While tamales can be found all over Latin America, Colombia has a unique way of preparing the dish. Tamales‘ ingredients vary depending on the region of Colombia, but the typical tamale is prepared with a corn based dough which is filled with meats, cheese, fruits, or vegetables (all wrapped and cooked in a plantain leaf, giving it a unique taste). A variety of tamales can be eaten at one of Bogotá’s oldest restaurants in Downtown Bogotá — La Puerta Falsa.
Rondón is an Afro-Caribbean dish typically found on the Caribbean coast and on the off-shore islands. This dish contains coconut rice, fish, yuca, sweet potato, white yams, and snails. The traditional Caribbean restaurant, Miss Celia, on Colombia’s Caribbean island of San Andrés is a good place to find rondón.
Fritanga is typically eaten at social events all around Colombia. The dish is simply a large variety of meats such as chicken, beef, pork, sausage, and pork cracklings accompanied by corn, arepas, and plantain. This dish is often served in a big basket or plate and shared family style. El Tambor in La Calera, just outside of Bogotá, is a great outdoor area to enjoy a fritanga platter with friends or family in the countryside.
Hormigas culonas (literally ‘big ants’) are a traditional snack from Colombia’s Santander region. This specific variety of ants are larger than usual ants and they are either roasted or fried and then topped with salt or other seasoning. Many people believe these ants contain aphrodisiacal properties and they are also a great source of protein. If you dare to sample this delicacy, a great place to try them is at the Color de Hormiga hostel in the town of Barichara in Santander.
Arepas are corn or wheat flour based. They are traditionally served with a variety of toppings or fillings: you can have an arepa con queso (a cheese stuffed arepa), an arepa boyacense (a traditional variation with cheese originating from the Boyacá region) or an arepa de huevo (a deep fried arepa with an egg cracked inside, from the Caribbean region).
Aborrajado is a sweet or savoury dish originating in Colombia’s Valle del Cauca region. This dish is made from deep fried or baked plantain stuffed with cheese and often guava paste. A Cali regional restaurant chain which serves delicious aborrajado is Apolo Restaurants, with 9 restaurants in the area.
Cuchuco is a filling soup originating from the Boyacá region of Colombia, believed to have originated from the indigenous communities that once inhabited the region. This soup contains corn, barley, mashed beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, cilantro, and garlic. A stylish restaurant and bar in Boyacá which serves this cuchuco is BioMio Lounge Bar and Café.
Caldo de costilla
Caldo de costilla is a Colombian family breakfast dish and suggested hangover cure whose recipes have been passed down from generation to generation. It’s a water based soup that contains potatoes, coriander and either beef ribs or a different cut of beef. A great place to sample this dish is at the vibrant and colourful Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao, in Bogotá.