Colombian Cuisine

Speaking about Colombian Cuisine, we come to the word criollo, that means everything which results from the blend of European and American. In the culinary field we call criollo the cultural mix of another cuisine with its contribution of techniques and flavors to our native cuisine, creating a completely new one.

In Colombia, besides the fertility of our land that grows practically everything, there are expert cooks with unlimited imagination. They infuse their feelings into their preparations, discovering new ways of seasoning and creating recipes.

Colombian cuisine is made of natural products from our tropical land; we have a wide variety of ingredients: fruits, vegetables, cereals, meats, fish and seafood, just to name some. Colombian cuisine varies regionally due to the different products available in every zone of the country, and the varieties of cultures that inhabits and have influenced its culinary customs.

We have more than five different regional cuisines. Hopefully, in the future, I will extend my writing about each one. Right now I will just list them, and discuss them briefly.

Caribbean Cuisine

As its name indicates, it is influenced by its Caribbean surrounding. Caribbean cuisine is made mainly of seafood, tropical fruits, corn and coconut, among others. This cuisine has been influenced by the Spaniards, Africans and Arabs that arrived to inhabit this region since the colonization in the 1500’s until the 1900’s.

Some famous dishes from this region are: 


Fried “mojarra”, a tropical fish 


Fruit Salad 

Chicken in coconut 

Stuffed squid 

 Crab claws in vinaigrette sauce

Oyster cocktail

Shrimp “ceviche”

Fish stew 

Squashed and Fried Plantains

 Coconut rice 

“Arepa de Huevo”

Cassava balls stuffed with meat

 Cassava cake

Bogotá Cuisine

Bogota is our capital city and is located in the center of the country. It is a city within a region immersed in a green landscape of pastures, with a cold climate due to its altitude of 2.600 meters above sea level and the peaks of the Andean mountains that surround it. 

Recipes from Bogotá are:

Ajiaco Santafereño 

“Piquete Bogotano”

 Mixed grilled

 Baked Sobrebarriga with potatoes bathed with “hogao”and cheese 

“Tamal con Chocolate Santafereño”

Puchero Bogotano


Cuchuco soup 

 Salted Potatoes    

Bread soup

Avocado with chili


 Corn “envueltos”

Fruits in syrup


Milk skim Dessert

“Chicha”, a corn fermented beverage

  Fruit smoothies

 Oatmeal beverage  

Cauca River Valley Cuisine

It includes the western and central chain of the Andean mountains that surround it from south to north. This region is geographically varied and rich in contrasts. Most of the country’s active volcanoes are located in this area of the Andeans; also includes its high-altitude Andean “páramos” an ecosystem unique in the world with a lot of rainy tropical woodlands; tropical hot forests and some plains over the fertile valleys bathed by the Cauca River.

Colombian cuisine recipes from this region are:


Prawn ceviche

 Fish ceviche 

Sancocho de Gallina or Chicken Stew

 Beefsteak in a criollo style         

Empanadas de Pipián 

 Grilled trout

Tamales de Pipián

 “Arroz Atollado”, a kind of paella

 Baked “Cuy” or Guinea Pig

 Patacones or green plantains

 Plantain cake

 Baked plantain with cheese and “bocadillo” or guava sweet

 Rice pudding

Shepherd’s cake

“Natilla” with sugar cane “panela” and cinnamon     



“Manjar Blanco” 

“Pandebonos” from corn flour and cheese 



 Fruit Salpicón  

Coffee Triangle Cuisine

It is a region within the central chain of the Andeans mountains, with its river valleys and foothills. A zone close to the Ruiz and Tolima’s volcanoes, bathed by the lava and ashes from its old eruptions. A soil base of granites and bedrocks rich in gold and silver layers. The Coffee Triangle zone has a special temperature and climate, that seems to be always on springtime; its geography is mountainous, green and varied, full of trees and wax palm trees, our national tree. This zone is named after its principal product, coffee. Its foothills are well planted with coffee plants, plantain trees, and tropical fruit trees next to the rivers. In the streams there are “guadua” forests. Guadua is a species of bamboo, and “cambulo” (flowering trees) woodlands.

Some typical Colombian dishes from this zone are:


 Fried arepa soup 


Beef tongue in tomato sauce

Fried plantains

Red beans with pig trotters

Baked pork

“Bandeja Paisa”

Special sausages, called “chorizos”

“Arepa antioqueña” made of white corn

Mazamorra with milk and panela

Fried bacon, called “chicharrón”

Alfandoque, a sweet made of sugar cane

Baked bananas


Fruit Juices




“Natilla” with sugar cane “panela”and cinnamon

Cundinamarca and Boyacá Cuisne

The cuisine from the Cundinamarca and Boyacá Plateau, a zone between 2.600 and 2.800 meters above sea level. A zone over the mountains with rich soils ideal for agriculture, a diversified agriculture, due to its varied geography with differences in humidity and temperature. 

Dishes prepared in this zone are:

Wheat cuchuco with pig’s backbone 

Corn “envueltos” 

Salted potatoes



Mazamorra from vegetables and meat


Cuajada with sugar cane syrup 

Postre de Natas made of skins skimmed from boiling milk

“Chicha” a corn fermented beverage

Cuisne from Santander to La Guajira

This is a zone north of the Boyacá plateau, that goes from the Santander department to the Caribbean coast in La Guajira. A zone with a more dry ambiance but not arid. Here the vegetation is more limited. Due to its diversity in geography and cultural aspects, this is a region with many regions in it. This is the only region in Colombia that breed “chivos”, a kind of goat, because it settled very well in its dry foothills and dry extensions. Also the roasted “culonas” ants are exclusive from this zone are.

Colombian cuisine dishes prepared in this zone are:

Rabbit casserole

Trip with chickpeas

Trip with chickpeas

Potato broth

 Lobster salad 

Roasted young “chivo” or goat

Fried Cassava 

Rice with Pepitoria 

“Mute”, a heavy soup made of ox, beef and pork  

Roasted “culona”ants 

Arepa Santadereana made of yellow corn 


Chocolate milk 


Bocadillo veleño, a guava paste  

Cuisine from Tolima and Huila

It is a zone around the central Magdalena River valley. One of the most important agricultural lands right now in Colombia. 

Famous dishes from this zone are:

Lechona a stuffed with a mix of rice, chickpeas and pork meat pig 

Viudo de pescado, a fish stew made of catfish 

“Sancocho de Gallina”  or Chicken stew

Huila roast pork 

Tamal tolimense

 Juan Valerio, a plantain, bacon and onion ball


Cassava bread 

Achira biscuits made of achira flour

Guava jelly 

Guava fruit paste

 Mistela beverage

Orinoquia Cuisine

A zone formed by grassy plains and swampy patches with groups of bushy vegetation growing along rivers and streams. On the western Orinoquia, by the Andeans foothills there is a rock formation called Sierra de la Macarena, now declared a national park for its exceptional flora and fauna. All over the Orinoquia, its soil is bathed by wide rivers that at some times of the year flood large extensions of land, that’s why fishing is an important source of food. The Orinoquia is a territory with the largest amount of bird species in the world, although just a few are edible. One of the biggest mammals on this zone is the “chiguiro” the world’s largest rodent.

Famous Colombian cuisine dishes from this zone are:

Guinea fowl baked in clay 

Ternera a la Llanera 

Cachama fish

Fishes such as Cachama and Tiger catfish in different preparations


Beef or pork salted, dried or smoked

Fariña or Mandioc flour 


Amazonas Cuisine

This zone is formed by the Amazon rainforest, where the jungle form the topsoil and where if deforested become a deserted soil forever. In the jungle many species live together. Although there are many rivers in this zone, many affluent of the Amazon River, not all are a good source of fish because some are poor in nutrients. Here fruits are considered side dishes, the concept of marinade or sauce does not exist. If a fish is cooked with a fruit like guava it is not to enhance its flavor but to use the fruit as a symbol.

Famous dishes from this zone are:

Boiled fish 

Grilled fish 

Cachama fish

Fishes such as Cachama and Tiger catfish in different preparations


 Beef or pork salted, dried or smoked

Fariña or Mandioc flour 

Fruits such as copoazú, camu-camu and guaraná

 Corn and plantains

Well, after all this quick tour through the geographical and cultural regions of the Colombian cuisine, please feel free to explore our culinary diversity, not only because of our various ingredients, or because our cultural diversity, but because of our creative and talented people who has been dedicated to cook and serve their guests.

Enjoy the Colombian cuisine. Choose from our list of Colombian cuisine restaurants in Bogota and make your order:

The List


Anticuario San Alejo

Art Café

Balcón del Teusacá  

Casa de Piedra  

Casa Santa Clara   

Casa Vieja


Club Colombia


Doña Elvira

El Paso Steak House

El Portal de la Antigua

El Pórtico



Gaira Café

La Herencia

La Macuira




Santo Pecado

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Recommended Books

Taste of Colombia

A book about our traditional Colombian Cuisine displayed by geographical regions, with exquisite photographs that will give you the urge to try them. 

Delicious Tropical Fruits

One of our cherished treasures is the variety of tropical fruits our land produces. Now imagine all the desserts made with them. Mouth watering.