An Ode to Colombia’s Bandeja Paisa


While I’m not necessarily a fan of highly caloric, eat-for-protein, “Hungry Man”-type meals, put me in Colombia and I will gladly consume the bandeja paisa with relish. OK, to be honest, I only ate it once during my trip there last month and it was a “mini” version (above), if you can believe that. (To its credit, the regular-size dish, though twice as large, did include a salad at this particular restaurant.) But man, did it hit the spot.

Though it originated in the mountainous, coffee-growing “Paisa” region of the northwest, bandeja paisa can be found in most parts of Colombia and, indeed, well beyond: It’s offered on just about every street corner of my neighborhood in Queens, and any Colombian restaurant worth its salt anywhere will likely have a version of it. But though I’ve heard it’s a fantastic hangover remedy, I’d never tried it before arriving to Colombia.

So, then, what is it? Only a fried egg served over white rice, with a side of chorizo, ground beef, red beans, patacones (fried plantain), chicharrón (pork rind), and a small arepa. Missing from my dish was the usual avocado and the optional salad—the healthiest bits of what Wikipedia estimates to be a 1,500- to 1,800-calorie meal when full size. I did, at least, wash mine down with a fresh jugo (juice).

Of course, it’s a genius combination of components that work naturally, deliciously well together. And while Colombia’s cuisine surprised me at turns with its refined ceviche, luscious baked breads, rich chocolates, and delicately fried empanadas, it’s the photo of this gut-busting dish I keep returning to with fondness. It’s familiar yet exotic, simple but scrumptious, and perhaps more than anything, it’s abundant and generous—much like Colombia itself.


4 Responses to “An Ode to Colombia’s Bandeja Paisa”

  1. Posted on January 6th, 2010

    Being nitpicky here, since you were using diacritics: the word “paisa” does not have it. :)

    While it is really heavy in term of calories, you must keep in mind the eating culture in other parts of the world is different to that of North America. In this case, this case, it is eaten during the day (usually lunch, while there is also a similar dish for breakfast); for dinner, it is a really light one.

    Breakfast like a king, lunch as a price, dinner as a pauper…

  2. Posted on January 7th, 2010

    Thanks, Kim–fixed my accents. I think “país” threw me off! And of course eating cultures vary wildly around the world…Most of the breakfasts I ate at home with the family I stayed with in Bogotá were meat-filled tamales, chicken empanadas and chorizo, hot chocolate and cheese…all of which I’d eat with gusto! Nice to take a break from my old cereal routine, for sure. ;)

  3. Posted on August 23rd, 2010

    this sounds amazing. I wish we had somewhere in Vancouver to get it. guess I’ll have to head south. ;)

  4. Posted on December 1st, 2012

    Hi, I can’t understand how to add your website in my rss reader. Can you Help me, please :)

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