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The JT Insider Food Guide: La Paz, Bolivia

From the elevated city of La Paz, chef Kamilla Seidler of GUSTU, named the best restaurant in South America, tells us what makes Bolivia’s cuisine so unique, and where to find the best on offer in La Paz.

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Food of the nation

‘Given Bolivia’s richness and variety of resources and cultures, this wonderful country has a lot to offer, and food is a big part of this. Having 3 different eco-regions, Bolivia has an incredible gastronomic diversity, and probably the most important factor is the wide variety of ingredients that come from the country’s biodiversity. It allows us to be creative and create incredible dishes in the kitchen. As with the rest of the country, La Paz’s gastronomy has its own unique personality and character.’

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Food finds

Sajta: A typical dish in La Paz – especially during festivals – this stew consists of chicken, potatoes and rice with herb and spices, and topped with tomato and onion.

Chairo: The Aymara word for soup, and particularly popular in La Paz, Chairo incorporates vegetables, meat and beans with herbs and spices.

Ranga: A hearty stew of beef belly, potatoes and spices, Ranga is eaten throughout Bolivia’s valleys.

Pectu de Habas: This dish of beans, beef and potatoes is cooked with cumin and garlic.

Mondongo: Sucre’s signature crispy fried pork is eaten with corn and chilli sauce.

Rostro asado: A significant dish in Oruro, Rostro asado is an eight-hour cooked lamb’s head.

Kalapurka: Literally meaning ‘stone coals’ in Ayamara, a beef and potato soup with spices and herbs is cooked over hot stones, then served with the hot stone to keep it warm – especially useful at 4200 metres above sea level.

Charkekan: The local corn and potatoes are combined with cheese and dried llama meat.

Majadito: Rice is combined with dried meat, eggs and fried banana to make this typically Bolivian dish.

Sonso: Yuca is baked with butter, milk and cheese.

Chorizo Chuquisaqueño: These sausages from Sucre even have their own festival each May.

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Foodie neighbourhood

‘Head to Sopocachi for of its wide range of cafes and restaurants. It’s noisy, busy and fun – especially at the weekends – with people and colours everywhere, and street vendors selling everything from fresh orange juice to alpaca sweaters.’

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Authentically local dining experience

‘You can get a local experience by eating the street food, while making a tour of the city’s different neighbourhoods. My favourites are Tripas, Tripe with spicy peanut sauce, sandwich de Chola, a pork sandwich with onion pickle, and Anticucho, which are beef heart skewers.’

Where you’d take a friend

‘GUSTU, because to be there is an experience on its own. It is a casual fine dining restaurant that applies the zero kilometre philosophy. In other words, we work exclusively with Bolivian products from all of its diverse regions, and base the cuisine solely on products that are planted, grown, and processed in Bolivia. We want to show the world the variety and richness that this extraordinary land contains, from all the ethnicities and cultures that have been developing over centuries. I think this shows the true potential of Bolivian gastronomic culture. GUSTU also has spectacular mountain views and is entirely constructed from Bolivian materials.’

GUSTU, Calacoto, Calle 10, 300, near Costanera.

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A lazy Sunday hangout

‘Go for coffee at Roaster Boutique. It’s the best place to get a coffee in La Paz, with sweet, welcoming staff and top quality coffee, which they produced themselves.’

Roaster Boutique, Calle Ree Moreno, San Miguel, La Paz.

A stellar setting

‘I have to recommend GUSTU for the view. It was designed to be a pleasant place to be, with locally made textiles and furnishings, and an ambience that you can enjoy the view of mountains from.’

GUSTU, Calacoto, Calle 10, 300, near Costanera.

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Latest food trend

‘Right now the trend points towards fusion food, as all new movements go through this before finding their own soul.’

Kamilla Seidler is the head chef of GUSTU, a restaurant by Claus Meyer of the World’s Best Restaurant Noma. GUSTU was named the Best Restaurant in South America, and Kamille was named Chef of the Year, at Como Sur’s Best of 2013 awards.

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