7 Fusion Gourmet Restaurants in Bolivia You Can Afford
Cocina Popular Boliviana | Courtesy of Cocina Popular Boliviana
Budget-conscious travelers might not consider gourmet fusion cuisine as an obvious money saving option. Gourmet restaurants may seem like the exclusive domain of foodies who are willing to pay more for highly-valued, unique edible experiences. However, less-travelled countries such as Bolivia offer an exclusive exception, where a low cost of living brings these peculiar gastronomic experiments well into the reach of the average tourist. Starting at just $7 USD for a three-course meal, here are the finest fusion restaurants throughout the country’s premier culinary destinations, each as refreshingly affordable as the next.
Popular Cocina Boliviana
Restaurant, South American, $$$
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Popular Cocina Boliviana | Courtesy of Popular Cocina Boliviana
A newcomer to the La Paz gourmet fusion scene, Popular Cocina Boliviana have set up shop in the heart of the tourist district in order to showcase the country’s rich national cuisine to foreigners, oftentimes with unique updates. Inside this buzzing locale, everyday Bolivian dishes are expertly expanded upon, using a variety of international influences to create a unique rotating three-course set lunch menu which has garnered endless rave reviews. Just be sure to come early, as the place tends to have a queue of an hour or more (unheard in La Paz), partly due to the bargain basement price of just 50 BOB ($7 USD).
An old-time La Paz favorite, Pronto Delicatessen remains popular for its sophisticated Italian fusion cuisine served up in an intimate candle-lit ambiance. The works of surrealist master painter Salvador Dali adorn every wall, an indication of the experimental approach its talented chefs apply to their own culinary art. For an experimental assault on the senses, try their exotic curry infused penne pasta.
Not just your average taqueria, Cochabamba’s Mad Mex is famous for its mouthwatering selection of creative Mexican fusion fare. Adventurous diners may want to try their Cochinillo Picante (spicy pork) or Devuelvan el Mar (prawn, eggplant, and mango) tacos, the latter of which is a patriotic reference to the country’s long-lost coastline. For a decadent side, order the Roquefort quesadillas which go down a treat. Of course, there are plenty of more conventional options on the menu to keep the traditionalists happy as well.
Admittedly, Gustu is the most expensive restaurant in the country and not one all visitors will be able to afford. Nevertheless, bear in mind this award-winning fine-dining fusion affair is around five times cheaper than founder Claus Meyer’s flagship restaurant—Noma in Copenhagen—meaning its exquisite locally sourced tasting menu is a relative gastronomic bargain. But don’t take our word for it. Gustu has ranked as high as 14 on Latin America’s Best Restaurants list and has received critical acclaim from prestigious publications such as the New York Times and the Guardian since its opening in 2014.
Head chef and former Gustu alumni Sebastián Quiroga Quintanilla is the man behind this delectable vegan gourmet fusion restaurant, which offers experimental plant-based cuisine in a stylish atmosphere, among the streets of La Paz’ micro center. The name means “universe of plants” in the native Aymara language, a testament to the extraordinary range of locally sourced vegan ingredients the team whips up on their creative tasting menu.
Owned by presidential hopeful Samuel Doria Medina, this stylish Asian gourmet fusion eatery is a hit among Santa Cruz’ most affluent foodie socialites. Despite being a tad on the pricey side by local standards, it’s a steal compared to similar offerings back home. It’s located inside the city’s most upmarket hotel, so be sure to dress your best. A La Paz branch also offers similar quality cuisine and ambiance.
Drawing from Nikkei and Mediterranean influences, this funky Santa Cruz eatery has built a solid reputation for serving up the best fusion seafood in Bolivia and beyond. Creative ceviche and chicharron concoctions are the standout attraction, although the menu features plenty of other fine fruits of the sea to sample as well. Best of all, the bright and airy locale is refreshingly casual and the prices are extremely agreeable, considering the quality of the cuisine.