Conjure up images of Bolivia, and perhaps what first comes to mind are rink-like salt flats that mirror the sky, grinning alpacas, and majestic Andean peaks. Once you jet-set to this nation in the middle of South America, though, the local cuisine is sure to make an impression as well — and, while it's well known for its quinoa, Bolivian cuisine is much more than that. As those with the travel bug know, globetrotting works best on a full stomach. When visiting Bolivia, these are the mains and snacks that visitors will be drooling over.
1. Llama tartar: Stopping in La Paz? Tourists looking for a spot to dine out in the highest capital city on Earth shouldn’t sleep on Gustu. The restaurant, which serves Bolivian fare with a modern twist, has a stack of glowing reviews. Those who are new to the flavours of the country can get a chance to try some of the most mouth-watering menu options during their stay — crudo de llama being one such example. If you’re new to eating llama, you might as well sample it from the best chefs in town.
2. Salteñas: Many of Bolivia’s South American neighbours serve up the empanada, but here, salteñas are the savoury pastry of choice. (Some will say this is the must-try snack of this Andean nation.) These spicy baked pockets are filled with different kinds of meat and vegetables, and, given their ubiquity, they’re likely to fuel your visit.
3. Charque: In the country that boasts the largest salt flats in the world, visitors will also find lots and lots of salted meat. Charque is Bolivia’s answer to beef jerky. Often made with llama meat, this snack — which is also sometimes made using beef — is prepared by salting flank cuts and then allowing them to dry.
4. Anticuchos: This is a great late-night snack for those travellers who aren’t squeamish at the idea of eating cow hearts. (Travel is about being adventurous, right?) Made popular by the country’s Peruvian neighbours, anticuchos should be easy to spot at street vendors for an on-the-go snack on a skewer between activities. In most cases, your skewer will be topped with a potato — after all, these root vegetables do grow aplenty in this region — or a hunk of bread.
5. Chicharrón: Who doesn’t like fried pork belly? While many cultures around the world have their own take on this favourite, Latin America arguably does it the best. Travel buds who have spent the day working up an appetite can satisfy cravings with this crispy, crackly pork. Pair it with a beer and squeeze a bit of lime juice, and your night is complete.
6. Achachairú: Load up on this fruit during your visit, because this is a flavour of Bolivia that most guests will miss upon returning home. To eat it, crack the hard orange exterior and scoop out the white, pulpy flesh inside. Equal parts sweet and tangy, an achachairú will make your taste buds dance.
7. Del Mani: After a busy morning of sightseeing, this popular lunch menu item is not to be overlooked. Who doesn’t love a good soup? This one is peanut-flavoured and thick, and will quiet the grumbling stomachs of travellers who have worked up an appetite while hiking, trekking, or simply sightseeing.
8. Singani: While a packed day on vacation might typically end with a beer, switch things up while exploring Bolivia and pour a sample of singani, the country’s national spirit. It’s unique in the sense that it’s made from grapes found only in a specific part of the Andes, and distilled at altitude — a great way to toast to new friends and amazing experiences abroad.
Ready to sample the tastes of Bolivia? G Adventures can get you there. Check out our small group tours to Bolivia here.