Colombia is a very beautiful country that has everything any tourist can desire. You can find beautiful beaches (in San Andres, Taganga, Cartagena), jungles (Leticia, Puerto Narino), cloud forests (Caldas, Antioquia), and much more. Besides all the natural beauty of this country you also can enjoy a large variety of Colombian traditional food. Every Colombian region has its own flavors and here a list of 14 must try Colombian foods and where to find them.
14 Must Try Colombian Foods
Mapara fish is a type of catfish. It is quite a fatty fish with few small bones. You can find Mapara in Peru, Brazil, and Colombia. One of the Colombian regions – Pacific region (Pacifico) specializes in cooking this fish, and seafood in general.
The Colombian way to cook Mapara fish is with turmeric sauce. Turmeric sauce is quite a popular spice that gives a beautiful yellow color and rich taste.
Yucca is a starchy tuberous vegetable which is native to South America. It is also known as cassava or manioc.
The way Colombians cook yucca is quite delicious. The dish is called fried yucca balls (which is self explanatory) stuffed with cheese or pork and served with different sauces.
Fried yucca balls are very popular in the Caribbean region of Colombia.
There are many ways to cook tamales that you can try in South America. Usually tamales are known as a side dish made of corn dough, however Colombian tamales are different.
Colombian tamale is served as a made dish. It is made of corn mash and meat wrapped in banana leaves. The meat that is used for tamales can be chicken, pork, goat, or beef. Traditional Colombian tamales are famous for their taste. It is also quite a heavy and filling dish.
The best traditional Colombian tamales I have tried were in Bogota.
Patacon is a fried crispy plantain. It is also known as tostones around South America and the Caribbean.
In Colombia, and in general in South America, patacones are served as a side dish. My favorite patacones are from ripe plantains. They are usually more sweet and caramelized while being fried.
You can find patacones in any region of Colombia.
Aborrajado Colombianos is another dish that is made out of plantains, but always out of sweet plantains.
Aborrajado Colombianos is a kind of dessert that is heavy on carbs and on flavor.
There are three layers in Aborrajado Colombianos. Inside you will find sweet cheese that tastes a bit like a custard. The cheese is covered with a layer of sweet plantain that is also covered in crispy dough.
At the end, Aborrajado Colombianos is a fried dough ball stuffed with sweet plantains and sweet cheese. Probably not the healthiest dessert, but very delicious.
Colombian traditional BBQ is called asado. Asado is meat grilled over an open fire. Colombians grill the meat on a metallic cone grate.
Although every country has their own BBQ, Colombian BBQ has a very unique and interesting flavor. Perhaps this is due to the spices they use, or the sides they serve with meat (sweet plantains, butter avocado).
Ajiaco is a traditional Colombian soup that is very popular in Bogota (the capital of Colombia). Along with arepas, ajiaco is also considered a national dish of Colombia.
Ajiaco is made out of chicken, three types of potatoes, corn, and guasca (herb). Ajiaco is served with sour cream, and capers that you put into the soup, with rice and butter avocado on the side.
Rondon is a heavy stew that is made out of pork, fish, plantains, yucca, and dumplings. All these ingredients are cooked in coconut milk for a long time.
Rondon is a very popular dish on San Andres island. It is their specialty. The best way to try it is in a small family restaurant (there are a few good ones located on the beaches around the island). This way you will taste an authentic San Andres’ rondon.
Arepa is a traditional substitution of bread in Colombia. It is made out of corn dough in the shape of a flat circle (looks like a pancake). Arepas can be cooked in different ways. They can be baked, fried, or roasted.
Arepas are served as a side dish to many traditional Colombian dishes like breakfast, or Bandeja Paisa.
Bandeja Paisa is a traditional Colombian dish that reminds me a bit of traditional English breakfast.
Bandeja Paisa usually contains one or two types of Colombian sausages, beef (not always), chicharron (fried pork with skin), red beans, rice, plantains, arepas, a slice of butter avocado, and a fried egg.
You can try Bandeja Paisa pretty much everywhere in Colombia, but it originates in the Antioquia (Medellin) region. It is a meal for farmers, so extremely filling and satisfying after a hard morning working on the finca.
Colombia is a country with great warm weather, no wonder ice creams are quite popular here. One of the traditional desserts that I have tried in Colombia is a fruit popsicle, which is a popular street food.
In Medellin, there is an area that is called Comuna 13. Comuna 13 used to be the most dangerous neighborhood in the world, however nowadays it is the most touristic neighborhood in Medellin.
One of the things to do in Comuna 13 is to try their local delight – fruit popsicles. It is made out of fresh fruit juice with fruit bits and served in a plastic cup for your convenience. I must say, the fruit popsicle is a great and refreshing dessert that you would love on a hot day.
Borojo fruit is one of those Colombian exotic fruits that you should try while traveling in Colombia. The fruit is native to the Pacific region of Colombia. It looks brown, almost rotten, when it’s ripe and green when it’s not.
Borojo fruit is used to make jams, wines, and desserts. However the most popular form is juice. Borojo juice is a brown thick drink that tastes sweet and a little tangy.
Chicha corn drink is a fermented alcoholic drink that is made of corn. It is quite a popular Colombian drink that you can try in Bogota (street vendors sell it in the center). Chicha has a very unique taste that I really liked, until I learned how this drink was made 100 years ago.
I am not going to write about the making process of Chicha corn drink that people used 100 years ago, because after you know it is difficult to make yourself drink chicha. So try this traditional drink first and then Google the history of it.
Michelada is a well-known alcoholic drink in Mexico, but it is popular all over Central and South America. In Colombia, however, the way they make michelada is different from the others.
In Colombia a michelada is thick and made with shredded pieces of fruit. That brings a stronger fruity flavor.
One of the best micheladas I have tried was at the top of Guatape rock.
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