EDITOR’S NOTE: This article on JINRO Soju was written in partnership with HITEJINRO Philippines.
Recognize this green bottle?
You may recognize it from an episode of the latest Korean Drama. Your favorite character was sitting at a restaurant in South Korea while pouring shot after shot from this iconic green bottle.
This is the very same green bottle that provides you comfort in any moment of sadness or celebration. It is the one and only soju – JINRO.
What is Soju?
Soju is an alcoholic drink from South Korea that has been around for centuries. You can think of it as a Korean variation of vodka or rice wine. Traditionally, it was made with rice but these days, it’s more commonly made from sweet potatoes.
Frequent visitors to Seoul are no strangers to soju, but thanks to the global appeal of Korean food, music, cinema, and culture, soju is becoming more and more popular in other parts of the world as well.
JINRO Soju Flavors
JINRO surpassed many famous brands around the world to secure its reign as the world’s best-selling spirit. There are several flavors for you to choose from, including clean flavors and fruit flavors.
The most common clean flavors are Fresh and Original. JINRO Chamisul Fresh has a mild and clean soju taste while JINRO Original tastes slightly stronger. You can also try the fruit flavor series which includes JINRO Strawberry, JINRO Green Grape, JINRO Plum, JINRO Peach (NEW!), and JINRO Grapefruit soju.
As frequent travelers to South Korea, Ren and I are very familiar with the JINRO brand. Each soju flavor has a distinctive taste based on the different ingredients used in the process, but I can assure you that each flavor tastes just as good as the next.
Beware of Fake JINRO Soju!
Apparently, with soju being the world’s best-selling spirit in the world, there’s a risk of purchasing fake soju that you may not be aware of.
Buying green bottles of soju online without verifying their authenticity happens more often than you think. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to determine which products are real or not because the bottles are packaged in almost the exact same way as authentic JINRO soju.
Before you start purchasing soju, there are a few things you need to check to ensure that it was produced by real JINRO Soju producers. Be careful because buying fake soju can be harmful to your health!
How to Spot Authentic JINRO Soju
Just because a bottle is green and looks like the JINRO soju that you see in Korean Dramas doesn’t mean that it’s the real thing. Apparently, green bottles are universally used by soju manufacturers to help protect the alcohol content from sunlight and ensure that it lasts longer.
Here are a few things to look for when purchasing authentic JINRO Soju.
Check the Label
First, check the label on the green bottle. To experience authentic JINRO soju, look for the label with its trademark toad logo. The toad colors vary from the different flavors of JINRO Soju.
Look for the Curve
Second, if you look closely, JINRO Soju has a curved label. There are local brands that claim to be authentic Korean soju, especially when they use the exact same green bottle and similar-looking labels. But don’t be so easily fooled because they may be copycats from other brands.
In spite of some customers being fooled by copycats, JINRO remains the dominant brand among all soju brands in the Philippines. JINRO sales are at least double the sales of other local soju brands.
JINRO continues to be the world’s best-selling spirit for twenty consecutive years and counting. If you want to try the best soju, then be sure to buy authentic JINRO Soju.
How Much is Authentic JINRO Soju in the Philippines?
In the Philippines, prices for authentic JINRO Soju range between PHP 90-150 per 360 ml bottle. Depending on where you buy it from, fake soju can be priced for as low as half of that.
Don’t fall for the allure of overly cheap prices! Chances are, they’re too good to be true. You won’t be getting the same quality and richness in flavor as the real thing and you might even suffer adverse effects because of it.
Remember, the best way to purchase authentic JINRO Soju is from local supermarkets or trusted online stores. Check out JINRO Soju’s official store as well JINRO Philippines’ Lazada and Shopee accounts.
They usually have ongoing discounts or promotions so make sure to check before stocking your soju rack at home. You can also stay up-to-date with new promotions and offers by following JINRO Philippines’ Facebook and Instagram pages.
To learn more, check out the official website of JINRO Philippines.
This article was written in partnership with HITEJINRO Philippines. All information and photos used in this article were provided by them.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Traveleater and Swiss food expert Ana Raicic shares with us 15 traditional dishes you need to try on your next trip to Switzerland.
Switzerland is a country that’s tucked away in the Alps. It’s surrounded by France, Germany, Italy, and Austria, all of which have had a profound influence on its food. Historically, it was primarily an agricultural country, with the most important produce being potatoes, mushrooms, and milk products.
Switzerland and Swiss food are incredibly regional, so much so that most dishes can be traditionally assigned to different cantons.
FOOD IN SWITZERLAND QUICK LINKS
If you’re visiting Switzerland and want to learn more about Swiss food, then you may want to go on a food tour.
Swiss Food/Drinking Tours: Food and Drinking Tours in Switzerland
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Photo by Fedor Selivanov
WHAT IS TRADITIONAL SWISS CUISINE?
Swiss cuisine differs by region and neighboring countries of influence, but it nevertheless has some common points.
The most basic agricultural product is the potato, which used to be a breakfast staple in the form of rösti. Potatoes are also used in numerous other dishes, for lunch and dinner.
Because Switzerland is an Alpine country with a high number of high-altitude pastures, dairy products are also a staple of the Swiss diet. Milk, cheese, cream, butter, and yogurt all play a prominent role in Swiss cuisine.
Today, cheese is the dairy product that’s most often associated with Switzerland. Cheese is eaten in various forms. It can be melted in a fondue or raclette, prepared in cheesy dishes, or eaten as a snack with cured meats, especially in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.
Lunch is traditionally the largest meal of the day and the only one that needs to be cooked. For breakfast and dinner, the Swiss will happily enjoy a variety of bread rolls with butter and jam, or cheese. Another breakfast staple is the Swiss version of overnight oats called birchermüesli.
Dessert staples include nuts and dried fruits like raisins, which are used in many different applications. They’re often used for fillings and bases for various cakes and pastries. Other commonly used ingredients in Swiss desserts is chocolate – which is itself a dessert – and honey, which is often used as a sweetener.
If you’re visiting the Ticino area, do not miss out on a type of restaurant called the grotto. It’s a rustic type of eatery that offers traditional Swiss food. The name comes from the Italian word for “cave”, because grottos are set in old wine caves that were repurposed as restaurants.
MUST-TRY SWISS DISHES
1. Bircher Müesli
Invented in the early 1900s by Swiss doctor Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Brenner, bircher müesli refers to a beloved Swiss breakfast of oat flakes soaked in a combination of milk and yogurt and then served with honey, hazelnuts, and apples.
The key to this popular Swiss dish is the long resting time for the oats. You need to give the oats at least two hours to properly rest, though overnight is best for the creamiest result. Soaking the oats overnight is also standard in Switzerland, to give the raw oats time to break down and release their starches. For the most traditional version of bircher müesli, you should also add grated apples before soaking.
Traditional toppings include a variety of nuts (most commonly hazelnuts), raisins, and honey. If you’d like your morning oats creamier, then the Swiss suggest soaking the oats in cream. That will make them extremely rich – but they won’t have the signature tang from the yogurt – so you’ll have to add that after soaking.
This wonderful Swiss breakfast dish is served all over Switzerland and can often be found at hotel breakfast bars, cafes, and Swiss homes.
Photo by Claudine Silaho Weber
Rösti is a Swiss potato pancake that is traditionally part of a big Swiss breakfast that used to be eaten by farmers. The dish originates from the canton of Bern, but has spread throughout the entire country.
Swiss rösti is made by frying coarsely grated potatoes. Sometimes, the potatoes are precooked and fried the day after, but most often, they’re prepared raw. The traditional Berner style of preparation entails making one large rösti in a pan, rather than smaller individual potato pancakes like American hash browns.
The best rösti is made by first frying the seasoned potatoes on one side in a covered pan. The pan is then uncovered when it’s time to flip the pancake. This is done to achieve the perfect crunchy exterior and ensure that the potatoes are cooked through.
Photo by Sergii Koval
If you’re visiting Switzerland in the fall or winter, then you’ll smell the unmistakable aroma of chestnuts roasting over a fire in front of colorful street stalls commonly found in squares and street corners. These are what the Swiss call marroni. Along with raclette and fondue, they’re among the most popular winter food traditions in Switzerland.
Chestnuts are a common ingredient in dishes originating from Ticino. The Ticino area is home to expansive chestnut forests where you can forage for your own chestnuts. These can be roasted, cooked, or ground in flour and then used to make both desserts and savory dishes.
Roasted chestnuts are a traditional street snack served in paper cones that you carry in your hand. Winters in Switzerland are cold so they double as a hand warmer. The roasted chestnuts you buy on the street are usually entirely blackened from the fire, but it’s really easy to roast them at home as well.
To roast chestnuts at home, you make a cut on the rounded side of the chestnuts and then put them in a thin-bottomed pan (that you don’t mind ruining). Often, you’d first roast them while covered to “sweat the chestnuts out” and cook them through before uncovering the pan to crisp up the skin for easier peeling.
After they’re done, it’s key to wrap your still-hot chestnuts tightly in newspaper for a couple of minutes to sweat them out so they peel easily. After cooling down a bit, you can enjoy them warm with a mug of mulled wine or some other hot winter drink.
Photo by Iryna Mylinska
Landjäger refers to a type of Swiss smoked sausage made from beef. The sausage is around 17 cm (6.7 in) long and square-ish in shape. It’s a product of commercial butchers and is typically sold in pairs. Landjäger sausages are produced and consumed all over Switzerland, but they’re especially widespread in the German-speaking parts of the country.
Traditionally, landjäger sausages are made from 80% beef and 20% back fat. They’re seasoned with nitrite curing salt, red wine, cumin, pepper, coriander, and garlic. Historically, they could also be made with horse meat.
To make landjäger, the butcher presses the meat mixture into casings and then stacks the sausages side by side in a square sausage press to achieve the traditional square shape. The nitrite salt initiates the curing process and gives them their characteristic red color. The pressing process lasts up to five days, after which the sausages are cold-smoked between 20-25°C (68-77°F) for another five days.
There aren’t any special recipes connected to landjäger sausages. They can be consumed at any time – as a picnic sausage, a hiking snack, or as a midday snack with a thick piece of bread.
Photo by TunedIn by Westend61
Malakoff refers to fried cheese balls commonly found in villages on the shore of Lake Geneva, in the canton of Vaud. The dish is named after the battle for Fort Malakoff, with the dish allegedly being invented by Swiss soldiers during the siege of Sevastopol.
Traditionally, the cheese is coated in pastry and then fried and served either as a main dish or as an hors d’oeuvre. The modern malakoff recipe comes from the late 19th century and was invented by Jules and Ida Larpin. Today, you can find two types of malakoff – a cylindrical version made with sticks of gruyere cheese and a spherical variation made with grated cheese.
Malakoffs are traditionally eaten hot with a side of pickled onions, cornichons, and mustard.
Photo by kwango
6. Swiss Cheese Fondue
Switzerland is known for its hard-to-resist cheese dishes, one of the most irresistible being cheese fondue. The classic Swiss fondue is a pot of melted and spiced Swiss cheese (commonly emmental or gruyere cheese) that you dip bread into. It’s a warm hug in a bowl, perfect for sharing with friends on a cold Swiss winter evening!
The simplest fondue is made by mixing white wine, lemon juice, and garlic in a pot over medium heat. When warm, you lower the heat and add the cheese piece by piece while mixing thoroughly so the cheese melts evenly.
When the cheese is melted, the pot is placed on the table over a warmer or candle while friends and family dip in pieces of bread using long forks. It’s a wonderful communal meal that brings people together.
Photo by stockcreations
7. Raclette Cheese
Raclette is another cheese delicacy from Switzerland. It’s originally from the canton of Valais but today, it’s a traditional food of choice for anyone visiting Geneva.
Raclette is a semi-hard mountain cheese. The traditional way of eating raclette is by propping up a whole cheese wheel, melting the cheese in front of a fire, and then scraping the melted cheese on a plate for eating. The word raclette comes from the French word racler which means “to scrape”.
Today, raclette is a staple of many Swiss food markets. It can also be found at many markets in neighboring countries, especially in Germany and northern Italy. It’s served on boiled potatoes with cornichons, pickled onions, and vegetables.
The cheese itself is deliciously melty and is the main feature of the dish, which makes for a great snack at any time of the year.
Photo by PhaiApirom
Älplermagronen or Alpine macaroni is a traditional dish from the Swiss Alps made from macaroni pasta, potatoes, cream, cheese, and onions. The name of the dish consists of two words – Älpler, which are dairy farmers from the Alps – and magronen, which is derived from the Italian word maccheroni, meaning “pasta”.
The dish is made from short, tubular shapes of macaroni-like pasta like hörnli, magronen, or even penne. The pasta is cooked together with diced potatoes in just enough liquid for thr pasta to soak up. You then add the cream and coarsely grated cheese to melt. Finally, just before serving, you sprinkle it with roasted onions. The traditional side dish is apple sauce.
Älplermagronen can often be found on the menus of mountain huts and restaurants, as well as at home. It’s similar to American macaroni and cheese, but made out of traditional Swiss ingredients.
Photo by Luca Muench
9. Saffron Risotto
Saffron risotto is a traditional Swiss dish made with saffron grown in the canton of Valais. Swiss saffron is known to be one of the best in the world and is often referred to as red gold. This dish originates from the cantons of Valais and Ticino.
Apart from the saffron, the dish is made using traditional risotto ingredients like butter, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and stock. It’s seasoned with thyme and also includes meat, most commonly veal and bacon. The dish is made with risotto rice that’s cooked slowly with onions and garlic browned in olive oil.
To prepare, broth is slowly added to cook the rice. When the rice is just about cooked, you add the saffron. When using meat, you fry it off separately. When the rice is cooked, you fold in the butter, cheese, and bacon to finish the risotto off. The result is a deliciously creamy risotto that’s worthy of the best Swiss restaurants.
Photo by denio109
10. Zurcher Geschnetzeltes
Zurcher geschnetzeltes refers to a delicious Swiss dish originally from Zurich. It consists of pan-fried veal served with a creamy white wine sauce.
To prepare, veal is thinly sliced and then fried in a pan with butter and chopped onions. The veal and onions are set aside and kept warm while the pan is deglazed with white wine, cream, and veal stock. The veal slices are then placed back in the cream sauce, sometimes with steamed mushrooms.
Typically, zurcher geschnetzeltes is served with a side of rosti, but serving with pasta, rice, and mashed potatoes is also fairly common.
Photo by hlphoto
11. Riz Casimir
Riz casimir is the name of a Swiss curry that’s served with rice and fruits like pineapple, bananas, or apples. The traditional recipe includes veal but today, it’s also commonly prepared with chicken.
Riz casimir was an attempt by the Swiss to introduce exotic flavors and ingredients to the local palate. It was invented in 1952 by the founder of the Mövenpick restaurants – Ueli Prager. The dish was well-received and has become a beloved part of many Swiss childhoods.
Photo by Endiglo Ed G. Diaz
12. Swiss Chocolate
Swiss chocolate is one of the most well-known Swiss exports. Some of the most famous brands of chocolate have origins or headquarters in Switzerland, including Lindt and Nestlé.
The Swiss are also in large part responsible for the existence of chocolate as we know it today. It was a Swiss man – Daniel Peter – who developed the first solid milk chocolate in 1875. He made it with condensed milk, which was invented by his neighbor in Vevey – Henri Nestlé.
Another important figure in the history of chocolate was Rodolphe Lindt, who invented conching. Conching is a process of distributing cocoa butter in chocolate to even out the texture and improve flavor. This process contributes to the silky smooth chocolate mouthfeel and taste that we all know and love today.
Swiss chocolate is a national symbol and a tourist attraction in its own right. Numerous chocolate factories have become tourist magnets, like the Lindt factory and Maison Cailler. They offer tours and have chocolate museums, not to mention factory shops where you can get your chocolate fix and stock up for the winter.
Photo by Fedor Selivanov
13. Zuger Kirschtorte
Zuger kirschtorte is a layered cherry cake from the canton of Zug. It consists of layers of nut meringue (commonly almond or hazelnut), sponge cake, buttercream, and cherry liquor, which is known as kirschwasser. It was invented in 1921 by pastry chef Heinrich Hohn.
To make the cake, you first bake the two layers of nut meringue by whipping egg whites and mixing them with ground nuts. You then bake the meringue so it dries out evenly and slightly caramelizes on the outside, until it’s a light brown color. Next, you prepare the sponge cake for the middle layer and flavor the buttercream with cherry liquor. Sometimes, the buttercream is tinted with pink coloring or beet juice.
To assemble, you first spread a layer of buttercream on the bottom layer of meringue, then cover it with the sponge cake. You then soak the sponge cake with a mix of cherry liquor and simple syrup before spreading the buttercream on top for the second layer. You top the cake with the second meringue layer before covering the whole cake in buttercream and decorating it with sliced almonds and a dusting of icing sugar.
The original name of the cake isn’t patented, so there are many varieties, but the core ingredients mainly stay the same. The cake can be found in many pastry shops, especially in its native canton of Zug.
Photo by tonphotos
14. Bündner Nusstorte
Bündner nusstorte is a shortcrust pastry cake filled with a caramelized nut filling. Traditionally, the pastry filling is made out of walnuts. Bündner nusstorte was invented in the 1920s but it didn’t become widely available until the 1960s.
This shortcrust pastry cake is the pride and joy of independent bakeries around Graubünden and is one of their largest exports. Because of this, there isn’t one true recipe, but more a collection of common traits among various recipes.
The shortcrust pastry is made by combining flour, sugar, butter, egg, and salt. The filling is made from caramelized sugar, heavy cream or milk, and coarsely chopped nuts – most often walnuts – though it can be made with any type of nut. Some recipes also include honey for additional flavor and sweetness.
Bündner nusstorte is popular year-round and makes an excellent companion to coffee or tea. It’s quite rich, so it’s usually sliced in pieces and eaten for dessert. Today, you’ll find it in bakeries around Graubünden and even in some supermarket chains.
Photo by Elly Mens
Meitschibei is a yeast pastry log made with a nut filling and shaped like a horseshoe. It originated in German-speaking parts of Switzerland. Meitschibei is a German word from Bern that means “girl’s legs”. The name was supposedly given to the pastry because it resembles legs.
To make the pastry, you first rub the flour and butter together, like for shortcrust pastry, and then knead the dough. For the filling, you mix raisins, ground hazelnuts, cinnamon, sugar, and water. Sometimes, lemon and orange peel is added to the mixture, which is then processed into a spreadable paste.
You then roll out the dough very thinly, to a thickness of about 2 mm (0.08 in). You cut the dough into long rectangles, spread the filling on the dough, roll it up, and then fold it in the middle to create the traditional shape. The pastry is then glazed with egg and baked.
Maitschibei is primarily a spring and autumn pastry, when nuts are in season. But today, it’s made and enjoyed throughout the year, especially as a tea biscuit because of its convenient shape.
PHOTO: No machine-readable author provided. Baikonur assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
FINAL THOUGHTS ON TRADITIONAL SWISS FOOD
Swiss food is characterized by local humble ingredients. It’s a hearty cuisine consisting of dishes that are designed to warm and fill you up. While Swiss cuisine is quite varied, the basic savory ingredients of pasta, potatoes, meat, cheese, and butter largely stay the same, though the preparations may differ.
If you’re visiting Switzerland, then you’ll have many traditional restaurants to choose from, so do not hesitate to try as many of these delicious Swiss dishes as you can!
Some of the links in this article on traditional Swiss foods are affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking at no added cost to you. We really appreciate your support as it helps us write more of these free travel and food guides. Thank you!
Cover photo by PhaiApirom. Stock images via Shutterstock.
I plan almost every detail of our trips but sometimes, it’s best to go into a new city blind. Aside from being a popular Caribbean destination, we knew next to nothing about Cartagena, but a few minutes in the historic center (and one meal) was all it took to make us fall in love with the city.
To be honest, we’ve always appreciated Colombian food but it’s never been one of our favorites. Cartagena may have changed all that. Seriously, wow.
I don’t want to hype up the food in Cartagena too much because I want you to be pleasantly surprised like we were. But if you’re spending a few days in this charming Caribbean town, then here are 23 Cartagena restaurants, street food stalls, bars, and cafes that really turned us on to Colombian Caribbean food.
CARTAGENA RESTAURANTS QUICK LINKS
To help you plan your trip to Cartagena, we’ve put together links to top-rated hotels, tours, and other travel-related services here.
Top-rated hotels in the San Diego neighborhood, one of the best areas to stay for first-time visitors to Cartagena.
Luxury: Hotel Casa Quero
Midrange: Hotel Cartagena Royal Inn
Budget: Casa de la Cruz
Sightseeing Tour: Walled City and Getsemani Shared Walking Tour
Food Tour: Best Street Food with Local Chef
Day Trip: Totumo Mud Volcano Experience
Cooking Classes: Cartagena Cooking Classes
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
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WHAT IS THE MOST POPULAR FOOD IN CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA?
You can find great food anywhere in Colombia but in Caribbean coastal cities like Cartagena, it seems to be a given. Not only is Cartagena rich in seafood dishes, but its food seems so much more redolent with flavor thanks to the African and Arab cooking traditions that have influenced costeño cuisine.
There are many delicious Caribbean dishes to try in Cartagena but in my opinion, these are the five that you absolutely cannot miss.
Cazuela de Mariscos
Cazuela de mariscos is my favorite Cartagena dish. It refers to a popular Caribbean stew made with different types of seafood cooked in coconut milk. The types of seafood used can vary per cook but it’s typically made with any combination of shrimp, squid, octopus, mussels, fish, crab, and lobster.
When made well, cazuela de mariscos is incredibly delicious and pretty much sums up what the food in this Caribbean city is all about. Do not leave Cartagena without trying it at least once (or twice).
Fresh Whole Fish
Being a coastal city, it’s no surprise that fish is a staple on restaurant menus in Cartagena. Every seafood restaurant serves some type of fish dish – whether grilled, fried, or cooked in curry or coconut milk.
Commonly served species of fish include mojarra, pargo (snapper), sierra, and robalo (snook). They’re usually served whole with a side of coconut rice and patacones (fried green plantain).
Posta negra cartagenera refers to a traditional Cartagena dish consisting of seared sirloin steak coated in a savory-sweet sauce made from panela (unrefined cane sugar), Worcestershire sauce, and sometimes Coca-Cola. It’s a popular Caribbean dish that’s typically reserved for special occasions like New Year’s Eve.
Mote de Queso
Mote de queso refers to a popular Caribbean soup made with yams, costeño cheese, chicharron, and lime juice. Like many Caribbean dishes, it’s typically served with a side of coconut rice and patacones.
Arepa de Huevo
Arepas are a staple food in Colombia but in Caribbean cities like Cartagena, a version filled with egg is popular. It’s commonly sold as street food, either filled with ground meat and egg or just egg (solo huevo).
If you were to have just one street food dish in Cartagena, then it should probably be arepa de huevo.
THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN CARTAGENA
To help organize this list of the best Cartagena restaurants, I’ve arranged them by category. All the restaurants recommended in this guide are located in the walled city and Getsemani. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
Cafes / Dessert Shops
Street Food Stalls
This was the meal I was talking about at the start of this article. We had our very first meal in Cartagena at Atahualpa and it completely blew us away. Being a seafood lover, I knew the food in Cartagena would be good but I wasn’t expecting this.
The very first dish I wanted to try in Cartagena was cazuela de mariscos. We had it several times in Cartagena and this version at Atahualpa was my favorite.
Depending on the chef, cazuela de mariscos can vary greatly between restaurants. Some are more seafood-y while others, like this one, are redolent with coconut flavor. The lobster pictured below grabs your attention but the real star of this bowl was the broth. It’s delicious.
If I remember correctly, Atahualpa’s cazuela de mariscos also contains shrimp, squid, mussels, and chunks of fish. It’s served with a side of coconut rice and fried yuca (cassava).
If you were to have just one dish in Colombia, then it should probably be bandeja paisa. It refers to an overflowing platter of rice, beans, chicharron, sausages, avocados, plantains, and more. Originally from the Paisa region, it’s become popular throughout the country and is considered by many to be a national dish of Colombia.
No offense to our friends in Medellin, but the best bandeja paisa I’ve had so far was right here at Atahualpa. Well-seasoned and redolent with flavor, it had rice, red beans, chicharron, chorizo, carne molida (ground meat), avocado, and arepa.
We enjoyed Atahualpa so much that we wound up eating here again, specifically to try these next two dishes.
What you’re looking at below is their bandeja caribeña, a Caribbean version of bandeja paisa. It’s made with a whole fried fish served with patacones, coconut rice, and salad.
After spending a few days in Cartagena, one of the things you’ll notice is that the chefs here cook almost everything perfectly. Soft, succulent, and juicy, this fried mojarra could not have been cooked any better. They offer other preparations of fish as well, including grilled fish, fish curry, and fish cooked with garlic (al ajillo).
If you love octopus dishes like we do, then you’re going to love Cartagena. Virtually every seafood restaurant we visited served some type of octopus dish, and for a good price too.
This one is called pulpo encocado. As its name suggests, it’s served in a savory-sweet coconut sauce with a side of coconut rice and patacones.
We found Atahualpa through our own research but it was also highly recommended to us by our Airbnb host. According to him, it’s one of the best restaurants in Cartagena for traditional dishes.
If local flavors are what you’re after, then look no further than Atahualpa. Not only was it one of our favorite Cartagena restaurants, it was also one of the most fairly priced.
Address: Cra. 7, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 8AM-11:30PM, daily What to Order: Cazuela de mariscos, bandeja paisa
2. Buena Vida Marisqueria
Being a coastal city, fresh fish and other tasty seafood dishes aren’t hard to find in Cartagena. There are many restaurants you can visit to get fresh seafood in the walled city, but one of the best is Buena Vida Marisqueria. This terrific seafood restaurant was also recommended to us by our Airbnb host.
Pictured below is an appetizer of empanadas costeras. Ground meat empanadas are among the most popular street foods in Colombia but these were filled with something even better – cazuela de mariscos.
Meat-filled empanadas are common but if you want an empanada that represents local Cartagena cuisine, then I highly recommend trying this one. It’s delicious.
You can’t visit Cartagena without having some type of fish dish at least once. We had many grilled or fried fish dishes in Cartagena but few were as beautifully presented as this one. Called parrillado abierto con mojo de cilantro, it’s a whole grilled fish made with two fillets served over yucca puree, fried garlic, cherry tomatoes, and a creamy cilantro sauce.
If you’re unsure how to eat grilled or fried fish that’s served whole, then this is a good dish to try. Most of the work has already been done for you.
Buena Vida Marisqueria is a TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice recipient located in the heart of the walled city. By many accounts, it’s one of the best restaurants in Cartagena for seafood so it’s definitely worthy of a spot on your itinerary.
Here’s a look at the first floor dining room. Cartagena receives many international tourists so most restaurants in the walled city and Getsemani are as polished as this one. Buena Vida has rooftop seating as well.
Buena Vida Marisqueria
Address: Centro histórico, Cl. del Porvenir #Esquina, Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 8AM-11:30PM, Fri-Mon / 11:30AM-11:30PM, Tue-Thurs What to Order: Seafood
3. La Mulata
We found La Mulata on our own, but it was also suggested to us by our Airbnb host. On top of that, it was recommended to us by an Instagram follower as well. With so many endorsements, a good meal at La Mulata was pretty much guaranteed.
La Mulata is another great seafood restaurant that offers fresh fish, ceviche, and other dishes. I went with the daily special – arroz de mariscos – and it came with this tasty bowl of sancocho de pescado. Sancocho is a popular Colombian soup made with vegetables, tubers, and different types of meat or fish.
This was the arroz de mariscos. Arroz de camaron is a permanent item on their menu but when you’re presented with a similar dish made with more seafood, then you go for that one. Spritzed with lime juice, it was delicious.
La Mulata specializes in seafood but they do offer a handful of other dishes as well, most notably this posta negra cartagenera. As described, it’s a local Cartagena dish made with seared sirloin steak coated in a rich savory-sweet sauce.
I prefer the seafood dishes in Cartagena but posta negra is something you should try as well, to get a well-rounded taste of the local cuisine.
La Mulata is located in a quieter part of the walled city.
La Mulata has a focused menu and a lovely Caribbean-style interior.
Address: Cl. del Quero #9 58, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 11:30AM-10PM, Tue-Sat / 11:30AM-6PM, Sun (closed Mondays) What to Order: Seafood, posta negra cartagenera
4. Restaurante Espiritu Santo
If you were to create a list of the best restaurants in Cartagena based purely on local popularity, then Restaurante Espiritu Santo has to be tops on that list. It’s a large restaurant that’s packed at almost any time of the day, mostly with locals.
Pictured below is a hearty bowl of mote de queso. It may look bland and boring but this dull-looking soup is loaded with flavor, especially when served with chicharron.
We enjoyed the sancocho de pescado at La Mulata so we wanted a full order this time. At Espiritu Santo, you get it with plantains, patacones, coconut rice, and a chunk of fried fish that you eat in the soup. Delicious!
We arrived early, right before they opened, so we were seated right away. Open only for lunch, Restaurante Espiritu Santo is very popular so you may have to wait a bit at peak lunch times. We went to their restaurant in the walled city but they do have another branch in Getsemani.
As described, Espiritu Santo has a huge dining room that’s almost always packed with locals. If you’re looking for cheap eats and local flavors, then this restaurant is one of the best places you can visit in Cartagena.
Restaurante Espiritu Santo
Address: Cl. 35 #6-69, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 11:30AM-3:30PM, daily What to Order: Sancocho, mote de queso
5. Tomillo Cevicheria y Mar
Tomillo Cevicheria y Mar is perhaps one of the best restaurants in Cartagena you’ve never heard of. Tucked away in an alley just off Plaza de San Diego, it’s another great place to enjoy a fresh seafood meal in Cartagena.
Fans of octopus dishes may want to try the pulpo a la parrilla. It consists of grilled octopus tentacles served with potatoes, chimichurri, and corozo sauce. Corozo is a type of berry that’s grown in the Caribbean region of Colombia.
Cazuela de mariscos became my favorite Colombian costeña dish so I made sure to have it for my final meal in Cartagena. Tomillo’s isn’t as creamy and coconut-y as Atahualpa’s version but it’s just as delicious. It’s redolent with seafood flavor, which other people may prefer.
Speaking of corozo berries, we had been looking for corozo juice so we were happy to find it here. There’s no shortage of fresh fruit juices in Cartagena but if you want one that’s unique to the region, then I suggest trying this.
Tomillo Cevichera y Mar is located along Calle Cochera del Hobo, just off Plaza de San Diego. It’s a tiny restaurant that’s easy to miss.
Here’s a look at Tomillo’s tiny dining room. This is pretty much the entire restaurant. I wouldn’t call it a fine dining restaurant but it’s a great place to have an intimate romantic meal in Cartagena.
Tomillo specializes in ceviches and seafood but they do offer other Colombian dishes like empanadas, arepas de huevo, and posta cartagenera as well.
Tomillo Cevicheria y Mar
Address: Cra. 8 #38 – 26, San Diego, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia What to Order: Cazuela de mariscos, pulpo a la parrilla
6. Arrabal Gastrobar
There are many great Cartagena restaurants, but Arrabal Gastrobar may have been our favorite. This hidden gem in Getsemani wowed us with their food, starting with this fantastic pulpo a la brasa. It consists of grilled octopus served in a creamy sauce made from potatoes, toasted macadamias, candied portobello mushrooms, and chimichurri.
We were spoiled rotten with terrific octopus dishes in Cartagena but this one may have been the best. It was different and amazingly delicious.
Arrabal offers two seafood rice dishes on their menu – arroz con tinta de calamar and arroz a la palenquera. Both are flavored with squid ink but the latter is cheaper and may be the more interesting of the two.
Unlike the arroz con tinta de calamar which is made with just squid, this arroz a la palenquera contains a variety of seafood like shrimp, mussels, octopus, and squid. It’s made with so much seafood that it’s impossible to grab a spoonful without biting into a chunk of squid or shrimp! Good seafood is a given in Cartagena but this may have been the best seafood dish from our trip.
It looks delicious in this picture but it looked even better when it first arrived at our table. I couldn’t take a picture before our server mixed all the ingredients together but the dish arrived with a cup of black rice in the middle and the seafood all around it.
Arrabal Gastrobar is tucked away along Calle de San Juan in Getsemani. Like Tomillo, it’s easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it.
There is so much great food to be had in this city but I highly recommend making time for this amazing Cartagena restaurant.
We were the only people there for lunch but I believe Arrabal gets busier at night. There’s a small stage for live music on the second floor.
Address: Cl. de San Juan #25-56, Getsemaní, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 12NN-10PM, Tue-Thurs / 12NN-10:30PM, Fri-Sat (closed Sun-Mon) What to Order: Pulpo a la brasa, arroz a la palenquera
7. Sierpe Cocina Caribe
Arrabal Gastrobar may have been our favorite seafood restaurant in Cartagena, but Sierpe Cocina Caribe wasn’t far behind. Great seafood isn’t hard to find in Cartagena but coincidentally, two of our best seafood meals came from restaurants in Getsemani.
Everything we ordered at Sierpe was fantastic, starting with this dip de cangrejo. It’s a crab and gratinated cheese dip served with corn tortillas.
Personally, this pulpo achiotado was my favorite octopus dish in Cartagena. It wasn’t as unique or well-presented as the octopus dish at Arrabal but it tasted incredible. This is the one dish that really turned me on to Colombian Caribbean cuisine.
I’m a big fan of crab dishes and this arroz de jaiba did not disappoint. As delicious as it is pretty, it consists of blue crab (jaiba) and vegetables served with coconut rice.
Sierpe Cocina Caribe is a TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice awardee located along a street of the same name in Getsemani – Calle de la Sierpe.
Like many of the best restaurants in Cartagena, Sierpe Cocina Caribe has a simple but well-designed interior.
Sierpe Cocina Caribe
Address: Cl. de la Sierpe # 29 -09, Getsemaní, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 12:30-3PM, 6-10PM, Mon-Thurs / 12:30-11PM, Fri-Sun What to Order: Pulpo achiotado, dip de cangrejo, arroz de jaiba
8. Restaurante 1595
Restaurante Espiritu Santo is a great Cartagena restaurant to visit for traditional flavors at affordable prices. Restaurante 1595 is another. Like Espiritu Santo, it’s located in the walled city and is frequented mostly by locals.
Every entree at Restaurante 1595 comes with a bowl of soup. Today, it was sopa de res or beef soup.
Pictured below is the Filete 1595. It’s a tasty fish dish served in a creamy seafood sauce with vegetables, mashed potatoes, and rice. This plate of food, with the bowl of soup, cost us just COP 15,500 (roughly USD 3.16).
A few dishes like the Filete 1595 are available everyday but the restaurant offers two or three daily specials as well. We had lunch there on a Tuesday so I had what they call the Inquisidor. It consists of a beef roll coated in gratinated cheese and served with vegetables, rice, and mashed potatoes.
Even cheaper than the Filete 1595, this plate of food, with a bowl of soup, went for just COP 13,500. At today’s exchange rate, that’s just USD 2.76!
Can you spot the restaurant? Hidden in plain sight, Restaurante 1595 is through that first door on the left. You’d probably walk right past it if you weren’t looking for it.
Like Restaurante Espiritu Santo, Restaurante 1595 is open only for lunch. It doesn’t offer much in the way of ambiance but it does offer great food at cheap prices.
Address: Cl. 36 #7-122, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 11:30AM-3PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Filete 1595, daily specials
9. Capitan Submarino Ostreria y Bar
Do you like oysters? If you do, then you need to have a drink with a platter of oysters at Capitan Submarino. It’s an ostreria and bar that offers inventive cocktails and oysters on the half shell, along with other dishes like ceviches, empanadas, burgers, and Cuban sandwiches.
The oysters at Capitan Submarino aren’t the biggest but who cares? They cost just COP 39,000 per dozen (roughly USD 7.96) and they taste great.
Capitan Submarino is located in one of the busiest parts of the walled city, just off Fernandez Madrid Park.
I loved the interior of Capitan Submarino. Inviting and unintimidating, it’s conducive to enjoying a few cocktails or beers and a platter (or two) of fresh oysters.
Address: Cra. 7 #3655, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 12NN-3PM, 6-10PM, Mon-Thurs / 12:30-11PM, Fri-Sat / 2-10PM, Sunday What to Order: Oysters
10. Quero Arepa
Arepa is an important dish in Colombian cuisine. It’s essentially a type of bread made with ground maize dough. Like tortillas to Mexico or rice to most Asian countries, it’s a staple dish that’s often eaten as a snack or side dish to larger Colombian meals.
We’ll get to it later but arepas de huevo (with egg) are especially popular along the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Quero Arepa offers many Colombian dishes but as their name suggests, they specialize in sandwiches made with arepas. They offer almost two dozen arepa sandwiches filled with a variety of different ingredients, including vegetarian options.
Pictured below is the Sirena. It’s generously filled with shrimp smothered in a housemade sauce with garlic and vegetables.
They call this one Toto la Momposina. It’s filled with Colombian chorizo sausages and cheese.
Tucked away in Barrio San Diego, Quero Arepa is a TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice recipient with a near-perfect 4.5 star rating.
Address: Calle Quero Calle 37 ##9130, Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 11AM-9:30PM, daily What to Order: Arepa sandwiches
11. La Estrella
La Estrella was one of our favorite places in Cartagena, not necessarily because of the food, but because of its fun atmosphere. Located in the walled city and frequented mostly by locals, La Estrella is a restaurant/bar that serves inexpensive Colombian food and drinks.
La Estrella is open from early in the morning until late at night but they only serve food until 3:30PM. I went with a fish dish that came with this starter of sopa de res. Just look at that hefty chunk of beef bone!
For just COP 29,000 (roughly USD 5.92), my mojarra rojo en sumo coco (red mojarra in coconut milk) came with a whole mojarra fish, a bowl of beef bone soup, patacones, rice, and a side salad. Talk about a great deal!
As described, mojarra is one of the most common types of fresh fish you’ll find in Cartagena and something you should try at least once.
This wasn’t the best bowl of cazuela de maricos we had in Cartagena but it was one of the least expensive, not to mention the most overflowing. The seafood was practically spilling out of the bowl.
The food is decent at La Estrella but what we really liked about this restaurant is its relaxed local vibe and cheap beers. Colombian Aguila beers went for just COP 5,000-6,000 a bottle, which was one of the cheapest we found in Cartagena.
If you visit La Estrella after 3:30PM, then you can have beers, shots of hard liquor, and snacks.
Address: 152 Cra. 6 #36 Cartagena, Bolivar Colombia Calle de la Universidad; esquina con calle del Sargento Mayor, Cartagena Colombia What to Order: Colombian seafood and meat dishes, alcoholic drinks
CAFES / DESSERT SHOPS
12. La Esquina del Pandebono
Located in an often-treaded part of the walled city, I’m sure you’ll walk by this local bakery and cafe often during your stay in Cartagena. Popular with both locals and tourists alike, I dare you to walk by and not pick up a few of their breads and pastries.
As their name suggests, their bread and butter is pandebono but they offer many other types of bread and pastries as well like almojabana, pandeyuca, and pasteles.
We made many stops at La Esquina del Pandebono, including a to-go bag before going to the airport. The salchiqueso was a standout as was the pastel de carne. For truly local flavors, you may want to try the pastel de ajiaco or pastel de posta cartagenera.
Everything we had at La Esquina del Pandebono was delicious so I’m not surprised why this bakery is so popular. Whatever you get, do enjoy it with some hot chocolate or coffee.
The pasteles are delicious but my favorites are the breads. What you’re looking at below is the almojabana or Colombian cheese bread made with cornmeal and cuajada cheese. Cheesy and bouncy in texture, it’s absolutely delicious, especially when paired with their hot chocolate.
Pandebono is another type of Colombian cheese bread, but this time made with cassava starch. It has a similar texture and is just as delicious as the almojabana.
Of the three types of Colombian bread pictured here, this pandeyuca may be the most interesting. It’s an extremely airy bread (almost hollow) that’s also made with cassava starch and cheese.
La Esquina del Pandebono is located on the corner opposite Buena Vida Marisqueria. Esquina in Spanish means “corner.”
La Esquina del Pandebono
Address: Calle San Agustin #35 – 78, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 6AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Colombian bread, pastries
13. Mila Pasteleria
Our Airbnb host recommended many restaurants, bars, and cafes to us. Based on the way he described them, you could tell what his favorite places were and he couldn’t have been more glowing in his endorsement of Mila Pasteleria. According to him, it’s a local institution and a must-visit in Cartagena.
Mila offers an extensive menu of breakfast dishes, Colombian soups, snacks, and entrees but we were here for their coffee and desserts. We spied this exquisite-looking strawberry and blueberry cake at the next table so we asked for the same.
Our host was right. The cakes and pastries here are delicious.
The strawberry cake was pretty but this milhoja de arequipe airbrushed with gold is downright beautiful. Milhoja refers to mille-feuille while arequipe is the Colombian term for dulce de leche or cajeta.
What better way to wash down your cakes than Colombian coffee? To be honest, I didn’t think Colombian coffee would be significantly better but I was wrong. Coffee is amazing everywhere in Colombia.
We had every intention of going back to Mila Pasteleria for breakfast but unfortunately, we never made it. There’s just too much good food in this city that we couldn’t find the time.
Aside from being a local favorite, Mila Pasteleria is a TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice awardee so you may want to have more than just dessert here.
Address: Cl. de la Iglesia #35-76, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 8AM-10PM, Mon-Sat / 9AM-9PM, Sun What to Order: Desserts, breakfast
14. Caffe Lunatico
If you want great coffee with a view, then you may want to visit Caffe Lunatico in Getsemani. It’s a popular restaurant cafe that makes it to almost every “where to eat” list in Cartagena.
We had just eaten lunch when we went to Caffe Lunatico so we only had coffee and this delicious creme brulee, but they are a Spanish tapas bar so you may want to come here for more than just dessert.
Caffe Lunatico is more than a restaurant. Aside from offering savory food, desserts, cocktails, and coffee, they also organize guided food tours and conduct cooking classes. On certain nights of the week, they even offer salsa dancing classes!
There’s a larger dining room at the end of this hallway but sitting here offers the best views.
You’ll have a view of the old city’s walls and Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas in the distance. You can also see the Convent of Santa Cruz de la Popa from here.
The kitchen where they conduct cooking classes is located in the room to the right, on one side of the hallway.
Address: Av. Pedregal#29-225, segundo piso, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 10AM-10:30PM, Mon-Sat / 9AM-10PM, Sun What to Order: Tapas and desserts
15. Golden Coffee
Like I said, the coffee is good everywhere in Colombia so it doesn’t really matter where you go. However, I do recommend buying a cup from this cute mobile coffee bar called Golden Coffee. It’s built into a red Willys jeep and can be found parked on the same spot along Carrera 7 in the walled city.
Manufactured by the US military in the 1940s, the Willys jeep has become an icon of Colombia.
I thought that the Golden Coffee jeep is permanently parked in the same spot but they actually drive it here every morning. It was here on most days but I did see it set up in other places once or twice during our stay.
It isn’t everyday you get to enjoy great Colombian coffee from the back of a shiny red jeep!
Address: Along Carrera 7 (near SV Hostal Badillo) Operating Hours: 8AM-11PM, daily What to Order: Coffee
We were lucky to have a Goyurt shop down the street from our Airbnb so we’d sometimes pick something up here before heading back to our place.
Goyurt is a popular frozen yogurt shop with branches throughout Colombia, including two within the walled city of Cartagena. They offer cups of frozen yogurt, popsicles, parfaits, and smoothies.
Goyurt offers many delicious popsicle flavors but if you want something local, then I suggest trying the arequipe.
Goyurt’s popsicles are delicious but we enjoyed their frozen yogurt even more. You can get them in four sizes with sauces and toppings of your choice. Nothing beats the Cartagena heat better than a cup of Goyurt frozen yogurt!
Goyurt has two branches in Cartagena – this one on the corner of Calle Cochera del Hobo and Calle 38 and another one along Calle 35.
Address: Corner of Calle Cochera del Hobo and Calle 38, San Diego, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 10AM-11:30PM, Sun-Thurs / 10AM-12:30AM, Fri-Sat What to Order: Frozen yogurt
17. Gelateria Tramonti
Do you know what else you can do to beat the heat in Cartagena? Indulge in a cup of gelato. You can do just that at Gelateria Tramonti, a terrific gelato shop located in the heart of the walled city.
Thick and oh so creamy, Tramonti offers many delicious flavors of Italian gelato. We went with the pistachio, Colombian coffee, and zarzamora con queso (blueberry cheesecake).
Gelateria Tramonti is located along Calle 35, near the corner of Carrera 5.
Address: Centro Histórico, Calle de Ayos # 4-50, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 9AM-1AM, Mon-Sat / 9AM-12MN, Sun What to Order: Gelato
STREET FOOD STALLS
18. Los Fritos de Dora
Anyone who knows me well knows that nothing excites me quite like good street food. Do a search for the best street food stalls in Cartagena and you’re likely to land on a page heaping praises on Los Fritos de Dora.
This humble street food stall at Plaza San Diego has been selling some of the best fritos (fritters) in Cartagena for almost sixty years now. From the moment they open at 4:30PM, the cart is swarmed by locals and tourists looking for good food at next-to-nothing prices.
We wanted to try everything at Los Fritos de Dora so we must have eaten here on four or five different occasions. We started off with the carimañolas which are football-shaped yuca fritters stuffed with either meat or cheese. I suggest trying both.
When a Colombian college friend of mine saw that we were in Cartagena, she excitedly messaged me and told me to try arepas de huevo. A popular street food in the Caribbean region of Colombia, it refers to a type of arepa stuffed with ground meat and eggs (or just eggs).
We tried arepas de huevo from many street vendors in Cartagena and Los Fritos de Dora was head and shoulders better than the rest. The texture of their arepas was just different.
You can get arepas de huevo with just eggs but I preferred the version with both eggs and meat. If I remember correctly, this tasty fried parcel set us back just COP 2,900 (around USD 0.59).
These papas con huevo y carne are fantastic as well. You seriously need to try everything from this stall.
Los Fritos de Dora
Address: Plaze de San Diego, Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar Operating Hours: 4:30PM-12MN, daily What to Order: Fritos
19. Fritos la Mona
Los Fritos de Dora may have been our favorite fritos stall in Cartagena but Fritos la Mona is no slouch either. Located in a more central part of the walled city, this humble street food stall has its own small army of fritos devotees.
Pictured below is their own tasty version of papas con huevo y carne.
Their arepas de huevo are delicious as well. Like Los Fritos de Dora, Fritos la Mona is popular so they’re constantly churning out a steady stream of fritos.
Fritos la Mona
Address: Cra. 7 #36-2 a 36-122, Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 4PM-12MN, daily What to Order: Fritos
20. Cocteleria El Buen Sabor
I’ve always had my doubts about seafood sold as street food but these cocteles made me a believer. Made with different types of seafood dressed with ketchup, mayonnaise, hot sauce, lime juice, onions, and cilantro, cocteles are a popular and shockingly delicious type of Cartagena street food.
Cocteles de camaron is the most common but you can get it with octopus, crab (jaiba), sea snails (caracoles) squid, and clams (chipi chipi) as well. We tried four different kinds and we enjoyed them all. They’re especially delicious when paired with saltine crackers.
On the way to Getsemani from the clock tower, you’ll walk by this cluster of four or five stands selling cocteles. It probably doesn’t matter where you go but we went to the stall called Cocteleria el Buen Sabor.
Cocteleria El Buen Sabor
Address: Av. Venezuela, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia What to Order: Cocteles What We Paid: COP 9,000-34,000, depending on the size of the cup
21. Portal del los Dulces
We recently spent almost a year in Mexico where we tried many different types of dulces tipicos (typical sweets), mainly from Puebla and Michoacan. As good as the sweets are in Mexico, Colombian dulces tipicos may be even better.
In Cartagena, the most famous area to buy dulces tipicos is Plaza de los Coches. Situated near the clock tower, it’s home to a row of candy stalls selling a variety of sweet treats like cocadas, alegrias, panderitos, and muñequitos de leche.
We bought a sampler pack because we wanted to try as many as we could. Everything was delicious but the clear winners were the cocadas or baked coconut candies.
Made with coconut shreds flavored with different ingredients, Colombian cocadas are absolutely delicious and something I ate almost everyday in Cartagena.
I didn’t taste a cocada I didn’t like in Cartagena but personally, my favorites were the ones flavored with panela and pineapple. They’re so good!
Portal del los Dulces
Address: Cra. 5 #33-15, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 11AM-8PM, daily What to Order: Dulces tipicos
22. Donde Fidel Salsa Bar
Our Airbnb host recommended a few of his favorite bars to us. In his words, Donde Fidel Salsa Bar is very touristy but a must-do for first-time visitors to Cartagena.
Touristy or not, Donde Fidel is loads of fun and a great place to grab a beer while listening to salsa music.
Donde Fidel Salsa Bar is located near the clock tower, at Plaza de los Coches. It may be touristy but it’s one of the most fun and vibrant areas of the walled city.
We went to Donde Fidel twice and we enjoyed sitting outside and drinking Aguila beers while watching people dance to salsa music. I don’t know if they ever play live music but that would be awesome.
Donde Fidel Salsa Bar
Address: Portal de los Dulces, Cra. 4, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 2PM-2AM, daily What to Order: Alcoholic drinks
23. Cafe del Mar
Cafe del Mar is another touristy bar that’s a must-do for first-time visitors to Cartagena. Open from 4:30PM, the bar is perched on the western end of the fortifying wall and offers spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea and sunset.
However, unlike Donde Fidel that offers reasonably priced Aguila beers at COP 8,000, the drinks at Cafe del Mar are decidedly more expensive. The same Aguila beer will run you COP 15,000 here.
The view from Cafe del Mar does come at a price, but there’s a much cheaper alternative. Keep scrolling to learn more.
Cafe del Mar
Address: Baluarte de Santo Domingo, Centro, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia Operating Hours: 4:30PM-2AM, daily What to Order: Alcoholic drinks
One of the many things we love about Cartagena is that you’re legally allowed to drink beer anywhere, not just at bars and restaurants. You can drink a beer while walking around town so you’ll find vendors at parks and street corners selling cold beers and other alcoholic drinks.
Take a stroll along the wall and you’ll find several vendors here selling beer for just COP 6,000 a can. Here’s me showing off a can of Aguila beer within shouting distance of Cafe del Mar. Same beer, same view, at less than half the price.
To help you navigate to these restaurants in Cartagena, I’ve pinned them all on the map below. Click on the link for a live version of the map.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA
Our Airbnb host was invaluable in helping us put together this guide to the best restaurants in Cartagena. Finding the best local restaurants is what we try to do on every trip and his recommendations helped us do just that. ¡Muchisimas gracias!
We didn’t go but our host also recommended Carmen, a fine dining restaurant that makes it to virtually every article listing the best restaurants in Cartagena. They have an à la carte menu but they also offer a seven- and eleven-course tasting menu.
He also recommended Restaurante 1621, which in his words is “the most expensive and exquisite restaurant in Cartagena”. It’s located inside Hotel Sofitel so if you’re looking for a truly special meal in Cartagena, then you may want to make reservations there.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this article on some of the best restaurants in Cartagena. If you have any questions, then please feel free to ask us in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading and have an amazing time eating your way through Cartagena. The food, like the city itself, will definitely win you over. ¡Provecho!
Some of the links in this article on the best Cartagena restaurants are affiliate links. What that means is that we’ll get a small commission if you make a booking at no additional cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as this helps us make more of these free travel guides. ¡Muchas gracias!
Vietnamese food is one of our favorite cuisines in the world. It’s a big reason why we often find ourselves in Vietnam, to satisfy our cravings for irresistible Vietnamese dishes like banh mi, bun bo hue, pho, and bun cha.
Personally, I’m much more into savory food but even I can’t resist the many delicious Vietnamese desserts that await you after every meal in Vietnam. From its colorful cakes and tasty puddings to its limitless array of Vietnamese sweet soups, there’s no shortage of delicious desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth in Vietnam.
Chè bắp and bánh chuối are my favorites but be sure to try as many of these popular Vietnamese desserts on your next trip to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or anywhere else in Vietnam.
VIETNAMESE DESSERTS QUICK LINKS
If you’re traveling to Vietnam and want to really dive into Vietnamese cuisine, then you may be interested in joining a food tour or taking a cooking class.
Vietnamese Food Tours: Food Tours in Vietnam
Vietnamese Cooking Classes: Cooking Classes in Vietnam
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Photo by Le Do
MUST-TRY VIETNAMESE DESSERTS
1. Chè Ba Màu (Chè 3 Màu)
Chè ba màu (or chè 3 màu) literally means “three-color dessert” and is in reference to the three distinct layers that make up this popular Vietnamese dessert.
Chè ba màu is an eye-catching dessert made with three layers of different-colored ingredients like red kidney beans, yellow mung beans, and green pandan jelly. It’s a refreshing Vietnamese dessert that’s reminiscent of Filipino halo-halo. The ingredients are layered in a glass before being topped with crushed ice and a creamy coconut sauce.
Chè ba màu belongs to a family of Vietnamese desserts known collectively as “chè”. We’ll feature several in this guide but chè encompasses an array of Vietnamese desserts – mostly sweet soups and puddings – made with a wide variety of different ingredients.
Photo by Marie Sonmez Photography
2. Chè Bà Ba
Chè bà ba is a type of che made with a soupy base of coconut milk filled with a variety of ingredients like taro, cassava, sweet potato, mung bean, and tapioca pearls. A specialty of southern Vietnam, it can contain over ten different ingredients and be served either hot or cold with ice.
Interestingly, the term bà ba refers to a type of Vietnamese garment that’s traditionally associated with rural southern Vietnam, which could point to the dessert’s roots. It may have been commonly sold by southern Vietnamese women wearing that type of dress.
Photo by Zxcvasdfqwer888, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
3. Chè Bắp
As described, chè bắp is one of my favorite Vietnamese desserts. It refers to a type of sweet corn pudding made with corn, glutinous rice, and coconut milk. This delicious Vietnamese dessert is available throughout the country but the best versions are said to come from central Vietnam, in cities like Hoi An and Hue.
I’ve enjoyed Vietnamese sweet corn pudding many times but the best version I’ve had thus far was made with Con Hen island corn. Con Hen is a tiny sliver of an island that’s said to produce the best corn in Hue.
4. Chè Chuối
Chè chuối refers to another type of Vietnamese dessert pudding, this time featuring ripe bananas, tapioca pearls, and coconut cream. The dessert is flavored with pandan leaves and traditionally served warm or at room temperature, often with a sprinkling of lightly crushed roasted peanuts and sesame seeds on top.
According to this Vietnamese recipe blog, choosing the right bananas is key to making proper chè chuối. It’s commonly made with a type of Vietnamese banana called chuối sứ that needs to be at the right degree of ripeness for the perfect texture and sweetness.
Photo by Yongxi
5. Chè Đậu Xanh
Chè đậu xanh is a Vietnamese dessert soup made with whole mung beans as its primary ingredient. Popular throughout Southeast Asia, the Vietnamese version of this classic mung bean dessert is flavored with coconut milk and sugar and can be made with other ingredients as well like aloe vera, seaweed, and sweet potato flour.
Chè đậu xanh can be enjoyed year-round though it becomes especially popular in the summer months, thanks to the perceived cooling properties of mung beans.
Photo by Simple_Vietnamese_Food
6. Chè Khúc Bạch
Chè khúc bạch literally means “white chunk dessert soup”, in reference to the flavored cubes of jellied milk used in this colorful Vietnamese dessert.
Made with gelatin and coconut milk (or fresh milk), the khúc bạch can be served as is or flavored with additional ingredients like pandan leaves, fruit syrup, and green tea. The jellied milk is sliced into wavy-looking cubes and then served in simple syrup with toasted almonds and a variety of fruits like longan, lychee, watermelon, and strawberry.
Photo by Logo400
7. Chè Thai
Chè thái is another colorful type of chè made with a variety of fresh fruit. It’s essentially a type of Vietnamese fruit cocktail made with different types of tropical fruit served with colorful jellies, crunchy water chestnuts, tapioca balls, and cold coconut milk.
Thanks to the use of water chestnuts and coconut milk in the recipe, chè thái is often referred to as the Vietnamese version of Thai tub tim grob. Like the Thai version, the water chestnuts are dyed red and coated in tapioca starch before boiling. This gives them a shiny ruby-like crimson hue, hence the nickname “red rubies”.
Photo by AlexLab
8. Chè Trôi Nước
Chè trôi nước is another colorful chè that’s a little different from the others already mentioned in this Vietnamese dessert guide. It’s different because it contains an ingredient that the others don’t have – dumplings.
Chè trôi nước consists of glutinous rice balls served in ginger syrup. The dumplings are filled with delicious mung bean paste and served in a clear or brown liquid made from water, sugar, and grated ginger root. A staple Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) dish, it’s traditionally served warm and garnished with coconut milk (or coconut cream) and sesame seeds.
Chè trôi nước is also referred to as bánh chay in the north and chè xôi nước in the south. There’s no exact English translation but the name of the dessert loosely translates to “rice balls/dumplings float to the surface when cooked”.
Photo by Quang nguyen vinh
9. Bánh Rán / Bánh Cam
If you’re a fan of Chinese dim sum, then you’re probably familiar with these deep-fried sticky rice balls. In Vietnam, they’re called bánh rán or bánh cam, depending on where you are in the country.
Like Chinese jiandui, the Vietnamese version of these crispy fried sweet snacks are made with glutinous rice flour shaped into balls. They’re filled with a sweetened yellow mung bean paste and coated with white sesame seeds.
In northern Vietnam, these mung bean pastry balls are referred to as bánh rán. The northern version is scented with jasmine flower essence and can either be coated in sesame seeds or poured over with a sugary syrup.
In the south, they’re referred to as bánh cam. Aside from the name, the southern version is different in that they’re flavored with vanilla extract instead of jasmine flower essence. They can also be made with freshly shredded coconut in the filling.
10. Bánh Chuoi
One of the most delicious desserts in Vietnam is bánh chuối, which literally means “banana cake”. It refers to a type of Vietnamese banana cake or bread pudding made with ripe bananas or plantains cooked with coconut milk, rice flour, condensed milk, sugar, and other ingredients. It can be baked (bánh chuối nướng), steamed (bánh chuối hấp), or fried (bánh chuối chiên).
Bánh chuối can take on different shapes and textures depending on how it’s made. Baked versions (pictured below) are cooked in an oven which gives them a crispy golden-brown exterior. Additional ingredients like white bread, eggs, butter, vanilla extract, and shredded coconut are included in some recipes, giving the cake a taste and appearance closer to bread pudding.
Steamed versions are made with the addition of tapioca starch while fried versions are less like cakes and more like banana fritters.
Photo by Tang Trung Kien
11. Bánh Đậu Xanh
Bánh đậu xanh is a Vietnamese dessert that hails from Hải Dương province in the north. Shaped like cubes and fudge-like in consistency, it’s a type of mung bean pastry that’s typically enjoyed as a snack with tea.
Photo by Truong Giang Huynh
12. Bánh Bo Nuong
This eye-catching Vietnamese sponge cake called bánh bo nuong is one of the most popular cakes in Vietnamese cuisine. It’s often referred to as Vietnamese honeycomb cake, thanks to its distinct honeycomb structure created by pockets of expanding gas.
Bánh bo nuong is made from a rice flour batter enhanced with tapioca starch and rich coconut cream. It can be flavored with different ingredients though it’s most often made with pandan, which gives the cake its vibrant green color and lovely aroma.
Bouncy in texture, this delicious Vietnamese sponge cake is traditionally served warm, either on its own or with a hot cup of tea.
Photo by Le Do
13. Bánh Tieu
Deep-fried and puffy, bánh tieu refers to a type of Vietnamese yeasted doughnut. Hollow in the middle and much lighter than your typical western donut, bánh tieu donuts are encrusted in white sesame seeds and commonly sold as street food in Vietnam.
Photo by Moon Le
14. Bánh Trôi
If chè trôi nước (#8) sounded appealing to you, then you’ll probably want to try bánh trôi as well. Also known as bánh trôi nước, this tasty Vietnamese dessert consists of sticky rice dumplings filled with unrefined cane sugar known locally as đường phên.
Like chè trôi nước, bánh trôi gets its name from the way the balls float to the surface when cooked. They’re typically enjoyed with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds or freshly grated coconut.
Photo by Huy Hoan
15. Bánh Trung Thu
The mooncake is a classic Chinese pastry that’s traditionally given as gifts and eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. There are many varieties of mooncake though they’re typically round in shape and made with a heavy lotus seed paste or red bean filling. The tradition of giving away mooncakes as gifts during the Mid-Autumn Festival is observed in Chinese communities throughout the world, including Vietnam.
In Vietnam, mooncakes are known as bánh trung thu, which literally means “mid-autumn cake”. The crust can be made with either baked wheat flour (bánh nướng) or roasted sticky rice flour (bánh dẻo).
Commonly used ingredients in Vietnamese mooncake fillings include mung bean paste, lotus seed, watermelon seed, dried sausage, and sugared lard. Bánh trung thu tends to be sweeter than other types of mooncake so salted egg yolk is often added for balance.
Photo by Thao Wagner
16. Xi Ma
If you’re drawn to interesting-looking food, then this black sweet pudding or soup will catch your eye in Vietnam. It certainly made our heads turn when we spotted a vendor selling it along the banks of the Thu Bon River in Hoi An.
Called xi ma, this thick dark pudding is made with black sesame, rice flour, coconut, sugar, and pennywort. Nutty and not too sweet, it’s served in small portions and is said to be good for your health.
17. Khoai Mi Nuoc Cot Dua
If you like cassava, then you’ll definitely enjoy khoai mi nuoc cot dua. It’s a rich Vietnamese dessert made with chunks of boiled cassava served in a creamy coconut sauce. For more flavor and texture, the dessert is topped with freshly grated coconut, roasted sesame, and crushed roasted peanuts.
Photo by Nguyen Quang Ngoc Tonkin
18. Sua Chua Nep Cam
Sua chua nep cam refers to a simple but delicious Vietnamese pudding made with black sticky rice and yogurt. A beloved summertime treat, the glutinous black rice is flavored with palm sugar and pandan before being poured over with yogurt.
Depending on the person making it, sua chua nep cam can be enhanced with additional ingredients as well like condensed milk and honey. It can also be served with crushed ice.
Photo by ngoc tran
19. Tau Hu Nuoc Duong
I grew up eating Filipino taho so it’s no surprise that tau hu nuoc duong – the Vietnamese version of Chinese douhua or silken tofu pudding – is one of my favorite Vietnamese desserts.
Silken tofu pudding is a popular snack or dessert that’s widely consumed throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia. It exists in many forms but in Vietnam, the silken tofu is typically served in a sweet and spicy ginger syrup.
I’m used to having my silken tofu with brown sugar syrup and tapioca pearls so the ginger syrup in this one gave me a nice jolt to clear out my sinuses.
Photo by Logo400
20. Vietnamese Ice Cream
You’re already familiar with the awesomeness of Vietnamese food, but did you know that Vietnam is famous for its coffee as well? It’s true.
Like banh mi, coffee was introduced to Vietnam by the French in the 19th century. Today, Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world, behind only Brazil. Aside from black coffee or milk coffee, you can find interesting coffee concoctions in different parts of the country like egg coffee in Hanoi or salt coffee in Hue.
As good as the coffee is in Vietnam, it’s no surprise then that coffee beans are used as a flavoring in other dishes, most notably Vietnamese ice cream.
You’ll find many interesting ice cream flavors in Vietnam like coconut, durian, young sticky rice, and taro, but my favorite will always be coffee.
Photo by Oksana Mizina
FINAL THOUGHTS ON VIETNAMESE DESSERTS
Like I said at the top of this article, savory Vietnamese food is my jam but I can never say no to Vietnamese desserts, especially since many of them are so light.
If you could try just one dessert, then I suggest going for chè. It’s the most popular Vietnamese dessert and something you’ll find in some form no matter where you are in Vietnam.
Chè may be easy to find but deciding which one to try first is considerably more difficult. Like Malaysian kuih, there are dozens if not hundreds of Vietnamese desserts with the prefix chè so deciding which one to go for can be very confusing!
If you have a hard time deciding like I do, then just ask the vendor for their recommendations.
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Cover photo by Logo400. Stock images via Shutterstock.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Traveleater and Austrian food expert Ana Raicic shares with us 20 traditional dishes you need to try on your next trip to Vienna and Austria.
Austria is a country in Central Europe, bordering Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia, Liechtenstein, and Germany.
Historically, it was connected to Germany, Hungary, Bohemia, the Balkans, and northern Italy through the Habsburg dynasty and the empire they presided over. The Habsburg monarchy reigned the lands of Austria, parts of Hungary, and parts of the Balkans from 1282 all the way to the end of WWI in 1918.
This multicultural empire with its court in Vienna transformed the Austrian capital into a cultural melting pot of dignitaries and common folk. People from across the empire flocked to Vienna, bringing with them their language, traditions, and best of all, their food.
FOOD IN AUSTRIA QUICK LINKS
If you’re visiting Austria and want to learn more about Austrian food, then you may want to go on a food tour.
Austrian Food/Drinking Tours: Food and Drinking Tours in Austria
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WHAT IS TRADITIONAL AUSTRIAN CUISINE?
Austria is a large country, shaped by its neighbors and the nations under the Habsburg monarchy. The Austrian food of today is regionally varied, with distinct regional cuisines that have developed throughout history.
Austrian food culture is heavy on proteins and carbs, with the most popular meats being beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and goose. There’s a special place in Austrian kitchens for game, as Austrians were traditionally avid hunters. Many Austrian dishes use the entirety of the animals, including the offal, snout, and trotters.
Traditional Austrian meat dishes include the ever-famous wiener schnitzel, sausages, and cured meats – the most Austrian being speck. Some sausages originate from different parts of the empire.
Sausages are usually consumed as a snack or as part of a larger meal. Some famous Austrian sausages originating from other parts of the Habsburg monarchy include the carniolan sausage, from the region of Carniola in Slovenia, and the debreziner from Debrecen in Hungary.
Popular Austrian snacks include open-faced sandwiches filled with various cuts of meat. Wurstsemmel are made with sausages, leberkase rolls contain leberkase, while schnitzelsemmeln feature steak. Bosna, an Austrian spicy hotdog roll, is another favorite.
Austria is well known for its sweet dishes – be it cakes, pastries, or other desserts. Who hasn’t heard of the great sachertorte or linzertorte? Or the little biscuits that go with coffee and tea that became known as viennoiserie in French?
As you’ll see in this guide on popular Austrian foods, Austria desserts are highly varied. You’ll find fruit-based desserts like marillenknödel, Austrian-style crepes called palatschinken, delicious doughnuts, and tasty biscuits – the most famous being vanillekipferl.
Jams of various kinds are prominent, with apricot, berry, apple, and plum being the most popular. Nuts are also a common ingredient and often mixed with flour for flavor and texture.
MUST-TRY AUSTRIAN DISHES
This article on traditional Austrian food has been organized by category to make it easier to go through. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
Soups / Sides / Bread
Desserts / Drinks
SOUPS / SIDES / BREAD
Frittatensuppe is a type of Austrian pancake soup made with a strong aromatic beef broth and pieces of savory crepe-style palatschinken.
The beef broth is prepared by boiling root vegetables, onions, and beef bones together in water. The broth is simmered for at least an hour and then strained. For the frittaten, a thin layer of crepe-style batter is pan-fried and cut into thin strips before being served in the broth.
Frittatensuppe is a very traditional starter dish in German and Austrian cuisine. Because it’s a soup, it’s especially suited for cold winter days. It’s commonly found in traditional restaurants and inns throughout Austria so there’s no shortage of places for you to try it.
Photo by SEAGULL_L
Käsespätzle is a traditional dish originating from the Württemberg, Baden, Allgäu, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg regions. Known by many names, it’s traditionally prepared by grating hard cheese into hot spätzle and alternating layers of spätzle, cheese, and roasted onions.
The cheese used in käsespätzle varies by region. Some commonly used cheeses include emmental, montafon sura kees, limburg, and weißslacker.
Käsespätzle is usually served with a side of salad or potato salad. In Vorarlberg, it’s commonly served with apple sauce.
Photo by fivetonine
3. Tiroler Gröstl
Tiroler Gröstl is a Tyrolean dish made in a pan, usually with fried potatoes, strips of meat, chopped onions, and mushrooms. It was developed as a way of using up Sunday roast leftovers on Mondays.
All ingredients are fried in a pan and seasoned with salt, pepper, marjoram, caraway seeds, and parsley. The dish is usually served with a fried egg on top.
Tiroler gröstl is especially common in its region of origin – Tyrol – but it can be found throughout Austria. It’s a typical Austrian breakfast served at local restaurants, mountain huts, and ski chalets in the Austrian Alps.
Photo by Bernd Juergens
4. Tiroler Knödel
Like gröstl, tiroler knödel refers to an Austrian dish that originated in Tyrol. They’re traditional bread dumplings made with cubed bread, eggs, milk, onions, parsley (or chives), nutmeg, and salt. The ingredient that makes this dumpling Tyrolean is speck (Austrian cured bacon).
Tyrolean dumplings are traditionally made in a ball shape and cooked in boiling water. They can be served in a soup – as a Tyrolean dumpling soup – or more commonly as a side dish. They can be served as a main course with sweet or sour cabbage as well. When served as a side dish, they’re doused in melted butter which adds richness and mellows out the flavor of the speck.
As you’d expect, these dumplings are very common in Tyrol. If you’re vegetarian, then you can try their vegetarian cousin – the faschtnknödel – during lent. It’s a version of knödel that leaves out the speck.
Photo by OlgaBombologna
5. Erdäpfelsalat (Austrian Potato Salad)
Erdäpfelsalat is an Austrian potato salad made with waxy whole potatoes that are peeled and sliced after cooking. Austrian potato salad is traditionally served with meat dishes and is very common on the menus of many restaurants throughout Austria.
To prepare, the potatoes are cooked with the skin on before being peeled and sliced. Chopped onions are then pan-fried in butter and deglazed with vinegar. Broth is added to the fried onions and left to boil for a couple of minutes before being poured over the slightly cooled potato slices. The potatoes are flavored with mustard, oil, and salt and then left to rest for at least half an hour to soak up the dressing.
When ready, erdäpfelsalat can be served warm or cool, often with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
Photo by Alp Aksoy
Kaisersemmel refers to a small and round crusty bread roll with a traditional star shape on its surface. These bread rolls are extremely common and can be found in nearly every bakery and supermarket in Austria.
These crusty bread rolls are used to make Austrian breadcrumbs. They’re also a common ingredient in bread dumplings, bread soup, and open-faced sandwiches.
Photo by JGLmarket
7. Wiener Schnitzel
No list of the most popular Austrian foods can ever be complete without wiener schnitzel, the national dish of Austria.
A wiener schnitzel is a fried dish consisting of a thin, breaded fried cutlet. It comes from Vienna – where it’s called Vienna schnitzel – and is one of the most recognizable dishes in Austrian culture and cuisine.
The most important aspect of the wiener schnitzel is its thickness, or lack thereof. It needs to be extremely thin so it fries nicely and is easy to eat. The cutlet needs to be sliced or pounded to a thickness of about 4mm.
To prepare, the cutlet is first coated with flour, then whipped eggs, and finally breadcrumbs. It’s important that the breadcrumbs aren’t pressed into the meat so they stay dry and become crumbly when fried. The cutlet is then pan-fried in lard or clarified butter till golden brown.
Wiener schnitzel can be served with a variety of side dishes – green salad with a sweetened vinaigrette dressing, potato salad, cucumber salad, parsley potatoes, or french fries. It’s common at nice restaurants and country inns throughout Austria so it shouldn’t be hard to find.
Photo by Tatiana Bralnina
Tafelspitz is an Austrian national dish consisting of beef or veal boiled in broth and served with a mix of apple sauce or minced apples with horseradish. A Viennese dish, it was supposedly a favorite of Emperor Franz Joseph I.
Tafelspitz is prepared by simmering meat, root vegetables, bones, and spices in water. Once the boiled beef becomes fall-apart tender, it’s served with apple sauce and either horseradish or sour cream with chives.
Unlike wiener schnitzel, tafelspitz isn’t as common a restaurant dish, but it can be found on the weekend menus of traditional Austrian restaurants.
Photo by Karl Allgaeuer
DESSERTS / DRINKS
9. Apfelstrudel (Austrian Apple Strudel)
Austrian apfelstrudel is the original version of this popular European dessert that’s spread well beyond Austria’s borders. It refers to a baked dish of rolled dough stuffed with an apple filling.
Austrian apple strudel can be made from filo pastry, quark dough, yeasted dough, or potato dough. Sometimes, it can be made with shortcrust pastry as well, especially in Tyrol. The filling consists of cubed or grated apples, raisins, and buttered breadcrumbs flavored with ground cinnamon and granulated sugar.
Apfelstrudel is served warm, often with a dusting of powdered sugar or a side of vanilla ice cream, vanilla sauce, or whipped cream. The strudel is a fixture on the menus of mountain huts, restaurants, and rustic Austrian cafes across the country. It’s delicious at any time of the year but especially during the fall when apples are in season.
Photo by La Bella Studio
Kaiserschmarrn is one of the most famous desserts in Austrian cuisine. It’s named after the Austrian Kaiser – Emperor Franz Joseph I – who was a real fan of the dish.
Kaiserschmarrn is made with a fluffier and thicker pancake batter that’s baked in a pan with butter. When the bottom firms up, you break it up with a spatula into smaller pieces and do this repeatedly until it’s done.
Traditionally, this delicious Austrian dessert is served with icing sugar and roasted plums (or plum jam) but today, it’s common to see it served with apple sauce, Nutella, and other kinds of fruit jam. You can even find varieties that are caramelized during baking, or made with raisins or almonds.
Aside from being a popular homemade dish, kaiserschmarrn is a common sight on restaurant and cafe menus throughout Austria.
Photo by A_Lein
Palatschinken refers to Viennese-style dessert crepes or pancakes that are traditionally filled with apricot jam.
Palatschinken batter is made from eggs, flour, milk, and sparkling water. The sparkling water is what gives palatschinke their characteristic lightness. A spoonful of batter is cooked evenly in a thin layer on a pan before being filled with apricot jam and rolled up.
Aside from apricot jam, palatschinke can also be made with other fruit jams, Nutella, coconut, bananas, ground nuts, sugar, and lemon. They can be rolled up or folded into triangles before being dusted with powdered sugar and served.
These Austrian pancakes are a delicious treat that’s commonly served at cafes and pastry shops. A perfect accompaniment to coffee, they’re also a popular homemade treat.
Photo by Sergii Koval
Powidltascherl are dumplings made from potato dough filled with plum jam. The word powidl comes from the Czech language and refers to a type of plum jam that’s made without additional sugars.
To make powidltascherl dough, cooked potatoes are put through a potato ricer and then mixed with semolina flour, salt, nutmeg, eggs, and butter. The dough is rolled out and cut into circles before being folded into half-moon shapes over dollops of plum jam. The dumplings are then cooked in boiling water.
These delicious plum jam turnovers are sprinkled with icing sugar and served with breadcrumbs browned in butter and granulated sugar.
Photo by Kobako, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Marillenknödel are Austrian dumplings made from potato, cottage cheese, or flour dumpling dough stuffed with apricot halves. A popular dish in Bavarian cuisine, they’re especially common in the apricot-growing regions of Wachau and Vinschgau.
To make marillenknödel, balls of dough are formed into balls. The balls are flattened and stuffed with a pitted apricot half along with a sugar cube or one teaspoon of sugar. The dumplings are then closed and cooked in boiling water. When ready, they float to the surface.
After cooking, the dumplings are served with melted butter and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Sometimes, they’re served with cinnamon sugar, poppy seeds, or gingerbread crumbs.
Most Austrians typically enjoy apricot dumplings at home. If they’d rather not make them from scratch, then they can buy frozen or ready-made dumplings from the supermarket. However, these store-bought versions are typically made with apricot marmalade instead of actual apricot halves.
Photo by karamba70
14. Salzburger Nockerl
Salzburger nockerl refers to a sweet souffle originally from Salzburg. While the dish is usually served as a dessert, it’s filling enough to be eaten as a main course.
Salzburger nockerl is made from a dough consisting of egg yolks, flour, sugar, and vanilla sugar. Leftover egg whites and sugar are whisked into a meringue and added to the dough carefully so as not to break the meringue. The mixture is then piped into a dish and baked until golden brown.
This delicious Austrian souffle is always made fresh and served with a sprinkling of icing sugar. Sometimes, they can be served with raspberry sauce or vanilla sauce.
Salzburger nockerl is a tasty treat and a must when visiting Salzburg. Forget about Mozartkugeln and go for this instead. You won’t be disappointed.
Photo by fivetonine
This chocolate sponge cake with apricot jam and chocolate glaze is one of the most famous cakes in Viennese cuisine. It was invented by Franz Sacher in 1832, who was working as an apprentice at the court.
The original recipe for sachertorte is a closely guarded secret but Hotel Sacher has released an approximate recipe that gives us an idea of how it’s made. First, butter, sugar, and vanilla seeds are whipped into a cream before adding egg yolks and melted dark chocolate. Egg whites are whipped separately with sugar and then added in parts to the chocolate butter mixture with flour.
The cake is baked and allowed to cool before being sliced in half and spread on both sides with jam. The cake is reassembled, chilled, and poured over with chocolate glaze that’s quickly spread with a spatula. The cake is then chilled again so the chocolate glaze hardens a bit and the flavors mix. When ready, it’s typically served with a garnish of unsweetened whipped cream.
You can still taste the original versions of sachertorte in Vienna. The version described here is taken from the published recipe of Hotel Sacher. The other original version can be tasted at the pastry shop Demel, where Franz Sacher’s son Eduard completed his father’s work.
Versions of sachertorte can be enjoyed at many other pastry shops in Vienna, across Austria, and throughout many parts of Europe.
Photo by bonchan
16. Linzer Torte
Linzer torte is a cake named after Linz, a town in Upper Austria. It consists of a shortcrust pastry with ground nuts, topped with a layer of red currant jam and a decorative lattice topping.
Shaped into a circle, the shortcrust dough is made from flour, sugar, butter, eggs, ground nuts, cinnamon, and cloves. It’s traditionally topped with red currant jam though it can also be topped with other jams like apricot or raspberry.
A decorative thin lattice is placed over the jam before it’s brushed with lightly beaten egg whites and then baked. Cooking the jam with the cake gives it a lovely sticky consistency, while also imparting flavor to the pastry.
Linzer augen (literally “Linzer eyes”) is a type of sandwich cookie with the flavors of Linzer torte. The cookies are circular, flower-, or star-shaped with a cutout in the top cookie, creating the symbolic “eye”. They’re dusted with powdered sugar before serving.
Linzer torte and Linzer augen are both commonly found in cafes and pastry shops across Austria, while commercial versions are also sold at supermarkets.
Photo by pixdesigned
Cremeschnitte literally translates to “cream slice” and refers to a dessert originating from the Viennese baking tradition. It consists of two layers of puff pastry, a thin layer of apricot jam, and a generous portion of vanilla-flavored pastry cream, which gives the desert its name.
Every bakery and pastry shop has its own recipe for cremeschnitte (which they swear by), but in general, it’s made like this.
First, you make the puff pastry (or buy it). You roll out the sheet of puff pastry to your desired size and cut it in half before baking. Meanwhile, you mix vanilla seeds, egg yolks, whole eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla sugar, rum, and salt over a bain-marie and whisk until fluffy. Add gelatine and whipped cream to create a light vanilla-flavored cream.
After your pastry sheets have finished baking, spread a thin layer of jam on both sheets before laying one at the bottom of your mold. Pour the vanilla cream over the pastry sheet before placing the second sheet on top. Glaze the top sheet with fondant icing before serving.
Personally, cremeschnitte is one of my favorite Austrian desserts. It’s a rich and delicious dessert that you should definitely seek out in Austrian pastry shops.
Krapfen refers to a variety of yeasted doughnuts without holes. The sweetened enriched dough is a brioche-style dough, enriched with a good quantity of butter, eggs, and sugar.
The dough is made and left to proof before being rolled out and cut into circular shapes. They’re then fried on both sides to achieve the signature doughnut ring.
Traditional Austrian carnival doughnuts called faschingskrapfen are always filled with apricot jam. Krapfens are common throughout Austria but they’re especially popular in Carnival season.
Photo by tanyki88
Vanillekipferl are small, crescent-shaped Chritsmas biscuits originating from Austria, but they can be found in Germany, Switzerland, Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary as well. They’re well-known across Europe and commonly sold at Viennese coffee shops.
Vanillekipferl look easy to make but they’re actually quite challenging. They’re traditionally made with shortcrust pastry consisting of ground walnuts, flour, butter, and sugar. The dough is kept cool before being shaped by hand, which is tricky because vanillekipferl dough is very crumbly. You have to be careful not to break the biscuits.
The biscuits are baked in an oven and dusted with a generous amount of vanilla-flavored icing sugar, which gives the biscuits their characteristic flavor and appearance. When made well, these melt-in-your-mouth biscuits are a delight to eat with coffee or tea.
Photo by Olinda
20. Einspänner Coffee
Einspänner refers to a coffee drink that originates from the Viennese coffee tradition. It consists of a shot of espresso or regular black coffee topped with whipped cream.
Einspänner coffee was named after the one-horse carriage of the same name. The driver would hold the coffee in one hand and the reins in the other. Because the coffee is topped with thick cream, it would stay warm and could be enjoyed while the driver was on break.
Traditionally, einspänner coffee isn’t mixed but sipped through the cold cream. It’s available at pretty much every coffee shop in Austria.
Photo by barmalini
FINAL THOUGHTS ON TRADITIONAL AUSTRIAN FOOD
As you can tell from this collection of the most popular Austrian dishes, the Austrian culinary tradition is rife with delicious desserts and hearty comforting dishes. If sweets and comfort food excite you, then you’ll have lots to look forward to when you visit Vienna and Austria.
Like many comfort foods, some of the tastiest Austrian delicacies are best when made at home. Luckily for you, many restaurants and home-style inns do come very close to Austrian home cooking.
Some of the links in this article on typical Austrian food are affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking at no added cost to you. We really appreciate your support as it helps us write more of these free travel and food guides. Thank you!
Cover photo by Tatiana Bralnina. Stock images via Shutterstock.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Traveleater Elise Ofilada shares with us 20 traditional Pakistani dishes you need to try on your next trip to Pakistan.
From the highest peaks of the Himalayas to the sandy coasts of the Arabian Sea, Pakistan is a country in South Asia known for its extraordinary natural wonders. Whether it’s a historically significant mountain pass or a stretch of river that nursed an ancient civilization, this Islamic republic’s beautiful landscapes paint a vibrant portrait of human development.
As such, people who travel for food are sure to marvel at the diverse cultures the nation has to offer. With an immense population of nearly 243 million people, Pakistan is said to be the 5th most populous country in the world.
Because of that, it would be a grave injustice to describe its people and their social customs in a homogenous manner. In fact, Pakistani culture shares many similarities with its neighbors, Afghanistan and India.
That said, traveling to Pakistan is a one-of-a-kind experience. Over time, the country has become popular amongst tourists, with millions of travelers flocking to Pakistan every year.
Furthermore, it’s impossible for their people not to have acquired a taste for great food, given the nation’s long and elaborate past. That’s how all the best culinary traditions are born, after all.
With that, pack your bags and hop on a flight to the country as soon as possible! Traveleaters will be pleased to learn that the sensational aspects of Pakistan’s scenery and history translate into their expansive cuisine as well.
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WHAT IS TRADITIONAL PAKISTANI CUISINE?
Pakistani cuisine takes its cues from a variety of sources. Empires, such as the Mughal Empire and the British Empire, have made their mark on the kinds of food that the nation commonly serves.
Several countries in Southern and Central Asia have also shared their recipes with Pakistan throughout history. Regional variations of popular Pakistani dishes have become quite abundant as well.
Pork, you might notice, is not present in Pakistani cooking, as a majority of Pakistan’s population is Muslim. As such, the meats used in their dishes will often be a choice among chicken, lamb, or mutton.
Alcohol, too, is considered haram (forbidden) and is scarcely served with any meal. Pakistanis are more likely to enjoy beverages like yogurt-based lassi or hot tea.
Be it spicy curries or unleavened wheat bread, Pakistan has a spectrum of flavors just waiting to be explored. When presented with the country’s most famous dishes, Traveleaters won’t be able to resist digging into all the delicious foods that the nation has to offer.
With a name that means “land of the pure”, Pakistan guarantees that its cuisine is simply too good to pass up.
MUST-TRY PAKISTANI DISHES
This article on the best Pakistani foods has been organized by category to make it easier to digest. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
Starters / Sides / Snacks
Curries / Stews
Rice / Bread
With Pakistan being a melting pot of cultures, it’s no surprise that its people take pride in serving meals of varying influences. As you book your next trip to the country, remember to look out for these 20 phenomenal Pakistani dishes!
STARTERS / SIDES / SNACKS
Stuffed to the brim with savory fillings, samosas make for a great appetizer or snack. It’s an especially popular food during the month of Ramadan when it’s eaten at the end of the day to break the daily fast, otherwise known as iftar.
The dish is typically made with potatoes, peas, and ground meat – usually lamb, beef, or chicken. Whether triangular or cone-shaped, the pastry is meant to have a nice, crispy quality.
Samosas are highly popular in many countries throughout Asia and Africa like Pakistan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Ethiopia. It’s an extremely versatile dish that exists in many different versions throughout Pakistan.
In the eastern and southern regions of the country, samosas tend to be spicier and contain mostly potato or vegetable fillings. In the western and northern parts of Pakistan, they’re less spicy and more often made with minced meat fillings.
As such, samosas are a good example of why Pakistani cuisine is known to be culturally diverse. No matter the form, they’re best enjoyed with a side of tasty green chutney.
“Samosa” by Avinash Bhat, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Pakora is another classic iftar staple and a popular street food in Pakistan. It essentially refers to any type of fritter that’s been coated with a batter of chickpea or gram flour. Spices like cumin and turmeric are added to give the deep-fried snack a little kick. A perfect batch will have a texture that’s just fluffy enough, and not too flat.
Only served once golden brown, pakoras can be composed of various ingredients. A number of recipes will call for vegetables like onions, eggplant, and potatoes. Many vendors, however, cook it using chicken meat. It’s also possible to make the snack with mushrooms, plantains, and taro roots.
Commonly consumed with tea, pakora is a delicious and highly addictive Pakistani street food dish that’s difficult to resist. I dare you to stop at just one!
3. Gol Gappa
A true feast for the senses, gol gappa is an interesting Pakistani street food dish. Originally from India, it exists in many varations and is known by different names like pani puri, gupchup, or puchka. This beloved street food dish has a flavor profile that ranges from sour to spicy to sweet.
In essence, gol gappas are crispy fried hollow balls of dough (puri) loaded with a variety of fillings like boiled potatoes, chopped onions, chickpeas, tamarind paste, and mint chutney. They’re usually topped with a sprinkling of chaat masala and red chili powder and often accompanied by a tangy yogurt dip.
What makes gol gappa even more interesting is that each stuffed puri is filled with a spicy-sour liquid before being eaten whole. A beloved street food dish, especially among women, it needs to be eaten quickly before the delicate puri crumbles from the liquid.
Photo by Arfa talib
CURRIES / STEWS
4. Lobia Ka Salan
Though Pakistani cuisine offers many exciting meat dishes, lobia ka salan is a vegan option that will entice even the staunchest carnivores. It’s a Pakistani curry made primarily with black-eyed peas and a base of garlic paste, onions, and tomato sauce.
The peas give lobia ka salan its nutty flavor while the various spices used to flavor the dish make for an aromatic gustatory experience. The stew is often topped with either green chilies or coriander and served hot for the whole family to enjoy.
Photo by GR.Stocks
5. Aloo Gobi Matar
If you’re in the mood for a hearty Pakistani dish, then look no further than a simple but satisfying bowl of aloo gobi matar. Like many comforting Pakistani foods, it’s a meal that reminds people of home.
Aloo gobi matar is a healthy cauliflower and potato curry that consists mainly of potatoes, cauliflower, and peas. The dish can be cooked dry (similar to a plate of steamed vegetables) or served swimming in a spicy sauce. Both are delicious but personally, I prefer the latter.
Photo by Santhosh Varghese
Haleem (or daleem) refers to a type of Pakistani stew that’s widely consumed throughout the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Originally from Iran, it can be found in different variations in countries like Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Armenia.
Haleem typically consists of grains, legumes, meat (typically either chicken, lamb, or beef), spices, and a cooking liquid. The dish is slow-cooked for several hours until a smooth, paste-like consistency is achieved.
In Pakistan, haleem is a celebratory dish that’s often reserved for special occasions. Sour and tangy in flavor, it can be eaten with a spoon or some type of flatbread like naan bread.
Photo by ahmer shahid
Though nihari is mostly known as a traditional food that originated from the Indian subcontinent, its prominence in Pakistani cuisine can’t be overstated. Given how frequently it’s served in the country’s most populous cities, this tasty main dish strikes a balance between nourishing and appetizing.
Nihari is composed of tender beef shanks that sit in a stew thickened by durum whole wheat flour (atta). This Pakistani beef stew is delicious any which way but the most decadent versions are made with buttery bone marrow seeped into the stew.
Garnished with ginger and coriander and served with a side of naan bread, nihari is best when finished off with a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Photo by bonchan
8. Chicken Sajji
Not all chicken dishes can compare to the most famous meal from Pakistan’s province of Balochistan – sajji!
Sajji, or Balochi sajji, refers to a style of cooking that entails rubbing a whole chicken with salt, skewering it, and then cooking it over an open fire. It’s traditionally made with goat or lamb but in modern times, chicken has become just as popular as well.
Though chicken sajji is similar to rotisserie chicken in that it’s also skewered and roasted, the meat is uniquely spiced with both chaat and garam masala. The chicken is meant to be extra juicy and soft as it’s traditionally cooked over an open fire through the night.
With a crispy skin that exudes a smoky flavor, chicken sajji is a delectable addition to Pakistan’s rich food culture.
Photo by Fookis Labs
9. Chicken Karahi
Chicken karahi gets its name from the wok-like, cast-iron pan it was originally cooked in. It’s one of the most popular types of Pakistani curry and is said to have originated from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of the country.
Karahi is known for its fragrant base made from fresh ginger, tomatoes, and garlic. Though modern recipes often include onions, the most traditional versions of chicken karahi are made without them.
Chicken is arguably the most popular but it’s worth noting that karahi can be made with other types of meat as well like lamb, beef, or fish. Like many other Pakistani dishes, it’s often topped with green chilies and coriander to amplify its inherently pungent flavors.
Whether found at Pakistani street restaurants called dhaba or cooked at home, the meal is most complete when served with a choice of basmati rice or naan.
Photo by highviews
10. Chicken Tikka
This popular Pakistani dish dons an orange color that’s just as bright as its flavors. Though traditionally grilled over hot coals or cooked in a tandoor oven, modern versions can be cooked on top of a stove or baked inside an oven.
Marinated with spices like garam masala, cumin, and turmeric, chicken tikka sports a robust piquant flavor. Once nicely charred, it’s served with a spritz of lemon juice, in addition to either a mint or tamarind chutney.
Photo by bhaskar deb
11. Seekh Kabab
Seekh kebab literally means “skewered meat cooked over fire”. In spite of its rather uninspiring name, it’s the kind of dish that’s guaranteed to exceed your expectations. After all, it’s hard to be disappointed by a grilled meat dish that promises fatty juiciness, a dash of heat, and a distinctly smoky flavor!
Indian-style seekh kebabs are typically made from ground lamb or chicken but the Pakistani version is most often made with beef. The minced beef is seasoned with garlic, onions, ginger, green chili peppers, spices, and herbs before being shaped into logs, skewered, and then grilled.
While seekh kebabs can be baked in an oven or pan-fried, they’re best when grilled or cooked over an open fire.
Photo by highviews
12. Chapli Kabab
Outwardly crispy yet soft once bitten into, chapli kababs are a signature dish of Pashtun cuisine. Originally from Peshawar in northern Pakistan (hence the alternate name peshawari kabab), they’re a popular street food in South Asian countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
Chapli kababs are flavorful patties made from minced meat (usually beef, mutton, or chicken) seasoned with a blend of coarsely ground herbs and spices like anardana (dried pomegranate seeds), coriander leaves, chili powder, and cumin. They’re shaped into patties before being shallow- or deep-fried in ghee (Indian clarified butter) or tallow (animal fat).
After cooking, this specialty of Pashtun cuisine can be served with various chutneys and yogurt and is often enjoyed with a side of rice or naan, or eaten like a sandwich (bun kebab).
Photo by highviews
RICE / BREAD
13. Sindhi Biryani
Biryani is one of the most well-known rice dishes in the world, being a staple of both Pakistani and Indian cuisine. It can be topped with all sorts of viands (like chicken, fish, or goat meat) and is commonly eaten with a side dish of either eggs or spiced potatoes.
Biryani can be prepared in a number of ways using various ingredients. When cooked properly, the basmati rice should be fluffy with grains that don’t clump together.
You’ll find many different versions of biryani throughout the Indian subcontinent but sindhi biryani, which makes use of mutton, is the variation Pakistan is best known for.
Prepared for all kinds of events and special occasions, biryani is likely to be served hot after a round of Pakistani appetizers. Given its complexity and many variations, trying sindhi biryani or any other type of biryani is a must when visiting Pakistan.
Photo by StockImageFactory.com
14. Halwa Puri
In the midst of all the bread and rice dishes that have been listed in this Pakistani food guide, halwa puri (or halwa poori) is a stand-out. This sweet dish has two main components – semolina pudding and fried flatbread. It’s typically eaten for breakfast though it can also be served during religious festivities.
With just the right amounts of sugar and milk, the semolina pudding is delectably soft and creamy. Nuts like pistachio and almonds are optional but they can be included to impart texture to the dish.
Photo by Indian Food Images
Paratha is a type of unleavened flatbread that can be eaten as is for breakfast or paired with curries and stews for lunch.
Popular in Pakistan and throughout the Indian subcontinent, the word paratha literally means “layers of cooked dough”. It’s largely associated with South Asian cuisine though versions of it have become popular in many other countries as well like Singapore, Malaysia, and Myanmar.
When done right, this tasty Pakistani flatbread made with finely ground whole wheat flour is both crispy and flaky in texture. Pan-fried till toasty, it’s an easy-to-like dish that every visitor to Pakistan will surely appreciate.
Photo by StockImageFactory.com
16. Kheer (Pakistani Rice Pudding)
Kheer gets its name from the Sanskrit word for “milk”. A creamy and sweet dish, this Pakistani rice pudding is commonly served during Eid al Fitr.
Properly made kheer has a consistency that’s neither too runny nor too thick. It’s spiced with a variety of fragrant ingredients like cloves, saffron, and nutmeg before being garnished with toppings like cashews, dried fruits, and green cardamom.
Photo by highviews
You can’t talk about the best Pakistani desserts without including this summertime delicacy. Whether consumed as a beverage or eaten with a spoon, falooda is an ice cream dessert that’s delightfully refreshing and unapologetically sweet.
Falooda is made with a plethora of ingredients like vermicelli noodles, jellies, and chia or basil seeds soaked in milk. Often served with ice cream, its use of rose-flavored sugar syrup acts as a food coloring that gives the dessert its distinct pink hue.
Photo by Indian Food Images
Zarda is another tantalizingly sweet dessert that Pakistan shares with the rest of the Indian subcontinent. Known for its inviting yellow-orange hue, this sweet rice dish is prepared by cooking long-grain rice in clarified butter and then coating them in sugar syrup.
Eaten with an assortment of dry fruits, nuts, and a generous amount of raisins, zarda is an explosion of color and texture. It should come as no surprise then that this memorable treat tastes just as lovely as it looks.
Photo by SooperChef
If you’re looking for a dessert that’s both satisfying and healthy, then look no further than gajrela. It’s also known as “gajar ka halwa”, with gajar meaning “carrot” in Hindi and halwa being the Arabic word for “sweet”.
Gajrela is essentially a carrot-based pudding that’s made with an abundance of khoya (dried milk that’s been thickened in an iron pan), sugar, and nuts. It’s best enjoyed during winter though it’s also traditionally prepared for religious events.
Photo by StockImageFactory.com
20. Gulab Jamun
A dessert fit for only the most joyous of celebrations, gulab jamun is bound to impress anyone with a sweet tooth.
Gulab jamun means “rose water berry” in Hindi. Popular throughout the Indian subcontinent, this delicious dessert consists of little fried dough balls traditionally made from khoya. The fried dough balls are doused with simple syrup and garnished with almonds or cashews before serving.
Gulab jamun has a floral flavor that’s sure to entice even the most dessert-averse travelers. It can be served cold, hot, or at room temperature. When served hot, it’s often enjoyed with a scoop of ice cream or kulfi (cold dairy dessert).
Photo by Najib Habib
FINAL THOUGHTS ON TRADITIONAL PAKISTANI FOOD
As previously mentioned, Pakistan is a country full of picturesque and historically significant attractions. You could easily lose yourself in the presence of its many breathtaking natural wonders.
On top of that, the nation is home to an enormous population that prides itself on its rich and diverse cultural identity. Given the sum of these favorable aspects, no one can deny that Pakistan is a destination that’s worth visiting sooner rather than later.
That said, with dishes ranging from spicy curries to sweet rice desserts, the gustatory experience offered by Pakistani cuisine is a draw on its own. Combining ingredients like rose water and jellies, or mutton with potatoes, every dish is a masterclass in flavor and balance.
Despite some dishes being similar to its neighbors, the Pakistani gastronomic experience as a whole is unlike any other. The country’s mountainous landscapes and stunning views are major draws, but so is its amazing food.
Some of the links in this article on popular Pakistani foods are affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking at no added cost to you. We really appreciate your support as it helps us write more of these free travel and food guides. Thank you!
Cover photo by Indian Food Images. Stock images via Shutterstock.