Want to learn more about food from Colombia? Looking for Colombian dishes to try? Read our guide below then check out our guides to Argentinian food and Venezuelan food and then discover our favourite Mexican recipes.


Colombian food: 10 things we love

Fruit markets

Paloquemao fruit and vegetable market in Bogotá is an absolute must-visit for a taste of local Colombian commerce and culture. It’s brimming with vibrantly coloured fruit and veg of all shapes and sizes; try everything that you haven’t seen before and look out for maracuya (passion fruit), sapote and soursop.

Discover our passion fruit recipes.

Fruit vendor in Bogota Market

Speciality coffee shops and cafés

The past few years have been good for speciality coffee shops in Bogotá, with cafés popping up across the city. Most of these sell coffee sourced directly from growers and roasted in-house, so you won’t find many huge brands here – only local ones with a personal touch. We recommend giving Colo Coffee and Casa Café Cultor a go.

Woman pouring milk into a coffee in a Colo Coffee shop in Colombia

Carnaval de Barranquilla

Carnaval de Barranquilla (Barranquilla’s Carnival) is one of Colombia’s most important folkloric celebrations and one of the biggest carnivals in the world. A joyous four-day celebration of everything it means to be Colombian. The streets are turned into rainbows with endless dancing, music and parades. The carnival begins on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday and the hot spot of all festivities takes place in the city of Barranquilla, perched along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Food is, of course, everywhere – try carimañolas (long pieces of yuca dough stuffed with meat or cheese), arepas de huevo (corn dough filled with egg), papas rellenas (fried balls of mashed potatoes with ground beef) and empanadas.

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Coffee plantation tour

If you love coffee (and even if you don’t), this is a must. No trip to Colombia is complete without a tour of a coffee plantation. Visit the coffee regions of Salento and San Agustín for the beautiful scenery, and don’t forget to join local coffee tours to get a detailed history of the Colombian coffee industry. Of course, enjoy as many delicious cups of their freshly grown coffee as you can. And make sure to sneak a few coffee cherries in as you tour the plantation.

Check out Celeste Wong's coffee guides for more expert knowledge.

Chocolate con queso

If it can be smothered, covered, stuffed or mixed in, Colombians will find a way to include cheese in your meal. From drinks to fruit salad, cheese is infused in the lifeblood of Colombian food and we love it. Among all this cheesy goodness, chocolate con queso (hot chocolate with cheese) is a must try. Mercado de La Perseverancia in Bogotá does a really good one.


In the heart of Colombia – the capital, Bogotá – the signature dish is ajiaco. A big, hearty dish of hot soup made from three different kinds of potato, it is typically eaten with rice, avocado and corn. Sides of capers and soured cream are sometimes provided for you to mix in.

Ajiaco - A traditional colombian soup of chicken, pototoes and corn garnished with capers, avacodo and cream


Found at almost every street corner or town centre, you cannot leave Colombia without trying an empanada. While recipes vary across different regions of Colombia, these fritters are made with corn flour and filled with potatoes and vegetable or meat. But the best way to enjoy them is by dunking them in the spicy, tangy ají sauce that comes on the side.

Try our recipe for beef empanadas.

Person rolling out the dough for empanadas

Bandeja paisa

Hailing from the Paisa region of Antioquia, bandeja paisa loosely translates to ‘farmer’s tray’ and reflects the signature generosity and hospitality that Colombians are known for. It typically includes rice, black beans, fried plantains, eggs, steak and chorizo – a hearty dish meant to be shared and enjoyed with good company.


Served hot or cold, this delicious drink made from unrefined cane sugar (panela) is popular across all parts of Colombia. The drink is prepared by mixing the panela with hot water and a squeeze of lime juice to cut through the sweetness. While traditionally a non alcoholic drink, you can find variations with a drop of anise-flavoured aguardiente, a local distilled spirit.



Great for your budget, not so great for your waistline. Every street corner in Colombia is occupied by open-sided bakeries selling bread, cakes and tinto from early morning till late at night. Local plazas are filled with carts selling everything from pan de yuca to buñuelos. Trust us when we say you’re never far from a delicious pastry.

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