7 Foods from Medellín You Have to Try (And Where to Get Them)

No time to read? One must-try food from Medellin is the Bandeja Paisa.

When you think of Colombian food, what do you think of?

If you’re like most people…nothing. I know that I at least had absolutely no idea what to expect in terms of food when I came to Colombia. 

If anything, I thought that everyone here ate rice and beans. 

Well, rice and beans are certainly a part of your typical paisa diet, but they’re far from the only foods that people eat. 

So, what meals should you try while visiting Medellín? I’ve put together a list of seven must-try foods from Medellin to test out as well as listed out where you can find them. Let’s check it out!

1. Bandeja Paisa

Bandeja Paisa

It’s practically illegal to visit Medellín and not eat a bandeja paisa at some point. Just make sure to loosen your belt buckles before you indulge as this is a big meal.

The bandeja paisa consists of a whopping lineup of food, including: 

  • Beans
  • White rice
  • Grilled beef
  • Chicharrón (fried pork skin)
  • Sweet plantain (or occasionally tostones)
  • Sausage
  • Fried egg
  • Avocado
  • Yellow or white arepa

Do you see what I mean about it being a lot of food?

Now, not every plate will contain these exact ingredients. And, with the rise of hipster culture, you may find some interesting twists on these foods.

Still, in general, this is what you can expect to eat if you sit down to a bandeja paisa.

Where to Get It

There are a couple of places around Medellín that arguably offer up the best bandeja paisa. In my opinion, Hacienda Origen in the center of town is the clear winner. 

Not only does this spot churn out delicious meals, but it’s also close to home. You’ll find it just a short hop and a skip from our beloved El Poblado!

Website: https://haciendaorigen.com/ 

Address: Cra. 49 #52-98, Medellín, Antioquia

How to Make Bandeja Paisa

If you’re wondering how to make homemade Bandeja Paisa, simply follow our step-by-step guide below. 

  1. The beans, powdered beef, and hogao should be prepared in advance, at least one day prior. Store them in the refrigerator. When it’s time to serve the dish, reheat them for a more delectable taste. 
  2. Make the chicharrones. 
  3. Cook the plantains and white rice.
  4. Fry the chorizos and the eggs. 
  5. When serving, spread the rice on a platter or a tray. Place the remaining ingredients however you wish. 
  6. The hogao is frequently served separately and placed in a serving saucer. 

2. Mondongo


Mondongo is almost as famous as the bandeja paisa when it comes to traditional Medellín cuisine. Almost. 

Mondongo is a soup that’s packed full of potatoes, yuca, hen, sausage, or pig meat. 

The key ingredient in this hearty soup, however, is tripe. 

If that doesn’t sound too appealing, just try it! You’ll likely be surprised. 

Where to Get It

There are plenty of restaurants scattered around Medellín where you can get a pretty good Mondongo. Still, my favorite spot has got to be Ajiacos y Mondongos. 

Not only does the restaurant serve a pretty stellar Mondongo, but it has such a cute and cozy atmosphere. Think checkered tablecloths and a sunny kitchen that transports you back to your abuelita’s house. 

The restaurant is also conveniently located. You’ll find it in the heart of El Poblado, making it the ideal spot for you to hang out and grab some traditional chow. 

Website: https://ajiacos-y-mondongos.business.site/

Address: Cl. 8 #42-46, Medellín, Antioquia

How to Make Mondongo

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create homemade Mondongo for your next family lunch!

  1. If you don’t like using grilled beef, tripe is also an option. Wash it with warm water and use lime juice to rub it. Mix water and baking soda and cover the tripe by at least two inches. 
  2. Bring the tripe mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat to allow it to simmer and cook. Keep in mind that the tripe must be tender to perfection. It should take you around one to three hours with a pressure cooker. 
  3. After cooking, drain the excess water from the tripe mixture. 
  4. In a separate pot, combine the cookies tripe and all ingredients. Pour more water. 
  5. Allow the mixture to boil before reducing the heat to simmer slowly. This should take 45 minutes. 
  6. Ladle the broth into bowls. You can place more lime wedges and fresh cilantro as garnish.
  7. Bandeja Paisa is best served with avocado or white rice. 

3. Mazamorra 


Mazamorra is one of the weirder foods you’ll come across in Medellín. At least, in my opinion, it is. 

Mazamorra is a drink made out of corn and milk. It’s a fairly simple dish and reminds me a little bit of southern grits. 

However, unlike grits, mazamorra is generally pretty sweet. 

You’ll often find this dish mixed with bocadillo (a Colombian sweet made using guava fruit), brown sugar, or caramel. 

Where to Get It

Mazamorra can be found, like many of the other foods from Medellin on this list, in more traditional restaurants. In fact, both Hacienda Origen and Ajiacos y Mondongos serve a pretty mean mazamorra!

Still, one of the top-rated spots for mazamorra in the city is located in the Provenza district of El Poblado.

Here you’ll find a trendy restaurant called El Cielo. This trendy spot has a unique tasting menu that features, you guessed it, mazamorra. 

What’s more, this is actually one of the top fine dining restaurants in Medellín. In other words? You know you’re getting a good cup of mazamorra. 

Website: https://elcielorestaurant.com/ 

Address: Cl. 7D #43c36, Medellín, Antioquia

How to Make Mazamorra

As we’ve mentioned, making homemade mazamorra is quite simple because you’ll only need a few ingredients. Here’s how to make one:

  1. The dried, cracked corn should be soaked overnight. 
  2. Rinse the dried corn properly on the next day. Place it inside a large pot filled with water. 
  3. Cook the corn over low to medium heat until it’s soft. This should take two to three hours. 
  4. Stir the corn occasionally while cooking. 
  5. Serve mazamorra with sugar cane or guava paste on the side. 

4. Arepa Paisa

Arepa Paisa

Arepas are one of the most versatile foods from Medellin and a must-try while visiting.

You’ll actually find arepas all over Colombia. Arepas are a type of cornbread that are made of cornflour and grilled. 

The result is a slightly crispy bread that has a smoky flavor and gritty texture. 

Now, if that sounds boring, think again. 

In Medellín you’ll find that arepas are stuffed with cheese and butter, melting in your mouth and making for a delicious treat. 

Plus, since they’re such a simple dish, they go with pretty much anything. Many dishes, especially breakfasts, are served with an arepa alongside them. 

Where to Get It

I’ve talked about quite a few places in Poblado where you can get good grub, so now I’m going to jump across the river and talk about a spot for foods from Medellin that’s more in the Laureles zone of Medellin

If you want to get some good arepas, my recommendation is to head to Mi Arepa La 80. This spot is truly a hole in the wall, but a delicious place to get stuffed arepas.

You can get these arepas filled with a whole lot more than just cheese, too. 

Choose from meats, salsas, and tons of other fillings that will give you a well-rounded arepa experience. It’s a great way to get to know the arepa and to get a taste of just how versatile it can be.

Address: Av. 80 ##49a – 04, Medellín, Antioquia

How to Make Arepa Paisa

The ingredients for making this famous Colombian flatbread only involve arepa flour, hot water, salt, and unsalted butter. Here’s how to make one at home:

  1. You need to make the dough first. Combine arepa flour, melted butter, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir until you see coarse crumbs. 
  2. Add hot water to the mixture and stir. Allow it to sit for five minutes. 
  3. Rinse your hands and knead the mixture for at least three to four minutes. Stop kneading when the dough becomes elastic and smooth. 
  4. Flatten the dough and divide it into equal portions of 8 to 10. 
  5. Space each portion into a small piece and flatten it until it forms a round disk. 
  6. It’s time to cook the Arepa Paisa. Turn on the flame and place the remaining butter in a cast iron skillet. 
  7. Place the flattened dough disks in the skillet when the butter has melted. Cook for three to five minutes on each side. Wait for the surfaces to become golden brown. 
  8. Serve warm.

5. Calentado


If you were a fan of the bandeja paisa, you’ll be a fan of the calentado too. 

Calentado is a dish that’s essentially made up of last night’s leftovers. Then, everything is jumbled together and served up as a hearty breakfast!

Your typical calentado consists of rice and beans with a side of avocado, arepa, and fried eggs. You might also find that it comes with chorizo, chicharron, or other meat!

Once again, this is a pretty hearty platter and not for the faint of heart. 

If you’ve got a long day of exploring the city ahead of you, however, it’s the ideal feast to fill your stomach.

Where to Get It

As with many traditional foods from Medellin, the best place to pick up a calentado is in an unassuming restaurant. You’ll find many smaller, hole-in-the-wall places selling calentados as part of their breakfast foods. 

One good spot that isn’t just recommended by me, but by plenty of other reviewers, is Restaurante El Desayunadero. 

This restaurant is the perfect breakfast spot for any good paisa getting ready to start their day. Plus, it’s just a short walk away from some of the best coffee shops in Medellin

In other words, once you’ve eaten your fill you can head over for an after-breakfast espresso or americano to get some extra pep in your step for the day!

Address: Cl 10 ##40-44, Medellín, Antioquia

How to Make Calentado

Calentado is one of the heartiest breakfast meals in Colombia. Would you believe it’s actually made from leftover beans and rice? And because it’s one of the locals’ favorites, you can find Calentado in almost every Colombian restaurant in Medellin. 

Making Calentado is simple and quick! You only need the following ingredients: arepas, cooked chorizos, eggs, cooked white rice, hogao, and cooked pinto beans. Here’s an easy step-by-step recipe on how to make one:

  1. Mix the beans, rice, and hogao in a saucepan. Stir until you see the hogao completely coats the rice and the beans. Continue cooking over medium heat for 15 minutes. 
  2. Serve the rice and beans mixture while placing the arepas and chorizos on the side. 
  3. Garnish the dish by placing the egg on top of the mixture.

6. Empanadas


Empanadas are another Colombian staple that Medellin has to offer up. These foods from Medellin are delicious treats made of cornmeal dough stuffed with meats, potatoes, or sweets. 

You can think of them sort of like the Colombian version of pierogis or dumplings!

Now, if you want to try a truly traditional empanada from Medellín you need to try an empanada de iglesia. 

These are empanadas that were historically sold outside of churches and are usually stuffed with cheese and potatoes. They’re famous for their crunchy exterior and extra-soft interior. 

Another classic to try is an empanada de espinaca. This is great for vegans and vegetarians who want to try traditional foods without ingesting meat!

Other fillings you’ll find include: 

  • Guava
  • Caramel
  • Shredded beef
  • Chicken
  • Cheese
  • Potato
  • Rice

Just remember – if you’re going to order a savory empanada, make sure you ask for aji! Aji is a spicy salsa that you pour on your empanada, and that brings out all the flavor. 

Where to Get It

Empanadas Boomerang situated in the heart of the Laureles neighborhood has hands down the best empanadas in the city.

These empanadas are everything that an empanada should be – toasty on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. 

Empanadas Boomerang is just a small storefront, so it’s fairly easy to walk right past it. Still, next time you’re strolling around Laureles we recommend stopping for a snack!

Website: https://www.empanadasboomerang.com/ 

Address: Cl. 35 ## 76 21, Medellín, Antioquia 

How to Make Empanadas

A trip to Medellin will not be complete without trying Colombia’s famous empanadas. In fact, most locals love making empanadas and serving them at parties. If you’re curious about how to make homemade ones, here’s a quick guide. 

The first step is making the dough:

  1. Mix sazon Goya and salt into the masarepa in a bowl. Add oil and water to form the dough. Make a ball out of the dough and knead for at least two minutes until it becomes smooth. 
  2. Cover the dough with plastic. Wait for 20 minutes. It’s time to make the filling. 

Making the filling:

  1. Cook the potatoes in water for 20 to 25 minutes until they become soft. Let them cool and mash. 
  2. Heat a skillet and place oil to cook the onions, garlic, tomatoes, bell pepper, green onions, and cilantro. Add black pepper and salt for added flavor. Cook for 15 minutes. 
  3. Add your protein, either ground pork, chicken, or beef. Break up the meat using a wooden spoon. 
  4. Cook the meat for about 10 to 15 minutes until you can see the mixture turning dry. 
  5. Place the cooked meat in the mashed potato bowl, and combine. 

Making the Empanadas

  1. When you finally have the dough and the filling ready, it’s time to make the empanadas. Break the dough into small portions and roll each into a ball. 
  2. Fill each small portion with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the filling. Roll back into a ball. 
  3. Seal the edges of the dough tightly. You can use a fork to crimp the ends. 
  4. You need a large pot filled with vegetable oil when frying the empanadas. Heat the pot over medium heat. 
  5. Fry 3 to 4 empanadas at a time. Wait for the surfaces to turn golden brown. 
  6. The empanadas are best served with lime and ají on the side.

7. Coffee

coffee samples from the marque hotel in medellin

There really is nothing like Colombian coffee. And, if you’re going to visit Medellin, trying the local coffee is an absolute must.

Coffee is one of Colombia’s biggest exports, besides sugar, and most of the best-quality beans get sent to other countries. However, thanks to the budding coffee culture in Medellin, it’s not too hard to find great brews nowadays.

Although there are tons of ways to try your coffee, if you really want something Colombian, go for one of these drinks:

  • Tinto: just plain, black coffee
  • Campesino: black coffee sweetened with panela
  • Carajillo: black coffee with aguardiente

These aren’t quite your typical coffees from the states, but they’re definitely worth sipping on.

There’s a reason why people all over the world love Colombian coffee. It’s not your typical cup of joe you can taste elsewhere. However, most locals prefer making their own coffee at home through instant coffee bags because they are quicker and more convenient. 

Buying ground coffee in Medellin is also common; you just need to add boiling water. Wait for ten minutes until the coffee residue goes to the container’s bottom. It’s similar to how Turkish coffee is made back home. 

Colombians also love the French press. You can make one using this device in just a few minutes, and you’re guaranteed your drink won’t have lumps. 

It’s easy to purchase instant coffee bags in the convenience stores in Medellin. When you’re going on a tour, you will also find artisan coffee shops featuring their own coffee brand. These beans are usually grown on family-owned local farms surrounding the neighborhood. 

But if you want to look for unique coffee types, including beans from Starbucks, look for Carulla. The following are other shops where you can get a wide variety of coffee:

  • Exito: it’s like Walmart in Colombia
  • Colsubsidio: a medium-sized supermarket filled with local and affordable coffee brands
  • Jumbo: a supermarket filled with different coffee bags
  • Olimpica: a large supermarket with big coffee aisles

Where to Find It

Although there are plenty of great cafés in Medellin if you really want to experience Colombian coffee, you’ve got to go for the coffee-tasting experience at the Marquee Hotel.

At the experience, you’ll get a guided sensory tasting session. There, you’ll learn about how coffee is produced and roasted in Colombia. Then, you’ll get to smell and sip on a few different varieties of Colombian coffee.

The experience lasts several hours, and get ready to learn a lot!

Website: https://marqueemedellin.com/

Address: Cra. 38 #9A-13, El Poblado, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia

Take a Bite Out of Traditional Foods from Medellín

There are tons of unique foods from Medellín that you have to try. And, as you can tell from this guide, they’re not limited to just a plate of rice and beans. 

No matter which dish you choose to start your gastronomic journey around the city with, make sure you savor every bite. 

There really is nothing like the flavors of Colombia!

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