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Typical Medellín (Paisa) Cuisine

Posted by Leanne Dudley on octubre 17, 2019
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A variety of typical paisas dishes are offered within Medellín; traditional food can be found on the streets and in restaurants from the North to the South of Medellín.

Beans, corn, cassava, spices and aromatic plants are only a few of the ingredients that are still used in the preparation of Paisan food. They are legacies of pre-Colombian cultures; indigenous tribes, the first settlers of Antioquia, had these ingredients as a basis in their daily diet.

With the arrival of the Spaniards, new foods from other cultures and countries were also introduced into the country. Consequently, food became more varied. However, the region of Antioquia is still currently cooking typical native dishes, rescuing its culture and gastronomic history. 

Paisa Tray

The tray with abundant protein and calories is one of the typical foods found in Medellín.  There are several stories around the origin of this rich paisa meal; some say it was a result of several restaurants that decided to put the dish in its tray form and increase the protein. Others say that it comes from their ancestors. 

A little bit of history

It is said that due to long hours of labour, muleteers ate this dish daily. The dish contained a good dose of carbohydrates and protein which enabled the muleteers to maintain their energy throughout the day. History attributes this custom to the indigenous peoples; they grew more than 40 species of beans which they included in their daily diet, along with potatoes and cassava. 

The paisas often eat this famous tray, a typical dish of Medellín. Restaurants throughout the world, such as in Europe and the United States, also prepare this dish.

In Medillín, it is prepared in houses and restaurants, and is served in multiple ways. They vary between the official tray, the bean casserole and bean cream; in some places they add salad, beef, pork or chicken.

The dish’s traditional ingredients are red beans, rice, ripe banana, white corn arepa, hogao, fried egg, pork rind, chorizo, blood sausage, powdered beef and avocado.

Below is a list of restaurants in Medellín where you can eat a delicious paisa tray.
Mondongos, Hatoviejo, Sancho paisa las palmas, Hacienda, El Rancherito, El Aguacate,  3 typical, San Carbón, Asados ​​Doña Rosa, Asados ​​la 80, Cazuelas de mi tierra, Patria mia 

Arepas Paisas


One of the most typical dishes of Medellin are the arepas. This food is famous in the region; an arepa necklace may be given as a welcome present to the city. They are part of the paisa gastronomy and are eaten with meals. Different varieties are made, such as roasted and fried ‘arepas’. Some are made with white corn, sweet chocolo corn, threshed corn, mote, and some are even stuffed. This variety of arepa is known for having different fillings of proteins, vegetables and cheese .

Here are some restaurants that serve arepas in Medellín:

Mi Arepa León Xlll Restaurant, My unicentro arepa, Los Chamos Venezuelan Arepas and something else, Guilli arepas, Mi arepa la 80,  J & C Delicias,  MAO food Stuffed Arepas, Que Arepa, D’Gusto Arepas Con Everything, Fast Food Las Gorditas Arepas Rellenas, L’arepa .


The fried patacón is flattened green plantain fried in vegetable oil. It is part of the traditional gastronomic culture of several Latin American countries. Of course, this is one of the typical dishes in Medellín. The patacón is served with different ingredients such as meat, vegetables and sauces.

Here is a list of patacón restaurants in Medellín:

Hernán Patacón, Patacones y Arepas Restaurant, ADJ Patacones, Patacones Y K’sk’ras, Patacones Gigantes Andres Patacón.

Breakfast with Calentado

The ‘calentado’ is a meal that is common in some Latin American countries and is part of the typical dishes of Medellín. It was created from the need to save groceries and avoid waste, so the leftover dinner meal was overheated for breakfast.

The ‘calentado’ is famous in the region of  Antioquia during breakfast. The main ingredients in this paisa meal are beans, rice and hogao (tomato and onion stew). Many people add eggs and arepa with meat and cheese and, with it, drink either a chocolate flavoured beverage or panela water. 

This paisa meal makes a great breakfast, with a hint of lunch.
This meal is made in both the homes and restaurants of Medellín, where it is possible to warm it up at any time. Although the main idea of this meal is to reheat food from the day before, many restaurants prepare it with freshly made ingredients.

Below is list of restaurants that serve this dish:
Breakfast Restaurant at 10, Tipico’s, Hacienda – Junin, Doados Rosa, El Rancherito, Sancho Paisa, CAZUELITAS.

Sanchoco Antioqueño

This meal is attributed to a fusion between the colonizers, slaves and peasants who lived in the region. It is prepared throughout Colombia. It is also popular in Latin America, where each region has its own characteristic ingredients. The ingredients are boiled for a while in a large pot with plenty of water.   

It is common in the Antioqueña region and in the city of Medellín to see this meal served on the streets as the main dish. If you have a party, you’ll probably have stew the next day. If you go for a walk, the big pot will be part of the luggage as the food packed may be stew.

In fact, they say that this meal has healing properties such as curing hangovers and fevers. The sanchoco is prepared with different ingredients such as potatoes, cassava, carrots, sweetcorn, green bananas, chicken, beef, coriander (cilantro) and onion.

Here are some restaurants to eat sancocho in Medellín:
Where Pompilio Restaurant, 3 Typical, El Rancherito, Where Darío Restaurant Bar, Barn El Sancocho, Mondongos, Viandas Andres, Triada, Asados ​​la 80, Hato Viejo.

Mondongo Paisa

This paisa meal is a soup made from cow’s guts (specifically the belly), slow-cooked with chicken or beef stock, coriander (cilantro) and many vegetables. The mondongo is part of the typical dishes of Medellín, and its origin dates back to Europe.
In Latin America they adopted this preparation and made it their own to add new ingredients.

Many people are wary about trying this particular soup, but are then positively surprised by it and even choose to have it again.

Restaurants to eat mondongo in Medellín:
Mondongos, Hato Viejo, Ajiacos and Mondongos, Three Typical, Asados ​​Familia Garcia, Mulata Creole bar grill.

Empanadas Paisas

Empanadas are sold from 5-star restaurants to stores in a Medellín neighbourhood. It is a typical  Medellín and Antioqueña meal made from wheat or corn dough that is kneaded into the shape of a circle. Different fillings are then put into the centre of the dough, which is then folded in half to create a crescent; they are fried in vegetable oil.
The fillings vary from the typical meat and potatoes to a bold patty of pork rinds. It is also served with a side of sweet and spicy chilli sauce.

Where to eat empanadas in Medellín:
Empanadas La 80, El Machetico, Q Empanada express, Empanadas De Tacon Alto, Empanadas and more, Empanadas del Poblado Restaurant, Empanadas Krokantes, Empanadas ANTIOQUEÑAS and more delicacies 

Guarapa Paisa

This natural energy drink is typical in the city of Medellín and the Antioquia region; it is juice extracted from the sugarcane. Family homes and restaurants serve this drink either hot or cold with lemon. The guarapo was created as an economical form of hydration, providing energy for daily work.

Many tourists try to consume the guarapo in the city; this drink, sold on the streets, is a part of the daily life of Medillín. FUrthermore, this drink is on the menu of most restaurants.

Where to have guarapo in Medellín:
Mondongos, Hato Viejo, Ajiacos and Mondongos, Three Typical, Asados ​​Familia Garcia, Mulata Creole bar grill. 

Antioqueño Tamal

This dish is made in large pots to be sold in the streets of Medellín due to its popularity. Throughout Colombia, variations of tamale are eaten especially in the Antioquia region.
It is made from cooked and ground threshed white corn, coloured saffron and is stuffed with pork, bacon, potatoes and a mixture of vegetables.  It is then wrapped in banana or bijao leaves.
These are especially popular for family gatherings and walks; it is also shared between friends.

Where to eat tamal paisa:
Mr. Tamal, Exquisite Tamales – Oviedo, Max Tamal, Tamales Deligia, Amales JH Delicias,  Tamales 1A.

Typical Fruits in Medellín

In Antioquia, the villages grow different fruits in large quantities. They are exported to different cities in Colombia and also abroad to countries such as the United States and Europe.
Surveys and research in the state that Colombia is where most fruits are eaten as snacks in Latin America. Fruits are easy to snack on if they are everywhere at a very affordable price. 

The most popular fruits are bananas, tomatoes, blackberries, soursops, guavas, quito oranges, pineapples, avocados, passion fruits. 

Places to eat fruit in Medellín:
Fruit Gate, Fruits and more, Fruits and ice cream, Crops, La Juicy, Icomer, Mundo Verde Unicentro, La plaza de flores.

Brandy (liquor)

This typical liquor from Medellín began its peak as a remedy that cured fevers to just a bad cold. The medicine was so good that a French doctor ‘baptised’ it as the water of life; this doctor said that the brandy was able to prolong life.
In Antioquia and Medellín it is used to liven up parties and meetings. Some may also drink it either before or after a meal.

The brandy, an alcoholic beverage obtained through distillation, is produced in many parts of the world. The ingredients vary from fruits, vegetables and grains.

The typical Medellín brandy is made with extra pure alcohols, natural anise essence, high purity refined sugar and distilled water. All these ingredients form the flavour of the spirit.

Places to drink aguardiente in Medellín:
Hatoviejo, Oye bonita, Fonda la hacienda, La Ruana de Juana, Dulce Jesús Mio, Palmahia, Sanpues, Blessed be, Long live 


To be able to start talking about the most delicious sweets and desserts of the Antioquia region, the queen of the ingredients must be mentioned – panela. Colombia is the second biggest producer of panela, and the largest consumer of it in the world.

Panela is unrefined whole cane sugar and is produced in many parts of Colombia. In the Antioqueña region, more than 15 municipalities are dedicated to growing the panelara cane. They have carried this tradition for years and families now still dedicate their lives to the production of panela.

There are also large-scale companies that produce this ingredient. However, in Antioquia, panela manufacturing is still handled by the rural people who make it in the sugar mills.

Typical Medellín Sweets

Sweets are also part of the Antioquia cuisine. Some are made from fruits, milk and even rice.

Figs with Dulce de Leche (Brevas con Arequipe)

Famous for its large calorie intake, it was used for sport competitions and to cure fever. It was recommended by the Egyptians who made drawings to show its consumption and importance. In Antioquia the fig is farmed and used to make sweets. The fruit is one of those used in the typical Medellín desserts. 

Blackberry Sweet (Dulce de Moras)

Being the region that grows blackberries, the fruit is widely used in different preparations; a soft blackberry sweet is one of them. It is usually eaten alone. Some people put it on foods such as soda crackers, milk or jelly desserts. It is so popular that they have made it a typical Medellín dish.

Sweet Tree Tomato

This tomato is prepared in different ways. It is abundant in the paisa region and has become a typical sweet. In the houses of yesteryear, where grandmothers prepare them to bring delight to the family, the sweet is appreciated. In fact, many houses grow the tree tomato in their gardens (backyards) in Medellín; it is also very economical. 


Solteritas, meaning ‘single girls’, is another typical Medellín dessert dish. It consists of a wheat flour cookie which is prepared with orange colouring. A delicious cream is spread on top of the cookie. There are also people who add another layer of condensed milk on top. 

Guava Helmets (Cascos de Guayaba)

This fruit is loved, for its flavour and variety of colour, so much in Colombia that a pear shaped guava was produced. It is rich in vitamins and antioxidants and also protects the body from the effects of ageing. Guava helmets are a typical dessert and is made at home or in restaurants. 

Dulce de Leche Cortada (Miguelucho)

This delicious and traditional sweet dish of Medellín is a great opportunity to remember the flavour of yesteryear; the flavour of our grandmother’s homemade desserts. It consists of curdled milk, panela and a lemon.

Log Jelly (gelatina de pata) 

This is prepared with the leg of a cow cooked in water until soft, removing all the fat, and cooked again in milk. Panela is then added along with some aromatic spices to highlight the flavours; it is then put in moulds.
There are two types of jelly – the black jelly and white jelly. The white jelly varies during its preparation; it goes through a mixing process until a whitish hue is formed and is sprinkled with cornstarch. Without a doubt, both are equally delicious and nutritious. In addition, it strengthens joints, tendons, muscles and it is high in collagen.
It become more famous day by day and has gone from being a simple sweet to a super dessert.

Places to eat sweets and desserts:
Dulce Contigo, Confectionery Astor, Sweet tradition, Astor, Santa Elena Bakery, Like Fish in the Water Dessert Workshop, The Chocolate House  


Translated from ‘Gastronomia y Platos Tipicos de Medellín

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