traditional paraguayan asado.
What to Drink in Paraguay
Tap water in Asuncion, and for sure Ciudad del Este, is NOT potable! Tap water in the rest of Paraguay should be treated to make it safe for drinking. There have been efforts by PLAN International to bring safe, potable water to communities in rural areas (if there is such water available, it is safe to drink). Ask before drinking water in rural areas however–many Paraguayans will claim their water is safe to drink even if it’s not purified. The national beverage in Paraguay is called terere and is made from the yerba mate plant. It is served cold in guampas, which can be made out of wood or of hollow bull horns, and is drunk through a metal straw called a bombilla.
The infusion is prepared by pouring dry yerba into the cup, then adding water: hot water version is known as mate (preferred in Argentina and Uruguay) while the cold water version is known as tereré and is a local favorite. Mate is usually enjoyed in the early mornings and late evenings especially during cold days in winter. Terere is enjoyed year-round, though not during lunch time and past sunset, as many recommend. Still, you can see every type of Paraguayan (from construction workers to business executives) carry their terere set during all times. Often, herbs are added to the tereré water (locally called ‘remedios’ or ‘yuyos’, which cure different ailments). For example, adding coconut to one’s mate is supposed to help with headaches. The taste is best described as earthy, like a bitter green tea, and it will take getting used to before you can enjoy it. Drinking mate or tereré is most definitely one of the social customs of Paraguay.
Shops will close around noon for a siesta and for a round of mate/tereré with friends. If you can get used to the taste and participate, locals will be appreciative. This drink is also found in other South American countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, and parts of Brazil and Chile. Beer is widely available, as are many liquors. The local beer is Brahma or Pilsen. Paraguayan hard liquor is similar to rum and is known locally as caña. It is made out of sugar cane. Pulp is a very popular Paraguayan soft drink. You can buy it a supermarkets or order it in various restaurantes and bars.
The original is Pulp Naranja, made with real orange juice. Mosto helado is extracted from the sugar cane and very sweet,sometimes mixed with lime juice to make an ‘aloja’. You can find street carts selling mosto near the centro area and in the countryside.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.