Paisa Food - Traditional Medellin Food | Colombian Bandeja Paisa

Discover The Most Delicious Foods of The Paisa Gastronomy

Paisa food is an irresistible temptation

Discover The Most Delicious Foods of The Paisa Gastronomy

One of the most irresistible pleasures that nationals and foreigners coming to Medellín love to enjoy is the ability to try the delicious dishes of typical Paisa food. These dishes include indigenous ingredients from the Antioquia region and from the colonial era where the mix between the natives, the slaves brought from Africa and the Spanish conquerors took place. The result of this infusion is a rich gastronomy that has evolved over time, gaining recognition inside and outside of the country.

There are many versions of Paisa Food
In Medellin you will find all kinds of restaurants

Paisa Gastronomy Has Had an Amazing Evolution

Foods such as corn, cassava and beans of indigenous origin coexist with rice, wheat and sausages brought from Europe and Asia. Likewise the banana and watermelon of African origin have been assimilated as important parts of local diet. Antioquia is the most important nucleus of the customs and gastronomic identity of the country.

If you are a tourist and are coming to Medellín, you should know that there is a wide range of dishes to taste, and a lot of typical family restaurants and even gourmet and cuisine restaurants. We can therefore assure you that you’ll be more than satisfied when trying these delicacies. Paisa food is so varied that you can enjoy all flavors and satisfy the most demanding tastes and appetites.

The paisa tray contains various ingredients
The mixture of ingredients is a feature of Paisa gastronomy

La Bandeja Paisa is the Most Famous and recognisable Colombian Dish (and It Comes From Medellín)

It is the best representation of typical Paisa food. The Bandeja Paisa’s popularity has conquered spaces beyond the borders of the city and the country. In this dish you can find a variety of ingredients and a true festival of flavors, with up to 15 ingredients in unison. Its composition can vary depending on the town where you are or the geographical region of the chef. However, beans, rice, ground meat, avocado, fried egg, antioqueño chorizo and plantain or patacón are the staples of this dish. They are an important source of carbohydrates and proteins, which formerly provided enough energy for the workers from the area to sustain long hours of work.  Although it is a ton of food, it is worth trying at least once for all appetite sizes just so you can say you’ve tried the signature dish of the region. 

Delicious Tray to taste in Medellin
The Bandeja Paisa is the most recognizeable part of Antioquian cuisine

El Mondongo - A Soup Full of Energy

In this dish, the Spanish influence really reveals itself. Mondogo’s earliest records as a dish can be traced back to the Spanish colonization of the 17th Century. El Mondongo is an exquisite stew or long-cooked soup, made with the belly of a cow, which is also accompanied by pork and chicken, as well as vegetables such as potatoes, cassava, carrots, and onions. It is ideal as a lunch if you are feeling tired and even for breakfast after a night out drinking. It can “revive” the body and spirit and give a special flavor to your palate. El Mondongo can be eaten with a little lemon juice and hot spices. 

Traditional Mondongo in Medellín
El Mondongo is a food option full of flavor and vitamins

Calentado Paisa - An Economical Choice

This menu essentially takes advantage of the food scraps from the previous day, making it an inexpensive and practical solution that will allow you to enjoy a nutritious and succulent breakfast. El Calentado Paisa is a meal that adapts to any pantry, but in general it usually includes rice, arepas, beans, meat, as well as a little tomato, egg, and cheese.  It can be accompanied by a cold drink of chocolate or Sugarcane lemonade – very popular in Colombia and is what the Paisas often call agua de panela.

The Calentado Paisa is well known in Medellín
Nutritious, quick and inexpensive

Empanadas Paisas - A Tasty and Quick Option

 Las Empanadas Paisas are ideal for days out in the city. If you want to leave the house early, they are an excellent option for breakfast. If your idea is to take a long walk through the streets of Medellín, they’re also great as lunch or as a snack between meals. They’re delicious, quick to eat and you can get them from a small store in any neighborhood of the city or from a 5-star restaurant. Las Empanadas are prepared with wheat or corn flour, forming a dough that is spread in a circular manner. They are filled with different ingredients such as meat with potatoes, chicken, cheese or pork rinds. They are then folded in a half moon and fried in vegetable oil. They are best enjoyed when accompanied by a wide variety of avocado, garlic, tomato or spicy sauces. If you are a fan of spice, you must try the local hotsauce, ají.

Delicious Empanadas with sauce in Medellín
Empanadas Paisas are ubiquitous in the city. Ají is the red sauce in the middle.

Typical Paisa Food to Enjoy on Special Occasions

Because of its old Hispanic colonial history, Colombia preserves many of the religious traditions of the Catholic Church.  One of the most representative is Christmas, that is why the city dresses in its best lights everywhere and joy and music invade the streets and shopping centers of the region during this time of the year. Of course, the abundance of food is almost a rule in every home in Medellín, so if you are lucky enough to spend this special moment in the city, you will be undoubtedly seduced by the festive atmosphere and, sure, the delicious food, which is a special part of any gathering you may attend during your stay in Medellin.

Eating in Medellin is great
Eating with friends and family is tradition in Medellín

Buñuelos Antioqueños

 Los Buñuelos are made with cheese and cornmeal, and although it may seem they are a desert-like snack, the reality is that the cheese provides an intense salty flavor. Due to that, many locals find them to be the perfect accompaniment to a delicious cup of coffee or hot chocolate. The characteristic that attracts diners is its interior fluffiness and its freshness on the outside. Some buñuelos are prepared with a mozzarella and are my personal favorite.

In Medellin you can eat delicious buñuelos
Buñuelos are an excellent appetizer

Sancocho and Tamal Antioqueño: a Perfect Combination For a Strong Meal

This combination of dishes is very typical during Christmas or New Year’s in Medellín, being an essential part of the region’s gastronomy. A good Sancocho and Tamal are not lacking at Paisas tables, nor in the menus of the best restaurants in the city.

In Medellín, it is common to meet with family and friends to savor the traditional Sancocho and if they invite you to a Paisa home during your stay, it is rude not to eat everything. Locals say this dish has healing properties; one such rumour is that they kill hangovers and flus, among other benefits.

Sancocho is a Creole chicken-based broth with which green plantains, yucca, potatoes, corncobs, coriander, onion and parsley are added.  They are all chopped and cooked together – often on an informal fire set-up on the street outside the family’s home.

Sancocho is a rich soup in Colombia
Eating Sancocho is ideal to strengthen health

El Tamal Antioqueño, is a rolled corn flour cooked in banana leaves. Typically, it includes pork, beef and chicken. In some areas of the province they include rice, eggs and various spices. Each family usually puts a special touch on it and adds an ingredient according to the gusto of each cook. The Paisas tend to jealously guard the recipes for this dish and only pass it on from generation to generation among their families.

The Tamal is a dish typical of Colombia
The Tamal is a typical dish of the Christmas season

December? Bank on Natilla

The most common dessert around the holidays is called Natilla, and you’ll find it served at all sorts of different functions. This delicious dessert is made with cornstarch, milk, cinnamon, grated panela, butter and grated cheese; many also add grated coconut or raisins. 

Natilla is an authentic Colombian sweet
La Natilla is a sweet temptation that is popular around the holidays

Arequipe from Colombia is Addictive

Although it is not a product of local origin, Arequipe, which is made in Medellín, has earned its place on this list due to its widepsread incorporation into Paisa diets. It is incredibly sweet – so while many love it, it’s not for everyone.  Medellín exports large quantities of this dessert around the world every year. Arequipe is a product of the mixture of milk, sugar and vanilla and it’s used as a spread and very frequently in pastries, ice cream and other desserts.

I’d best descripe Arequipe as a mix of condensed milk and caramel, although it differs slightly.

An interesting observation is that Paisas are not afraid of adding arequipe to just about anything. In fact, it is commonly served with pizza and garlic bread! Dominos provide it as a complimentary sauce.


Arequipe paisa is delicious on any occasion
The Arequipe Paisa is one of the best in the world

Do You Know What This Phrase Means: "¿Quiere un tintico, mijo?"

Not naming the coffee from the Antioquia region as part of the Paisa gastronomy would be sacrilege. Coffee is almost a national drink, and it is an important part of the Antioquian culture. For many years, the economy of this region depended solely on the harvest and export of coffee, although today this dependence has decreased. However, enjoying delicious local coffee will never go out of style.

Coffee lovers will love Medellín
Have a drink of the authentic Paisa coffee

If you are a Coffee Fan you Must Visit Emblematic Places

A very popular place in the city is the El Laboratorio de Cafe, which is a modern space that promotes the consumption of high quality organic coffee. In this place, you will be able to observe the roasting of the coffee. They offer a variety of options from the different municipalities, products of Antioquia and the so-called Coffee Triangle. It is very interesting to know the history that revolves around the coffee culture, as well as the rigorous process of planting, harvesting and preparation.

Have an authentic coffee in Medellín
Try a variety of different Colombia coffee styles in one place in El Laboratorio de Cafe

An Important Culinary Recognition with a Paisa Accent

Colombia recently obtained an important recognition from the international organization World Travel Awards, standing out as: “South America’s Best Culinary Destination of 2020”. They evaluated typical dishes from various regions of the country, such as: “El Ajiaco from the Andean zone, La Bandeja and Sancocho Paisa”, and the results proved why Medellín is one of the Colombian cities with higher gastronomic diversity, being a must for lovers of good food.

You can see details of the award here:

Medellín has been awarded internationally for its improvement in the quality of life of its inhabitants
Colombia, South America's Best Culinary Destination

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