Like in any country, one of the best ways to familiarize yourself with Moroccan culture is through their food. And in my opinion, the best way to get to know Moroccan cuisine is by taking a cooking class.
It’s one thing to enjoy a traditional Moroccan meal, but it’s another to learn how to make it. It’s like looking under the cuisine’s hood.
Morocco is home to one of the most colorful cuisines in Africa. It’s an interesting blend of Berber, Andalusian, and Mediterranean cuisines with notable sub-Saharan and European influences. When I think of Moroccan cuisine, the first word that comes to mind is flavor (followed by tagine).
Year after year, Morocco remains one of the most visited cities in Africa, and its most popular city is Marrakech. It’s the tourist capital of the country and the best place to learn the culinary art of Moroccan cooking.
There are many cooking classes in Marrakech, so we’re here to help you find the best one. Let’s fire up that tagine!
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8 OF THE BEST COOKING CLASSES IN MARRAKECH
We partnered with our friends at Cookly to come up with this guide to the best cooking classes in Marrakech. Moroccan food is a joy to make and these eight cooking classes are currently the most popular and highly-rated classes they have in Marrakech.
We took the first class on this list – at La Maison Arabe Marrakech – which is by far the most popular. I’ll describe it in more detail below but here’s a quick comparison chart of the eight cooking classes featured in this guide.
You can click on the links to go to the cooking class booking page. All classes offer free cancellation as long as you cancel 48 hours before the start of the class.
Name of Cooking Class
Length of Tour
1. Half-day Cooking Workshop in La Maison Arabe
2. Tajine Cooking Class in Riad Jona Marrakech
3. Moroccan Cooking Class on a Farm by L’Atelier Faim d’Epices
4. Moroccan Cooking Class With Chef Khmisa
5. Moroccan Fusion Class with 8 Dishes
6. Berber Cooking Class Day Trip from Marrakech to Atlas Mountains
7. Half-day Cooking Experience on Moroccan Dishes
8. Make Tasty Berber Crepes with Joy
1. Half-day Cooking Workshop in La Maison Arabe
As described, this was the cooking class we took. It’s held at La Maison Arabe Marrakech, a respected 5-star hotel in the medina. We’ve taken cooking classes in many cities around the world but this was the most high-tech. You’ll see what I mean later.
The class started at this salon where the chef gave us a brief introduction to Moroccan culture, Moroccan food, and the different spices and ingredients used in Moroccan cuisine.
After the primer on Moroccan culture and cuisine, the chef and his assistant served us cups of freshly brewed mint tea.
Remember what I said about this cooking class being the most high-tech class we’ve ever taken? These video screens are why.
Aside from the spotless and well-organized kitchen, what makes this class stand out are these video screens. Every cooking station is equipped with a dedicated monitor so students can easily follow what the chef is doing. How cool is that?
Here’s my better half intently watching the chef’s demo from the comfort of her station. After seeing this kitchen setup, it makes me wonder why more cooking schools don’t do this. It makes following the chef’s instructions so much easier.
The chef gave us a bread-making demo and invited a few students to come up to her station and knead the dough. My wife loves making bread so she jumped on the opportunity. There she is on the screen!
We learned to make three dishes today – zaalouk, taktuka, and chicken tagine.
Here we are prepping the fresh ingredients for zaalouk, a Moroccan salad of cooked eggplant and tomatoes.
You can’t talk about Moroccan cuisine without mentioning tagine. An emblematic symbol of Moroccan cooking, it refers to this conical cooking vessel and the dishes cooked in it. Today, we learned how to make chicken tagine.
Here are our artfully aranged plates of zaalouk and taktuka. We learned how to make those tomato roses ourselves.
Pair either side dish with khobz (traditional Moroccan bread) and you’re golden. These were delicious.
And voila! Behold our beautiful chicken tagine.
Moroccan cooking is a culinary art that’s best represented by the traditional tajine. There are many delicious dishes in Morocco but nothing is more representative of the cuisine than tagine. It’s a main dish that can be made with different types of meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, and fruit.
We had another engagement so we couldn’t stay, but students are invited to the main dining room to enjoy what they cooked after the class. Each student is also given a pre-made pastilla au lait for dessert. Thankfully, they were kind enough to pack what we cooked in takeaway boxes.
We haven’t taken any other cooking classes in Marrakech but based on popularity alone, then this class at La Maison Arabe Marrakech is the best one. We certainly enjoyed it and can happily recommend it to anyone.
This class lasts for three hours but La Maison Arabe Marrakech offers an express cooking workshop that takes just one hour. If you’re short on time, then you may want to take that one instead.
Half-day Cooking Workshop in La Maison Arabe
Schedule: Daily Start Time: 10AM, 3PM Duration: 3 hours Capacity: 1-9+ people Cost: USD 60 per person Book This Class: CLICK HERE for more information and to book
2. Tajine Cooking Class in Riad Jona Marrakech
This is another popular cooking class you can book on the Cookly platform, this time at Riad Jona Marrakech, a 4-star hotel in the southern part of the medina.
Unlike the class at La Maison Arabe Marrakech, you’ll have a choice of which dishes to make. Whether it’s zaalouk or briouates for a starter or chicken tagine, royal couscous, or seafood pastilla for your main dish, the choice is yours.
Tajine Cooking Class in Riad Jona Marrakech
Schedule: Daily Start Time: 2:30PM, 5:30PM Duration: 2.5 hours Capacity: 2-6 people Cost: USD 50 per person Book This Class: CLICK HERE for more information and to book
3. Moroccan Cooking Class on a Farm by L’Atelier Faim d’Epices
If you have a keen interest in Moroccan spices, then this next class is for you. It’s held at Faim d’Epices, a spice farm located about a half-hour drive west of the medina.
This cooking class is held from Wednesday till Monday. You’ll cook a full Moroccan meal that includes bread, salads, a main dish, and msemen. The main dish depends on what day your class is so be sure to look at their schedule if you have a preference.
Aside from learning how to make Moroccan favorites like lamb tagine and royal couscous, you’ll be given a workshop on Moroccan spices as well.
Moroccan Cooking Class on a Farm by L’Atelier Faim d’Epices
Schedule: Wednesday-Monday Start Time: 9:30AM Duration: 6.5 hours Capacity: 1-9+ people Cost: USD 67 per adult, USD 41 per child ages 7-12 Book This Class: CLICK HERE for more information and to book
4. Moroccan Cooking Class With Chef Khmisa
If you’d like to take a class that starts with a visit to a local market, then this class may be for you. It’s helmed by Chefs Khmisa and Kawtar, two Moroccan women with a passion for Moroccan cooking and the credentials to match.
After buying your ingredients and spices from the market, you’ll be taught to make Moroccan salads, tagine, and a pastilla for dessert.
Moroccan Cooking Class With Chef Khmisa
Schedule: Daily Start Time: 10AM, 2:30PM Duration: 4 hours Capacity: 1-9 people Cost: USD 38 per adult, USD 35 per child ages 4-10 Book This Class: CLICK HERE for more information and to book
5. Moroccan Fusion Class with 8 Dishes
If cooking two or three dishes isn’t enough for you, then this cooking class may be the one for you. Headed by Edwina Golombek, you’ll start with a market visit before learning how to make eight dishes in this 6-hour class.
Moroccan Fusion Class with 8 Dishes
Schedule: Saturday-Thursday Start Time: 8:50AM Duration: 6 hours Capacity: 1-6 people Cost: USD 95 per person Book This Class: CLICK HERE for more information and to book
6. Berber Cooking Class Day Trip from Marrakech to Atlas Mountains
If a cooking class held in the medina isn’t exciting enough for you, then how about booking one that takes you on a day trip to the beautiful Atlas Mountains?
Starting with a market visit to buy your ingredients, this Berber cooking class will take you to the Ourika Valley before proceeding to a Berber family’s home. You’ll learn how to make mint tea and Moroccan bread. You’ll be taught to cook over a traditional wood fire and even how to milk a cow!
What dishes you’ll make depends on what’s available at the market that day.
Berber Cooking Class Day Trip from Marrakech to Atlas Mountains
Schedule: Sunday-Tuesday, Thursday-Friday Start Time: 9AM Duration: 8 hours Capacity: 2-6 people Cost: USD 88 per person Book This Class: CLICK HERE for more information and to book
7. Half-Day Cooking Experience on Moroccan Dishes
This half-day Moroccan cooking class starts with a market tour. After buying all your fresh vegetables and other ingredients, you’ll be taught to make Moroccan favorites like tagine, zaalouk, and couscous.
Half-day Cooking Experience on Moroccan Dishes
Schedule: Daily Start Time: 10AM, 4PM Duration: 4 hours Capacity: 1-10 people Cost: USD 30 per person Book This Class: CLICK HERE for more information and to book
8. Make Tasty Berber Crepes with Joy
Msemen is one of our favorite dishes to have for breakfast in Morocco. In this class, you’ll learn how to make different types of Berber crepes from scratch.
Make Tasty Berber Crepes with Joy
Schedule: Daily Start Time: 9:30AM, 3:30PM Duration: 3 hours Capacity: 1-10 people Cost: USD 17 per person Book This Class: CLICK HERE for more information and to book
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST MARRAKECH COOKING CLASSES
Needless to say, cooks and food lovers should seriously consider weaving a Morrocan cooking course into their itinerary. You’ll make delicious food that will rival anything you can order at restaurants in Marrakech.
Many tourists visit Marrakech for just two or three days. If you’re worried that you won’t have enough time for a cooking class, then rest assured that most classes take just a few hours so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the souks and enjoy Marrakech before or after your class.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed this article on some of the best and most popular cooking classes in Marrakech. If you have any questions about the class at La Maison Arabe Marrakech, then feel free to ask us in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading and have fun cooking traditional tajine in Marrakech!
This article was written in partnership with Cookly. They offered us a complimentary cooking class in exchange for an honest account of the experience. As always, all words, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are mine and mine alone.
Some of the links in this article on cooking classes in Marrakech are affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking or purchase at no additional cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves. We truly appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free food and travel guides. Thank you!
Photos from cooking classes 2-8 provided by Cookly.
Boracay Island is world-famous. It’s known for having one of the best beaches in the world, with powdery white sands that I personally haven’t seen anywhere else, not even in the rest of the Philippines.
Boracay has been one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines for the past thirty years. We’ve seen it grow from one resort and no electricity to the (overcrowded) tourist magnet that it is today. People from across the globe flock to its shores so it’s no surprise that Boracay has become a food lover’s paradise in its own right.
From Filipino food to Neapolitan pizza to unlimited samgyupsal, it won’t be hard to find good food on the island. Here are twenty restaurants, cafes, and dessert shops to visit on your next Boracay trip.
BORACAY RESTAURANTS QUICK LINKS
To help you plan your Boracay trip, we’ve put together links to top-rated hotels, tours, and other travel services here.
Recommended hotels in Station 2, one of the most convenient areas to stay for first-time visitors to Boracay.
Luxury: Henann Palm Beach Resort
Midrange: Feliz Hotel Boracay
Budget: Nirvana Beach Resort
Island Hopping Tour: Island and Beach-Hopping Boat Tour with Snorkeling
Sunset Cruise: Sunset Cruise with Water Activities
Scuba Experience: Introduction to Scuba Diving Experience
Restaurant Deals: Boracay Restaurant Vouchers
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
Wifi and SIM Cards
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THE BEST BORACAY RESTAURANTS
The majority of restaurants on Boracay island can be found in three main areas – Station 1, Station 2, and Station 3. You can refer to the location map at the bottom of this article to see exactly where these recommended restaurants are.
1. The Sunny Side Café
The Sunny Side Café is one of our favorite restaurants on Boracay island. As its name suggests, it’s a bright and cheery all-day breakfast cafe that puts an interesting spin on traditional comfort food. French toast is stuffed with ube while eggs benedict are made with piri-piri pulled pork.
Pictured below is their take on the classic shakshuka. A staple dish in North African countries like Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, The Sunny Side Café makes theirs with sauteed tofu and feta cheese. They also top it with a fried egg instead of poached eggs.
This bacon and mango grilled cheese was amazing. A spin on the classic grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup, it’s made with bacon, mozzarella, and housemade mango jam served on the cafe’s signature brioche bread.
An interesting blend of savory, sweet, and sour (from the tomato soup), this sandwich is the cafe’s bestseller. All it takes is one bite to understand why. It’s delicious.
You can’t really tell from the picture but this take on the classic Swiss roesti was massive, about the size of a pancake. As tasty as it is large, it’s topped with poached eggs, sour cream, tomato, basil, and the cafe’s housemade crumbled chorizo.
You may be familiar with horchata, but have you ever tried heirloom rice horchata? This vegan purplish drink is made with almonds and heirloom rice grown in the rice terraces of Banaue.
The Sunny Side Café has two branches in Boracay. We went to the newer (and bigger) restaurant in Station 1 but the original outlet is located at Boracay Sands Hotel in Station 3.
The first floor offers great views but I highly recommend getting a table upstairs if you can. You’ll have the best view of the ocean from up there, especially at sunset.
The Sunny Side Café
Location: Station 1 beachfront, Station 3 beachfront (Boracay Sands Hotel) Operating Hours: 7AM-8PM, daily What to Order: Bacon and mango grilled cheese, roesti, heirloom rice champorado
2. Cafe Maruja
Cafe Maruja is another popular all-day breakfast and brunch cafe in Boracay. Located in Station 3, they’re known for their toasts, egg dishes, and “Buddha Bowls”. They also serve a wide array of international dishes like souffle pancakes, crepes, mezze, and artisanal pizzas.
I asked my server for recommendations and one of the dishes she suggested was this beautiful spiced shrimp avocado toast. A crisp slice of toasted bread is topped with pan-fried shrimp, avocado, ebiko, cherry tomatoes, onions, and balsamic vinagrette. Delicious!
What you’re looking at below is the Maruja Speciale. Similar in shape to Turkish pide or Georgian khachapuri, it’s topped with bacon, pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
Cafe Maruja is located on the beachfront of Casa Pilar Beach Resort in Station 3.
If you like, you can stretch out and enjoy your breakfast while sitting on floor cushions in these cute cabanas.
Personally, I enjoyed sitting on the beach while gazing out at the horizon. As the late great Anthony Bourdain once said: “Food tastes better with sand between your toes.”
Location: Station 3 beachfront (Casa Pilar Beach Resort) Operating Hours: 7:30AM-12MN, daily What to Order: Toasts, egg dishes, Buddha Bowls, pizza
3. Real Coffee & Tea Cafe
This next entry isn’t as fancy as the previous two but what it lacks in style it more than makes up for in longevity. Open since 1996, Real Coffee & Tea Cafe is a Boracay legend. Aside from coffee and tea, they offer traditional breakfast dishes and sandwiches but what they’re really known for are their calamansi (calamondin) muffins.
Like Peanut Kisses from Bohol or Good Shepherd ube halaya from Baguio, many Filipinos have been bringing home boxes of these Real Coffee calamansi muffins for years. It’s a staple pasalubong option (gift from a trip) and something people have come to associate with Boracay island.
Real Coffee & Tea Cafe is located in Station 2, in a traditional nipa-hut-style building.
The calamansi muffins are nice but what makes Real Coffee truly special is the vibe and the view. If only they had wifi!
Real Coffee & Tea Cafe
Location: Station 2 beachfront Operating Hours: 7AM-7PM, daily What to Order: Calamansi muffins
4. Little Wave Cafe
Little Wave Cafe serves some of the best and most interesting coffee drinks in Boracay, which isn’t surprising considering they source their beans from two of the country’s best roasters – Yardstick Coffee and EDSA Beverage Design Studio.
The Death Cream is their signature coffee drink but what caught my eye was this limited edition salt-cured egg coffee. If you’ve been to Hanoi, then you’re probably familiar with ca phe trung or Vietnamese egg coffee. This decadent version topped with a thick layer of salt-cured egg is Little Wave’s ode to that iconic Hanoi drink.
Affogato is one of my favorite coffee-based desserts, but it’s even better when made with pistachio ice cream. This pistachio affogato with a potato chip chocolate cookie was a match made in heaven.
Little Wave Cafe is located at Hue Hotel, along the main road at Station X. Station X isn’t a true station like Stations 1-3, but more a lifestyle hub located in the inner part of Station 2.
Aside from their specialty coffees, Little Wave also serves breakfast, sandwiches, wraps, and fresh pasta dishes.
Little Wave Cafe
Location: Station 2 main road (Station X, Hue Hotels and Resorts) Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, daily What to Order: Specialty coffee
Singapore is one of our favorite countries in the world to visit, and a lot of that has to do with the food. Tasty Singaporean dishes like chili crab, laksa, and Hainanese chicken rice are big reasons why trips to Singapore never get old.
Luckily for me, Chan’s was located just a stone’s throw from where we were staying so it was the first place I went to after checking in to our hotel. In true Singaporean hawker fashion, they have a focused menu with just a few dishes – rice bowls, kaya toast, and fish ball soup. I went with the kaya toast and this mixed rice bowl with BBQ pork belly and smoked duck.
The owner of Chan’s was at the stall that day so I asked for her recommendations. She suggested I get the BBQ pork belly and smoked duck but I recommend pairing the BBQ pork belly with this scallion chicken instead.
The smoked duck is delicious but it tastes similar to the BBQ pork belly. Getting the pork belly and scallion chicken will offer more variety in flavor and texture.
Chan’s offers toast made with traditional kaya spread (coconut jam) but they make them with other types of jam as well, like pandan, salted yema, and durian. I absolutely love durian so that’s what I went with.
The owner told me that durian is their hardest sell but no one needs to be intimidated by this one. The durian flavor is mild and pleasant without any of the fruit’s notorious pungency.
Like a true hawker stall in Singapore, Chan’s is located in a small food court inside Hue Hotel in Station X.
Location: Station 2 main road (Station X, Hue Hotels and Resorts) Operating Hours: 11AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Rice bowls, kaya toast
As described, the food in Boracay island can get a little expensive, especially if you eat at restaurants along White Beach. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find good food for cheap. Located along the main road, Bunbun is the perfect example of that.
Bunbun offers Asian specialties like gyoza, pork char siu, and chicken satay. To be honest, I never expect too much from cheap dim sum places in the Philippines but the pork and shrimp siu mai at Bunbun were surprisingly delicious. The dumplings were a good size too.
Pictured below is their equally delicious chicken satay rice. The sauce on the chicken satay was super flavorful.
Bunbun is a small restaurant located along the main road, close to D’mall and Balabag Lake.
Bunbun has a few small tables downstairs and four more upstairs.
Location: Station 2 main road (close to D’mall and Balabag Lake) Operating Hours: 11AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Pork char siu, chicken satay, siu mai
7. Meze Wrap
Located up the street from Bunbun is Meze Wrap, their sister restaurant. As their name suggests, they offer Mediterranean specialties like kebabs, hummus with pita, and shawarma wraps.
The beautiful dish below is their grilled eggplant hummus. Big enough for two, it’s topped with chopped peanuts, garbanzo beans, sesame seeds, and pickled red onions.
If you visit Meze Wrap in groups of two or more, then I recommend getting one of their Meze Trays. They come with two or three skewers of kebab, two sauces of your choice, buttered rice or flatbread, and three side dishes of the day.
We went with the beef, chicken, and pork skewers with curry tahini and garlic cucumber cream. Everything on this tray was delicious.
The dining area of Meze Wrap is located on the third floor of this building.
The spiral staircase leading up to the third floor is a little precarious (watch out for the overhead wires!) but the food and dining space are worth it. Sit near the balcony and you’ll have great views of Balabag Lake from up here.
Location: Station 2 main road (close to D’mall and Balabag Lake) Operating Hours: 11:30AM-9:30PM, daily What to Order: Meze trays, kebabs, hummus
8. Hanoi Pho
Vietnamese food is one of our favorite cuisines in the world so we were thrilled to find Hanoi Pho. It’s a small but stylish Vietnamese restaurant located along Road 1-A, on the way to Bulabog Beach.
Hanoi Pho has a focused menu offering a few of our favorite Vietnamese dishes like pho bo (beef pho, pictured below), com ga (chicken rice), goi cuon / cha gio (fresh/fried spring rolls), and banh mi. If you’re jonesing for a good bowl of pho in Boracay, then Hanoi Pho is a great place to have it.
Bun thit nuong is on a short list of our favorite Vietnamese dishes and Hanoi Pho’s rendition is close to the versions we’ve enjoyed in Ho Chi Minh City. If you’ve never had it, it’s a dry vermicelli noodle dish topped with grilled pork, fresh vegetables, crushed peanuts, and a fried spring roll.
We love banh mi but unfortunately, this was our least favorite dish of the three. The fillings were generous but the bread lacked the crumbly, airy texture characteristic of the best Vietnamese banh mi. Perhaps if they toasted the bread?
Hanoi Pho is located along Road 1-A, between Balabag Lake and Bulabog Beach.
This is pretty much the entire restaurant. As described, it’s a small but well-put-together space that can probably accommodate up to twenty people at a time.
Location: Road 1-A (close to Bulabog Beach) Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Pho bo, bun thit nuong
9. Momo Ramen
If Vietnamese pho isn’t your thing, then perhaps you’d be interested in a bowl of ramen instead. Located just a minute down the road from Hanoi Pho is Momo Ramen, a small restaurant that serves ramen and other popular Japanese dishes like chicken karaage, curry rice, tuna tataki, and korokke.
Momo Ramen offers three types of ramen – seafood ramen, tonkotsu ramen, and karamiso ramen. Pictured below is the karamiso ramen which you can get in a spicy or non-spicy version. Both versions were delicious.
I didn’t realize this at the time but I think Hanoi Pho and Momo Ramen may be owned by the same group (which is common in Boracay). They’re located just a stone’s throw from each other, both restaurants are well-designed, and they each have focused menus offering Asian noodle dishes. Even the menu designs look strikingly similar.
If they are indeed owned by the same people, then it’s no wonder both restaurants serve good food!
Don’t you just love these cherry blossom decorations? We are so missing Japan!
Location: Road 1-A (close to Bulabog Beach) Operating Hours: 11AM-3AM, daily What to Order: Ramen
10. Pares Hilton
If you’re looking for good cheap Filipino food, especially after a night of drinking in Boracay, then the hilariously named Pares Hilton is an excellent choice. More on the name later but this restaurant along the Station 2 beachfront specializes in beef pares and other comforting Filipino dishes like silog meals and tokwa’t baboy. They make delicious fruit shakes as well.
Pictured below is the beef pares with unlimited rice. If you’ve never heard of pares, it refers to a type of Filipino braised beef stew. It’s commonly enjoyed for breakfast in the Philippines though it’s one of those all-day breakfast foods that can be eaten at any time of the day.
Tokwa’t baboy is a classic Filipino bar chow pairing of fried tofu and boiled pork (usually ears and/or belly) drenched in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, pork broth, onions, scallions, and chili peppers.
Like pork sisig and chicharon bulaklak, tokwa’t baboy is one of our favorite dishes to munch on with beer. The name tokwa’t baboy is short for tokwa at baboy which literally means “tofu and pig”.
Silog meals are popular Filipino breakfast dishes made with some type of meat or fish paired with garlic rice and a fried egg. The most common type of silog are made with beef tapa (tapsilog), longganisa (longsilog), or pork tocino (tocilog), but it can really be made with anything. As you can probably tell, the dish takes the name of the viand it’s made with.
The version below is made with a breaded pork chop hence the name porksilog. It was delicious and definitely something I wouldn’t mind having again, whether sober or drunk.
Filipinos love funny puns and this restaurant’s name is a great example of that. Obviously, it’s a humorous play on the famous socialite’s name.
I had heard about Pares Hilton from a meme but I assumed the restaurant was in Manila! To our surprise and delight, it’s located right here in Boracay.
Location: Station 2 beachfront What to Order: Pares, silog, tokwa’t baboy
11. Boracay Beach Truck
The Boracay Beach Truck is a cute food truck in D’mall comprised of two concepts – Island Bowls and Sunrise Milk Tea. The latter offers Taiwanese boba while the former serves rice and noodle bowls topped with popular dishes from different parts of Asia.
On the menu at Island Bowls are beloved Asian dishes like Chinese sweet and sour pork, Filipino chicken adobo, Korean bibimbap, and Indonesian mie goreng. Being a fan of Panda Express, I had to go with Island Bowl’s version of orange chicken, which I washed down with a cup of my favorite brown sugar boba from Sunrise Milk Tea. So simple yet so satisfying and delicious.
The orange chicken was tasty but this bowl of chicken satay served with peanut sauce over nasi goreng may have been even better. This was seriously delicious!
Boracay Beach Truck is located in D’mall, just off the main road. It looks to be a relatively new restaurant as it doesn’t have a lot of reviews yet, but if this one experience were any indicator, then they shouldn’t have any problems attracting customers. They serve good food at affordable prices, which is rarer than you think in Boracay.
Boracay Beach Truck looks like a food truck but they do have a proper dining area on the second floor.
Boracay Beach Truck
Location: Station 2 D’mall (close to the main road) Operating Hours: 10AM-11PM, Wed-Sat / 11AM-10PM, Sun-Tue What to Order: Rice and noodle bowls, boba
12. Royal Indian Curry House (RICH)
I love Indian food. In my opinion, Royal Indian Curry House (RICH for short) is the best Indian restaurant in Manila so we were ecstatic to learn that they had just opened a branch in Boracay. Woohoo! We were so excited that our first dinner in Boracay was a no-brainer – we were eating at RICH.
RICH has a thick menu of classic Indian dishes. We kickstarted our dinner with this tasty tray of samosas, which you can get in veg or non-veg versions.
I usually go for curries at Indian restaurants but this sizzling platter of chicken tikka was a revelation. Charred in parts and slightly tangy in flavor, it was AMAZINGLY delicious.
I’m a simple guy. If I see chicken tikka masala or butter chicken on a menu then chances are, I’ll order it. Tonight, we went with the butter chicken and it was fantsatic as always.
Butter chicken to me is what Hyderabadi biryani is to my significant other. My wife always order this dish and RICH’s version is fantastic.
Of course, you can’t order Indian curry without pairing it with some naan bread. For me, dipping freshly baked naan into a pot of warm curry is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
RICH Boracay is located along the beach in Station 1. Like their restaurant in Poblacion, Makati, this branch is big. It consists of three floors of seating, the top floor being the roofdeck. That’s where we sat.
Royal Indian Curry House (RICH)
Location: Station 1 beachfront Operating Hours: 11AM-11PM, daily What to Order: Curries, biryani
13. Donenoo Korean BBQ
Boracay is a top destination for Korean tourists so it’s no surprise that Korean restaurants are a dime a dozen on the island. We love Korean food so we didn’t want to go just anywhere. We wanted to find the best Korean restaurant in Boracay.
With a near-perfect 4.9 Google rating even after 1,100+ reviews (and counting), I think we succeeded when we found Donenoo Korean BBQ.
Unlimited samgyupsal is a hugely popular (and successful) concept in the Philippines. Initially, I wanted to order meat dishes ala carte but after seeing other customers grilling roll after roll of thinly sliced pork belly, we had to do it too. For just PHP 499 for unlimited samgyupsal, banchan, rice, and a pot of geranjjim (steamed egg), the lunch promo deal was a no-brainer.
Donenoo Korean BBQ offers unlimited samgyupsal or unlimited beef (PHP 699) from 12NN till 5PM daily. A minimum of two people is required to avail of the promo.
Aside from the quality of the meats, what makes Donenoo so good is that they cook their meat dishes with a combination of charcoal and gas. The charcoal gives the meat that extra smokiness and flavor that you just can’t get when cooking only with gas.
Like any Korean BBQ restaurant, you can enjoy the freshly grilled meats with rice or wrapped in leafy vegetables. So good!
Donenoo Korean BBQ is located along the main road in Station 1. We checked out many Korean restaurants and based on its reviews, Donenoo has to be one of the best if not the best Korean restaurant in Boracay.
Donenoo Korean BBQ
Location: Station 1 main road Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily What to Order: Korean BBQ
14. barLO (Two Seasons Boracay Resort)
There are a handful of restaurants that many Filipinos have to go to in Boracay. Los Indios Bravos is one, barLO at Two Seasons Boracay Resort is another. Like getting calamansi muffins at Real Coffee or drinking a fruit shake from Jonah’s, ordering the oyster sisig and 4-cheese pizza at barLO has become a Boracay tradition.
If you like pork sisig, then you need to try oyster sisig. It’s delicious and something that you can’t find just anywhere.
barLO’s 4-cheese pizza isn’t like your typical pizza, but it’s delicious. Made with a combination of mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan, and blue cheese, what makes this pizza special isn’t the cheese, but the crust. It’s made with a thin, almost cracker-like crust that’s crispy and savory-sweet in flavor. Definitely a must-try!
As described, barLO is a Boracay institution located at the Two Seasons Boracay Resort in Station 1.
Location: Station 1 beachfront (Two Seasons Boracay Resort) Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM, daily What to Order: 4-cheese pizza, oyster sisig
15. Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast
When it comes to pizza, barLO and Aria restaurant in D’mall are legendary in Boracay. Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast is a legend in its own right, but just not in Boracay. At least not yet.
Founded by an Sicilian chef, Giuseppe has been serving some of the best pizza and pasta in Cebu and Bohol for years. Thankfully, they’ve finally opened a restaurant in Boracay and it’s just as good as its predecessors. This eggplant parmigiana starter was marvelous.
This linguine puttanesca was fantastic as well. If I remember correctly, all of Giuseppe’s pasta dishes are made with homemade pasta.
Like me, my wife is predictable. If she sees truffle on a menu, then she’ll order it.
Giuseppe makes many amazing pizzas but if you like truffles, then you need to get this tartufone. It’s an earthy delight topped with seasonal mushrooms and black and white truffles. Oh my.
We were a bit worried when we heard that this Boracay branch was a franchise, but it’s every bit as good as the restaurant in Bohol. If you’re in the mood for authentic Italian cuisine in Boracay, then look no further than Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast.
Giuseppe Pizzeria & Sicilian Roast
Location: Station 3 beachfront Operating Hours: 11AM-11PM, daily What to Order: Pizza, pasta
16. Two Brown Boys
We were drawn to this bar for two reasons. One, we heard that they offer PHP 100 happy hour cocktails from 4-9PM. And two, they’re said to serve some of the best burgers in Boracay. Both turned out to be true.
Two Brown Boys offers many burgers on their menu but this beefy beauty called Sir Matt is one of their bestsellers. It’s topped with bacon, cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, and pico de gallo. Yum.
Aside from burgers, Two Brown Boys offers a good selection of breakfast dishes, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and bar chow as well. Called cheesy loggers, these thin rolled-up pancakes are filled with ham and cheese and pan-fried in garlic butter.
Amaretto sour was our go-to cocktail in Boracay. We had it at many restaurants and bars but the concoction at Two Brown Boys was one of our favorites. Definitely check out this bar if you’re looking for a good place to enjoy happy hour in Boracay.
Two Brown Boys is located along Road 1-A, en route to Bulabog Beach.
Aside from their tasty burgers and delicious cocktails, we loved the music, vibe, and excellent service at Two Brown Boys. It was easily our favorite bar in Boracay.
Two Brown Boys
Location: Road 1-A (close to Bulabog Beach) Operating Hours: 7:30AM-3AM, daily What to Order: Burgers, happy hour cocktails
There are many delicious tropical fruits in the Philippines, but the mango is definitely king. We have the sweetest mangoes in the world so it’s no surprise that this mango dessert shop – Halomango – is one of the most popular restaurants in Boracay.
Halomango makes these incredibly delicious desserts consisting of mango soft serve ice cream and fresh mango chunks served over a bed of ice. We enjoyed many delicious desserts in Boracay, but this was easily our favorite. It’s so darn good.
Aside from their larger mango dessert bowls, Halomango also offers these mango ice cream cones. Served without ice, these are good too though we preferred the larger bowls with crushed ice.
I believe there are two or three Halomango shops in Boracay – two in D’mall and one more along the beach in Station 2. It didn’t matter what time it was, there were always customers waiting to get their hands on these irresistible mango desserts.
Location: Station 2 (D’mall and beachfront) Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Mango desserts
18. Ice Flakes
Savory Korean dishes like galbi, japchae, and pajeon are amazing, but so are Korean desserts. When it comes to desserts in Korea, there’s nothing more popular than the shaved ice dessert known as bingsu.
Ice Flakes in Boracay makes terrific bingsu flavored with different ingredients like mango, coconut, halo-halo, and watermelon. Pictured below is one of their most popular flavors of bingsu – mango coconut. It’s served with slivers of fresh mango and toasted coconut flakes.
We also tried their matcha and durian flavors. Everything was delicious, but the durian bingsu was definitely my favorite. Even the durian haters in our group loved it.
Ice Flakes has two branches in Boracay – one in D’mall and another along the beach in Station 2.
Location: Station 2 (D’mall and beachfront) Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Bingsu
19. Coco Mama
The Philippines is famous for its mangoes, but it’s also known for its coconuts. If you want the best of both worlds, then head on over to Coco Mama. They make these beautiful coconut ice cream desserts made with slivers of coconut served in fresh coconut shells.
You can get yours with coconut and/or coconut pandan ice cream and have it topped with chunks of fresh mango. Perfect for your Instagram feed, Coco Mama’s desserts are as tasty as they are pretty.
Located in D’mall, Coco Mama is owned and operated by the same group as The Sunny Side Cafe.
Location: Station 2 D’mall Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Coconut ice cream desserts
20. Jonah’s Fruit Shake
For people who’ve been going to Boracay since its early days, two brands are synonymous with the island – Cocomangas (and its bar Moondogs) and Jonah’s Fruit Shake. Cocomangas is now closed but thankfully, Jonah’s is still going strong.
Many Boracay restaurants and cafes now serve fruit shakes but none are as iconic as Jonah’s. Here I am proudly showing off my mango papaya fruit shake from Jonah’s, served with an edible rice straw.
Can you really say your Boracay trip is complete without enjoying a Jonah’s fruit shake?
I went to their beachfront stand in Station 2 but Jonah’s Fruit Shake has a few outlets in Boracay. I believe they’re all in Stations 1 and 2.
Jonah’s Fruit Shake
Location: Stations 1 and 2 (beachfront and main road) Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Fruit shakes
To help you find these Boracay restaurants, I’ve pinned them all on this map. I’ve included many others that either didn’t make this list, or we didn’t have time to visit. Click on the link to open a live version of the map in a new window.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST BORACAY RESTAURANTS
Take a stroll along White Beach or explore D’mall and you’ll see that there’s no shortage of restaurants in Boracay. I wanted to cap this list at twenty but here are few more restaurants that you may want to consider.
Like barLO, Los Indios Bravos at White House Beach Resort is a Boracay institution. Almost every Filipino who’s been to Boracay will tell you to eat there. They offer a good range of steaks and international dishes along with an extensive collection of Filipino craft beer.
If you’re jonesing for Mexican food, then Muchos and Guajillo are solid choices. For fresh seafood platters, Mama’s Fish House is a popular spot while Pig Out Bistro is often recommended for their crab burger.
Needless to say, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding good food on Boracay island. No matter where you go, don’t forget to take a break between bites and take that epic Boracay photo. Watching the sunset from White Beach is a sight you won’t soon forget.
Thanks for reading and have an amazing time in Boracay!
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As is often the case in many countries, the Colombian capital of Bogota is home to the country’s best restaurants. We enjoyed the food in Cartagena more and found Medellin to have a more interesting food culture, but when it comes to the caliber of restaurants, Bogota is king.
From traditional Colombian cuisine to food markets and fine dining restaurants, there’s no shortage of good food to be found in Bogota. Be sure to visit these 20 restaurants, cafes, and markets on your next trip to the Colombian capital.
COLOMBIAN CUISINE QUICK LINKS
To help you plan your Bogota trip, we’ve compiled links to recommended hotels, tours, and other travel services here.
Top-rated hotels in Chapinero, one of the best areas to stay for first-time visitors to Bogota.
Luxury: Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia
Midrange: Hotel El Dorado Bogota
Budget: República Hostel Cabin Beds
Sightseeing Tour: Monserrate, La Candelaria and City Walking Tour
Food Tour: Food Discovery Tour
Coffee Tour: Colombian Coffee Tour with Farm Visit and Tastings
Cooking Classes: Bogota Cooking Classes
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
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TYPICAL COLOMBIAN DISHES IN BOGOTA
It’s easy to find traditional Colombian dishes like bandeja paisa or tamal tolimense in Bogota, but if you were to have just one dish, then it should definitely be ajiaco.
Widely considered to be a Colombian national dish, ajiaco is available throughout the country but it’s especially popular in Bogota where it’s known as ajiaco santafreño. Aside from ajiaco, we recommend trying chocolate santafreño as well.
Ajiaco is a thick Colombian soup made with shredded chicken, three types of potatoes (papas criollas, tocarreñas, and sabaneras), corn on the cob, and guasca. Hearty and filling, it’s garnished with heavy cream and capers and usually served with a side of avocado and white rice.
We went on a Bogota food tour and according to our guide, an annual competition is held to determine which restaurant serves the best ajiaco in Bogota. We visited several former winners, along with the current title holder – Restaurante Santa Fe.
You may be familiar with hot chocolate, but have you ever had it with cheese? In Bogota, you can try a version made with blocks of chocolate melted in water or milk and then mixed in with a mildly salty Colombian cheese called queso campesino.
A popular breakfast beverage in and around Bogota, a chunk of cheese is dropped into the hot chocolate where it melts and imparts a saltiness to the hot chocolate.
THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN BOGOTA
I’ve arranged this list of the best Bogota restaurants by neighborhood to make it easier to digest. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
La Perseverancia / La Macarena
La Candelaria is the most popular tourist area in Bogota but upscale Chapinero is home to many of the city’s best restaurants. If you travel for food like we do, then you’ll probably want to stay here.
1. Leo (The BEST Tasting Menu in Bogota!)
There’s no better way to start this list of the best restaurants in Bogota than with Restaurante Leo. Helmed by Chef Leonor Espinosa – one of Colombia’s most celebrated chefs – it isn’t just one of the best restaurants in Colombia, it’s one of the best restaurants in South America and all of Latin America.
Aside from Leo ranking 48 on the 2022 list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and 13 on Latin America’s 50 Best, Chef Leonor Espinosa was also named the World’s Best Female Chef in 2022.
If you’re planning on having just one special meal in Bogota, then it should definitely be here.
Leo is a fine dining restaurant that features tasting menu after tasting menu of creative dishes made with unusual local ingredients like arowana and Santander ants. Calling her concept “Ciclo-Bioma”, Chef Leonor Espinosa sources ingredients from different parts of Colombia and uses them to make modern interpretations of traditional Colombian food.
Pictured below is her take on the arepa, a staple Colombian dish made with ground maize dough. We’ve enjoyed tasting menus in different countries around the world and this has easily been one of our favorites thus far.
You can see more of Chef Leonor’s creative dishes in my article about Restaurante Leo.
As described, Restaurante Leo is one of Latin America’s best restaurants. If you like fine dining restaurants with interesting tasting menus, then we highly recommend booking a table at Leo.
Address: Cl. 65 Bis #4-23, Bogotá, Colombia Operating Hours: 12NN–4PM, 6:45–11PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Tasting menus
2. Las Cazuelas de la Abuela
If fine dining isn’t your thing, then you may want to go to Las Cazuelas de la Abuela instead. Hugely popular with locals, it’s a traditional Colombian restaurant that serves good food at affordable prices.
Las Cazuelas de la Abuela has a wide menu offering Colombian classics like ajiaco, bandeja paisa, sancocho, and cazuela de mariscos. Pictured below is a hearty bowl of mazamorra chiquita. Originally from the mountainous Boyacá department of Colombia, it’s a thick soup made with beef cooked with beans, dried corn, vegetables, and potatoes.
We tried many delicious Colombian dishes in Bogota, but this cazuela montañera was one of the most memorable.
A specialty at Las Cazuelas, cazuela montañera is a thick Colombian stew made with chicharron (fried pork rinds), chorizo, beans, ripe plantains, arepa, and avocado. It’s topped with a fried egg and served with a side of white rice and peto dulce.
Here’s a closer look at the dish’s ingredients. If you like bandeja paisa, then you’ll enjoy cazuela montañera. I like to think of it as a stewed version of bandeja paisa.
Las Cazuelas serves their cazuela montañera with a bowl of peto dulce. Also known as mazamorra, peto refers to a sweet Colombian soup made with hominy corn, milk, and panela (unrefined cane sugar).
Las Cazuelas de la Abuela is a popular restaurant in a less polished part of the Chapinero neighborhood. If you want simple but excellent traditional Colombian cuisine, then this is a great place to go.
Las Cazuelas de la Abuela
Address: Cl. 59 #9-16, Localidad de Chapinero, Bogotá, Colombia Operating Hours: 12NN-5PM, daily What to Order: Cazuela montañera, bandeja paisa, patacon con todo
3. Patacones Food and Gallery
Patacones was one of my favorite restaurants in Bogota. They specialize in different variations of the popular Colombian street food dish called patacon con todo.
Before sharing a patacon con todo, we started with this tasty appetizer called canasticas de chicharrones BBQ. It’s made with deep-fried plantain cups filled with chunks of chicharron smothered in barbecue sauce and topped with cilantro.
Patacon con todo refers to a Colombian street food dish made with flattened twice-fried plantains topped with a variety of different ingredients. At Patacones, they make them with ripe or unripe plantains topped with a wide range of international and local ingredients.
We prefer traditional ingredients so we went with this delicious patacon tipico topped with chicharron, chorizo, morcilla, pork fajitas, potatoes, and refried beans. We asked that the patacon be made with platanos maduros or ripe plantains. Patacones made with ripe plantains are softer and sweeter than patacones made from unripe plantains.
If you want a patacon con todo made with less traditional ingredients, then you can try one with toppings like Thai fried rice or seafood fried rice.
Patacones Food and Gallery has a few branches in Bogota. We went to the outlet in Chapinero, along busy Carrera 7.
Patacones Food and Gallery
Address: Cra. 7 #61-71, Localidad de Chapinero, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia Operating Hours: 12NN-9PM, daily What to Order: Patacones con todo
4. Aqui en Santa Fe
Aqui en Santa Fe is another good restaurant to visit for traditional Colombian cuisine in the Chapinero neighborhood.
We went here specifically to try their bandeja paisa, an overflowing platter of food made with a variety of ingredients like chicharron, chorizo, morcilla, patacon, arepa, carne molida (ground meat), avocado, white rice, and a fried egg. If you’re hungry, then this is always a good dish to order.
Bandeja paisa is traditionally associated with the Paisa region of Colombia (like Medellin) but it’s widely available throughout the country. It’s considered by many to be a Colombian national dish so it’s something you should try at least once in Bogota.
Aqui en Santa Fe offers a few dishes made with different ingredients served over a large arepa de maiz peto (hominy arepas). Pictured below is the montañera. It’s topped with your choice of either shredded beef or chicken, beans, hogao (Colombian tomato sauce), and guacamole.
Like Patacones Food and Gallery, Aqui en Santa Fe is located along busy Carrera 7.
Aqui en Santa Fe
Address: Cra. 7 #62-63, Bogotá, Colombia Operating Hours: 12NN-9PM, daily What to Order: Bandeja paisa, grilled meats
5. La Revolucion de la Cuchara
Spend some time in Colombia and it quickly becomes apparent that Colombian food is a meat-heavy cuisine (especially pork). Fried pork rinds are almost as common as arepas so it was surprising to find so many vegan restaurants in Bogota.
We wanted to know what vegan Colombian cuisine was like so we went to La Revolucion de la Cuchara to try their non-meat version of patacon con todo. It’s topped with corn, avocado, aioli, salsa criolla, and vegan ropa vieja (probably made with seitan).
If no one told you this was vegan, then you’d probably have no idea that it isn’t made with real meat. It’s delicious.
As previously mentioned, we went on a Bogota food tour and were happy to learn that La Revolucion de la Cuchara is one of our tour guide’s favorite vegan restaurants. If you want a quick break from meat in Bogota, then you may want to enjoy a meal here.
La Revolucion de la Cuchara
Address: Cra. 9a #60-44, Santa Fé, Bogotá, Colombia Operating Hours: 12NN-4PM, Mon-Wed / 12NN-7:30PM, Thurs-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Vegan dishes
We had our first meal in Bogota at Masa. It would be the first of many terrific bistro cafes we’d wind up visiting in the Colombian capital.
Masa is a modern cafe/bakery that serves typical bistro fare like sandwiches, tartines, pastries, and desserts. A few dishes caught my eye but at the behest of our server, I wound up going with this delicious steak sandwich. It’s made with slivers of juicy steak sandwiched between toasted rye bread with avocado, tomato, cheddar cheese, and caramelized onions.
This pollo al limon was equally tasty. It’s made with moist chicken breast sandwiched between slices of sourdough bread with pesto, queso campesino, roasted peppers, and arugula. Both sandwiches were served with a side of french fries.
As good as Masa’s sandwiches are, their pastries may be even better. One publication claimed that Masa makes the best chocolate chip cookies in Bogota. They may be right.
The oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies are delicious but their double chocolate is TO DIE FOR. My god was this good!
If you like donuts, then you’ll have several flavors to choose from like arequipe (dulce de leche), mora (blackberry), and chocolate. I went with the most interesting flavor – zanahoria (carrot). It’s like a carrot cake in donut form. Yum!
We enjoyed Masa’s pastries so much that we wound up going back for takeaway. We got more cookies, a pastry cream doughnut, and a ham and cheese croissant. Like the first time, everything was amazing.
Masa has several branches in Bogota. We went to the outlet along Calle 70 which I believe is the main branch.
Masa has a separate breakfast menu which looks amazing as well. If you enjoy doing brunch, then Masa is a great place to visit in Bogota.
Address: Cl. 70 #4-83, Bogotá, Colombia Operating Hours: 7AM-9PM, Mon-Fri / 8:30AM-9PM, Sat / 8:30AM-5PM, Sun What to Order: Sandwiches, pastries, breakfast
7. Amor Perfecto
Colombian coffee’s reputation precedes itself. Coffee is amazing everywhere in Colombia so you need to visit as many coffee shops as you can while you’re in Bogota.
Amor Perfecto doesn’t have as wide a food menu as Masa, but their Chapinero branch may have been my favorite coffee shop in Bogota. I absolutely loved this cafe, both for their coffee and for the space itself. More on that below.
Aside from world-class coffee brewed using different filtration methods, Amor Perfecto offers liquor as well. You can get shots of liquor (like Glenfiddich or Martini Rosso) to enjoy with your coffee or order coffee-inspired cocktails like this fantastic espresso martini. They offer Irish coffee and negroni cocktails as well.
I spotted more than one Amor Perfecto branch in Bogota but their Chapinero coffee shop was my favorite. It’s located in an old repurposed house with 70s-style architecture.
I visited many cafes in Bogota but this Amor Perfecto branch was one of my favorites. I’d probably come here almost everyday to have coffee and work on my laptop, if we lived in the Chapinero neighborhood.
I just loved the retro 70s vibe of this place. It was super comfortable and the staff was warm and welcoming.
Address: Cra. 4 #66-46, Localidad de Chapinero, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia Operating Hours: 8:30AM-8PM, Mon-Thurs / 8AM-9PM, Fri-Sat / 9AM-7PM, Sun What to Order: Coffee, coffee cocktails
8. Les Amis Bizcocheria
As described, we went to many great cafes in Bogota, but Les Amis Bizcocheria was our favorite. I preferred the Chapinero branch of Amor Perfecto as an everyday type of cafe, but in terms of food and coffee, Les Amis Bizcocheria was hands down the best.
From their pastries to the coffee and their French-inspired bistro fare, this place was nothing short of amazing.
Les Amis Bizcocheria is primarily a pastry shop but they do offer a few brunch dishes like croque madame sandwiches, blueberry pancakes, and acai bowls. This croissant serrano was the best croissant sandwich I’ve ever had in my life. My god was this good!
This lovely little pan of food was the special of the day. Because of my limited Spanish, I couldn’t catch everything our server said but it consisted of stewed spinach and mushroom topped with a fried egg, cherry tomatoes, herbs, and cream. Délicieux!
We were so taken by their pastry display that we couldn’t leave without trying a few. Gooey, nutty, and just a little bit sweet, this almond croissant was insanely delicious. Wow!
This croissant filled with pastry cream was delicious too, though not quite as heavenly as the almond croissant. With more time (and stomach space), we would have loved to try all their pastries.
Like I said, the coffee is amazing everywhere in Colombia, but I can confidently say that this was the single best cup of coffee we had after over a month in the country.
Like the Chapinero branch of Amor Perfecto, Les Amis Bizcoheria is located in an old 70s-style home. You have to ring the doorbell to be let in, which only adds to the place’s charm. It felt like you were being invited into someone’s home.
Aside from sweet and savory pastries, Les Amis is known for their cakes as well. I really wish we had more time because we would have loved to try every single one of these. In the words of our server, their cakes are “espectacular”!
“Cute” isn’t a good enough word to describe just how charming this place is. A perfect blend of sophisticated and sweet, if Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn were a cafe, then she’d be Les Amis Bizcoheria.
Isn’t that tote bag adorable? We bought it and brought it home with us.
Les Amis Bizcocheria
Address: Cra. 16 #86A-05, Localidad de Chapinero, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia Operating Hours: 8AM-7:30PM, Mon-Sat / 8AM-6PM, Sun What to Order: Pastries, cakes, brunch dishes
Azahar is yet another great cafe you can visit in the Chapinero area of Bogota. It’s very similar in feel and menu offerings as Masa, with a good mix of brunch dishes, sandwiches, pastries, and cakes.
And of course, excellent Colombian coffee.
I would have loved to try some of their savory dishes but I was only here for coffee and dessert. This blueberry cheesecake was excellent.
My better half asked me to bring home either an almond croissant or a slice of carrot cake. Azahar had both so I wound up getting both for takeaway. Wifey was happy!
Azahar currently has two branches in Bogota. I went to the outlet in the northern part of the Chapinero neighborhood, near Parque de la 93.
Address: Cl. 93b #13-91, Localidad de Chapinero, Bogotá, DC, Colombia Operating Hours: 7AM-8PM, Mon-SAt / 7AM-5PM, Sun What to Order: Brunch dishes, pastries
La Candelaria is the main tourist area in Bogota. It’s home to many of the city’s top museums so first-time visitors will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time there. In our opinion, the restaurants in La Candelaria aren’t as good as the places in Chapinero, but there are a few gems to be found in the area.
10. El Mejor Ajiaco del Mundo – Antigua Santa Fe
Google “best ajiaco in bogota” and this place is sure to come up. After all, the restaurant’s name literally translates to “the best ajiaco in the world”!
We haven’t had it enough to know if their proclamation is justified, but the ajiaco at this restaurant was definitely one of our favorites. Average ajiaco can be a bit bland but this one was well-seasoned and delicious.
This restaurant’s ajiaco is good, but their cazuela de frijoles may be even better. Cazuela de frijoles is a hearty Paisa dish made with Antioquia beans served in a thick soup with chorizo, avocados, and plantains. In Medellin, it’s usually served with chicharron but this one was made with hefty chunks of pork hock. ¡Que rico!
El Mejor Ajiaco del Mundo is located in a busy part of La Candelaria – just off Plaza de Bolivar – so it shouldn’t be hard to find.
El Mejor Ajiaco del Mundo – Antigua Santa Fe
Address: Cl. 11 #6-20, Bogotá, Colombia Operating Hours: 7AM-6PM, daily What to Order: Ajiaco, cazuela de frijoles
11. La Puerta Falsa
Located just a few doors down from El Mejor Ajiaco del Mundo, La Puerta Falsa may be the most famous restaurant on this list. This Bogota institution has been open for over 200 years and was featured on the Colombia episode of Parts Unknown with the late great Anthony Bourdain.
La Puerta Falsa offers a few typical Colombian dishes on their menu but they’re best known for three things – ajiaco, tamales, and chocolate santafreño. La Puerta Falsa once held the crown for the best ajiaco in Bogota, so this is as good a place as any to try the city’s signature dish.
We had just finished lunch at El Mejor Ajiaco del Mundo so unfortunately, we didn’t have room for their ajiaco or tamales. Instead, we were here to try their chocolate santafreño, which along with Pasteleria Florida’s version, is one of the most famous in the city.
Also known as chocolate completo, chocolate santafreño is an interesting combination of sharp and sweet. It’s typically served with buttered bread and almojábana – a type of Colombian cheese bread made with cornmeal and cuajada cheese.
Another good beverage to try at La Puerta Falsa is the peto. As described, it’s a traditional Colombian drink made with white hominy corn, milk, and panela. If you come here for breakfast, then I suggest enjoying either of these hot beverages with a tamal.
La Puerta Falsa is a tiny restaurant located just a few doors down from El Mejor Ajiaco del Mundo. You may want to try the ajiaco at both restaurants to see which one you like best.
Just know that La Puerta Falsa only accepts cash. We wanted to try their ajiaco on our last day in Bogota, but we didn’t have enough cash so we wound up going somewhere else. Oh well.
La Puerta Falsa
Address: Cl. 11 #6-50, Bogotá, Colombia Operating Hours: 7AM-7:30PM, Mon-Sat / 7AM-6PM, Sun What to Order: Chocolate santafreño, ajiaco, tamal
If you like salsa music, then you need to make a stop at Babou. Located in the heart of La Candelaria, it’s a fun gastropub that serves good food and plays live salsa music everyday.
Babou has an extensive menu offering many Colombian and international dishes like ceviche, steak, spaghetti, and hamburgers. I wanted something small and local so I ordered two appetizers, starting with this order of empanadas.
Babou’s empanadas are smaller than the average Colombian empanada but they’re loaded with flavor. That salsa was delicious!
For my second starter, I went with this trilogia de patacon which is basically three bite-sized patacones topped with chicharron, shredded chicken, and cheese. The patacones and chicharrones were a little hard but very tasty.
I went to Babou around noon and had the whole place to myself, but I imagine the place gets more crowded later in the day when the band starts playing live salsa music. It’s a fun place to snack on bar chow and enjoy a few drinks like this 3 Cordilleras Colombian beer.
Isn’t this place fun? Located in a busy (and colorful) part of La Candelaria, you can’t help but notice Babou, especially when salsa music is inviting you to come inside.
Babou consists of two floors with several dining areas. I just loved the vibe of this place, even when it was empty.
This is where the band sets up. According to my server, they start playing live salsa music from around mid-afternoon till closing.
Address: Cra. 2 # 12B-49, La Candelaria, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia Operating Hours: 8AM-1AM, daily What to Order: Bar chow
13. Pasteleria Florida
Pasteleria Florida was on my list of restaurants to visit so I was pleased to find that it was one of the stops on our Bogota food tour. Like La Puerta Falsa, it’s an institution that’s been serving some of the best traditional Colombian breakfasts in Bogota for many years.
Pasteleria Florida offers an extensive menu of bread, pastries, and typical Colombian dishes but two of the things they’re best known for are their tamales tolimenses and chocolate santafreño. Originally from the Tolima department of Colombia, these tasty tamales are made with a filling of chicken, pork belly, pork ribs, potatoes, boiled eggs, peas, carrots, and rice.
If you like tamales, then you need try these at Pasteteleria Florida. They’re loaded with ingredients and absolutely delicious.
Here’s our tour guide dropping a block of cheese into my chocolate santafreño. The cheese melts just enough to impart a touch of sharpness and saltiness to the hot chocolate.
Established in 1936, they haven’t been open for quite as long but like La Puerta Falsa, Pasteleria Florida is one of the most famous places in Bogota to have a traditional breakfast of chocolate santafreño and tamal tolimense. If you like historic restaurants, then you need to make a stop here as well.
Address: Cra. 7 #21-46, Santa Fé, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia Operating Hours: 8AM-7PM, Mon-Fri / 8AM-8PM, Sat-Sun What to Order: Tamal tolimense, chocolate santafreño
14. Divino Cafe Especial
I’ll never forget this tiny cafe in La Candelaria. It wasn’t the nicest or most comfortable cafe I visited in Colombia, but I learned more about coffee in thirty minutes here than I have in over thirty years of drinking it!
You can order single cups of coffee at Divino Cafe Especial, but if you have the time, then I highly recommend doing one of their coffee-tasting experiences.
I was choosing between Divino’s “Variety Lovers” or “Method Lovers” coffee-tasting experiences. The former lets you taste three different types of coffee beans brewed using the same filtration method, while the latter allows you to taste the same bean brewed in three different ways.
I wanted to go with the Method Lovers experience but the barista Daniel suggested I go with Variety Lovers. These are the three coffee bean varieties I chose for the tasting.
I won’t get into too much detail here but Daniel really opened my eyes to the art of coffee. I’ve been drinking around three to four cups of black coffee everyday for almost two decades so I thought I knew coffee. I used to think that strong coffee is good coffee, but that isn’t necessarily the case.
Daniel asked me how I like my coffee and I told him I like it strong. He told me that’s how most foreigners usually prefer their coffee.
Colombians, on the other hand, prefer balanced coffee – coffee that’s rich and complex with a good mix of fruitiness and acidity.
As described, I’ve been a heavy coffee drinker for most of my life but after today, I feel like I’m relearning how to properly drink and appreciate coffee.
If you like coffee, then I highly recommend doing a coffee-tasting experience at Divino Cafe Especial. They’re a Traveller’s Choice awardee with a perfect 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.
Divino Cafe Especial
Address: Cra. 2 #12d-24, Bogotá, Colombia Operating Hours: 9AM-5PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Coffee-tasting experience
15. Cafe del Mercado
It’s hard to find a bad cup of coffee in Colombia. In spite of its uninspiring name, Cafe del Mercado is just one more in a long line of great coffee shops you can visit in Bogota.
Cafe del Mercado offers the usual coffee preparations along with some tea and a few freshly baked desserts, like this tasty carrot cake.
Cafe del Mercado has two branches in Bogota, this small shop and a booth a few blocks away in Plaza de Mercado la Concordia. Between the two, I recommend going to this one.
Cafe del Mercado is a tiny, family-run shop with about three or four tables on the first floor and a few more on this second-floor loft space. It’s a great place to have coffee and dessert after a day exploring La Candelaria.
Cafe del Mercado
Address: Cra. 2 # 11 – 88, La Candelaria, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia Operating Hours: 10AM-7PM, daily What to Order: Coffee, cakes, pastries
16. Plaza de Mercado la Concordia
As described, it was harder for us to find good places to eat in La Candelaria. We prefer local food so we were walking around the neighborhood, perusing menu after menu without finding anything we really liked, when we stumbled upon Plaza de Mercado la Concordia.
Plaza de Mercado la Concordia is an upscale market with around two dozen or more stalls selling different types of Colombian artisanal food products like coffee, chocolate, fruits, and desserts.
The previous entry on this list – Cafe del Mercado – has a stall here.
Some of the artisanal products were interesting but what we really liked about Plaza de Mercado la Concordia were these stalls selling prepared food. There’s an outdoor seating area on either side of which are about half a dozen stalls offering traditional Colombian dishes like ajiaco, lechona, frijolada, and bandeja paisa.
We went here on our last day in Bogota (and Colombia) so we ordered two of our favorite dishes in Colombian cuisine – bandeja paisa and ajiaco.
Many of the stalls offer the same dishes. None of the stalls stood out with a particularly long line of customers so I don’t think it matters as much where you go. We got this bandeja paisa from La Cocina de Nicolasa.
This ajiaco came from Recetas de la Abuela. Neither dish was particularly great but they were good enough, especially for the price.
If you’re looking for cheap but decent traditional Colombian food in La Candelaria, then Plaza de Mercado la Concordia is a good place to consider.
Plaza de Mercado la Concordia
Address: Cl. 12c # 1 -40, Bogotá, Colombia Operating Hours: 7AM-5PM, Mon-Fri / 7AM-7PM, Sat-Sun What to Order: Traditional Colombian dishes
LA PERSEVERANCIA / LA MACARENA
La Perseverancia and La Macarena are neighboring districts located behind the National Museum of Colombia. They’re located right next to each other but they couldn’t be more different in feel and appearance. La Perseverancia is mostly sketchy while La Macarena is mostly nice with lots of good restaurants to choose from.
17. Plaza de Mercado la Perseverancia
Fans of the Street Food Latin America series on Netflix will be familiar with this next entry. Everything in the Bogota episode – meaning all eateries featured in the show – can be found inside this market.
This food market is located in La Perseverancia, which is the very first working-class district in Bogota. The origin of the neighborhood can be traced back to the establishment of the Bavaria brewery in the late 19th century. The brewery’s workers settled and lived here.
According to our food tour guide, life wasn’t so easy back then but the workers stayed and persevered, hence the name of the neighborhood – La Perseverancia. Open since the mid-20th century, this market started as a place for peasants from neighboring towns to sell produce to the people living in the area.
Today, the market is home to around two dozen stalls selling prepared food from different parts of Colombia. If the Concordia market in La Candelaria looked appealing to you, then you’ll definitely enjoy this one. It’s better than Concordia and offers a good selection of traditional Colombian food at affordable prices.
I ate here on three different occasions. It was also the meeting point and first stop on our Bogota food tour.
Fans of the Street Food series need to try this bowl of ajiaco. It’s from the Tolu stall, the owner of which was the central figure in the Bogota episode.
This bowl of soup once held the crown for best ajiaco in Bogota. Personally, it wasn’t our favorite but we recommend trying it and making your own decision. Taste is subjective and we know of at least one person who loves Tolu’s version of ajiaco.
I was hoping to see the owner of Tolu – the woman featured in the show – but she wasn’t there on any of the three times I visited.
We haven’t explored the entire country but Cartagena and the Caribbean region is home to the best food we’ve enjoyed in Colombia thus far. And my favorite Caribbean dish? Cazuela de mariscos. It’s a creamy Colombian stew made with different types of seafood cooked in coconut milk.
This bowl of cazuela de mariscos was from another stall featured on the show – La Esquina de Mary. It wasn’t quite as good as the versions we had in Cartagena but it was cheap and overflowing with seafood.
La Esquina de Mary offers dishes hailing from the Caribbean region of Colombia.
There’s nothing in this picture to give you a sense of scale, but this hueso de marrano was massive and good enough for two. A specialty of the Donde Gladys stall, hueso de marrano refers to a Colombian dish made with a hefty chunk of pork leg bone stewed in salsa criolla.
Donde Gladys wasn’t featured in the Bogota episode of Street Food but it remains one of the more popular and highly-rated stalls at the market.
Plaza de Mercado la Perseverancia
Address: 40, Cra. 5 #30 A, Bogotá, Colombia Operating Hours: 8AM-4PM, Sun-Fri / 6AM-5PM, Sat What to Order: Traditional Colombian dishes
18. Restaurante Santa Fe
We learned about Restaurante Santa Fe through our Bogota food tour guide. According to him, they’re 2022’s reigning title holder for best ajiaco in Bogota so naturally, we had to eat here. We weren’t disappointed.
Restaurante Santa Fe offers a wide menu of traditional Colombian dishes presented in artful ways. What you’re looking at below are empanaditas de carne served with spicy guacamole. We enjoyed tasty empanadas throughout Colombia but these empanaditas were easily the best.
Equally delicious was this cute cazuela of callos. Called Callos de la Santa Maria, it’s a spicy callos starter made with chickpeas stewed in a tomato sauce with tripe and chorizo.
To eat, you add spoonfuls of stew to these tiny arepas. Aren’t they cute? If you like callos, then you need to try this. It’s delicious!
Not only was the ajiaco at Restaurante Santa Fe the best tasting, it was also the most beautifully presented.
Called Ajiaco Santafereño de Doña Maria Teresa de Usaquén, Bogota’s reigning best ajiaco was served in a small black pot heated by a candle. We enjoyed many bowls of ajiaco in Bogota and this was the only version that was heated so it stayed warm throughout.
As you can see below, the capers, rice, avocados, and cream were artfully presented as well. At the end of that little red broom was a piece of corn on the cob.
As described, average ajiaco can taste bland but this one was well-seasoned and abundantly flavorful. It’s delicious and a must if you’re serious about finding the best ajiaco in Bogota.
Like many of the restaurants on this list, Santa Fe is located in what appears to be an old, repurposed house. Restaurante Santa Fe is a TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice awardee with a perfect 5-star rating even after over a thousand reviews.
Restaurante Santa Fe’s interior and dining rooms are as lovely as the dishes they serve. After Leo, this was easily the best restaurant we visited in Bogota.
Restaurante Santa Fe
Address: Calle 26b # 4 30, Santa Fé, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia Operating Hours: 12NN-10PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Ajiaco, but everything is good here
If you’re in Bogota over the weekend, then you need to spend the day at the Usaquen flea market. They call it a flea market but it’s much better than that.
The vendors at the market don’t sell second-hand goods. Instead, they offer artisanal products that look like they belong in stylish boutique stores. We weren’t planning on it but we wound up doing all of our shopping in Bogota at the market.
If you do decide to visit the weekend flea market, then one of the best places to enjoy a meal in trendy Usaquen is Abasto. A hugely popular brunch spot, it’s similar in feel and menu offerings as Masa or Azahar.
Pictured below is a simple but perfect plate of toasted bread with avocado and egg.
Abasto is known for its arepas. These two dishes were listed separately but when I saw arepa de choclo and sopa de zanahoria on the menu, it gave me an idea.
Arepas de choclo are filled with cheese while sopa de zanahoria refers to carrot soup, so I ordered both and made my own Colombian version of a grilled cheese sandwich with creamy tomato soup. Yes, I’m a genius haha…
As I hoped, the buttery and cheesy arepa with the creamy carrot soup made for a perfect combination. So comforting and delicious!
Don’t let this picture fool you. We got there a little early and didn’t have to wait long to be seated, but by the time we got out, there was a long line of locals waiting to have brunch at Abasto. Clearly, Abasto is one of the most popular places for brunch in the Usaquen neighborhood.
Like many of the bistro cafes / brunch spots on this list, Abasto’s interiors are on point.
We were initially seated at a high table inside before something opened up in this airier back section.
Address: Cl. 118 #5-41, Bogotá, Colombia Operating Hours: 7AM-4PM, Mon-Tue / 7AM-10PM, Wed-Fri / 8AM-10PM, Sat / 8AM-4:30PM, Sun What to Order: Brunch dishes, comfort food
BOGOTA FOOD TOUR
20. Viejo Bogota Food Tour
If you’d like to go on an immersive Colombian food experience in Bogota, then I highly recommend booking this Bogota food tour. Offered by A Chef’s Tour, it’s a 4+ hour tour led by Andres, a Colombian food historian who knows everything there is to know about Colombian food and its history.
The tour starts in the Perseverancia district and takes you on a culinary walk through some of Bogota’s most storied neighborhoods. Here’s Andres giving us a taste of chicha made by one of the city’s most storied sellers. Chicha is a fermented beverage typical of the Andean and Amazonian regions of Colombia.
Andres then takes you inside La Perseverancia market to try another former winner of Bogota’s best ajiaco (not Tolu).
Along the way, we stopped at a corner store to try these delicious brevas con arequipe. It consists of a cooked unripe fig enhanced with dulce de leche. Had it not been for a knowledgeable local like Andres, we would never have known about interesting and tasty snacks like this one.
Andres would later take us to a local market to try exotic Colombian fruits. Have you ever seen dragon fruit that looked like this?
I won’t give away too much but these were just a few of the stops on a tour that was supposed to go for four hours but wound up lasting closer to six. We were having so much fun bonding over a mutual love for food that we completely lost track of time.
All in all, we made over ten food stops, including a quick game of tejo with beer and a coffee-tasting session. If you have a passion for food and want to learn more about Bogota and Colombian cuisine, then there’s no better tour guide than Andres. You can book this Viejo Bogota food tour on Get Your Guide.
To help you find these Bogota restaurants, I’ve pinned them all on this map. Click on the link to open a live version of the map in a new window.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST BOGOTA RESTAURANTS
We didn’t go but if you’re in the mood for steak, then one of the most highly-recommended restaurants in Bogota is Andrés Carne de Res.
Often described as one of Bogota’s most unique restaurants, the original location of this legendary steakhouse is in Chía – about a 45-minute drive north of the Colombian capital – but they do have a branch in the Chapinero area as well. A steak dinner won’t come cheap but the quality of the meats – plus the venue itself – will make it worth your while.
And there you have it! Twenty amazing restaurants, cafes, markets, and a food tour to fill your days (and stomach) in Bogota. If you’re a local and have any suggestions, then please let us know in the comment section below. We’ll definitely check them out on our next trip to Bogota.
Thanks for reading and we hope this list of Bogota restaurants leads you to many memorable meals in the Colombian capital.
This article on the best restaurants in Bogota contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking, then we’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. ¡Muchisimas 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.
This article on Vietnamese desserts contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, then we’ll earn a small commission at no additional expense 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 and food guides. Thank you!
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.
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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.
Whenever we visit Seoul, three Korean food experiences always top my to-do list – eat ganjang gejang (raw marinated raw crab), feast on Korean barbecue, and go on a Korean street food crawl in Myeongdong. We love all kinds of Korean food but those are my three favorite culinary experiences and something I need to do on every return trip to Seoul.
If you’ve been to Myeongdong, then you’re no stranger to all the delicious street food to be found there. It’s home to Korean street vendors selling all kinds of tasty street food dishes like spicy rice cakes, Korean fried chicken, Kimchi fried rice, skewered fish cakes, and more. It’s a Korean street food lover’s Shangri-La and a must when visiting Seoul.
You may have heard of popular street food dishes like tteokbokki and eumok but there’s plenty more to be discovered in Seoul and South Korea. In this article, we’ll show you twenty of our favorite Korean street foods and where you can go to try them.
KOREAN STREET FOOD QUICK LINKS
If you want to learn more about Korean cuisine when you visit South Korea, then you may be interested in joining a food tour or taking a cooking class.
Food Tours: Food and Drinking Tours in South Korea
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THE BEST KOREAN STREET FOOD
Must-Try Korean Street Food Dishes
Popular Places for Street Food in South Korea
Korean Street Food Tours
THE MOST DELICIOUS KOREAN STREET FOOD DISHES
When it comes to popular Korean street foods, tteokbokki is the first dish that comes to mind. It refers to these small, cylindrical rice cakes coated in a spicy sauce. They can be spicy or non-spicy but the spicy version (pictured below) is the most common.
These spicy rice cakes are extremely popular in Korean cuisine. They’re enjoyed everywhere – from street food stalls to markets to pojangmachas (tented street stalls) and restaurants. Available in pre-packaged form at supermarkets and grocery stores, they’re often prepared at home as well.
My sister-in-law is Korean and a former chef and tteokbokki is one of her favorite Korean snacks. It’s one of those dishes that brings Koreans a sense of comfort, much like sandwiches for Americans or tamago kake gohan for the Japanese.
These Korean rice cakes are frequently served with spicy sauce but it’s also common to find them skewered with other ingredients like fish cakes, cheese, sausages, and scallions. When skewered, they become a type of kochi or skewered street food known as tteok-kochi.
Pictured below are fish cake, sausage, and rice cake skewers from a street food vendor in Myeongdong. You can see the rice cake wrapped inside the fish cake.
If you’d like your tteokbokki with a bit more sweetness, then perhaps you’d like to try these rice cake and mozzarella skewers. They’re rich and creamy and quite delicious.
2. Eumok / Odeng
Ganjang gejang makes me weak in the knees but for Ren, the one Korean dish that she needs to have on every return trip to Seoul is eumok. Eumok (or odeng) refers to Korean fish cake. Fish cakes can be made from different types of fish but in Korea, it’s typically made from less fatty fish and seafood like corvina or cuttlefish.
Korean fish cakes come in many forms and can be served in different ways, but one of the most delicious and fun to eat is this skewered street food version boiled in broth (eumok-kkochi). Sold by street food vendors, the skewered fish cakes are served in a cup with broth for dipping and drinking.
If you visit Korea in winter, then nothing will warm you up and make you happier than a bowl of eumok in broth.
Photo by NothingIsEverything
Like tteok-kochi and eumok-kochi, dakkochi refers to a type of skewered Korean street food, this time with chicken (dak) as its main ingredient. These supremely tasty Korean chicken skewers are made with small chunks of chicken and scallions that are threaded onto bamboo skewers before being grilled and brushed with a sauce.
Walk around popular street food areas like Myeongdong or Insadong and you’ll find many different types of kochi for sale. Dakkochi and eumok-kochi are two of the most delicious.
These mung bean pancakes are among the most common street food dishes you’ll find at Gwangjang Market. Bindaetteok is a type of buchimgae or Korean pancake made with ground mung beans, vegetables, and meat.
Like Myeongdong, Gwangjang Market is one of the best places in Seoul to enjoy Korean street food. Go to the market early in the morning and you’ll find many street vendors making these mung bean pancakes from scratch.
A popular breakfast or snack, the mung bean batter and fillings are pan-fried on both sides into round, flat shapes before being served with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and ground pine nuts.
Hotteok is another popular street food in South Korea. It refers to a type of filled pancake made with yeasted wheat dough stuffed with a sweet mixture of brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, and chopped peanuts.
Cooked on a griddle, these delicious Korean sweet pancakes are a fixture at markets and popular street food areas like Myeongdong and Insadong.
If you like dumplings, then you need to try mandu. It refers to a family of Korean dumplings made with different types of meat and vegetables. They vary in shape and can be steamed, boiled, pan-fried, or deep-fried.
Available throughout the Korean Peninsula, mandu are similar to the various meat-filled dumplings that can be found in different parts of Asia like China, Japan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Armenia. Their exact origins are unclear though they may have been brought to Korea from the Middle East by way of the Silk Road.
Photo by Kwan1st
Kimbap (or gimbap) looks like a big Japanese sushi roll. But unlike sushi, it isn’t made with vinegared rice. Instead, it’s made with cooked white rice rolled in seaweed with vegetables and other ingredients like meat, fish, egg, and cheese.
Before slicing kimbap rolls into more manageable bite-sized pieces, they’re often brushed with sesame oil and drizzled with sesame seeds. It’s a portable snack that’s become one of the most popular Korean street foods both in Korea and internationally.
Photo by RUBEN M RAMOS
If kimbap is the Korean version of sushi, then twigim is the Korean equivalent of tempura. It refers to any type of seafood, meat, poultry, or vegetable that’s been battered and then deep-fried.
Twigim is a popular street food in Korea that’s often paired with tteokbokki. Just dip them into the spicy red sauce and you’re good to go!
Roasted chestnuts seem to be a popular street food snack in many countries that experience cold winters. Off the top of my head, I’ve seen them sold by street vendors in Turkey, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Japan, and South Korea. You can even find them in our native Philippines around December.
In Korea, roasted chestnuts are called gunbam. Both North and South Korea are among the biggest producers of chestnuts in the world, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most popular Korean street food snacks in late autumn and winter.
Photo by sungsu han
Like chestnuts, roasted sweet potatoes are a popular winter street food in Japan, China, and South Korea. Known locally as gungoguma, you’ll find many street food stalls selling these purple potatoes during the fall and winter seasons in Korea.
Photo by Christopher PB
11. Tornado Potato
When it comes to fun Korean street food, few dishes can top these eye-catching swirly treats of spud goodness called tornado potatoes. It’s basically a spiral-cut whole potato that’s been skewered and brushed with various seasonings like onion powder, cheese, and honey.
We’ve only had the pure potato version but some street vendors make them with a whole sausage skewered through the middle of the spud tornado.
12. Gamja Hot Dog (Tokkebi Hot Dog)
Gamja hot dog refers to another fun Korean street food that’s hard to resist. Also known as a tokkebi hot dog, it looks similar to an American corn dog except it’s coated in a batter with french fries instead of the usual cornmeal batter.
Crunchy on the outside but juicy and meaty on the inside, these Korean corn dogs are fun to eat and a surefire hit with street food lovers of all ages.
If you’re a fan of blood sausages, then you need to try soondae (or sundae). It refers to an interesting type of Korean blood sausage made with a mixture of pork blood, glutinous rice, and glass noodles stuffed in cow or pig intestines.
Personally, I like soondae best when it’s served in a soup (soondae-guk) but it makes for a tasty snack as well. When eaten on its own, it’s typically served with a sauce or condiment like soy sauce, gochujang, or a salt and black pepper mixture.
Photo by mnimage
14. Dakgangjeong (Korean Fried Chicken)
KFC is one of the most delicious chicken dishes in the world. And by “KFC”, I mean Korean fried chicken, not the American version popularized by Colonel Sanders. As much as I love Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Korean version may be even better.
Known locally as dakgangjeong, KFC refers to a supremely crunchy Korean chicken dish made with battered and double-fried chicken coated in a sweet and spicy sauce. The pieces of chicken are double-fried to help them keep their crunchy texture after they’ve been doused in sauce.
Thanks to global chains like Bonchon, Korean fried chicken has become one of the most famous Korean dishes outside of the country. In Korea, they’re often paired with beer and collectively called chimaek. The chi refers to “chicken” while maek is short for “maekju”, the Korean word for beer.
If I were to add a fourth dish to my holy trinity of Korean food experiences, then chimaek would definitely be it. Check out our Seoul restaurant guide for suggestions on where to try this perfect pairing in Seoul.
15. Lobster Tails
If you’ve done a street food crawl in Myeongdong, then you’ve probably had one of these lobster tails. It isn’t cheap but how can you resist?!
One of the most decadent Korean street foods, lobster tail meat is cut into chunks and blowtorched before being topped with grated cheese. The cheese is then melted under a Zaigle (infrared grill) before being doused in a spicy Korean sauce.
Anyone who thinks that street food can’t be luxurious needs to make their way to Myeongdong pronto.
I’m not as crazy about sweet street food but I do love gyeranppang. These fluffy golden brown ovals of pancake dough are each made with a whole egg, hence the name gyeranppang, which literally means “egg bread”.
Korean egg bread is made in a pan with multiple oval indentations, similar to a Japanese takoyaki pan. Pancake batter is poured into these slots, followed by a whole egg, and then cooked to a beautiful golden brown.
Gyeranppang can be topped with other ingredients like cheese and diced ham but for me, the egg bread is perfect as is. Warm and sunny, they reminded me of Filipino bibingka.
Jjinppang refers to Korean steamed buns filled with red bean paste. A popular snack or dessert in Korea, they’re made of sourdough fermented with makgeolli (Korean alcoholic beverage) yeast.
If you go to convenience stores in Korea, then you can find non-fermented versions call hoppang. They’re filled with a similarly sweet red bean paste, except the paste in hoppang is passed through a sieve to make it smoother.
Photo by Stock for you
Gukhwa-ppang literally means “chrysanthemum bread” and refers to these pretty, flower-shaped pastries filled with sweet red bean paste. Like gyeranppang, they’re made in indented pans with flower-shaped molds.
Photo by hyeri.h
If you’re a fan of Japanese taiyaki, then you’ll definitely enjoy bungeo-ppang. It refers to the Korean version of the popular Japanese street food.
This Korean fish-shaped pastry is traditionally filled with sweet red bean paste but nowadays, you’ll find versions made with a variety of fun fillings like pastry cream, chocolate, and Nutella. You can even get savory versions filled with ham, cheese, and tomato sauce.
Photo by Izlan Somai
Last on this list but definitely not least, especially if you like doughnuts, is kkwabaegi. It refers to a Korean twisted doughnut made from yeasted wheat flour or glutinous rice flour.
Kkwabaegi doughnuts are enriched with butter and deep-fried to a golden brown before being coated in sugar or cinnamon powder.
Photo by Yeongsik Im
POPULAR PLACES FOR STREET FOOD VENDORS IN SOUTH KOREA
Street food is widely available throughout South Korea. Listed below are some of the most well-known clusters of Korean street vendors selling many of the dishes featured in this article.
Myeongdong is one of the most famous areas in Seoul to have street food. It’s a bustling commercial area famous for its many cosmetics shops, restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. It’s one of the liveliest districts in Seoul and a great place to have a Korean street food feast.
Myeongdong is fun at any time of the day but it’s especially lively at night, when street vendors set up their stalls and offer a wide range of Korean street food dishes like eumok, tteokbokki, Korean fried chicken, twigim, and egg bread. If you had time to visit just one area for street food in Seoul, then it should definitely be Myeongdong.
Head to the area anytime after 5-6PM for the widest selection. Most street food stalls should be set up by then.
Hongdae is one of our favorite neighborhoods in Seoul. It’s short for Hongik Daehakgyo and refers to the area around Hongik University, one of the leading fine arts colleges in South Korea. It’s a fun and lively area that feels very much like a US college town.
When I asked my Korean sister-in-law for Seoul food recommendations, she recommended Hongdae for their pojangmacha. Pojangmacha means “covered wagon” in Korean and refers to these tented food stalls that offer Korean street food and alcoholic beverages at night. If you watch a lot of K-Dramas, then you’re probably already familiar with them.
According to my sister-in-law, the pojangmacha tradition is dying in South Korea but you can still find a few of them in Hongdae.
Insadong is known as the cultural shopping area of Seoul. It’s home to almost half of South Korea’s antique shops and art galleries. With its many artisan boutiques and street food carts, it’s a great place to buy cultural souvenirs while feasting on Korean street food.
Though not quite as abundant as Myeongdong, you can still find many types of Korean street food in Insadong. Check out my article on Myeongdong, Insadong, and Hongdae for more pictures and information.
4. Gwangjang Market
If you enjoy visiting traditional markets, then you need to add Gwangjang Market to your Seoul itinerary. It’s a centuries-old market that looks very much like a time capsule. With its many stalls offering Korean favorites like bindaetteok and kimbap, it’s one of the best places in Seoul to have a street food breakfast or snack.
Gwangjang Market is best experienced early in the morning so make this your first stop. If mung bean pancakes aren’t exciting enough for you, then perhaps you can have sannakji for breakfast instead. It refers to that notorious Korean dish of “live” octopus sashimi.
5. Namdaemun Market
Namdaemun Market is another traditional market that you need to visit in Seoul. Unlike Gwangjang Market which offers mostly food, Namdaemun Market is a much larger marketplace offering everything from clothing, souvenirs, toys, kitchenware, flowers, and home accessories.
Of course, you’ll find lots of Korean street food there as well. On our last visit, we stuffed our faces with hotteok and different types of mandu.
“Namdaemun Market” by Adrián Pérez, used under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
6. Noryangjin Market
Noryangjin Market is one of the largest and most famous live seafood markets in Seoul. We went there to indulge in seafood but I read that a cluster of street food vendors can be found around Exit 1 of the Noryangjin metro station. It gets crowded around lunchtime with students looking to fill up on cheap but delicious street food.
OTHER CITIES IN SOUTH KOREA
7. Bupyeong Kkangtong Market (Busan)
Busan is perhaps the second most internationally famous city in South Korea, after Seoul. Located in the southeastern part of the country, it’s a coastal city that boasts an abundance of fresh seafood and other interesting dishes like dongnae pajeon (Korean savory pancake), milmyeon (buckwheat noodle soup), and dwaeji gukbap (pork soup).
For the most memorable street food experience, head over to Bupyeong Market. It’s famous for its special fish cakes made from crushed and deep-fried fish fillets.
8. Jeonju Hanok Village (Jeonju)
Hanok villages are among the most atmospheric places in South Korea. They refer to residential neighborhoods filled with hanoks or traditional Korean houses. If you’re planning on renting a hanbok (traditional Korean dress) to spruce up your Instagram feed, then a hanok village makes for an ideal backdrop.
In Seoul, Bukchon hanok village is the most popular. In the western city of Jeonju, it’s Jeonju hanok village. Aside from its lovely traditional houses, Jeonju hanok village is also famous for its bibimbap (Korean rice dish) and bibimbap-inspired street food dishes like bibimbbang, bibimbap croquettes, and bibimbap waffles.
KOREAN STREET FOOD TOURS
Eating your way through South Korea is easy but if you’d like to learn more about Korean cuisine, then perhaps you’d be interested in joining a food tour. Simply put, no one knows Korean street food better than a Korean, so who better to guide you through Korea’s best markets than a knowledgeable local?
Check out Get Your Guide for a list of food tours in Seoul and in other cities throughout South Korea.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON KOREAN STREET FOOD
South Korea is booming. Thanks to the global success of K-pop and Korean cinema, people the world over know about BTS and Crash Landing on You. Do you know anyone who hasn’t seen Squid Game?
The growing popularity of K-Dramas shines the spotlight on Korean culture – on its traditions, its social issues, and best of all, on its food.
If you’ve enjoyed watching your favorite Korean actors confess their feelings at pojangmachas, then I hope this article on the most popular Korean street food gets you even more excited to visit Seoul and South Korea.
Some of the links in this Korean street food guide are affiliate links. We’ll get a small commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you!
Cover photo by mnimage. Stock photos via Shutterstock.
Whenever we meet new people, we ask them this hypothetical question: “If you were to die tomorrow, what would your last meal be?”. It’s basically just a more colorful way of asking “what’s your favorite dish?”
The vast majority of people name dishes that remind them of their childhood. Something that brings them back to simpler times and gives them a sense of comfort.
For many Filipinos, that would be dishes like sinigang or pork barbecue. For me, it would be silog. Specifically, longsilog.
I’ll get to it in more detail in this article but silog refers to a family of Filipino dishes that are typically eaten for breakfast. If you’ve been turned on to silog and want to learn more about this delicious and comforting Filipino breakfast dish, then you’ve come to the right place.
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Photos by aldarinho and MDV Edwards
WHAT IS FILIPINO SILOG?
Silog refers to a family of Filipino breakfast dishes consisting of some type of meat, garlic fried rice, and a fried egg. If you’re familiar with Malaysian or Singaporean food, then you can think of it as the Filipino version of nasi lemak.
There are many different types of silog. The dish takes the name of whatever meat it’s made with so silog served with beef tapa (cured beef), for example, is called tapsilog. Longsilog features longganisa (Filipino sausage), bangsilog is made with bangus (milkfish), and so on and so forth.
The full name of the dish is actually a portmanteau word for the three main ingredients that make up the dish. The Filipino word for garlic fried rice is sinangag while a fried egg is called itlog. Put them all together with the viand and you get something like this:
Silog can be made with pretty much any type of meat or fish. I’ll talk about some of the more common versions of silog later in the article but the three most popular are beef tapa, longganisa, and tocino (cured pork).
Sinangag (Garlic Fried Rice)
As described, sinangag is the Filipino word for garlic rice. It refers to a delicious type of fried rice made with steamed white rice, salt, and lots of garlic.
Itlog (Fried Egg)
Itlog, in Filipino, means “egg”. It can refer to any type of egg – hard-boiled, soft-boiled, poached, scrambled, etc. – but silog is usually made with sunny side up fried eggs.
Silog is typically served with a spicy vinegar dip. Some people may enjoy it with other side dishes and condiments as well like pickled papaya or slices of fresh tomato.
THE HISTORY OF SILOG MEALS
Aside from tapsilog being the very first type of silog, I didn’t know too much about the history of silog so I did some digging. According to Esquire Philippines, the term “tapsilog” was coined by a restaurant owner named Vivian del Rosario in the mid-1980s.
In 1986, she opened a canteen (humble restaurant) in Quezon City that catered to the working class. Called “Tapsi ni Vivian at Bulaluhan”, she offered bulalo (beef marrow soup) and a garlic rice dish with beef tapa and fried eggs. She called this garlic rice dish “tapsilog” and the rest is history.
Filipinos enjoyed tapsilog so much that over time, many other variations like longsilog, tocilog, bangsilog, and spamsilog would become just as well-known throughout the Philippines.
THE MOST POPULAR TYPES OF SILOG
Because silog meals can be made with any type of viand, there’s no limit to the number of silog variations you can make. You can throw a bunch of Cheetos on a plate with garlic rice and a sunny side up egg and call it cheetosilog.
I don’t think you’ll find cheetosilog on any restaurant’s menu soon, but here are some of the most popular types of silog you can enjoy in the Philippines.
SILOG BIG THREE
Any Filipino restaurant that serves silog will likely offer these first three options.
As described, tapsilog is the OG when it comes to Filipino silog. It consists of beef tapa that’s been pan-fried and served with garlic rice and fried eggs.
Tapsilog is by far the most popular type of silog in the Philippines. If you’re trying silog for the first time, then I recommend ordering the tapsilog.
Photo by aldarinho via Depositphotos
Tapsilog may be the most popular but for me, longsilog is the best. It consists of Filipino longganisa sausages served with garlic fried rice and eggs.
One of the reasons why I prefer longsilog is because of the variety. There are many regional types of longganisa sausage in the Philippines, unlike beef tapa where the only real difference is in the quality of the meat.
Some of the most popular types of Filipino longganisa include Lucban, Calumpit, Pampanga, and Chorizo de Cebu, but my hands down favorite is Vigan longganisa. It’s a small but intensely garlicky type of longanisa from the city of Vigan in Ilocos Sur.
Pictured below is a plate of longsilog with Vigan longanisa. This was from a hotel in Taal Heritage Town so it’s a little fancier than normal. Aside from the main components, on the plate is a seasoned fresh tomato, adobong kangkong (water spinach), and pickled shredded papaya.
Tocilog is the third of the big three silogs. It’s made with Filipino tocino, which is sweetened and cured pork belly. The pork is cured for several days in a saltpeter mixture that tenderizes the meat and gives it a characteristic pinkish red color when cooked.
As a kid, tocilog was my favorite type of silog because of the sweetness and softness of the meat. The sweet-savory flavor of the pork goes so well with the spicy vinegar dip.
Photo by junpinzon via Depositphotos
OTHER COMMON TYPES OF SILOG
The previous three are the most common but if you’re lucky, then you may be able to find these other types of silog in the Philippines as well.
Bangus (milkfish) is the national fish of the Philippines so it’s no surprise to find it on a plate of silog. If the big three silogs were to become a quartet, then bangsilog would be the fourth.
Bangsilog is made with marinated milkfish that’s been butterflied and fried. If you see bangsilog on a restaurant’s menu, ask if the bangus is boneless. Bangus that hasn’t been deboned can be a pain to eat.
Photo by MDV Edwards
Dangsilog is another of my favorite types of silog. It’s similar to bangsilog except it’s made with a different type of fish called danggit (rabbitfish). Danggit is much smaller and less meaty than bangus so it becomes supremely crispy when fried.
Photo by ArleneSolisChua
As you can probably guess from its name, spamsilog is a type of silog made with every Filipino’s favorite brand of luncheon meat – SPAM®.
Photo by junpinzon
Cornsilog refers to another type of silog made with meat from a can, this time corned beef. You can make it with just pan-fried corned beef but for the best experience, I suggest throwing in some diced potatoes, onions, and a dash of Tabasco sauce. Seriously YUM.
Photo by Loybuckz
Like spamsilog, it’s pretty obvious what hotsilog is made with. It’s made with commercially produced Filipino hot dogs that have been tinged bright red with food coloring.
I don’t know how or when the practice started, but I believe these hot dogs are tinged red to make them more appealing to children. Like sweet Filipino spaghetti, they’re a staple at children’s parties in the Philippines.
Hotsilog is one of the few silogs on this list that may pair better with banana ketchup than vinegar. As its name suggests, it’s a sweeter type of Filipino ketchup made with bananas.
Photo by Loybuckz
Can I please shake the hand of the person who first thought of this? Bacsilog is a genius type of silog made with crispy bacon as its main component.
Photo by junpinzon
As previously described, silog is like the Filipino version of nasi lemak. My favorite versions of nasi lemak are made with a piece of fried chicken, so it’s no surprise that crispy chicken wings or drumsticks work great with silog as well.
Photo by junpinzon
Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines so it only made sense to throw some on a plate with garlic rice and a fried egg.
For the uninitiated, adobo refers to a dish and cooking method that involves slowly simmering meat (usually pork and/or chicken), seafood, or vegetables in a braising mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorn.
Photo by Miinaamii
If pork chops are your jam, then go for a plate of porksilog. It’s a type of silog made with golden brown hunks of pork loin deep-fried to crispy perfection.
Photo by junpinzon
Last but definitely not least is sisilog, a type of silog made with pork sisig as its meat component. Pork sisig is a hugely popular Filipino bar chow dish made with chopped pork face, ears, and chicken liver served on a sizzling plate.
If you’ve never had Filipino food, then the one dish I’d advise you to try first is pork sisig. It’s an incredibly delicious dish that tastes even better with garlic rice and a fried egg.
Photo by Loybuckz
FINAL THOUGHTS ON FILIPINO SILOG
Every type of silog has its appeal but first-time visitors to the Philippines should definitely try one of the big three first. They’re widely available throughout the Philippines so you should have no problem finding them.
Of the three, tocilog may be the weirdest. The pork’s sweet flavor and pinkish-red hue may be off-putting for non-Filipinos, so you may want to go with something more familiar first like tapsilog or longsilog.
No matter the type, Filipino silog is a delicious and filling breakfast dish. It’s a great way to start the day no matter where you are in the Philippines.
What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think of cookies?
Like many people, I think of small, flat, and round dessert snacks. My favorite cookies are soft and chewy and studded with chocolate chips, just like the emoji. They’re delicious on their own but even better when dunked into a glass of milk.
I spent a lot of time in the United States so that’s what I think of when I hear the word cookie. But for people in other parts of the world, a cookie can mean something a little different.
They may go by other names but cookies in some form can be enjoyed on every continent. Many are familiar, some may be completely foreign to you, but here are forty cookies (and recipes) from different countries around the world.
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Photo by bhofack2
WHAT IS A COOKIE?
I thought this would be a simple question to answer but it’s not. We all know a cookie when we see it but it’s hard to put into words exactly what a cookie is.
Many people think of a cookie as a baked snack or dessert that’s typically small, sweet, and flat. This is especially true in North America. But in other parts of the world, that isn’t always the case.
As you’ll see in this article, a cookie can take any shape. And while they’re commonly known to be sweet, they can also be savory.
In my search to find a better definition, I came across this description on Wikipedia which I thought makes sense. Generally, a cookie is a type of cake or bread – usually sweetened – that’s made with some form of oil (butter, vegetable oil, lard) instead of a water-based liquid like milk or buttermilk.
Water makes the batter as thin as possible to allow bubbles to form and produce a fluffy cake. In a cookie, water is replaced by much more viscous oils, resulting in a cake that’s considerably denser in texture.
Simply put, a cookie is essentially a denser type of cake made without water.
WHAT ARE THE BASIC TYPES OF COOKIES?
Cookies can be classified in many ways based on ingredients, method, size, and other factors. It isn’t an exact science but generally speaking, most types of cookies can be classified into one of these basic categories.
Drop cookies are cookies made by dropping a glob of soft dough onto a baking sheet. As it bakes, the dough spreads out and flattens into a round disc. The chocolate chip cookie is an example of a drop cookie.
Pressed cookies are made with a soft dough that’s extruded from a cookie press or pastry bag into various shapes before baking. Spritz cookies are an example of pressed cookies.
Molded cookies are made with a stiffer dough that’s molded into balls or pressed into cookie molds before baking. Biscotti and peanut butter cookies are examples of molded cookies.
Rolled cookies are similar to molded cookies. They’re made with a stiffer dough that’s rolled out and then cut into shapes using a cookie cutter. The gingerbread man is a type of rolled cookie.
Also known as icebox cookies or slice-and-bake cookies, refrigerator cookies are made with a stiff dough that’s refrigerated to make it even stiffer before baking. The dough is typically shaped into cylinders and then sliced into discs before baking. The pinwheel cookie is an example of a refrigerator cookie.
Bar cookies are made by pressing the batter into a pan and then cutting it into cookie-sized squares or bars after baking. Brownies are an example of bar cookies.
No-bake cookies are made by mixing fillers like nuts and cereal into a melted confectionery binder and allowing it to cool and harden. Oatmeal clusters are an example of no-bake cookies.
POPULAR COOKIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
To make this list of cookies easier to digest, I’ve broken it down by continent. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide. You’ll also find links to recipes under most of the entries.
1. Chocolate Chip Cookies (USA)
The chocolate chip cookie is one of the most popular types of cookies, at least in North America. As described, it’s a type of drop cookie studded with chocolate chips.
Chocolate chip cookies were invented in Whitman, Massachusetts around 1938. Chefs Ruth Jones Graves Wakefield and Sue Brides chopped up a Nestlé semisweet chocolate bar and added the chunks to a cookie recipe. Today, a chocolate chip cookie recipe typically consists of flour, butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, semisweet chocolate chips, and vanilla.
I love ice cream sandwiches, but when they’re made with chocolate chip cookies, they become even better. In 1978, a pair of New Yorkers had the brilliant idea of sandwiching vanilla ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies. That heavenly creation eventually became known as the Chipwich.
RECIPE: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo by songbird839
2. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (USA)
Like chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies are one of the most popular types of drop cookies in the US. They’re descendants of Scottish oatcakes and consist of an oatmeal-based dough studded with raisins.
Recipes vary but oatmeal raisin cookies are typically made with flour, oats, eggs, sugar, salt, raisins, and spices.
RECIPE: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Photo by bhofack2
3. Peanut Butter Cookies (USA)
Peanut butter cookies are molded cookies made with peanut butter as its main ingredient. It was invented in the US and dates back to the early 20th century. Originally, they were made with crushed or chopped peanuts and it wasn’t until the 1930s that peanut butter was used as an ingredient.
In 1957, a variation of the peanut butter cookie called the peanut butter blossom was invented. Peanut butter blossoms are essentially peanut butter cookies topped with a Hershey’s Kiss.
RECIPE: Peanut Butter Cookies
Photo by chasbrutlag
4. Sugar Cookies (USA)
Sugar cookies are buttery cookies made with sugar, flour, butter, eggs, vanilla, and either baking soda or baking powder. It’s a versatile type of cookie that can be dropped, molded, or rolled and cut into the desired shapes.
The sugar cookie was believed to have been invented sometime in the mid-18th century in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. German Protestant settlers created a buttery sugar cookie they called the Nazareth Cookie.
Today, sugar cookies are one of the most popular types of cookies made to celebrate the holidays in North America. They’re commonly decorated with additional ingredients like powdered sugar, candy sprinkles, and icing.
RECIPE: Sugar Cookies
Photo by tgellan
5. Black and White Cookies (USA)
Also known as half-and-half cookies or half-moon cookies, black and white cookies are round cookies frosted equally with chocolate and vanilla. They’re believed to have been invented by Glaser’s Bake Shop in Manhattan sometime in the early 20th century.
Black and white cookies have become an important culinary tradition among the Jewish communities of New York City. They’re a common sight at Jewish bakeshops and were even featured on an episode of Seinfeld.
RECIPE: Black and White Cookies
Photo by pazham
6. Snickerdoodles (USA)
Snickerdoodles are a type of cookie made with flour, butter (or oil), sugar, and salt. They’re rolled in cinnamon sugar and often have a cracked surface after baking.
Photo by PantherMediaSeller
7. White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies (USA)
As its name suggests, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies are drop cookies made with white chocolate and coarsely chopped macadamia nuts as its key ingredients.
RECIPE: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
Photo by cjaman
8. Red Velvet Cookies (USA)
Red velvet cookies are soft and chewy cookies made with flour, cocoa powder, and red food coloring. They can be made in different ways but my favorite version is studded with white chocolate chips. It’s essentially a combination of red velvet cake and chocolate chip cookies.
RECIPE: Red Velvet Cookies
Photo by ld1976
9. Crinkle Cookies (USA)
Crinkle cookies are classic American cookies that date back to the early 20th century. They’re rolled in icing sugar and have a characteristically cracked surface.
Crinkle cookies were invented in St. Paul, Minnesota and have become a holiday favorite in the US. They’re traditionally made with chocolate but they can be flavored with other ingredients as well like vanilla, brown sugar, caramel, matcha, and red velvet.
RECIPE: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Photo by bhofack2
When life gives you lemons, you make lemon crinkle cookies.
Photo by Mariko19962
10. Whoopie Pies (USA)
The whoopie pie is a type of sandwich cookie made with two cookies held together by a cream filling or frosting. Like crinkle cookies, it’s an American classic that dates back to the early 20th century.
The whoopie pie is the official state treat of Maine though several other states – namely Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Virginia – all lay claim to the invention of this popular sandwich cookie.
RECIPE: Chocolate Whoopie Pies
Photo by [email protected]
Whoopie pies are traditionally made with chocolate but they can be made with other ingredients as well. If you like red velvet cookies, then you’ll definitely enjoy red velvet whoopie pies.
Photo by StephanieFrey
What better cookie to make for Thanksgiving than pumpkin whoopie pies?
Photo by StephanieFrey
11. Molasses Cookies (USA)
As its name suggests, molasses cookies are made with molasses as its key ingredient. It’s a classic Christmas cookie made with warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, dried ginger, and nutmeg.
Molasses cookies are soft and chewy and have a characteristically cracked surface. They’re very similar to gingersnap cookies except the latter are drier and crispier in texture.
RECIPE: Molasses Cookies
Photo by Sia-James
12. Oreos (USA)
The Oreo cookie is without question the most iconic brand of cookie sandwich. It was unveiled by the Nabisco company in 1912 in New York City and has since become the best-selling cookie brand in the US and the world.
Oreo cookies traditionally consist of two chocolate wafers held together by a cream filling. They’ve since been produced in multiple varieties like Oreo Minis, Oreo Thins, Mint Oreos, and Double Stuf Oreos.
RECIPE: Homemade Oreo Cookies
Photo by bhofack2
13. Fortune Cookies (USA)
Fortune cookies are crisp cookie wafers made with flour, sugar, vanilla, and sesame seed oil. They’re known for containing a piece of paper bearing a “fortune” inside and are typically served at the end of a meal at American Chinese restaurants.
Fortune cookies may be associated with Chinese restaurants in the US but there’s nothing Chinese about them at all. In fact, they were invented in 19th century Kyoto, Japan where they’re known as tsujiura senbei.
The original Japanese version is larger than the American fortune cookie and is made with a batter containing sesame and miso. Available at temples, they also contain a fortune but the slip of paper is wedged into the bend of the cookie rather than being placed inside.
Makato Hagiwara of the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is credited for being the first person to serve fortune cookies in the US. Over time, fortune cookies became associated with Chinese restaurants in the US.
RECIPE: Homemade Fortune Cookies
Photo by jirkaejc
14. Animal Crackers (USA)
Animal crackers are bite-sized cookies baked into the shapes of various zoo or circus animals. Marketed as crackers instead of cookies, they were invented in England in the 19th century and imported into the US where they became hugely popular.
Nabisco started producing animal crackers domestically in the early 20th century and called them “Barnum’s Animals”, after the Barnum and Bailey Circus. They were initially sold in large tins before Nabisco started selling them in small colorful cartons meant to be hung from Christmas trees. They were a huge hit and are still available to this day.
Animal crackers are a type of rolled cookie made using a cookie cutter. At first, they consisted of simple shapes with few details. It wasn’t until the invention of rotary dies that bakers were able to imprint the intricate details we now see today.
RECIPE: Homemade Animal Crackers
Photo by bergamont
15. Alfajores (Argentina)
The alfajor is arguably the most popular type of cookie sandwich in South America. Its invention is credited to al-Andalus (Muslim-ruled area of Spain) though it’s widely consumed in many countries throughout South America like Peru, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Bolivia. In Argentina, it’s considered a national dish.
Alfajores can be made in different ways but they typically consist of two shortbread cookies held together by a dulce de leche filling. They’re traditionally coated in powdered sugar but they’re often covered in shredded coconut or chocolate as well.
RECIPE: Argentinian-Style Alfajores
Photo by lenyvavsha
In the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, light and crispy cookies are referred to as biscuits. I’ll be using both terms interchangeably in this guide.
16. Butter Cookies (Denmark)
Butter cookies are originally from Denmark. Also known as Danish biscuits, they’re made with a good amount of butter and sugar which gives them a crispier texture. They can be made in a variety of shapes and designs and flavored with different ingredients like chocolate, vanilla, and coconut.
RECIPE: Butter Cookies
Photo by Tachjang
17. Shortbread Cookies (Scotland)
Shortbread cookies are a type of Scottish biscuit made with butter, sugar, and flour. They’re very similar to butter cookies except they’re made with less sugar and are baked at a lower temperature.
RECIPE: Shortbread Cookies
Photo by tish1
18. Gingerbread Cookies (England)
Gingerbread refers to a family of baked confections made with honey and warm spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. They’ve been a popular treat at European fairs and festivals since medieval times.
In England, ginger biscuits have been sold at monasteries and markets since the 17th century. A staple during the holiday season, they’re typically made into a variety of festive shapes with decorative icing, one of the most common being the gingerbread man.
RECIPE: Gingerbread Cookies
Photo by Elena Schweitzer
19. Gingersnap Cookies (Germany)
Gingersnap cookies are very similar to gingerbread biscuits, except the dough is molded into balls before baking instead of being rolled out and cut into shapes. They’re also baked a little longer which gives them a slightly snappier texture.
RECIPE: Gingersnap Cookies
Photo by bhofack2
20. Vanilla Crescent Cookies (Austria)
Also known as vanillekipferl, vanilla crescent cookies are small, crescent-shaped Austrian biscuits. They’re traditionally made with walnuts but they can also be made with almonds or hazelnuts. They get their name from their shape and heavy dusting of vanilla sugar.
Vanillekipferl are originally from Vienna but they’re commonly sold throughout Europe, usually from Viennese coffee shops. Traditionally made around Christmas time, they’re said to be shaped like the Turkish crescent moon to celebrate the Holy Roman Empire’s victory over the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Vienna.
RECIPE: Vanilla Crescent Cookies
Photo by Vitoria71
21. French Macarons (France)
The French macaron has to be one of the most beautiful and sophisticated-looking sandwich cookies ever made.
A Parisian creation, French macarons consist of two meringue-based discs made with egg whites, almond paste, granulated sugar, icing sugar, and food coloring. They’re incredibly light and airy and held together by a filling, usually buttercream, ganache, caramel, or jam.
RECIPE: French Macarons
Photo by Elena Schweitzer
22. Meringue Cookies (Switzerland)
Originally from the village of Meiringen in Switzerland, meringue cookies are a type of crisp and dry pressed cookie made with whipped egg whites and sugar. The mixture is extruded through a piping bag into Hershey’s Kisses-like shapes before being baked at low heat.
RECIPE: Meringue Cookies
Photo by 5seconds
23. Speculoos Cookies (Belgium)
Speculoos (aka Biscoff) refers to a type of biscuit originally produced in Belgium. Its key ingredients are wheat flour, fat, candy syrup, and sometimes cinnamon.
Although they look similar, speculoos isn’t to be confused with Dutch speculaas, which is made with more warm spices like cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. Speculoos was developed in the 20th century as a cheaper alternative for people who couldn’t afford speculaas.
RECIPE: Speculoos Cookies
Photo by agneskantaruk
24. Krumkake (Norway)
Krumkake refers to a type of waffle cookie from Norway. It’s a descendant of the Italian pizzelle and is typically made using a decorative two-sided iron griddle. While still hot, the cookie is rolled into cones and can be eaten plain or filled with whipped cream and other fillings.
Photo by kjekol
25. Stroopwafel (Netherlands)
Stroopwafel refers to a small, round waffle cookie consisting of two baked layers of dough held together by a sticky caramel filling. A beloved Dutch treat, stroopwafels are usually placed over a cup of hot coffee – just enough to soften the cookie – before eating.
Photo by LiudmylaChuhunova
26. Macaroons (Italy)
Not to be confused with macarons, macaroons are small cookies made with sweetened shredded coconut as its main ingredient.
The macaroon was created by an Italian monastery in the 8th or 9th century. It was originally made with ground almond paste, hence the name macaroon, which stems from the Italian word maccarone or maccherone meaning “paste”.
Photo by ajafoto
27. Biscotti (Italy)
Biscotti are twice-baked Italian almond biscuits originally from Prato, Tuscany. Also known as cantucci, they’re dry, crunchy, and oblong-shaped and often served as an after-dinner dessert with vin santo. Outside of Italy, biscotti is more commonly served with hot coffee.
Photo by NewAfrica
28. Savoiardi (Italy)
If you’re a fan of tiramisu like I am, then you’re no stranger to these Italian biscuits known as savoiardi or lady fingers. They’re dry, egg-based, sponge cake biscuits with a similar shape as human fingers, hence the name.
Lady fingers can be enjoyed on their own with hot beverages like coffee but they’re also a common ingredient in desserts like tiramisu, trifle, and charlotte.
Photo by jirkaejc
29. Amaretti di Saronno Cookies (Italy)
Not to be confused with Amaretto Disaronno liqueur, amaretto di Saronno refers to a type of bitter-sweet flavored macaron from Saronno in Lombardy, Italy. There are many types of amaretti, usually made with almonds, but amaretto di Saronno is the only one made with apricot kernels.
Photo by Alp_Aksoy
30. Kourabiedes (Greece)
Kourabiedes are almond butter biscuits from Greece. Made with roasted almonds, butter, and rosewater, they’re traditionally prepared around Christmas time and served with a generous coating of icing sugar.
Photo by Lana_M
31. Lengua de Gato (Philippines)
We’re originally from the Philippines so lengua de gato is a cookie we’re very familiar with. Meaning “cat’s tongue” in Spanish, it refers to a thin, crispy, and buttery cookie that resembles a feline’s tongue, hence the name.
I’m not sure if lengua de gato originated from Spain or the Philippines. Either way, the Philippines is a former Spanish colony which helps explain the cookie’s Spanish name.
RECIPE: Lengua de Gato
Photo by Nolonely
32. Singapore Cookies (Thailand)
Singapore cookies are buttery, flower-shaped shortbread cookies. They’re made with lots of sesame seeds, topped with whole cashews, and brushed with an egg yolk glaze.
Strangely enough, Singapore cookies aren’t actually from Singapore. They’re Thai in origin and often given as gifts over the holidays.
RECIPE: Singapore Cookies
Photo by birchphotographer
33. Matcha Cookies (Japan)
Visit Kyoto in Japan and one ingredient you’ll be seeing a lot of is matcha. It refers to a finely ground powder made from processed green tea leaves.
Matcha is an important part of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies but it’s also used as an ingredient in many food products like pastries, cakes, ice cream, donuts, and cookies.
RECIPE: Matcha Cookies
Photo by Mila_Naumova
French macarons come in many flavors but matcha macarons are definitely one of my favorites.
Photo by DepositVad
34. Sakura Cookies (Japan)
Sakura is the Japanese term for cherry blossom trees. They’re a big reason why hordes of travelers flock to Japan in spring. But did you know that the flowers themselves are actually edible?
Sakura cookies are buttery shortbread cookies topped with preserved cherry blossoms. The flowers are washed, dried, and soaked in ume plum vinegar for several days before being dried and stored with salt.
Not only does the dried sakura look pretty, but it adds a touch of saltiness to contrast with the rich buttery cookie.
RECIPE: Sakura Cookies
Photo by shirotie
35. Acibadem Kurabiyesi (Turkiye)
Acibadem kurabiyesi refers to a Turkish biscuit made with almonds, egg whites, and sugar. It’s traditionally made with a small amount of bitter almonds which gives the cookie its name. Acibadem kurabiyesi in Turkish means “bitter almond biscuit”.
Acibadem kurabiyesi are similar to Italian amaretto cookies. They have a chewy texture and are typically served with coffee or ice cream.
RECIPE: Acibadem Krabiyesi
Photo by mc.atolye
36. Ghoriba Bahla (Morocco)
Ghoriba bahla refers to Moroccan shortbread cookies made with toasted sesame seeds and almonds. There are many types of ghoriba cookies in Morocco, but ghoriba bahla are known for having a characteristically cracked surface. Without the cracks, they’d be known simply as ghoriba.
I don’t really understand the significance of the cracks or the meaning behind the name, but ghoriba bahla translates to something like “silly cookies” or “stupid cookies”. Bahla means “silly” and pertains to the cracks on the cookie’s surface.
RECIPE: Ghoriba Bahla
Photo by Alp_Aksoy
37. Kaab el Ghazal (Morocco)
Kaab el ghazal refers to another oddly-named cookie from North Africa. Kaab el ghazal literally means “gazelle ankles” and refers to crescent-shaped cookies filled with almond paste aromatized with orange blossom water. When coated in icing sugar (pictured below), they become known as kaab el ghazal m’fenned.
Almonds are a relatively pricey ingredient so gazelle ankles are typically prepared only for special occasions like weddings and baby showers.
RECIPE: Kaab el Ghazal
Photo by toraborah
38. Ka’ak al-Eid (Egypt)
Ka’ak al-Eid refers to buttery Egyptian biscuits filled with various ingredients like agameya (mixture of nuts, honey, and ghee), pistachios, or dates. They’re coated in icing sugar and traditionally prepared to celebrate Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan.
Also known as kahk, ka’ak al-Eid biscuits originated in Egypt but are consumed throughout the Middle East. They can be plain or stamped with a decorative design, a practice that dates back to ancient Egypt.
RECIPE: Ka’ak al-Eid
Photo by Veliavik
39. Ghorayeba (Egypt)
Ghorayeba refers to an Egyptian shortbread cookie made with just three ingredients – flour, ghee, and powdered sugar. It’s basically the Egyptian version of ghoriba. This type of shortbread cookie can be found throughout North Africa and the Middle East where it goes by different names like ghorayeba, qurabiya, ghribia, and ghriyyaba.
Though Egyptian ghorayeba dough is made with just three main ingredients, it’s often garnished with pistachios and other nuts like almonds or cashews.
Photo by Shakeel_MS
40. Anzac Biscuits (Australia / New Zealand)
Equally popular in Australia and New Zealand, Anzac biscuits are crisp cookies made with flour, rolled oats, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, and sugar.
Anzac biscuits get their name from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) which was established during WWI. Wives and women’s groups preferred sending this type of biscuit to soldiers abroad because they kept well during transport.
RECIPE: Anzac Biscuits
Photo by amarosy
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COOKIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
This list of forty cookies is long but it’s just a nibble when you think of all the delicious cookies you can find in different parts of the world.
Case in point, I never thought of our native Philippines as a big cookie-eating country. But in my research, I found nearly thirty types of Filipino cookies, many of which I’d never even heard of!
With all the cookies that exist today and all the cookies that are yet to be invented, no list can ever be complete but this collection of forty is a good start. As with all our food guides, it’s something I plan on refining and building upon over time.
Cover photo by bhofack2. Stock images via Depositphotos.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula? For many people, it’s Mayan culture and cenotes. Merida is the capital city of Yucatan state and a great jumping-off point to explore the peninsula’s many cenotes and Mayan ruins.
What some people may not realize is that Merida is also home to some of the best Mexican food in the country. It’s on par with other popular food destinations like Oaxaca, Puebla, Mexico City, and Guadalajara. In fact, we were having dinner with a local in Oaxaca one night when he told us that in his opinion, Oaxaca and Merida have the best food in Mexico.
Merida is home to many great restaurants serving terrific Yucatecan food. Chichen Itza may be the biggest reason why people visit Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula but delicious traditional dishes and local specialties keep them coming back.
If you’re visiting the Yucatan and love Mexican cuisine, then this guide to the best restaurants in Merida will be very useful to you.
MERIDA RESTAURANTS QUICK LINKS
To help you with your Merida trip planning, we’ve put together links to popular hotels, tours, and other travel-related services here.
Recommended hotels in Centro, one of the most convenient areas to stay for first-time visitors to Merida.
Luxury: Mansión Mérida Boutique Hotel
Midrange: Courtyard by Marriott Merida Downtown
Budget: Hostal La Ermita
Food Tour: 3-Hour Walking Food Tour
Cenotes Tour: Full-Day Cuzama Cenote Tour from Mérida
Cooking Classes: Merida Cooking Classes
Day Trip: Chichén Itzá, Izamal, Valladolid, & Cenote Trip
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
Mexico SIM Card
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WHAT LOCAL DISHES IS MERIDA KNOWN FOR?
The Yucatan Peninsula was the seat of the ancient Mayan civilization so Yucatan food is heavily influenced by Mayan cuisine. Because of its history of colonization, migration, and trade, Yucatecan food also draws influences from Spanish, Dutch, Lebanese, Caribbean, and North African cuisines.
Being the capital city of Yucatan state, Merida is home to a wealth of amazing food, all of which you can read about in our guide on Yucatan food. I won’t get into too much detail here but some of the tastiest Yucatan specialties you should look for in Merida include cochinita pibil, salbutes, panuchos, poc chuc, and relleno negro.
Be sure to read our guide on Yucatan cuisine for more details. It includes pictures and information on 25 of the most delicious traditional dishes to look for in Merida and the Yucatan Peninsula.
THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN MERIDA
To help organize this list of Merida restaurants, I’ve categorized them by type of establishment. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
Markets / Street Food Stalls
Personally, we love street food and fondas (small family-owned restaurants) but not everyone is as crazy about them as we are. Many people prefer proper restaurants.
If you’d rather go to fine dining and sit-down establishments, then in this section are some of the best and most recommended Merida restaurants in the downtown area.
1. La Chaya Maya
No article on the best restaurants in Merida would be complete without La Chaya Maya. A Merida institution, it’s recommended in nearly every article about the best food in Merida. Even my AirBnB host told me to eat here.
La Chaya Maya is known for serving some of the tastiest examples of local dishes like huevos motuleños, cochinita pibil, lomitos de valladolid, and relleno negro. They have an extensive menu so you can find most if not all Yucatan specialties here.
With all the good food to be had at La Chaya Maya, I was unsure what to get so I wound up going with a dish that isn’t commonly served at street food stalls – papadzules. It refers to an enchilada-like dish of corn tortillas stuffed with hard-boiled eggs and then drenched in a sauce made from pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this dish. It’s delicious.
La Chaya Maya is one of the most popular restaurants in Merida so you may have to wait for a table at peak times. It’s definitely worth it.
I went to their newer restaurant but La Chaya Maya has two branches just one block apart. If one is full, then you can try walking to the other one. By all accounts, it’s one of the best restaurants in Merida so you should definitely enjoy at least one meal here no matter how short your stay.
La Chaya Maya
Address: C. 57 x 62, Parque Santa Lucia, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 7AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Traditional Yucatan cuisine
2. Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca (MUGY)
Like Chaya Maya, no list of the best restaurants in Merida can be complete without mentioning Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca, or MUGY for short. It’s a beautiful fine dining restaurant that serves some of the best food in Merida.
One thing to remember about Merida restaurants is that even fine dining establishments will serve many of the same dishes you’d find at fondas, like salbutes and panuchos. I don’t want to pay 3-4 times more for antojitos (snacks) that taste just as good at market stalls so I go for Yucatan specialties that I know are likely to be done better at proper restaurants.
At MUGY, I had poc chuc, a signature dish in Yucatan cuisine consisting of a slow-roasted fillet of pork marinated in sour orange juice. I had poc chuc several times in Merida and this was by far the best. It was delicious.
Here’s a closer look at that wonderfully tender fillet of pork. Slow-roasted pork, sour oranges, habanero chili peppers, and achiote are among the most important components of Yucatan cuisine.
Another important ingredient in the local cuisine is chaya, a chard-like shrub native to the peninsula. You’ll find it used in many Yucatan specialties like empanadas, tamales, and huevos con chaya (eggs with chaya).
Personally, I enjoyed it most when pureed into drinks (agua de chaya). You can enjoy cold refreshing beverages made with just chaya, chaya with pineapple, or chaya with lemon. They’re all delicious – sweet, herby, and a little citrusy if you get it with fruit.
MUGY is a lovely fine dining restaurant with great food and excellent service. Surprisingly, they have reasonable prices as well. My poc chuc and chaya came out to just MXN 245.
They have rooms where you can dine indoors but the best space is right here in the inner open courtyard.
This is the reason why the restaurant is called Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca. There really is a museum inside the restaurant. One section of MUGY is dedicated to a small exhibit detailing the history and characteristics of Mayan food.
Even if you don’t eat at MUGY, you can still visit the museum for free.
MUGY may look a bit intimidating from the outside but there’s nothing to worry about. It looks like a fine dining restaurant but the atmosphere is actually quite casual and relaxed. I went there for dinner and some diners were dressed in shorts and t-shirts.
Museo de la Gastronomia Yucateca (MUGY)
Address: Calle 62 #466 x 55 y 57, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 11AM-11PM, Mon-Thurs / 11AM-1PM, Fri / 9AM-1AM, Sat / 9AM-11PM, Sun What to Order: Traditional Yucatecan cuisine
3. Katun Cocina Yucateca
Katun is located about 2.5 km (1.6 miles) north of Plaza Grande, just off Paseo de Montejo. Many first-time visitors to Merida will be spending some time here so Katun is a great place to enjoy a meal after going sightseeing in the area.
Like the previous two restaurants, Katun features an extensive menu of traditional Yucatan specialties like papadzules, cochinita, lechon al horno, and brazo de reina. I went with the poc chuc. It wasn’t quite as delicious as MUGY’s version but it was still very good.
No matter where you have it, poc chuc is typically served with a few side dishes like pickled red onions, sour orange wedges, avocados, corn tortillas, and frijol con puerco.
Katun is one of the best restaurants you can go to for traditional food in Merida. The restaurant’s atmosphere is more casual as well.
Katun Cocina Yucateca
Address: C. 60 319B, Centro, 97000 Ejido del Centro, Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 8AM-7PM, daily What to Order: Traditional Yucatan cuisine
4. La Prospe del Xtup
La Prospe del Xtup is another Merida restaurant that serves a wide array of local specialties. I had lunch at this place to specifically have a dish that I didn’t see on any other restaurant menu – relleno blanco.
Relleno negro – a Mayan dish of turkey and pork drenched in a thick dark sauce – is one of the most common traditional dishes in Merida. It’s available everywhere unlike relleno blanco which seems harder to come by.
Relleno blanco is a similar dish but instead of the dark roasted chile ancho sauce, it’s served with tomato sauce and k’ool – a white sauce made with thickened turkey broth.
Here’s a closer look at the ground pork. Relleno blanco is tasty but personally, I prefer its darker and more popular cousin.
Another reason I wanted to eat at La Prospe del Xtup was because of this dessert – dulce de papaya. It’s a simple Yucatecan dessert of sweetened unripe papaya served with shreds of Edam cheese.
These inner open courtyards are a common feature of Merida buildings. La Prospe del Xtup looks plain during the day but like MUGY, I imagine this space to look much more dramatic at night.
Like the previous three restaurants, La Prospe del Xtup is a great place to visit for traditional Yucatan specialties in Merida.
La Prospe del Xtup
Address: Calle 59 530, Parque Santiago, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 12NN-7PM, daily What to Order: Traditional Yucatan cuisine
5. Cheen Cocina Yucateca
Like Katun, Cheen is a bit outside the downtown Merida area but it’s definitely worth the walk. It’s one of the best Merida restaurants to visit for what feels like a delicious, lovingly prepared, home-cooked meal. I know that sounds a bit cheesy but that’s exactly what it feels like when you eat here.
Unlike the previous restaurants on this list, Cheen looks and feels like a family-run restaurant. It’s in a converted home about 2 km (1.2 miles) east of Plaza Grande. I was drawn to its stellar reviews which described its food as some of the best and most authentic in Merida. According to one local, the food they serve is exactly how his grandmother used to make it.
Cheen has a more focused menu but you can find the most important Yucatan specialties here like cochinita, relleno negro, and papdzules. I asked my server for recommendations and she suggested I get the queso relleno, a classic Mexican-Dutch fusion dish made with stuffed cheese.
Queso relleno consists of a rind of queso de bola (Edam cheese) stuffed with minced meat, nuts, raisins, and other ingredients before being poured over with k’ool and tomato sauce. It’s a delicious but extremely filling dish so don’t expect to eat anything else after this!
When you eat at Cheen, you’ll feel like a guest in someone’s house. It’s cozy and feels very much like a home restaurant.
Cheen Cocina Yucateca is as warm and inviting outside as it is inside. It’s a hidden gem and for me, one of the best restaurants in Merida.
Cheen Cocina Yucateca
Address: C. 61 x 34, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, Mon, Wed-Sat / 8AM-5PM, Sun (closed Tuesdays) What to Order: Traditional Yucatan food
6. Manjar Blanco
If you’ve seen the cochinita episode of the Netflix series Taco Chronicles, then Manjar Blanco may be familiar to you. It was the main Merida restaurant featured on that show.
Manjar Blanco offers a similar menu of local specialties as the pervious restaurants on this list, but they’re known for serving some of the very best cochinita pibil in the Yucatan. I enjoyed cochinita many times in Merida, Valladolid, and Mexico City and this was easily one of the best. The producers of that show really did their homework.
Cochinita pibil is arguably the most iconic Yucatecan dish so it’s important that you try the best. Manjar Blanco is definitely one of the best Merida restaurants you can visit to try this dish.
If you haven’t seen the show, cochinita pibil refers to slow-roasted suckling pig marinated in achiote paste and sour orange juice. It’s wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an earthen oven called a píib for up to 16 hours until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. It’s absolutely delicious and a must-try dish in Merida.
I was so taken by that Taco Chronicles episode that I went straight to Manjar Blanco after checking in to my AirBnB. It didn’t disappoint.
Manjar Blanco is definitely one of the best restaurants in Merida to try cochinita and other Yucatan specialties.
Address: Calle 47 496, entre 58 y 60, Zona Paseo Montejo, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, daily What to Order: Traditional Yucatan cuisine
I’m a street food guy so these are the types of restaurants I look for on trips. Just very casual establishments that focus mainly on great food.
7. La Teraza Amarilla de San Fernando
La Teraza Amarilla de San Fernando is a no frills restaurant that offers Yucatan meat specialties like cochinita, lechon al horno, relleno negro, and longaniza de valladolid. You can enjoy them in salbutes, panuchos, tacos, or tortas.
If it’s you first time in Merida, then I suggest trying them on salbutes and panuchos, two of the most popular antojitos in the Yucatan. They’re basically deep-fried tortillas that can be topped with any number of ingredients. The only difference between the two is that panuchos are filled with refried beans.
Pictured below are two salbutes and one panucho topped with cochinita, lechon al horno, and lomitos de valladolid.
La Teraza Amarilla de San Fernando is located just around the corner from Katun Cocina Yucateca. It’s another great restaurant to visit after going sightseeing along Paseo de Montejo.
La Teraza Amarilla de San Fernando
Address: Av Cupules 503C, Alcalá Martín, 97050 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 7AM-2PM, Tue-Thurs, Sat-Sun (closed Mon, Fri) What to Order: Salbutes, panuchos, tacos, tortas
8. Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando
Just a minute away from La Teraza Amarilla is Nuevo San Fernando, a taqueria that offers just two things on their menu – cochinita and lechon al horno. You can enjoy them in tacos or tortas.
If you have a sudden craving for street tacos after visiting the colonial houses along Paseo de Montejo, then Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando is a good restaurant to visit.
Like La Teraza Amarilla, Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando is a simple restaurant that serves good inexpensive Yucatecan food in Merida.
Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando
Address: 97000, Av Cupules 506, Centro, Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 7AM-1PM, daily What to Order: Tacos, tortas
Speaking of street tacos, fans of Mexico’s most iconic dish need to go to Wayan’e. It’s one of the best restaurants in Merida to have tacos topped with Yucatan specialties like poc chuc, castacan (crispy pork belly), higadilla (liver and organ meats), and lomitos.
Only after leaving Merida did I learn that higadilla is a less common Yucatan dish. I regret not trying it here because Wayan’e is the only restaurant I went to that offers it. I’m definitely trying it on our next trip back to Merida.
On my plate below are tacos topped with castacan, huevos con chaya, pollo hulk, and chilibull. I thought the name “pollo hulk” was intriguing so I ordered it. I was amused to find the pieces of chicken tinged green, probably from chaya and green salsa. I’m not sure what chilibull is but it’s some type of stew made from chili peppers.
Wayan’e offers some of the best tacos in Merida. They make tacos with local ingredients that you can’t find anywhere else. Not even in Mexico City, the taco capital of the world, can you find tacos like these!
All of these tacos were delicious but the castacan is a must. It’s a specialty at Wayan’e.
Wayan’e is a hugely popular taqueria with multiple locations. I suggest going to this branch. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the main plaza and the easiest to get to.
Address: 412, Calle 59 408, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 7AM-2:30PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Tacos
10. Taqueria de La Union
Located in downtown Merida, Taqueria de La Union is another great restaurant to visit for street tacos. It’s a small restaurant that offers Yucatecan meats like cochinita, lechon al horno, and longaniza de valladolid served in tacos, tortas, panuchos, or polcanes. Polcanes are deep-fried masa and ibes (white beans) patties that can be filled with various ingredients.
Pictured below is my beautiful trio of cochinita, longaniza de valladolid, and lechon al horno tacos, all piled generously with juicy pork on homemade tortillas.
Three tacos weren’t enough so I ordered a fourth – this intriguing-sounding taco called pork belly al pastor. I was expecting a cross between castacan and tacos al pastor but it turned out to be a type of pork belly stew served with the usual al pastor pineapples. Delicious!
If you want to eat street tacos in a cleaner, less chaotic environment in Merida, then Taqueria de La Union is a great restaurant to visit. They make some of the best tacos in the Merida centro area.
Taqueria de La Union
Address: C. 55 488, Parque Santa Lucia, Centro, 97000 Centro, Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 1-10PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) What to Order: Tacos
Markets / Street Food Stalls
If you’re traveling on a budget and want cheap eats, then markets are among the best places you can visit. Not only will they give you a glimpse into local life and culture, but you’ll often find fondas and stalls offering great food at reasonable prices.
Mercado Santiago was my favorite market in Merida. It’s clean, organized, and home to a few stalls offering delicious Yucatan food. I enjoyed it so much I went here three times and ate at three different stalls.
11. Taqueria La Lupita
Taco Chronicles featured two Merida restaurants in their cochinita pibil episode – Manjar Blanco and this one, Taqueria La Lupita. It’s a popular stall inside Mercado Santiago that offers Yucatan food like cochinita, lechon al horno, relleno negro, and escabeche oriental. You can enjoy it in a variety of ways – on salbutes, panuchos, tortas, tacos, and polcanes.
I ordered two salbutes and one panucho at Taqueria La Lupita. This salbut was topped with cochinita. I still preferred the cochinita at Manjar Blanco but this was damn good too, probably in my top three not just in Merida, but in all of the Yucatan.
This salbut was topped with lechon al horno. Not every restaurant does this but my favorite lechon salbutes or panuchos were topped with a piece of crispy pork skin. Lechon al horno isn’t as flavorful as cochinita so the piece of pork skin adds more flavor and crunch.
Here’s the panucho topped with relleno negro.
As described, relleno negro is an ancient Yucatecan dish of turkey meat and ground pork bathed in a dark sauce made from roasted chile ancho peppers. It’s served with slices of hard-boiled egg and can be enjoyed on its own, as a stew like relleno blanco, or as a topping on salbutes, panuchos, and tacos.
In most cases, it’s hard to visually tell the difference between salbutes and panuchos but you can clearly see the difference here. The fried corn tortilla looks less puffy. Salbutes are generally softer and puffier while panuchos are a little more crunchy. Personally, I prefer salbutes.
Taqueria La Lupita
Address: Calle 57 Mercado de Santiago Interior, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 6:30AM-1:30PM, daily What to Order: Salbutes, panuchos, tacos, tortas
12. La Reina Itzalana
La Taqueria Lupita is located inside Mercado Santiago while this stall – La Reina Itzalana – is located around its perimeter. La Reina Itzalana offers a full menu of Yucatan food favorites like papadzules, huevos motuleños, salbutes, and panuchos. I was here specifically to try their sopa de lima which I read was one of the best in Merida.
Sopa de lima means “lime soup” and refers to a type of Yucatecan soup made with shredded turkey or chicken served in a broth with fried corn tortilla strips.
As you can probably guess from its name, it’s a citrusy soup that gets its signature acidity from lime juice. It’s one of the most popular dishes in Yucatan cuisine and a must-try in Merida.
La Reina Itzalana
Address: Parque Santiago, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 7AM-3PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: Sopa de lima, papadzules, tortas, quesadillas
13. Taqueria Tetiz
If you’re looking for fresh seafood dishes in Merida, then look no further than Taqueria Tetiz. They offer different types of seafood preparations served on tacos, salbutes, panuchos, and tostadas.
Taqueria Tetiz seems to have multiple locations but I suggest going to their stall inside Mercado Santiago. Based on their reviews, they’re one of the best seafood taquerias in Merida.
Check out my server hamming it up for the camera. He must have been happy with my tip. Friendly service always leads to big tips. Ha!
I was tempted to get shrimp and fish tacos but since I’m in Merida, I stuck to salbutes. On my plate below is a beautiful trio of camaron (shrimp), pescado (fish), and caracol (sea snail) salbutes. All three were seriously delicious.
I enjoyed the previous three salbutes so much that I had to get another, this time pulpo (octopus). I can’t decide which one I liked best!
Address: Mercado de Santiago, local 23, 28 y 33, C. 72, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 6AM-2PM, Mon, Wed-Sat (closed Tue, Sun) What to Order: Seafood
ARTESANIAS BAZAR GARCIA REJON
Artesanias Bazar Garcia Rejon is a shopping market located in the Merida centro area. It’s home to dozens of shops selling clothes, bags, shoes, and other non-touristy items.
I didn’t come here to go shopping but I did go to have breakfast at one of the many food stalls inside the market. They offer typical Yucatecan and Mexican antojitos like salbutes, panuchos, tacos, and tortas.
14. Taqueria El Pavo Feliz
Whenever we enter an unfamiliar hawker center in Singapore, the trick is to look for the stalls with the longest line of locals. This rule applies no matter where you are in the world, including Mexican markets.
At Artesanias Bazar Garcia Rejon, that stall was clearly Taqueria El Pavo Feliz. I don’t remember what time I was here but I know it was pretty early, maybe around 8AM. The place was already buzzing with locals enjoying panuchos and tortas filled with all kinds of Yucatan specialties.
I started off with this tasty pair of salbutes. If I remember correctly, one was castacan and the other was lechon al horno.
As was often the case, my initial order wouldn’t be enough so I’d have to get another. What you’re looking at below is a delicious relleno negro salbut. Pavo (turkey) is a specialty here so I recommend trying this.
Taqueira El Pavo Feliz opens from 5AM till 12NN so I suggest coming here for breakfast as early as you can.
Taqueria El Pavo Feliz
Address: Local 122 y 123, Calle 65, esquina con Calle 60 S/N, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 5AM-12MN, daily What to Order: Salbutes, panuchos, tacos, tortas
PARQUE DE SANTA ANA
15. Parque de Santa Ana Food Stalls
Parque de Santa Ana is a park located about a 15-minute walk from the main square. The park itself isn’t all that interesting but it’s worth a visit if you’re looking for cheap eats in Merida. It’s home to a cluster of food stalls offering Yucatan food at reasonable prices.
You’ll probably find around a dozen food stalls here selling pretty much the same dishes. No single stall seemed more popular than the others so I just randomly picked one.
I do advise on avoiding any stalls with overly aggressive touts. Places like that are aggressive for a reason.
After that fantastic queso relleno at Cheen, I wanted to see what the same dish tasted like at a cheaper place so I tried it here.
The tomato sauce and k’ool tasted similar but the main difference was in the queso de bola. It was hard and clearly wasn’t heated to make it softer and a little melty. I recommend sticking to antojitos at stalls like this.
The ground pork filling was also a bit dry and not as well-seasoned.
This agua de chaya con piña, on the other hand, was delicious. Up to this point, agua de jamaica (hibiscus) was my drink of choice in Mexico but in the Yucatan, it was chaya.
Parque de Santa Ana
Address: C. 60 y 45, Zona Paseo Montejo, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: Varies per stall
Plaza Grande refers to the zocalo or main square in Merida. Nearly every major city we’ve visited in Mexico has one.
Merida’s zocalo is no different from any other zocalo, at least on most days. On Sundays, it turns into the most vibrant part of the city. Keep reading to learn why.
16. Merida en Domingo (Merida Sunday Market)
Sunday is my favorite day in Merida, and Merida’s Plaza Grande is my favorite place to be on a Sunday. From 11AM till around 9PM, the streets are mostly closed off to vehicular traffic so people can enjoy the street food and handicrafts that go on sale in and around the zocalo.
Take a stroll along the perimeter of the zocalo and you’ll find these food stalls set up with tables and chairs just off the sidewalk.
I walked all around the zocalo and only one side didn’t have food stalls set up. If I remember correctly, it was the only side where cars were allowed to pass.
You’ll find a few roadside vendors selling a variety of Yucatecan and Mexican antojitos like salbutes, panuchos, tacos, kibis, polcanes, and marquesitas. I didn’t try them but these octopus-shaped fried hot dogs with french fries were quite popular.
Marquesitas are among the most popular street snacks in the Yucatan. You’ll find them sold from mobile carts (commonly at night) in different cities throughout the Yucatan like Merida, Valladolid, and Playa del Carmen.
Marquesitas are basically rolled-up crunchy crepes filled with a variety of sweet ingredients like chocolate, cajeta (dulce de leche), seasonal fruits, and jam. The most classic version is filled with Nutella and shreds of grated queso de bola.
If you’re fond of Lebanese food, then this Yucatecan snack may be familiar to you. It’s called kibis, and it’s basically the Mexican version of kibbeh, a Lebanese meatball-like dish made with spiced ground meat and bulgur wheat.
The same stall that sold kibis had polcanes as well. It’s a pre-Hispanic Yucatecan snack made with deep-fried masa and ibes (white beans) patties.
If you like Mexican tamales, then you need to try tamales colados. It’s a Yucatecan version of tamales made with strained corn masa dough. It’s known for its silky smooth texture that’s softer and more delicate than any other type of tamales. This alone is worth the trip to the Sunday market.
Merida en Domingo (Merida Sunday Market)
Address: Plaza Grande, C. 60 S/N, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 11AM-9PM, Sunday
The one thing that surprised me most about Merida was the intense heat. The Yucatan Peninsula experiences a more tropical climate so diving into refreshing desserts and drinks will feel like a dip in a cenotes.
17. Dulceria y Sorbeteria Colon
Dulceria y Sorbeteria Colon is a popular ice cream and pastry shop in Merida. They sell different types of pastries, sweets, and ice cream, but I was here specifically for their champola.
Popular throughout the Yucatan, a champola is basically a type of milkshake made with pureed whole fruit like lemon, mango, strawberry, and mamey. My server recommended I get the coconut which is one of the most traditional flavors. My god was this refreshing!
Dulceria y Sorbeteria Colon has multiple locations. I went to the branch along Paseo de Montejo but they have an outlet right at the zocalo as well.
Dulceria y Sorbeteria Colon
Address: C. 56 47A, Zona Paseo Montejo, Centro, 97000 Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 10AM-12MN, daily What to Order: Champolas
18. Paleteria Las Rellenas de la 60
Paleta is Spanish for “popiscle”. I usually prefer scoops of ice cream over popsicles but these paletas nearly changed my mind.
Rellena means “stuffed” or “filled” so Paleteria Las Rellenas de la 60 specializes in popsicles stuffed with different ingredients. They have different flavors of popsicles made with either milk or water.
Popsicles made with milk can be stuffed with cajeta, Bailey’s liqueur, or Nutella, while popsicles made with water are filled with chamoy, a Mexican sauce made from fermented fruit.
Pictured below is a paleta de leche made with Mexican chocolate. It’s stuffed with rompope which is a type of Mexican eggnog. I kid you not, this was one of the best popsicles I’ve ever had in my life.
Here’s a look at the rompope filling. This Mexican chocolate is just one of two flavors you can get filled with rompope. The other is vanilla.
If you like chocolate and eggnog, then you NEED to try this.
After finishing my rompope-filled chocolate popsicle, I couldn’t stop at just one so I got this elote paleta de leche right after it. Can you guess what it was filled with?
It was filled with cajeta or dulce de leche. Yummers!
I went back to the shop the very next day so I could try their paletas de agua. This one was watermelon filled with chamoy. This was good too but for me, not nearly as good as the paletas de leche.
Here’s an inside look at the chamoy. It has an interesting sour-salty flavor that goes well with fruit-flavored ice creams.
As described, it can get brutally hot anywhere in the Yucatan so places like Paleteria Las Rellenas de la 60 will feel like an oasis in Merida.
Paleteria Las Rellenas de la 60
Address: C. 60 399A, Centro, 97000 Centro, Merida, Mexico Operating Hours: 11AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Paletas
To help you navigate to these restaurants in Merida, 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 MERIDA
This Merida food guide focuses solely on Yucatecan cuisine. We prefer local food most of the time but you can find many good international restaurants in Merida centro as well.
One area that often gets mentioned is Parque Santa Lucia. This small park a few blocks north of the zocalo is home to a few highly recommended international restaurants. I went there during the day and if I remember correctly, I saw an Argentinian restaurant, a French restaurant, and maybe one or two Italian restaurants.
Based on what I’ve read, Parque Santa Lucia is dedicated to Yucatecan trova musicians. Every Thursday night, musicians gather at the park to play classic songs from the traditional Yucatecan serenade. It’s a popular event so I suggest getting there early if you plan on having dinner at one of the restaurants around the park.
And with that, I’ll end this food guide and wish you many memorable meals in Merida. I hope you enjoy these restaurant recommendations as much as I did. If you have any questions or suggestions, then please do let us know in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading and have a delicious time eating your way through Merida and the Yucatan!
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Oaxacan food is no secret. Even if you’ve never been to Mexico, you’ve probably heard that the food in Oaxaca (pronounced wa-ha-ka) represents some of the very best in traditional Mexican cuisine. Like Puebla, Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Merida, Oaxaca is one of the top food destinations in Mexico.
Together with the gastronomic meal of the French, traditional Mexican cuisine was the first to receive UNESCO culinary heritage status in 2010. What that means is that the culinary traditions of Mexican cuisine are worthy of preservation.
Mexican food is excellent throughout the country, but considering its reputation as the foodie capital of Mexico, I can’t help but think that the food in Oaxaca had a lot to do with that.
Oaxacan dishes like mole, tlayuda, and memela are among the many delicious reasons why food-obsessed travelers flock to Oaxaca City every year. If you’re one of those people and planning your first trip to Oaxaca, then you need to weave these 25 traditional dishes into your food itinerary.
OAXACAN CUISINE QUICK LINKS
To help you plan your trip to Oaxaca, we’ve compiled links to recommended hotels, tours, and other travel services here.
Top-rated hotels in Centro, one of the most convenient areas to stay for first-time visitors to Oaxaca.
Luxury: Grand Fiesta Americana Oaxaca
Budget: Hostal Nordés
Sightseeing Tour: Guided City Walking Tour
Food Tour: Night Street Food Tour with Transfers and Tastings
Mezcal Tour: Mezcal Adventure
Cooking Classes: Oaxaca Cooking Classes
Day Trip: Hierve el Agua Waterfalls and Mezcal Tasting
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
Mexico SIM Card
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No time to read this guide on the food in Oaxaca? Click on the save button and pin it for later!
WHAT IS TRADITIONAL OAXACAN CUISINE?
We sat down for dinner with Cesar, a proud Oaxaqueño foodie, and I asked him this question – “Why is the food in Oaxaca so good?” He’s probably been asked that question many times over because it didn’t take long for him to answer! According to him, it has much to do with Oaxaca’s unique climate and mix of indigenous cultures.
Oaxaca City is located in the central portion of a valley surrounded by mountains in southern Mexico. Its many mountain ranges create multiple climates that help make Oaxacan cuisine one of the most varied in Mexico. The Central Valley area produces a wide variety of vegetables, the region near Veracruz grows an assortment of tropical fruits, while the state’s southern coastal areas produce a steady supply of fresh seafood.
Like the rest of Mexico, corn, beans, and chili peppers are staples in Oaxacan cooking, but the cuisine makes use of many other ingredients and preparations as well like quesillo (Oaxaca cheese), chocolate, chapulines (grasshoppers), and mezcal. Various chili peppers are used as flavoring agents with some of the most distinctive herbs being hoja santa (Mexican pepperleaf), epazote (Mexican tea), and pitonia (lemon verbena).
On top of its varied climates and ingredients, Oaxaca state is home to seventeen indigenous groups, each with its own cooking traditions. Notable examples include the dominant Zapotecs and Mixtecs. The Triqui group, an indigenous people in the western part of Oaxaca, is known for its pit-barbecuing methods.
Cesar added that Oaxaqueños are extremely proud of their cuisine. Oaxaca is home to one of the richest pre-Hispanic culinary traditions in Mexico. They do what they can to protect and preserve these traditions that go back thousands of years.
Enjoy mole at any market fonda (family-owned eatery) or indulge in nieves (ice cream) flavored with chapulines and you’ll know exactly what he means. Making good Oaxacan and Mexican food is in these people’s blood.
WHAT FOOD IS OAXACA KNOWN FOR?
As you can imagine, Oaxacan cuisine is known for its many delicious dishes and street food. You could spend weeks in Oaxaca City and not discover every dish that this city and state is known for. Dishes like tlayuda and memela are everywhere but more obscure regional specialties like caldo de piedra (stone soup) and pozontle are harder to find.
For your convenience, we’ve compiled this list of 25 traditional Oaxacan dishes and drinks to get you started before your next trip to central Mexico. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with what to eat in Oaxaca, then be sure to check our guide on where to eat in Oaxaca for a curated list of the city’s best restaurants, fondas, and roadside stalls.
When I think of Mexican food, the first dishes that come to mind are tacos and mole. Tacos are the ultimate street food while mole represents the pinnacle of traditional Mexican gastronomy.
Derived from the Nahuatl word mōlli meaning “sauce”, mole refers to a family of sauces used in Mexican cuisine. There are hundreds of mole recipes throughout Mexico. In Oaxaca alone, there are over 200 known mole preparations. Some are quite complicated and can be made with over two dozen ingredients like chili peppers, fruits, nuts, seeds, cacao beans, and spices.
With so many ingredients to work with, it’s no surprise that Oaxacan mole takes days to prepare. People use mole paste as a shortcut but according to Cesar, a proper mole takes about three days to make from scratch. It truly is a labor of love that’s usually reserved for special occasions.
When prepared traditionally, ingredients for Oaxacan mole are often toasted or fried before being ground on a metate (mealing stone). The ingredients are mixed together to form a thick paste which is then simmered for several hours with water or stock to make a sauce. When ready, the mole is typically served with rice and some type of meat – commonly chicken or pork – or used as a sauce in dishes like enmoladas.
Land of the Seven Moles
Of all the Oaxacan moles, seven are most notable. It’s for this reason why Oaxaca is often referred to (at least in western media) as the “land of the seven moles”.
Each of these seven moles is distinguished by its color or main ingredient used – mole negro (black), mole rojo (red), mole amarillo (yellow), mole verde (green), mole coloradito (reddish), mole manchamanteles (tablecloth stainer), and mole chichilo (made from chilhuacle chili peppers). I’ll give a brief description for each below.
Pictured here is mole negro, the most popular Oaxacan mole and the most difficult to prepare. Recipes vary but it typically contains 20-30+ ingredients, including six different types of chili peppers.
A signature dish in Oaxaca, mole negro is a hallmark of Oaxacan and Mexican food. It’s a rich and complex-tasting sauce known for its sweet and savory flavors.
Mole negro is the most popular but mole coloradito may have been my favorite. Meaning a “little red” or “reddish” in Spanish, coloradito refers to a reddish-brown sauce that’s slightly less sweet than mole negro. Some of its key ingredients include ancho chili peppers, tomatoes, garlic, almonds, sesame seeds, and spices.
If you’d like to try all seven Oaxacan moles, then I suggest looking for a restaurant that offers mole degustation menus. You can try all 7 moles in small amounts, just enough to get a taste of each one. Many of these moles are quite rich so getting a small portion of each is the best way to experience all seven.
We went to Restaurante Coronita, a highly-regarded restaurant in the Hotel Valle de Oaxaca. Their mole degustation is good for two people and served with a bowl of rice, freshly made corn tortillas, and pickled vegetables. Almost all of the moles are topped with pieces of shredded chicken.
After serving the moles to you, the server will quickly describe each one (in Spanish) and advise you on how best to enjoy them. Some are best paired with rice while others are delicious on their own.
Clockwise from the bottom: Mole chichilo, mole amarillo, mole verde, mole manchamanteles, mole coloradito, mole rojo, and mole negro
Mole recipes can vary greatly from cook to cook but I’ll do my best to describe each one below.
As described, mole negro or black mole is the most common type of Oaxacan mole. It’s what you’d typically find at any market fonda. It’s very dark, almost black in color, and can be made with over thirty ingredients including chocolate, plantains, tomatillos, nuts, tortillas, dried fruit, and six different types of chili pepper.
A well-made mole negro is the perfect balance of savory and sweet. At fondas, it’s typically served with a piece of chicken and a side of rice. You can also enjoy it served over enchiladas in a dish called enmoladas.
Like mole negro, mole rojo or red mole is made with chocolate along with a laundry list of other ingredients like guajillo and pasilla chiles, tomatoes, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, and spices. It has a similar savory-sweet profile as mole negro so our server advised us to pair both with rice to help tone down their richness.
Many articles online claim that mole rojo is the same thing as mole poblano, which I find confusing. The red mole we had at Restaurante Coronita is clearly different from the mole poblano we enjoyed in Puebla. It’s redder and less dark in color and doesn’t taste nearly as rich as mole poblano.
In any case, I’ll do more digging and update this article when I learn more. Based on our experience, red mole and mole poblano seem like two different types of mole.
Mole amarillo or yellow mole is much lighter than the previous two. It’s less thick and not nearly as rich. Typical ingredients in mole amarillo include green tomatoes, ancho and guajillo chili peppers, hoja santa, and spices. If I remember correctly, it was the only mole our server told us to pair with pickled vegetables.
Mole amarillo is the same sauce you’ll find in Oaxacan empanadas. Personally, this was my least favorite type of mole. It’s more raw in flavor compared to the richer moles, which is probably why it’s paired with pickled vegetables.
Mole verde or green mole tastes exactly how it looks. Light and herbal in flavor, it’s even thinner than yellow mole and is the easiest of the seven moles to prepare because it doesn’t require the toasting and rehydration of chili peppers.
Typical ingredients in mole verde include green chili peppers, tomatillos, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), hoja santa, epazote, and parsley. Based on its ingredients, Oaxacan mole verde seems to be a type of pipían. Pipían refers to a family of Mexican sauces made with pumpkin seeds as the main ingredient.
Mole coloradito is another common type of mole that’s often served at fondas. Some of the others are harder to find but practically every fonda we visited served mole negro and coloradito. Typical ingredients in coloradito include ancho chili peppers, garlic, tomatoes, sesame seeds, and spices.
Meaning “reddish” in Spanish, coloradito tastes similar to black mole but it’s less sweet and not quite as rich. It’s definitely something I could see myself eating everyday.
According to our server, mole manchamanteles is one of the rarest of the seven moles. Not as many restaurants serve it so if you see it on a menu, then you should definitely order it. Not only is it harder to find, but it’s also delicious and perhaps the most interesting of the seven.
Manchamantel literally means “tablecloth staining” and refers to the staining effect of the bright red chorizo grease and ancho chili peppers used in the recipe. Get a drop of this red mole on white tablecloth and it’ll probably stain it for all eternity.
Other key ingredients in mole manchamanteles include tomatoes, onions, garlic, almonds, plantains, and fresh pineapple. The pineapple adds a hint of fruity tang and sweetness to the manchamanteles that you won’t find in the other moles. It’s delicious.
Like mole manchamanteles, mole chichilo is a rarer type of mole that’s quite different from the others. Similar in color as black mole but not quite as thick, it’s the only mole among the seven that’s flavored with beef.
Mole chichilo is made using beef bones and gets its name and color from chilhuacle negro, a dark chili pepper endemic to Oaxaca. Other key ingredients in mole chichilo include pasilla and mulato chili peppers, tomatoes, avocado leaves, and spices.
BONUS: Mole Blanco
Mole blanco isn’t one of the seven but I thought I’d quickly mention it here. It’s interesting and delicious and something you should try if you ever spot it on a Oaxaca restaurant menu.
Mole blanco or white mole refers to a type of mole from the Mixteca region of Oaxaca. Commonly prepared for Easter or Christmas, it’s made with almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, white chocolate, milk, chili peppers, fruits, and spices. It’s a milder type of mole often paired with rabbit, poultry, or chiles rellenos.
Though it’s from Oaxaca, we were lucky to try mole blanco at the Casareyna restaurant in Puebla. It was part of a mole degustation platter with mole poblano, pipían verde, and pipían rojo.
It’s only right for mole to lead any list of Oaxacan dishes. But when it comes to Oaxacan street food, nothing comes before tlayudas. Made with a large, partially fried or toasted tortilla slathered with refried beans, asiento (unrefined pork lard), Oaxacan cheese, and other ingredients, you can think of it as a type of Oaxacan pizza.
Tlayudas are a Oaxacan food favorite that’s every bit as iconic as mole. They’re native to the state of Oaxaca but they’re especially popular as street food in Oaxaca City.
To prepare, a large thin tortilla disc is either seared on a comal or charred on a grill before being smeared with refried beans and unrefined pork lard. It’s then topped with Oaxaca cheese, lettuce or cabbage, and slices of avocado before being served with different types of roasted meat, either on the side or as a topping. Common meats served with tlayudas include tasajo (dried beef), cecina (chili-powder-crusted pork), or chorizo (Mexican sausage).
Depending on the restaurant or stall, tlayuda can be served folded in half (see below) or open-faced, like a Mexican pizza. Some places may chop up the meat and incorporate it as a topping on the tlayuda, but most will serve it whole on the side.
PRO TIP: If you’re accustomed to eating American-style pizza, then you may be tempted to slice up the meats and evenly distribute them on the tlayuda. Don’t. They lose flavor if you do. Instead, take a bite from the meats after each bite of tlayuda. You’ll appreciate the flavors of the grilled meat much more that way.
Here’s an example of an open-faced tlayuda from a stall at Mercado 20 de Noviembre. The toppings are mostly the same from place to place but where tlayudas differ is in the texture of the tortilla. Some are chewier like a pizza while others, like this one, are thinner and crispier. We enjoyed both tremendously.
Tlayudas seem to be a popular drinking food in Oaxaca since most tlayuda specialty restaurants open only at night or sometime in the afternoon. At markets like Mercado 20 de Noviembre, you can have it at any time of the day.
Memela is another popular street food in Oaxaca. Much smaller than tlayudas, memelas consist of fried or toasted masa discs topped with various ingredients like refried beans, black beans, salsa, tinga (shredded chicken with tomatoes), guacamole, and queso fresco (fresh cheese).
Memelas are popular antojitos or snacks in other parts of Mexico as well like Guerrero and Puebla. Depending on where it’s from and what it’s topped with, I believe the same dish can go by different names like sope or huarache.
4. Empanada de Amarillo
Empanada de amarillo is another popular street food dish in Oaxaca City. Empanadas are enjoyed in many Latin American countries and can be made with different fillings, but Oaxacan empanadas are made with a specific set of ingredients – shredded chicken and mole amarillo.
To make Oaxacan empanadas, a large corn tortilla is topped with yellow mole sauce and shredded chicken before being folded in half and cooked on a comal. It’s a Oaxacan food favorite that’s often sold at the same stalls that sell memelas.
As previously described, enmoladas are basically enchiladas drowned in mole negro. Popular throughout Mexico, enchiladas are tortillas wrapped around a variety of different fillings. They can be topped with any type of sauce but enmoladas are drenched in that deliciously dark mole sauce.
Enmoladas are a popular breakfast item and something you’d typically find at any market fonda in Oaxaca, together with entomatadas and enfrijoladas. Entomatadas are enchiladas covered in tomato sauce while enfrijoladas are topped in a black bean sauce.
Entomatadas and enfrijoladas can be found throughout Mexico while enmoladas are specific to Oaxaca. Pictured below is a version topped with tasajo and queso fresco (fresh cheese).
Here’s a picture of entomatadas topped with queso fresco and served with a side of chorizo.
Tetelas are triangular pockets of corn masa filled with a few simple ingredients like black beans, crema (cream), and fresh cheese. It’s a pre-Hispanic dish that originates from the Mixtec region of Oaxaca.
To prepare, a large corn tortilla is filled with a seasoned paste made from mashed black beans or refried beans with onions. Depending on the cook, other ingredients can be added like crema, queso fresco, Oaxacan cheese, mushrooms, and hierba santa. The tortilla is then folded into a triangle and cooked on a comal.
We enjoyed tetelas from two different restaurants in Oaxaca. They seem to vary greatly in size. The first tetelas we had were about the size of samosas but this one, from popular restaurant Itanoni, was much bigger. It was about the size of a small flag.
Here’s an inside look at our tetela from Itanoni. Aside from the basic fillings, they offer tetelas stuffed with additional ingredients like chicharron, mushroom, and dogfish. The green sauce is a spicy salsa verde which they serve on the side.
Some websites describe tetela as a popular street food but we never saw it sold from any street food stands in Oaxaca. It doesn’t seem to be as common as tlayudas or memelas so you should definitely order it if you see it on a restaurant’s menu.
7. Garnachas Istmeñas
Garnachas istmeñas are a type of antojito originally from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca. They’re small, bite-sized snacks made with fried corn tortillas topped with shredded meat, pickled vegetables, salsa, and fresh cheese. From what I understand, garnachas can be made in different ways depending on where they’re from, but the version from the Ishtmus of Tehuantepec is the most well-known.
We had garnachas twice in Oaxaca. We had it for the first time at Restaurante Catedral, one of the fanciest restaurants in Oaxaca City. Because they were so small – about the size of an Oreo cookie – I thought we were served gourmet versions of garnachas. As it turns out, they’re always this size.
If you enjoy highly acidic and spicy foods, then you need to try piedrazos. Meaning “stones” in Spanish, it refers to an interesting Oaxacan street food dish made with dehydrated bread soaked in fruit vinegar and served with onions, carrots, potatoes, Oaxacan cheese, chili powder, and spicy salsas.
Piedrazo gets its name from the bread. Traditionally dried on the roofs of houses, the bread is hard as a rock before soaking in vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar may be too much for some people but pair each bite with the creamy Oaxaca cheese and it all comes together beautifully.
Like tlayuda, memela, and empanada de amarillo, piedrazo was one of the Oaxacan dishes featured in the Mexico episode of Street Food Latin America. I enjoyed it so much I wound up getting another order to go.
9. Caldo de Piedra
Caldo de piedra is a traditional Oaxacan dish that’s every bit as beautiful as it is delicious. Meaning “stone soup” in Spanish, caldo de piedra is a type of pre-Hispanic seafood soup made with fish, tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, epazote, and cilantro served in a jícara or gourd bowl. What makes it special is that a heated river stone is dropped directly into the bowl to cook the soup.
Centuries ago, caldo de piedra was reserved only for people of the highest status but today, it’s made to honor the women of Oaxaca and the alliance between the region’s inhabitants.
Interestingly, caldo de piedra is prepared only by the men of the community. One group would go fishing, another would prepare the ingredients, while others would gather, clean, and heat river stones for up to three hours. Dropping the blazing hot stones into the bowl causes the broth to sizzle and boil, cooking the ingredients instantly.
When ready, the men would then bring the bowls of stone soup to their wives, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and daughters. Traditionally, caldo de piedra is made with fish but in some parts of Oaxaca, it can be made with shrimp as well. I enjoyed mine with both fish and shrimp.
Caldo de piedra isn’t easy to find. I could only find one restaurant that serves it and it’s located along the Carretera Internacional highway, about 9 km east of Oaxaca City. It isn’t the easiest place to get to but it’s definitely worth the effort.
At the restaurant, you can watch as they prepare the soup. They keep a wood fire going throughout the day to have stones ready as customers order the soup. The stones are so hot that the broth literally erupts like a small volcano when the stones are dropped into the soup.
Here’s a picture of the river stone inside the bowl of soup. Caldo de piedra was awarded Intangible Cultural Heritage status by the state of Oaxaca in 2021. It’s a beautiful and interesting dish that you cannot miss while in Oaxaca.
10. Tamales Oaxaqueños
The tamal is a pre-Hispanic dish that’s popular throughout Mexico and Latin America. What makes tamales Oaxaqueños different is that they’re enriched with mole and wrapped in banana leaves instead of the usual corn husk.
There are several types of tamales Oaxaqueños but the most common variety is made with masa, shredded chicken, and mole negro. It’s an inexpensive and tasty snack that’s widely available at local markets and from street food vendors.
If you see an abuela (grandmother) sitting on a street corner with a big bucket or basket next to her, then chances are, it’s filled with delicious Oaxacan tamales.
11-13. Carnes Asadas (Tasajo, Cecina, Chorizo)
I’m lumping these next three Oaxacan dishes under one entry because you always see them together. Like tamales, carne asada (roast meat) is available throughout Mexico and beyond but these three types of roasted meat are specific to Oaxaca.
As previously described, tlayudas are mainly served with three types of meat – tasajo, cecina, and chorizo. If you visit pasillo de carnes asadas at Mercado 20 de Noviembre (where this picture was taken), then you’ll find all three types of meat being roasted by every vendor at the market.
Clockwise from bottom: Cecina, tasajo, chorizo Oaxaqueño
Tasajo refers to a thin cut of grilled dried beef commonly consumed in the Central Valley of Oaxaca. It’s typically made with flank or skirt steak that’s cured in salt before being partially sun-dried and then grilled. It’s often served as a side dish with tlayudas, enmoladas, or chilaquiles.
In Mexico, cecina refers to thin sheets of salted and partially dried beef or pork. But since thin sheets of dried beef are called tasajo in Oaxaca, the word cecina is never used for beef. It refers only to thin sheets of semi-dried pork coated with chili pepper.
Chorizo Oaxaqueño is a type of Oaxacan sausage made with a mixture of pork, vinegar, pasilla chili peppers, cloves, cinnamon, oregano, bay leaves, thyme, and marjoram. Like tasajo and cecina, it’s often served as a side dish or filling for tlayudas, chilaquiles, quesadillas, or memelas.
14. Quesillo (Oaxacan Cheese)
Quesillo or Oaxacan cheese is a white, semi-hard cheese that’s similar in texture to mozzarella. It’s a popular Oaxacan food that’s used as a topping or filling in many dishes like tlayudas, memelas, tostadas, and quesadillas.
Quesillo is made using the same string cheese process used to make mozzarella. Originally from Italy, the process was brought to Mexico by Dominican friars who settled in Oaxaca. Buffalo milk wasn’t available at the time so they used cow’s milk instead.
Pictured below is a tostada topped with refried beans, Oaxaca cheese, tomato, and avocado.
Here’s a picture of a partially eaten tlayuda with quesillo and tasajo. Oaxaca cheese is absolutely delicious and something you’ll be eating very often in Oaxaca.
We enjoyed quesillo many times in Puebla as well. It’s a key ingredient in cemitas or Poblano sandwiches.
Chapulines or grasshoppers are one of the most interesting dishes on this list. Like quesillo, it’s a popular Oaxacan food that you’ll often find on restaurant menus and local Oaxaca markets like Mercado 20 de Noviembre.
Grasshoppers have been consumed in Mexico since pre-Hispanic times. They’re harvested only at certain times of the year and are usually seasoned with garlic, lime juice, chili, and salt before being toasted on a comal. They’re crunchy, salty, and can be a little sour or even spicy, depending on the seasoning.
You can munch on chapulines as a street food snack or enjoy them as an ingredient in dishes like tlayudas and tostadas. If you plan on going mezcal tasting in Oaxaca, then I highly recommend picking up a bag and bringing it with you to the mezcaleria. They’re the perfect dish to snack on with mezcal.
Pictured below are chapulines and quesillo used as toppings on a tostada. Grasshoppers (and other insects) are commonly consumed in central Mexico but none more widely than in Oaxaca.
Here’s an omelette filled with quesillo and chapulines. These two ingredients are often used together in Oaxaca. The saltiness of the grasshoppers goes so well with the creaminess of the cheese.
This was, without question, the most interesting use of chapulines we had in Oaxaca. What you’re looking at is nieves or Mexican ice cream flavored with chapulines.
When we ordered this, I assumed they’d sprinkle the ice cream with chapulines but they actually grind them into the nieves. You can’t see the grasshoppers at all but you can definitely taste them. The ice cream is sweet, salty, tangy, savory, and spicy all at once. It’s strange but it works!
Nicuatole is a pre-Hispanic dessert made from ground corn, milk, sugar (or piloncillo), and cinnamon. Originally from the town of San Agustín Yatareni in Oaxaca, it has a gelatinous flan-like texture and is typically sold cut into blocks or squares at local markets and street food stalls.
Nicuatole is usually whitish in color with a bright red outer layer (from red sugar). Corn, milk, sugar, and cinnamon form the basic set of ingredients though it can be enriched with additional flavorings as well like orange and lemon leaves, almonds, prickly pear, egg yolks, or grated coconut.
17. Molotes de Platano
In Puebla, we enjoyed a delicious street food called molotes. Shaped like an empanada, it was made with corn masa and flour (or mashed potatoes) filled with a variety of savory ingredients like tinga (shredded chicken), mushrooms, black beans, and huitlacoche (corn fungus).
You can find molotes in Oaxaca as well though they’re made a little differently. Instead of the empanada-like half-moon shape, they resemble ovals or footballs. They’re typically made with corn masa but the version we tried, called molotes de platano, were made with mashed plantains instead.
I did some digging and it seems like this version of molotes is originally from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Enjoyed as a snack or dessert, the ovals aren’t filled but topped with a generous helping of cream and fresh cheese after frying.
18. Pan de Yema
Visit Mercado 20 de Noviembre and you’ll find over a dozen stalls selling pan de yema in different sizes. They make them in standard bread roll sizes to giant loaves that look like small boulders.
Pan de yama is a traditional sweet bread from Oaxaca. It’s a light and airy bread made with egg yolks, hence its yellowish interior. It’s basically the Oaxacan version of brioche.
Order a cup of cafe or chocolate de olla for breakfast and it’ll always be served with a roll of pan de yema. The bread is perfect for dipping in the coffee or hot chocolate.
19. Oaxacan Hot Chocolate
Chocolate has been an important commodity in the Oaxaca region for thousands of years. It was first cultivated by the Olmecs followed by the Mayans and Aztecs who not only used it as food and drink, but also for trading and currency. So revered was the cacao tree that its scientific name – Theobroma cacao – translates to “food of the gods”.
Today, not only is chocolate a daily staple in Oaxaca, it plays an important role in rituals and ceremonies like births, weddings, and funerals. Nowhere else in Mexico is chocolate more prevalent than in Oaxaca City.
Ironically, cacao trees aren’t cultivated in Oaxaca – they’re grown in Chiapas and Tabasco – but the city’s location on an ancient trade route made it an important center for chocolate production in Mexico. In Oaxaca City, you can enjoy chocolate in a number of dishes and drinks like mole, tejate, pozontle, and tascalate. Personally, my favorite is hot chocolate.
Chocolate Oaxaqueño is made with cacao beans, sugar, almonds, and cinnamon dissolved in either water or milk. Traditionally, it’s prepared with water but I personally prefer it with milk and a dash of chili.
Pictured below is my deliciously frothy pot of chocolate amargo (bitter) with milk and chili. Oaxacan hot chocolate is traditionally served in a clay pot (olla de barro) and whisked using a wooden molinillo to make it frothy.
20. Oaxacan Coffee
I was chatting with a barista while enjoying my coffee in San Miguel de Allende and he told me that most of the coffee beans in Mexico are grown in Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Chiapas. According to him, Oaxacan coffee is the best so he prices it accordingly. At his shop, they’re about twice the price of beans grown in the other two states.
Coffee produced in Oaxaca and Chiapas is known as Altura, meaning “high grown”. when it comes to coffee production, higher altitudes will almost always lead to better results. It’s for this reason why Altura coffee beans are considered some of the very best in the Americas.
I’m no connoisseur but I was a bit disappointed with the coffee in Mexico. The barista explained that Mexicans aren’t big coffee drinkers and are usually satisfied with a cup of Nescafe. I like my coffee robust and found much of the coffee in Mexico – including San Miguel de Allende – to be a little weak and overly acidic. Not so in Oaxaca.
There’s a strong coffee culture in Oaxaca and rightfully so, because their coffee is delicious. It’s full-bodied and balanced and will give you a satisfying jolt every time.
When we showed our Oaxaca food itinerary to Cesar, he gave us a thumbs up and told us we weren’t missing anything. He was particularly impressed that we had tried pozontle, a ceremonial drink from the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca.
According to Cesar, pozontle is common in the mountains but hard to find in Oaxaca City. He asked us where we found it, presumably so he could go there himself! We didn’t fully appreciate how lucky we were to try pozontle until that dinner with Cesar.
Similar to tejate, pozontle is a light and refreshing drink made with corn, cacao, cocolmecatl (soured vine), panela, and water. It’s prepared in a jícara and made frothy using a molinillo.
Tejate is the much more common cousin of pozontle. You can find it pretty much anywhere in Oaxaca City – at local markets, street food stalls, and restaurants.
Like pozontle, tejate is a pre-Hispanic drink made with toasted corn, fermented cacao beans, toasted mamey pits (pixtle), and flor de cacao. The ingredients are finely ground into a paste and then mixed with water to make the drink.
The white curd-like substance on top is flor de cacao. It rises to the top and forms a thick, pasty foam.
23. Agua de Chilacayota
Aguas frescas are among my favorite drinks in Mexico. Literally meaning “fresh waters”, it refers to a family of non-alcoholic drinks made from a variety of fruits, flowers, seeds, and cereals blended with sugar and water. Among the most common are jamaica (hibiscus), horchata (seeds, nuts, or grains), and tamarindo (tamarind).
In Oaxaca, one of the most traditional flavors of aguas frescas is agua de chilacayota. It’s a delicious and refreshing drink made with chilacayote squash (fig leaf gourd), piloncillo, cinnamon, and water.
24. Agua de Horchata con Tuna
Like agua de chilacayota, agua de horchata con tuna is a flavor of agua fresca that’s native to Oaxaca. Don’t worry, it’s a lot more appealing than it sounds. Tuna doesn’t refer to the fish, but to the sweet fruit of the prickly pear cactus.
You can find agua de horchata everywhere in Mexico but agua de horchata con tuna is a variety that’s especially popular in Oaxaca. It’s basically a version of horchata made with the addition of prickly pear fruit that turns the normally milky white drink, pink.
Last on this list but certainly not least is mezcal, a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey (agave) plant. It’s known for its deep smokey flavor derived from the cooking of the maguey before distillation.
Mezcal can be made in a handful of Mexican states but over 70% is produced in Oaxaca. It’s not to be mistaken with tequila, another iconic Mexican spirit. While tequila is made exclusively with blue agave, mezcal can be made from any type of maguey.
Mezcal is served at nearly every bar or restaurant in Oaxaca. We highly recommend going to a mezcaleria that offers mezcal tastings. The bartenders are highly knowledgeable and will give you a crash course on all things mezcal.
If you’d like to take your mezcal experience further, then you may be interested in joining a Oaxaca mezcal tour.
OAXACAN FOOD TOURS
Simply put, no one knows the food in Oaxaca better than a local, which is why I was so happy to break bread with Cesar. He assured me that we had done our homework and weren’t missing anything important in Oaxaca.
If you don’t know any locals to show you around in Oaxaca, then you may want to join a guided tour. Not only will a knowledgeable local take you to Oaxaca’s best markets, restaurants, and street food stalls, but they’ll be able to explain all the dishes to you in more detail. Check out Get Your Guide for a list of food tours in Oaxaca.
OAXACAN COOKING CLASSES
Eating the food in Oaxaca is one thing, but learning how to make them yourself is another. You can pick up a lot from joining a food tour, but you can learn even more by taking a cooking class. Working with the various ingredients and learning the different techniques is like looking under the cuisine’s hood. Check out Cookly for a list of cooking classes in Oaxaca.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON OAXACAN CUISINE
I’ve written many of these articles but this Oaxaca food guide was especially difficult to write. It was challenging because there is so much to the Oaxaca food tradition that I didn’t want to leave anything out. The moles alone required a few hours of research.
Being less than thorough would have been a disservice to this city and state that produces some of the best food in Mexico. This Oaxaca food guide isn’t perfect (yet) but I hope I’ve done an adequate job.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing and doing research for it. As always, it’s a perennial work-in-progress that will continue to grow and improve after every return visit to Oaxaca City. With so many more dishes to discover, I have a feeling those trips will be quite frequent.
Thanks for reading and I hope this guide gives you lots to look forward to when you visit Oaxaca!
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