The Ultimate Guide to Street Food in Bolivia: What to Try and Where to Find It

The Ultimate Guide to Street Food in Bolivia: What to Try and Where to Find It

Bolivia, the heart of South America, is a country richly endowed with a unique blend of indigenous, Spanish, and other European influences. This cultural tapestry is vibrantly reflected in its street food scene, which offers an excellent way to explore the country’s culinary heritage. From bustling markets to humble street vendors, Bolivian street food is a gastronomic adventure waiting to be discovered. This guide will take you through some must-try dishes and where to find them, along with tips on how to recreate these experiences at home.

Must-Try Street Foods in Bolivia

1. Salteñas

What is it?

Salteñas are Bolivia’s version of an empanada, but they are baked rather than fried and are filled with a juicy mixture of meat, potatoes, peas, and a sweet-spicy sauce. The dough is slightly sweet, providing a perfect balance to the savory filling.

Where to Find It?

Salteñas are ubiquitous in Bolivia and can be found in nearly every city. In La Paz, you can visit “Salteñería El Hornito” in Sopocachi or “El Patio Salteñería” in the downtown area. In Cochabamba, “Salteñería Urkupiña” is a local favorite.

2. Anticuchos

What is it?

Anticuchos are skewers of marinated beef heart, grilled to perfection and typically served with a spicy peanut sauce. They are a popular nighttime snack, providing a burst of flavors with every bite.

Where to Find It?

In La Paz, head to the Mercado Lanza or the streets around Plaza San Francisco in the evening. In Cochabamba, the Feria 16 de Julio is a well-known spot for these delectable skewers.

3. Silpancho

What is it?

Silpancho is a hearty dish consisting of a large, thin piece of breaded beef or chicken, served on a bed of rice and potatoes, topped with a fried egg, and garnished with tomatoes, onions, and locoto (a type of chili pepper).

Where to Find It?

Cochabamba is the birthplace of Silpancho. “Silpancho Cochabambino” and “Doña Pola” are highly recommended spots to try this dish.

4. Choripán

What is it?

Choripán is a simple yet delightful sandwich made with grilled chorizo sausage, placed within a crusty roll, and usually garnished with chimichurri sauce, tomatoes, and onions.

Where to Find It?

Look for choripán vendors near football stadiums or in popular nightlife districts. In Santa Cruz, the area around the Estadio Ramón Tahuichi Aguilera is a hotspot for choripán.

5. Fricasé Paceño

What is it?

Fricasé Paceño is a robust pork stew made with a rich blend of spices, hominy, and potatoes. It’s a favorite comfort food, especially in colder regions.

Where to Find It?

La Paz is the best place to sample this dish. Try “Fricasé Doña Emi” in the San Pedro neighborhood or “Fricasé Paceño de la Calle Jaén”.

6. Api con Pastel

What is it?

Api is a hot, thick drink made from purple or white corn, flavored with cinnamon, cloves, and sugar. It is often paired with a pastel, a deep-fried pastry dusted with powdered sugar.

Where to Find It?

These are typically breakfast items, so morning markets are your best bet. In La Paz, the Mercado Rodríguez and Mercado Lanza are fantastic places to start your day with api con pastel.

Where to Find the Best Street Food

La Paz

La Paz, Bolivia’s administrative capital, offers a vibrant street food scene. The neighborhoods of Sopocachi and San Pedro are known for their variety of street vendors. The Mercado Lanza and the area around Plaza San Francisco are also bustling with food stalls selling everything from anticuchos to fricasé.


Known as Bolivia’s culinary capital, Cochabamba has an extraordinary array of street food. Head to the Cancha, the largest open-air market in the city, for an extensive selection of local dishes. The Feria 16 de Julio is another excellent spot to sample anticuchos and choripán.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz offers a different flavor profile, influenced more by tropical and lowland ingredients. The area around the Estadio Ramón Tahuichi Aguilera and the Parque El Arenal are popular spots for street food. Night markets in the city are also worth exploring.


Sucre, Bolivia’s constitutional capital, is known for its more refined take on traditional Bolivian dishes. The Mercado Central and the streets around Plaza 25 de Mayo are filled with vendors offering a variety of local treats such as salteñas, buñuelos (fried dough balls), and humintas (corn cakes).

How to Recreate the Experience at Home

If traveling to Bolivia isn’t in the cards for you right now, you can still recreate the Bolivian street food experience at home. Here are some recipes and tips to get you started.




– Dough: Flour, sugar, salt, water, butter

– Filling: Ground beef or chicken, potatoes, peas, onions, garlic, cumin, paprika, sugar, gelatin, beef broth


1. Prepare the dough by combining flour, sugar, salt, and butter with water until you get a smooth mixture.

2. For the filling, cook the meat with onions, garlic, and spices. Add potatoes, peas, and beef broth, then simmer. Add gelatin to thicken.

3. Roll out the dough, fill with the meat mixture, and fold into a half-moon shape.

4. Bake at 375°F (190°C) until golden brown.



– Beef heart or tenderloin

– Marinade: Vinegar, garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper

– Sauce: Peanut butter, milk, chili, salt


1. Marinate the beef in vinegar, garlic, and spices for at least 4 hours.

2. Skewer the meat and grill until cooked to your liking.

3. Serve with a spicy peanut sauce made by blending peanut butter, milk, chili, and salt.

Tips for an Authentic Experience

1. Ingredients: Many ingredients used in Bolivian cuisine, such as locoto and chuño (freeze-dried potatoes), can be found in Latin American grocery stores or online.

2. Ambiance: Play some traditional Andean music and decorate your dining area with Bolivian textiles to set the mood.

3. Drinks: Pair your meal with traditional Bolivian beverages like chicha (corn beer) or a hot cup of api.


Q: What are the typical business hours for street food vendors in Bolivia?

A: Street food vendors in Bolivia usually start serving in the late afternoon and continue until midnight or later. Breakfast items like api con pastel are available in the early morning.

Q: Is Bolivian street food safe to eat?

A: Generally, Bolivian street food is safe to eat, especially if you choose vendors with a high turnover of customers. However, it’s always a good idea to use your discretion and avoid raw or undercooked foods.

Q: Can I find vegetarian or vegan options in Bolivian street food?

A: While most Bolivian street food is meat-centric, vegetarian options like humintas, papas rellenas (stuffed potatoes), and certain versions of salteñas can be found. Always ask the vendor about ingredients to ensure they meet your dietary needs.

Q: How much does street food cost in Bolivia?

A: Street food in Bolivia is quite affordable. Most items range from $1 to $3 USD, making it an excellent option for budget travelers.

Q: What is the best time of year to visit Bolivia for food enthusiasts?

A: Bolivia is a year-round destination, but visiting during local festivals can provide an enriched culinary experience. The Alasitas Fair in La Paz (January-February) and the Gran Poder Festival (May or June) are excellent times to indulge in a variety of street foods.


Bolivian street food is a sumptuous journey through the country’s diverse cultural heritage. Whether you’re sampling salteñas in La Paz, savoring anticuchos in Cochabamba, or enjoying choripán in Santa Cruz, each bite offers a story. And if you can’t make it to Bolivia, recreating these dishes at home can provide a delightful culinary adventure. So, pack your appetite and get ready to explore the flavors of Bolivia!

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