Updated on 02/20/2024
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!,
Breakfast, as one of the most important meals of the day, represents the culinary culture of a place, and in Colombia, it’s no exception. Explore the country’s most traditional and beloved breakfasts.
Typical Breakfasts in Colombia
Across Colombia’s six natural regions, breakfasts vary significantly due to climate and soil differences. Unique geographical conditions lead to distinct crops in each area, influencing regional traditional dishes.
Now, I’ll introduce you to the most popular typical breakfasts from each region in Colombia.
Breakfasts in the Andean Region
In every municipality and department of the Andean region, a variety of breakfasts is prepared, thanks to its proximity to the central mountain range, providing fertile soil.
The Andean region spans many departments, situated in high mountains or low valleys, creating diverse traditions and customs. For example, Boyacá preserves ancestral traditions from the Chibcha people, while Antioquia’s culture is a blend of Spanish, mestizo, Afro-descendant, and indigenous traditions.
Arepas are round, flat dough made from cornmeal and can be filled with cheese, egg, meat, avocado, or other preferred ingredients. There are various types like arepa de choclo, arepa blanca con queso, arepa paisa, arepa boyacense, arepa santandereana, and arepa de peto.
Learn more about arepas in our blog about street food in Colombia.
This soup is a typical Colombian preparation mainly consumed in the Andean region for breakfast. It’s a controversial dish—some love it, and others hate it.
Changua is a broth made with water and milk, seasoned with onions and cilantro. Eggs are added to cook in the broth, served with toast, bread, or almojábanas.
Caldo de costilla (Rib Broth)
This soup is typically made with beef ribs, potatoes, yucca, corn, and spices. It’s a hearty and comforting option for breakfast. Locally known as “levantamuertos” (or “wake-up-the-dead”, in English), it’s believed to help alleviate hangover effects and aid recovery.
Caldo de pajarilla (Pajarilla Broth)
Pajarilla broth is also representative of Colombian cuisine, made with the pajarilla or spleen, one of the cow’s organs. It’s accompanied by vegetables like carrots, peas, and potatoes. It may also include other organs like liver, heart, and kidneys, with cilantro as an optional addition.
Tamales are a traditional Colombian dish consumed nationwide. In the Andean region, they are made with corn dough and filled with pork, chicken, or vegetables like carrots and peas. They are wrapped in banana leaves before being steamed.
Around Colombia the preparation of tamales has diversified, so you can find tamales from Boyacá, Santander, Vallunos, Paisas, Santa Fe or Opitas, but the most popular is the one from Tolima. For breakfast, tamales are eaten with bread and chocolate.
Calentado, born in the Andean region, is a representative dish with a history dating back to ensure no leftovers.
Originally made with rice and beans with eggs, it has evolved to include additional ingredients like meat, ripe plantains, sausages, and pork cracklings.
Pandebonos and Almojábanas
These are cheese buns made with yucca dough or cornstarch.
Pandebono is more common in the Valle del Cauca, while almojábana is typical of the Andean region, originating in the municipality of Soacha.
Cooked oatmeal with milk and sweetened with sugar is a common breakfast option in the Andean region of Colombia.
A popular variation is Avena Cubana, prepared with whole milk, condensed milk, cornstarch, sugar, and cinnamon. Its name refers to the country of Cuba, however, the recipe is very typical of Colombia, born at the hands of a family business in the country.
Hot chocolate is a widely popular beverage in the Andean region of Colombia. It’s often served with fresh cheese or curd, which people melt into the hot drink to give it a unique flavor.
Colombia is known for its fresh fruit juices. Common breakfast choices include orange, soursop, mango, lulo, or other seasonal fruits. Orange juice is particularly popular and can be found in cafes or street stalls.
There’s also “salpicón,” a drink made with watermelon juice or powdered drink mix, with various cubed fruits added.
Colombia is one of the world’s largest coffee producers, making coffee a highly appreciated beverage. In the Andean region, it is served in many homes and restaurants as part of breakfast.
Coffee is not only consumed in the Andean region but also in other regions of Colombia.
Breakfasts in the Pacific Region
The Pacific region has a distinctive culture, with unique customs and activities compared to other regions of the country. This extends to their food, featuring exotic preparations and ingredients.
Pipián empanadas are a typical delight of the Pacific region, filled with a stew of meat, usually beef or pork.
Pipián is a mixture of potatoes, ground peanuts, onions, and achiote. They are typically served with peanut chili.
La Torta de Plátano Verde (Green Plantain Cake)
Green plantain cake is made by mashing green plantains and mixing them with cheese and other ingredients before cooking them in a pan.
This is one of the many ways plantains are consumed in the Pacific region, where they are a common food in the local diet.
Breakfast in the Chocó department is a dish with a variety of ingredients.
It includes fried plantains, either green or ripe, cheese, smoked longaniza sausage (a sausage with pieces of pork), yuca almojábanas, and ñame blanco arepas. It is typically accompanied by chocolate milk or borojó sorbet.
This breakfast is prepared in the Popayán department and consists of various dishes integrated into one.
It includes a cup of coffee with donuts, tamales, and pipián empanadas. It is a traditional dish in the region and is very popular in the city’s markets.
Arroz con coco (Coconut Rice)
This is a typical dish, especially consumed on the Pacific coast for breakfast and other meals. It consists of rice cooked with coconut milk, giving it a sweet and creamy flavor.
Sometimes, it is accompanied by other foods such as seafood, plantains, and proteins like meat and chicken. Coconut rice is also consumed in the Caribbean region.
Fish and Seafood
Since the Pacific region has a coast, it is common to enjoy fresh fish and seafood for breakfast. Grilled or coconut-sauce fish is a popular choice.
Its proximity to the sea allows for a wide variety of fish such as mojarra, catfish, bocachico, shrimp, etc., consumed fried, in stews, or soups.
Sancocho de pescado (Fish Stew)
Although more common for lunch, fish stew can also be an option for breakfast. It is a thick soup with fish, plantains, and yucca.
Breakfasts in the Caribbean Region
The Caribbean region showcases dishes that highlight the gastronomy of Colombia, and breakfasts are no exception. Given its coastal location, breakfasts here include some fish and seafood.
Arepas de huevo (Egg Arepas)
Egg arepas are a symbolic dish of the Caribbean coast. Despite originating in this area, they are consumed throughout Colombia.
They consist of corn arepas filled with whole eggs, then fried until golden and crispy. Sometimes, meat or seafood is added to make the preparation more exotic.
Bollos are one of the most common preparations in Caribbean breakfasts. They have indigenous origins and are currently made with various ingredients.
These are made from corn, plantain, sweet potato, or yucca and wrapped in plantain leaves or corn husks before boiling. They can be plain, without any other ingredient, or filled with cheese, meat, coconut, or even pork cracklings.
Carimañolas or yucca pastries are a popular preparation on the Caribbean coast, not only consumed there but also in other regions of Colombia.
These pastries are made from grated yucca or yucca dough and cheese, fried until golden. They are also filled with cheese, meat, chicken, or other ingredients according to the consumer’s taste.
Cayeye is one of the most coveted dishes in Caribbean breakfasts, originating from the banana-growing region of Magdalena.
It consists of a type of hominy made from green banana or plantain, boiled and mixed with other ingredients like butter and coastal whey. Being a versatile recipe, it is served with grated coastal cheese, “hogao” (tomato and onion stew seasoned), fried egg, or meat.
Breakfasts in the Orinoquía Region
The Eastern Plains region is also distinguished for its excellent gastronomy, with the particularity that some of its dishes are also typical in the country of Venezuela. This is due to their neighboring territories, resulting in a significant cultural exchange.
Hallacas are a dish native to Venezuela but are still consumed in some parts of the country, including the “llanera” region (from the Eastern Plains).
It is a tamale made of corn, similar to the Colombian tamale but square-shaped. It is filled with a stew of chicken, beef, or pork, olives, and pickles. The dough is wrapped in plantain leaves and cooked in a pot.
This soup is also a dish shared with Venezuela and can be consumed for both breakfast and lunch. Like rib broth, this soup is excellent for regaining energy in the morning.
Picadillo soup is prepared with diced beef or chicken accompanied by plantain, yucca, and pumpkin. It is also seasoned with cilantro for added flavor.
Tungos de plátano (Plantain Tungos)
Tungos are a preparation similar to “envueltos” consumed in the Andean region, but their main ingredient is ripe plantain.
These are a mixture of ripe plantain, panela (unrefined whole cane sugar), and butter, although some people add diced pork cracklings. Tungos are wrapped in plantain leaves and cooked in a pot or oven.
Cachapas are a type of corn arepa prepared in the Colombian plains and the neighboring country, Venezuela.
They are made from tender corn or corn on the cob, creating a thin tortilla similar to a crepe, which is then filled with cheese.
Coffee and Natural Juices
Coffee is a common beverage in Colombia and is served for breakfast along with natural juices from tropical fruits in the region, such as orange, pineapple, or soursop.
Some rural areas in Orinoquía may offer fresh locally produced milk as part of breakfast.
Breakfasts in the Amazon Region
The Colombian Amazon region is an area with an aboriginal culture and is home to many indigenous tribes.
Their diet is simple and based on the traditions of their ancestors.
In this region, fish is essential in the residents’ diet, and it is consumed in various ways, such as in broths.
Some types of fish used in these preparations are cachama, catfish, or cucha, accompanied by potatoes and cilantro.
Fried fish can be seen both in breakfast and lunch, as this protein source is important in the region’s preparations.
Fish types consumed include pirarucu and bocachico, usually served with “patacones” (flattened and fried plantains).
Yuca is a staple food in the region and can be consumed in various forms, such as boiled or fried yuca.
Like yuca, plantain is an essential source of carbohydrates and is consumed in various preparations, such as fried plantain or roasted plantain. It also accompanies many other dishes as a side dish.
The Colombian Amazon region is rich in tropical fruits such as soursop, aguaje, copoazú, arazá, açaí, and many others. These fresh fruits are an important part of breakfast.
Tapioca is a starch used in preparations and is extracted from the yuca root. It is used to make items like bread and other doughs consumed for breakfast.
It can be filled with sweet or savory ingredients according to personal preferences.
Coffee or Chicha
Coffee is a common beverage in Colombia and is also consumed in the Amazon region. In addition to coffee, some indigenous communities may prepare chicha, a fermented drink made from yuca or corn.
Breakfasts in the Insular Region
The cuisine in the insular region is a mix of African, English, Dutch, Spanish, and indigenous cultures that cohabitated in the past and had an influence on meal preparations, including breakfast. Therefore, some dishes are exotic and can only be found in this region of the country.
Fish and Seafood
As these islands are surrounded by waters rich in fish and seafood, it is common to enjoy fresh fish, lobsters, shrimp, and other seafood for breakfast.
Tropical fruits are abundant in the insular region, so fresh fruit juices like pineapple, soursop, mango, and passion fruit are common breakfast options.
This soup is a typical dish in the region and is also considered an aphrodisiac. It is prepared with red or black crabs and is accompanied by pork tail, flour tortillas, spices, and tubers such as potatoes and yams.
This dish can be appreciated at the Crab Festival held in the insular region.
These empanadas, also known as ‘Crab Patty,’ are characterized by their crab meat filling, which is not very common in the country. They are seasoned with onions, garlic, bell peppers, and are accompanied by homemade and indigenous sauces.
On the islands of Colombia, it is common to accompany breakfast with a cup of Colombian coffee.
Some famous restaurants for breakfast in Colombia
Many restaurants across the country specialize in offering breakfast in the most traditional way with 100% Colombian ingredients. These places are frequented by both local residents and foreign visitors looking for an authentic Colombian gastronomic experience. Some of these places are:
La Puerta Falsa – Bogotá
This historic restaurant is famous for being the oldest in the country. Among its preparations are tamales, hot chocolate, almojábanas, and other products. It is an iconic place in the center of Bogotá to enjoy a typical Colombian breakfast.
Casa Vieja – Bogotá
Casa Vieja is a landmark in the center of Bogotá and offers traditional Colombian food on its menu. They not only serve current dishes but also food from the time it opened over 50 years ago. Among their breakfasts, they serve dishes such as changua, tamales, arepas, and calentado.
El Rancherito – Medellín
This restaurant representing Antioquian tradition has been around for over 40 years and has branches throughout the department. It started as a wood-burning stove restaurant preparing typical regional dishes.
On their menu, you’ll find arepa paisa, calentado, eggs in different preparations, pastries like almojábanas and pandebonos, empanadas, among others.
Sancho Paisa – Medellín
Sancho Paisa has been operating since 1999, offering a gastronomic selection that is native to Colombian cuisine, especially from Medellín. For breakfast, they offer calentados accompanied by chorizo and morcilla, chicken pastries, empanadas, buñuelos with chocolate, etc.
Panaderías Kuty – Cali
This is a restaurant chain found throughout Colombia, with main branches in the city of Cali. It started as a traditional bakery that expanded over time throughout the country. They offer dishes such as calentados, eggs, empanadas, pandebonos, buñuelos, chocolate, and other meals.
El Rincón del Mar – Cartagena
If you’re on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, in Cartagena, this restaurant is famous for its breakfast with dishes based on fish and seafood.
More about Colombian culture
- Colombia’s 45 Best & Biggest Festivals in Detail
- Complete Colombian Slang Guide: Essential Words for Your Trip to Colombia
- The 7 Most Terrifying Legends of Colombia
- How Holy Week is Celebrated in Colombia: Unmissable Traditions and Places
- 31 Colombian Dishes and Food From All Regions You Should Try
More about Colombian culture.
- Everything You Should Know about Andean Culture.
- Everything You Should Know about Amazonian Culture.
- Everything You Should Know about Caribbean Culture.
- Everything You Should Know about Island Culture.
- Everything you should know about the Pacific Culture in Colombia.
- Everything you should know about the Orinoquia Culture in Colombia.