Que Viva Colombia! As a pure-blooded Colombian, I have always shared not only my culture but the amazing food with all my friends. The problem with taking my non-Colombian friends to a restaurant is that they always get overwhelmed by the menu. In total there are way more than 30 food dishes to try at a Colombian restaurant... trust me the list kept getting longer and longer. So after strong debate with my stomach and many menus, here are the top 30 food items to try at a Colombian restaurant.

1. Batidos (Smoothies)

Compared to all the countries I have traveled to, no other place has the variety of fruits that Colombia does. Take advantage and drink up! My personal favorite is Guanabana or Soursop.

2. Salpicon

Traditional Colombian food at its finest! Get the best of Colombian in a cup. Salpicon is like an exotic chunky smoothie.

3. Colombian Sodas

Wow, do Colombian sodas have a lot of flavor. Postobon, other than sponsoring soccer teams, makes a wide variety of flavors of soda. But that is not the only crowd favorite.

Colombiana is another apple-flavored soda that is titled after, you guessed it, Colombia. These sodas can be found an any Colombian restaurant, but also make great additions to any drink recipe.

Refajo: This is a popular Colombian cocktail made with beer and Colombiana. See recipe here.

4. Cafe (Coffee)

Coffee production in Colombia has a reputation as producing mild, well-balanced coffee beans. So you better believe Colombians take their coffee seriously.

5. Chocolate Caliente con Queso (Hot Chocolate)

cream, coffee, soup, chocolate, pudding, milk
Natsuko Mazany

Don't judge it till you try it! Hot chocolate with cheese is a very popular drink and perfect for the cold weather. It’s usually served for breakfast or an afternoon snack in the Andean region of Colombia. The combination of chocolate with cheese may sound weird to you, but it’s absolutely amazing.

6. Aguapanela

The hot tea of Colombia named: Agua Panela. It's made from sugar cane and you can drink it cold or warm, with a hint a lemon/lime juice. This drink is great for when you have a cold or a sore throat.

7. Avena Caliente (Hot oatmeal)

An oatmeal-based drink, Avena is a creamy thirst-quencher, with an almost custard-like consistency. Ask the locals where the best place to go for a cup of avena is, because, like many Colombian street food varieties, the quality of a good cup can be a bit hit or miss. This drink is one of my absolute favorites!

8. Milo

Cold refreshing Milo anyone? If you didn't know, Milo is massively popular in Australia, but Colombians love this drink and sometimes even claim it as their own. 

9. Mojitos, Margaritas, & More

You might be wondering why this made the list. Well, Colombians love to mix any drink with the sweet natural fruits of our land. So, at some Colombian restaurants, you might find a Guanabana, Mora, or Lulu flavored margarita.

10. Aguardiente

It’s not a dish, but it doesn’t matter. You can’t leave Colombia without knocking back a few shots of this anise-flavored liquor.

11. Patacones

A little pregame before lunch never hurt anyone. Patacones are a widely popular side for any Latino dish but it deserves to be on the list, just in case you have never had one.

12. Papa Rellena (Stuffed Potato)

These stuffed potatoes are a popular Colombian food that we eat for breakfast or as a snack. They are a perfect on the go snack that surprise your taste buds with a pop of flavor.

13. Empanadas

These wonderful empanadas are one of the most popular Colombian snacks. The crust is made with corn masa while the filling is made with meat, potatoes, and spices. It’s traditional to serve these empanadas with ají (Colombian-style hot sauce).

14. Arepa

Wepa La Arepa!  Arepas are perhaps the most commonly served food in Colombia. It is the most standard of accompaniments and is also eaten on its own. Arepa is basically a kind of bread made from cornmeal which is often served with butter or corn.

15. Arepa Burger

That is right folks Arepa Burgers exist and so do Platano Burgers. I'd suggest you give it a try next time you're cooking gluten-free, because both arepas and platanos do not have gluten. 

16. Arepa de Chocolo

These sweet corn arepas are absolutely delicious. I would eat them every day if I could.

17. Frijoles

Beans are one of those foods that every Colombian eats, and personally, I love beans so much that I can eat them with rice every day. They are definitely my comfort food and go great with any dish you can think of.

18. Sancocho (Soup)

This is very thick soup made with root vegetables and different kinds of meats, in a broth, usually flavored with herbs, onions, garlic, and peppers. The perfect Sunday meal! Wanna make one yourself? Check out this recipe!

19. Yucca Ball

A traditional Colombian bread made with yucca flour and cheese. It is delicious with a cup of hot chocolate for breakfast or for an afternoon snack with a cup of tea or coffee.

20. Bunuelos

bread
Daniela Rico

These are a traditional Colombian Christmas treat, but they are also popular year round for breakfast or a snack with hot chocolate or coffee.

21. Pandebonos

These are small, baked, cheese bread rolls, perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack with hot chocolate or coffee.

22. Pan de queso

Pan de queso ( Cheese bread) is a traditional Colombian bread or roll made with tapioca flour and grated cheese. It is served plain or filled with cream cheese or jelly.

23. Tamales

There are many variations of tamales in Colombia, but they all have something in common, and that is that Colombian Tamales are all wrapped in banana leaves.

24. Bandeja Paisa

The national dish of Colombia containing fried pork rind, chorizo, rice, beans, plantain, arepa, avocado, minced meat, and fried egg. To many it might seem like a huge portion of food, and it is. (I sometimes go and share a plate with my mom.) But this dish is meant to be served as the lunch before a big day at work, giving you enough energy to take on anything that comes your way.

25. Churasco

Churrasco, a Portuguese term for grilled meat, is a backbone of many Latin American cuisines. Vegetarians look away. Let's face it, it is hard to be vegetarian or even vegan as a Colombian. I mean, we love our cheese and meat options a little too much.

26. Fried Fish

This Colombian-Style Fried Whole Fish is a very popular dish from the coast of Colombia. Some of the most popular fish in Colombia used to make this dish are: red snapper, mojarra and tilapia.

27. Mar Y Tiera (Land and Sea)

This is my father's personal favorite when he wants to splurge. This dish comes with shrimp, skirt steak, and chicken. All served on a hot plate where the flavor just sizzles into your mouth.

28. Hot Dogs

You wouldn't expect to see a hot dog on the list right?

In Colombia, we don’t grill the hotdogs or salchichas. We boil them and the toppings include coleslaw, pineapple sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, and potato chips. Trust me when I say once you have potato chips on your hotdogs, you won't want to have a normal hotdog ever again.

29. Tres Leches

A tres leches cake, also known as pan tres leches, is a sponge cake—in some recipes, a butter cake—soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream.

30. Flan

sweet, egg, cream, cake, pastry, dairy product
Carolyn Hsieh

A flan is an open, rimmed pastry or sponge base, containing a sweet or savory filling.

I could spend a whole eternity in a Colombian restaurant and sometimes am guilty of eating at one for a whole week. But now you can join me in my obsession—after all, you have 30 reasons to.