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Food & Dining in Bolivia
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Food & Dining in Bolivia

The Altiplano is thought to be the place where potatoes were first cultivated, and Bolivians still eat plenty of them. The variety of shapes and colours (blue, white, yellow) is impressive, and some are very tasty. Soup is also common, and most Bolivians begin both lunch and dinner with a hearty bowl. Fish is surprisingly good in this landlocked country, especially the trout from Lake Titicaca. Aji (a red-pepper salsa) is often served on the side as a condiment, so you can regulate your own level of spiciness.

Traditional dishes include silpancho (a thin slice of meat over rice, potatoes and a fried egg), milanesa (beef or chicken breaded and fried like a schnitzel), lomo montado (pork), chuleta (a chop, usually beef), picante de pollo (spicy chicken), chuno (freeze-dried potato), chairo (potato and vegetable soup), trucha (trout), surubi (a river fish in the lowlands) and sajta de pollo (chicken with hot pepper). Be aware that what is advertised as a sausage is usually a hot dog. Saltenas and empanadas (small meat and vegetable pies) are sold on the street everywhere. Breakfast in Bolivia is usually nothing more than bread and coffee or tea, so saltenas and empanadas are popular midmorning snacks. Lunch is the main meal of the day, and most restaurants offer a reasonably priced, fixed almuerzo (lunch) that includes soup, a main course, dessert and coffee or tea. Dinner is usually eaten after 7pm.

In La Paz, Al Pazzo Salteñas, Capitán Revelo 2019 (at the corner of Calle Goytia), is a tiny little storefront that sells nothing but salteñas. Once you place your order, the owner picks up a phone and calls her kitchen. The Pastelería La Regina, right below the Restaurant Surucachi at Avenida 16 de Julio 1598, also serves good salteña.

For a much simpler but exquisite local experience, visit Las Delicias, Estudiantes 50. Here, the owner serves her amazing pastries; some are very unusual but delicious, like the sonso, made from mashed yucas. There's also a good selection of empanadas and humitas.

The best place for lunch with a terrific view is the Café Gourmet Mirador, Plaza Anzures, across from the Recoleta. You'll dine outside under lovely bamboo umbrellas with Sucre stretched at your feet; the speciality here is crepes.

The larger cities have a number of international restaurants serving very good food, but few are open for dinner on Sunday. Mate de coca (coca-leaf tea) is served everywhere. (It's best if freshly brewed with loose leaves, rather than from tea bags.) The local beers are rather disappointing, particularly in the highlands: They tend to be bland and bubbly. Pacena or Ducal are the best of the lot.





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