Paloquemao Market: meet the foodie’s paradise in Bogota
Local food at low prices in Paloquemao
When in Bogota, there are many places where you can find all of Colombian tasty food at very good prices. Nevertheless, if you’re a pretty adventurous traveler, you can try to make your own food with traditional Colombian ingredients. You may very well travel to the countryside of the Bogota savannah, as lovely as it is, but if you want to remain in the city and go for a mid-week cooking experience, there is no place better than the Paloquemao Plaza, the biggest and most diverse marketplace in all Bogota. It’s also one of the oldest markets in the city, as it was founded in 1948, and its motto is “all of Colombia in one place”. And they mean it.
Location: 19 street #25 – 04, near the Paloquemao Transmilenio station.
Open from Monday to Saturday, from 4:30 to 16:30 and Sundays and holidays from 5:00 to 14:30.
Regarded by the New York Times as one of the best places to see if you have 36 hours to spare in Bogota, the Paloquemao market is quite an experience for any foreigner. Here, you can find a wide range of items, from food and flowers to cleaning tools and toys. Coming for the first time or already familiar with Colombia, Paloquemao is a place you have to visit more than once. In fact, let’s take a tour by the many stands to see what Paloquemao has to offer.
Fruits and vegetables
In the central part of the market you can find the fruits and vegetables stands. Here the many tasty and healthy fruits from all over the country come together: guanabana, uchuva, lulo, cherimoya, arazá, maracuya or feijoa are just a little fraction of the huge amount of sweet fruits Colombia has to offer.
You can take the fruits home or ask the fruit vendors for some of the milk or ice juices. If you’re not feeling that risky, you can also find some of the more familiar fruits: pineapples, peaches, strawberries, coconuts, cherries, bananas and oranges, everything you want is easy to find here. Also, if you wish to live the full experience, make sure you try the borojo and crabs juice that is said to be aphrodisiac by the natives. True or not, it has been proven to have many antioxidants and vitamins, so give it a chance.
Handicrafts and kitchen implements
For those who accept the challenge of making their own Colombian home food, it’s very important to have the right kitchen implements, from pots and saucepans to cheese graters and knifes, everything you need to cook the meal of your dreams you find it in Paloquemao.
If there’s someone at home waiting for you to bring some souvenirs, Paloquemao is the baskets, candles and all kind of handicrafts. For those who want to taste some of the local flavors you can bring some coffee candies or Colombian chocolate. For you, who come here for the first time, try the local oatmeal with milk with some pandebono, it’s typical, different and delicious.
There are also some esoteric and herbal stands for those who want to experience Colombian mixed religious and pagan beliefs.
Meat and poultry
Most of the gastronomic offer in Colombia is made with meat: bandeja paisa, blood sausages, sancocho, mondongo, lechona, pork rind and typical roast are some of the most renown and demanded options in the Colombian culinary landscape. Here you may find them waiting to be made into home food, or in small restaurants, ready to eat.
For breakfast in Paloquemao you can have some tamales, made with rice, pork and chicken, usually served with chocolate. At lunch, some lechona, a whole pig filled with rice, pork meat and beans may please you. The most typical food from Bogota, however, is the ajiaco, a corn and potatoe soup with chicken and milk cream. Try it and you will love it.
Fish and seafood
Colombia is a country in-between two large bodies of water: the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Given that, the culinary expertise of the coastal inhabitants is remarkable, with some dishes made with unique fish and seafood. From the Pacific you have some of the most amazing preparations, including several dishes made with avocado, fish and spices. The fish sancocho, the Pacific version of the typicall soup, is good for your body and for your soul.
As tasty as its counterpart, the Caribbean food is outstanding: lobster, prawns or shrimps, as well as fish and coconut rice are simply exquisite. Perhaps more expensive than the Pacific food, it certainly is worth the price. In Paloquemao you can find some fine lobster tails for half the price everywhere else. Nevertheless, the dish you have to try is the seafood casserole, made with squid, shrimp, seashells and lobster. Called cazuela de mariscos by the locals, is as tasty as you can get.
One of the most lucrative and successful exports Colombia has are the flowers. Grown in all the Bogota savannah, the kind of flowers you’ll see at Paloquemao can only be found here. The most exotic and beautiful species Colombia has to offer are the orchids. Regarded as the national flower, they come in all shapes and colors. Sadly, the flowers are very delicate and sensitive, not suitable to travel far distances by plane or any other mean. However, if you’re staying in Bogota for a season, make sure you buy some fragrant flowers to enlighten your home.
Besides all the tasty, useful and curious things you can find in here, the one thing that makes Paloquemao extra special is definitively the amazing people behind it, peasants and merchants who work very hard from early in the morning, near dawn, to bring you, the public, some nice and fresh products, straight from the Colombian countryside. And even with all the hard work, they are eager to please you, always with a smile in their faces. Kind and often funny, Colombian people will delight you.
Ask for help, and they will do whatever it takes to make you fully accomplish what you need. Paloquemao is quite unique because of the multicultural, diverse and warm environment. People from all of Colombia gather here to work, sell and have some fun. As we said before, the Paloquemao motto “all of Colombia in one place” is more than just words.
Come to Paloqueao market, drink some oatmeal with milk and eat a pandebono, go around the stands asking for everything, have some lunch with chicken sancocho, seafood, ajiaco or pork, taste the exotic juices, smell the scented flowers… anyway, enjoy the Colombian culinary experience, where Paloquemao is indeed the foodie’s paradise in Bogota!
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