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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!
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:
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.
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!
Address: Cra. 49 #52-98, Medellín, Antioquia
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.
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.
Address: Cl. 8 #42-46, Medellín, Antioquia
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.
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.
Address: Cl. 7D #43c36, Medellín, Antioquia
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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!
Address: Cl. 35 ## 76 21, Medellín, Antioquia
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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