Bolivia in my plate. Wandering through Bolivian markets

Bolivia has a most interesting, unique street food from all the South American countries I’ve been in.

Bolivian street food

Street food is very popular in Andean region. Old ladies selling on the street fresh made empanadas, papas rellenas and other snacks, as well as dinner which you can eat sitting on a small plastic chair in the middle of the crowd. We never cooked for ourselves in Bolivia – markets offered us variety of unusual, interesting food and cheap lunches in so called “comedores”


1. Salteñas
My south american love, my obsession. It is a variation of oven-baked empanada, most popular snack in Latin America, but salteña is special. The filling is super yummy – chicken or ground beef along with eggs, potatoes, carrots, and peas, drowning in sweet and spicy gravy. They are very juicy – eating them without making a mess need years of practice. Best achieved by biting the end off and drinking the gravy before eating the rest.

2. Tucumanas
It is a deep friend empanadas with similar fillings to salteñas except for a sweet and sometimes spicy sauce and a crust. Recipes vary somewhat throughout the country.

3. Papas Rellenas
Stuffed potatoes – deep-fried balls of mashed potato which are stuffed with a boiled egg, cheese or ground beef. Tasty and very filling.

4. Cuñapé
Originally from Santa Cruz, this cheesy bread from yuca flour, excellent with coffee.

5. Humitas
Baked sweet tamales with pieces of cheese in the middle. It’s packed in the corn husk and grilled or steamed.

Lunch in comedor

Lunch in market’s comedor will be very simple and filling – this is a basics of Bolivian cousine.

1. Sopa de mani
Among the typical andean soup like caldo de vaca or caldo de gallina, simple meat or chicken stock, you can find an interesting soup – sopa de mani (peanut soup). A simple combination of peanuts, vegetables, pasta, potato and some times with beef ribs or chicken. Actually, peanuts doesnt give it a special flavor (not as much as we expected).

2. Silpancho
Layers of white rice, boiled potatoes, and meat with toppings of fried egg and salsa.

3. Mondongo
Crispy fried pork with a skin accompanied by corn, potatoes and aji chili sauce.

4. Milanesa de Pollo or Carne
Chicken or beef schnitzel accompanied by plain white rice and simple salad of lettuce, tomato, and onion with no dressing.

As you can see, all those dishes have more or less same ingridients and taste. Bolivians are not very creative, food just should be filling. However, we almost never ate not tasty food.

5. Salchipapas
Fast-food made of french fries and fried pieces of sausage, accompanied by different sauces and occasionally served with a fried egg or cheese. Cheap, fast, not interesting.

6. Chorizos Chuquisaqueño
Famous chorizos from Sucre, spicy, extremely tasty – I swear, it was one of the best chorizos I’ve ever eat! Just great, don’t miss if you will pass by Sucre.


7. Chicharron
Heavily salted, deep-fried chunks of beef, chicken or pork, accompanied by choclo – a type of corn local to the region. Not healthy but somehow tasty.

8. Surubi
Fish local to the region

Weird bolivian food


Market is the best place to find something unusual, very local. Bolivia use a lot of dried food, from vegetables to fish and meat. You can buy it from the street – pieces of dry meat just laying on the ground… It doesn’t look right.

1. Charque, dried meat.
It can be llama, horse, whatever. This way the meat would be enable to last for long periods of time.

2. Chuño
Freeze-dried andean potatoes with disgusting taste of… frozen dry potato.

3. Ispi
Tiny fish from Titicaca lake. It should be deep fried and eaten whole, including head. They smell horrible. They are usually accompanied by chuño – this combination made the taste and smell even worse.



1. Mocochinchi
Cold Peach Cider – refreshing street drink made from dehydrated peach called huesillos in spanish (as I told you, dried food is very popular here)

2. Somo
Refreshing healthy drink made from a base of a grain of corn called “frangollo”

3. Coffee to go
Bolivia served me my traditional every morning coffee in a most funny and unexpected way – straight in a plastic bag=)

4. Coca leaves
Legal here and used as a tea as a great help for hikers. You can find it everywhere in a green plastic bags.


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