Food & Cuisine in Colombia

You are sure to enjoy the delicious food of Colombia on your Colombia holiday. The restaurants in Colombia serve local as well as international cuisine. Colombian food is marked by a fusion of indigenous cuisine with European cuisine. The staple diet of the Colombians includes tubers like yuca and potatoes, accompanied with chicken, beef, fish or pork. Cereals such as rice and corn are eaten widely, as are bananas. Other important foods in Colombia are pepper, tomatoes, onion, garlic and other vegetables. Beans, lentils and peas are also frequently eaten.

The local Colombian fare is varied and delicious, with a hint of Spanish flavour!

Our Colombia restaurant guide below will tell you all you need to know about the delicious food and cuisine in Colombia. A fine Colombian meal is the perfect way to end a day of shopping in Colombia for the ideal gift or souvenir. Come and taste the appertising food and cuisine of Colombia! For a look at what the local dining scene is like, click on the following links:

- Santa Marta
- Cartagena

Food & Cuisine in Colombia

There's cheap food available in Colombia at the comida corriente. These cheap restaurants have a set menu of the day. You get soup first, followed by a plate of meat, potatoes, beans, platanos and some rice, along with a bit of salad. Sometimes there are lentils, pasta or chickpeas. The meal includes a small soft drink. As you would expect, the food is not the best you can find in Colombia, but it is sufficient.

None of the local dishes you'll taste in Colombia can be categorised as a "national dish", but the sancocho and arepa come pretty close. Some of the other popular regional dishes are the lechona Tolimense, the mote de queso, bandeja paisa, cuchuco and ajiaco. If you like wine, avoid the poor quality Colombian and choose the reasonably priced Argentinian and Chilean wines instead.

The series of dishes known as Fritanga will remind you of the barbecue, and Colombians throughout the country enjoy it. But if you don't have a particular fondness for chunchullo (fried cow intestines), stay away from Fritanga! The dish usually also includes sausage like chorizo, morcilla and longaniza, grilled chicken and beef, and ribs. It is accompanied by arepas made with choclo (sweet corn), and mini potatoes.

You can enjoy all kinds of fruit in Colombia. Some exotic species of fruit grow in the countryside and the forests. The country's geography and climate enables an abundant array of crops, as well as saltwater and freshwater fish.

Fruit in Colombia

Colombia is the place for fruit lovers. You can find big fresh fruit salads here, and the fruit is much better tasting than what you find back home. Often it's more than just fruit. You can get other things in the salad, such as cheese and a sweet yoghurt sauce. So it's better to let them know in case you want only the fresh fruit. 

Regional Cuisine

A traditional dish found in the Andes and in Bogota is the ajiaco, which is a soup made from corn, chicken, avocado, potatoes, and a local herb called guascas. Ajiaco is accompanied with white rice, avocado, and salad with a hint of lemon, or salty or sweet tostadas. People in Bogota often breakfast on a soup called changua, made with scallion, milk, and eggs. It is the custom to add cream and capers to the table prior to a meal.

On the Caribbean coast, dishes are mildly spicy and have a lot of lobster and fish. In the coastal cities, coconut rice is a familiar meal. The Arab immigrants introduced the widely consumed Suero to Baranquilla and other cities on the coast. Suero tastes a bit like yoghurt, and also like sour cream. Arepa is prepared in various ways in the Caribbean region. Some of these preparations are: arepae'queso (arepa with cheese), arepa limpia, and arepe'huevo (arepa with egg). Because of the cowboy-like culture of the Llanos of the east, a common dish is barbecued meat. There's the ternera llanera, barbecued over an open fire on a vertical spit. The people here also eat freshwater fish like the amarillo.

In the Amazon, Brazilian and Peruvian influences can be seen in the local food. Local resources such as beef and other livestock, as well as freshwater fish, are typical ingredients in Amazonian cuisine. The local food of the Amazon reflects Peruvian and Brazilian influences. Typical ingredients of this cuisine are local resources like beef as well as other livestock, and freshwater fish.

The Tolima region has its own delicacy - tamales. Packaged in plantain leaves, tamales are boiled for three to four hours. Tolimenses are made from corn dough, and stuffed with peas, potatoes, carrots, pork, rice, chicken and various spices. A typical Sunday treat in the Tolima region is lechona, which is whole roast pig stuffed with vegetables, pork and rice. It is eaten throughout Colombia.

Things to Know

In Colombia you can expect table service. Alcohol (except lager) is rarely drunk with meals. Non-alcoholic carbonated drinks are called gaseosa. Licensing hours do not exist in Colombia.

National Specialities

Ajiaco (stew with chicken, herbs, cream, corn, capers and varieties of potato) Arepas (hard corn pancakes with savoury sauces).
Bandeja paisa (meat with rice, avocado, red beans, and fried plantain), typically found in Medellín.
Mariscos (seafood, particularly lobster) is a Caribbean coast speciality.

National drinks

Tinto (small black coffee). Red wine is also known as tinto or as vino tinto.
Aguila (beer)
Aguardiente (a fiery spirit flavoured with aniseed)
Canelazo (rum-based cocktail drunk cold or hot)

Legal drinking age: 18 years.

Expect to tip the usual10% in restaurants.