Bolivia is home to towering snow-capped mountains, the largest salt flats in the world, high mountain hot springs, Inca ruins, tropical valleys, the Amazon rainforest, vast wetlands, Spanish colonial cities, and many more attractions.
Bolivian gastronomy is also famous for its variety and its Spanish-Moorish influence; it is based on typical products from different regions such as fruits and vegetables, meats, wheat and corn, among others, which are used to create delicious dishes. The cuisine varies depending on the geographical region of the country, meaning that each region has its characteristic flavor.
Here are some useful tips on what to expect when looking for traditional food in different regions of Bolivia:
Anticucho is one of the must-try typical dishes in Bolivia.
It is a type of meat skewer with potatoes. Everything is grilled and served with spicy peanut sauce. It is a very tasty and inexpensive dish that is usually eaten with hands.
This traditional Bolivian dish consists of beef tongue with a spicy twist. It is served with dehydrated potatoes or chuño, with cilantro, onion, and tomato sauce.
If you like milanesa, you’re in luck, because this dish is made with breaded meat, served with fried eggs, potatoes, white rice, and carrot and beet salad. It’s one of the heartiest dishes to try in Bolivia for a filling meal.
This is undoubtedly one of the simplest but unique typical dishes of Bolivia. To make sonso de yuca, yucca is mashed and mixed with cheese. The peculiarity of this dish is that it is prepared on a grill, which gives it an exquisite smoky flavor.
Tamales are also typical in Bolivian cuisine, and in this case, Bolivian humintas are sweet. They are usually served for breakfast or as a snack, and they are made by mixing grated sweet corn with cinnamon, sugar, raisins, and sometimes cheese. All this filling is wrapped in corn husks (tamales) and cooked by steaming or grilling.
Chancho is the term used for roasted whole pig, but in this case, it is a whole pig cooked very slowly over low heat. The entire pig is placed over the fire and cooked for eight to twelve hours, usually overnight. It is one of the typical dishes to try in Bolivia during holidays and special celebrations.
In La Paz, you will find this traditional pork sandwich. A piece of crispy pork leg is placed inside a round bread, accompanied by ají, onion, and tomato slices. It’s a snack you must try.
Cuñapé is a cheese bread that is made in Santa Cruz, and its particularity is that it is made with yucca flour and baked cheese. It’s delicious, so if you try it, you’ll likely want to have it again.
This dish from Bolivian cuisine is typical of the valleys region, and it is made with shredded beef, fresh beans, potatoes, onion, and hard-boiled egg. It is served with a sauce made from onion, tomato, and ají, which makes it very flavorful.
To make this dish, ground corn (a typical grain of the country) is cooked with potatoes and pork skin. The result is a thick and hearty broth with lots of flavor.
For meat lovers, Pique Macho is one of the dishes to try in Bolivia, as it consists of diced meat, sausage, french fries, and tomatoes. The dish is topped with locotos, a type of spicy pepper that gives it a special touch.
Another typical dish from eastern Bolivia is majadito, which consists of toasted rice with dried meat. It is served with fried eggs, accompanied by a tomato salad and fried plantains.
Within Bolivian cuisine, there are also empanadas called “salteñas”. These are prepared with chicken or beef, and are filled with potatoes, peas, olives, and onions. The result is a very hearty and delicious empanada.
Masaco is a dish typical of the eastern region of the country. It is made with mashed yucca or green plantains, mixed with pork cracklings.