Street food in Colombia can be hit or miss. While one arepa you try might be incredible, the next might taste as bland as polystyrene. Still, there are some examples of street food in the country.
Below is a list of street food found in Colombia with some tips or local knowledge to make the most of it. By no means is this an exhaustive list, please let us know in the comments of any other street food you’ve found in your travels that is worth sharing! And where you found it.
Arepa all over Colombia can be eaten in pretty much any form: with cheese, with sausages… It is undoubtedly one of the most popular street foods in the country. There are 3 lesser known forms of Arepas you might want to try.
The Arepa’e'Huevo (with an egg inside) is a coastal favourite, it’s basically a deep fried arepa with an egg in the middle, and as a man that doesn’t like arepas, it’s something for me to suggest that these are pretty delicious. The Arepa de Chocolo is a sweet version, it comes from the Andean region of the country. There are some delicious ones in Paloquemao market in Bogota. Another option is the Arepa Boyacense, typical of the Boyaca region, these yellow arepas are tasty, thick versions of the snack that are usually served with cheese.
Newcomers to the world of empanadas might be immediately impressed by Colombia’s selection, but those who have travelled the South American continent will know there are far better examples to be found. Try the Empanadas de Pipian (from Popayán and the Cauca region). These tasty treats consist of hogao (a typical Colombian sauce), nuts, egg, potato and meat. Needless to say, you’re pretty stuffed afterwards!
Obleas are a traditional Colombian snack, and a very odd one since they’re basically big wafers stuffed with caramel, sometimes jam and if you want everything… A bit of cheese too. Cheap, sweet and filling, obleas are easy to find in and around Colombia.
Bunuelos or Almojabana
Usually drunk with Avena, these are bread-based treats you often find in shop fronts. As with much Colombian street food, the emphasis here is on getting full, but if you find a particularly nice place to get them, these cheesey-bread buns can be delicious.
Perro Caliente (and the dirty burger)
Like your hot dogs big, greasy and with pineapple sauce? Then Colombia’s hot dogs on the street might just be some of your favourite in the world. Absolutely stuffed with toppings (including eggs), these hot dogs are absolutely anti-diet, but nonetheless hit the spot after a few beers. Burgers from the street are equally unhealthy and rammed with a variety of toppings. Cheap, nasty, but you wouldn’t want anything else from a burger bought on the street, right?
Mango biche isn’t my personal favourite, but many people love it. Not as popular as your empanadas or arepas or obleas in Bogotá, but still very much on the scene. They’re strips of mango covered in salt and sometimes a vinegary sauce. As such, they end up tasting faintly reminiscent of fish and chips. Oddly.
Palito (de Carne)
Meat, meat, meat, meat, meat, potato. On a stick. Can’t really go wrong with that combination, can you? This isn’t the rarest of treats, but finding it well made can be a challenge..
Pastel de Pollo
A pastel de pollo is exactly what you might expect… A chicken pastry. These hugely vary in quality, but if you find a decent bakery selling these you’ll become hooked. A simple, cheap snack to eat on the move.
Try the bakery chains PanPa’Ya or Santa Elena Pastelerias for a good version of the Pastel de Pollo.
If you’still unsure about your stomach’s ability to digest Colombian’s street food, head to Crepes and Waffles for a delicious ice-cream to take away. A great selection of superb ice cream that’s perfect for an afternoon stroll.