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The Bandeja Paisa is a typical Colombian dish from the region Antioquia and the Coffee Zone. The meal is characterized by an abundance of food, not only the variety of different ingredients but also by the quantity of the food. Translated from Spanish it loosely translates to ‘farmer’s tray’ - because of the sheer size it is often served on a tray. This generous dish is a reflection of paisas' attention, warm hospitality, and welcoming values, that are evidence of their interest in giving the best to their visitors.
Traditionally the Bandeja Paisa contains rice, Chicharrón (pork cracklings), avocado, minced meat, a fried egg, Chorizo sausage, fries, a platano, salad and tomato, blood sausage (morcilla), arepa and hogago (a hot salsa made from tomato and onions). With everything, you will be served the popular red beans from Antioquia. As you can imagine - all of this makes a giant meal!
In the different regions of Colombia, you will probably find many variations of the dish, adding new ingredients or replacing others.
Bandeja Paisa in the Restaurant La Gloria de Gloria
There are various stories regarding the origins of the dish. One version says that the people from the Paisa Region in Colombia just loved eating a lot of food - thus the great amount on the trays of the Bandeja Paisa.
Another story ascribes the origin to a restaurant owner from Bogotá, who organized a buffet of typical Antioquian cuisine. Seeing the guest putting a lot of different foods on their plates and enjoying it inspired him to create a dish with a plate big enough to fit all the different components.
Lastly, the Bandeja Paisa could be a development based on the typical ‘Seco’-Plates (stewed meat with rice).
Today, in nearly every Colombian restaurant with typical cuisine you can order a Bandeja Paisa. However, we would recommend trying the meal in Antioquia - where it is the most typical. In Medellín, we went to a great place and had Bandeja Paisa at the restaurant La Gloria de Gloria. The restaurant is in Envigado, actually a distinct town but today it is merged with the city of Medellín. The center of Envigado has a charming square with a church and a cute fountain. From there it is a ten-minute walk to the restaurant (take the road left of the church and follow it up).
Envigado square and church
On our visit there we were greeted by Doña Gloria herself. We went on a late afternoon during the week (around 3 pm) and we immediately got a table. On the inside, the restaurant is decorated with old pictures and the rustic interior gives it a homely vibe. We were quite hungry and our appetite must have shown on our faces, but Gloria declared: “Oh for you two you, better only order one plate!” She was so right, the portion they brought was giant and we weren’t able to finish all of the food (one Bandeja Paisa).
The first plate was a soup with vegetables and beef as well as some tasty arepas with hogao salsa. Then they brought out the huge tray with the rice, meats, and fritos. The Bandeja was so big, we had trouble taking a picture of the whole plate! It definitely is a special meal with a lot of different flavors and textures that will leave you feeling super satisfied. Here it really is a danger to overeat and fall into a food coma ;)
During our meal, the hostess sat outside with us and was chatting with passing neighbors. With all the locals coming by, you could really feel that the restaurant has been part of the local community for a long time!
At the end of our meal we were given a shot of Aguardiente, a Colombian traditional liquor, for “digesting” ;) And we packed the remaining food for later. The walk back to the main square of Envigado actually felt pretty nice after such a meal.
We hope our blog post has made you curious to try this special dish - the pictures look delicious, right? If you want to enjoy a typical Colombian lunch with a generous amount of food - just ask for a restaurant where they serve Bandeja Paisa!
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