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Friday, May 30, 2014

Being Vegetarian in Bolivia – Dream or disaster?

Before I came to Bolivia; as a lifelong vegetarian, I was somewhat terrified. I foresaw a diet of papas fritas and little else. Oh how naive I was. Due to some poor culinary decisions, I managed to contract Salmonella, a throat infection and E. Coli in the space of two months. However, I have soldiered on through and lost a couple of pounds along the way. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In spite of how much every person rattles on about the ‘glorious’ Argentine steak houses of La Paz or the famous chicken of Mallasa, I offer meat-free alternatives. Read ahead and you will be Bolivin’ the vegetarian dream.

I present to you my top five favourite eateries in the realms of La Valle de La Luna and beyond. (All legitimate and I can guarantee that no illness occurred here!)


1.    Name: Restaurant Jalal 
Location: Calle Sigarnagaga, Witches Market, La Paz
Price: 40Bs for a vegetarian platter
Rating: 9/10
Review: Do not judge this book by its cover, it may look unassuming but this is something of a hidden gem if I ever saw one and the owner’s adorable child makes the experience even better.




2.    Name: Il Portico
Location: Avenida La Florida Numero 1, Jupapina between Mallaza and Huajchilla
Price: 40-60bs for a mouth-watering pizza, pasta or calzone
Rating: 8/10
Review: It was here that I probably ate the best Italian food I have ever eaten, and believe me – I have eaten a lot of pizzas in my time.





3.    Name: Paceña La Salteña
Location: Edifico Mcal. de Ayacucho, Sopocachi, La Paz
Price: 5.5 bs for a vegetarian salteña
Rating: 6/10
Review: The best things come in small packages and this little piece of heaven is not to be missed, especially if you are missing Greggs or another pasty-loving place in Britian.



4.    Name: Ken Chan
Location: Batallon Colorados, Numero 98. Esq.Federico Suazo, Plaza de La Estudiante, La Paz
Price: Around 55bs for a vegetarian sushi platterRating: 5/10

Review: There is not a huge amount of choice for veggies here, but that is by no means problematic as this sushi truly tantalizes the taste buds. 





5.    Name: Star of India
LocationCalle Cochabamba 170, La Paz
Price: 70-90bs if you go all out with poppadum, starters, curry, naan and rice
Rating: 5/10
Review:  After a long day, this was exactly what the doctor ordered, here they seriously know how to cook authentic Indian dishes, there is a great atmosphere and the spinach and paneer curry was to die for.





My final words of advice to any vegetarian visiting Bolivia, would be to always enquire if ‘tiene carne’ because I can count on both hands the amount of times I have informed the waiter/waitress that ‘soy vegetariana’ only to be asked if I want to eat some ‘pollo’…May this be your warning. I hope you enjoy your time in Bolivia and that you do not get ill like myself, and that my top five eateries make you as happy as they make me. 


Written by Laura Huff.

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