Arepas in Colombia

Arepas are a staple food in Colombia, like tortillas in Mexico. Here’s a pic of the grocery store’s arepa shelf:

arepa shelves

Arepas are basically cornmeal biscuits. There are different kinds, but they all derive from corn and they’re all shaped in a patty. They taste like a biscuit with less moisture and less flavor. They’re featured in my 3 Things You Don’t Have to Eat in Bogota. It’s impossible to visit Colombia and not eat arepas.

The arepa played a key role in my initial cognitive dissonance after moving to Colombia from Peru. The Colombian food is so awful compared to Peruvian food that for my first six weeks or so, I was on the verge of depression but had no means to go back. The arepa was the focus of my early displeasure with Colombian cuisine.

Arepa paisa

ppc arepasppc arepas 2carpet underlayThe most basic arepa is the paisa variety, the blandest, most flavorless of them all. Pure white foodstuff without any taste-bud stimulation whatsoever. I never eat these. I usually leave the little bag unopened on the table so it’s not wasted, but this time I needed a photo to show the insides.

Arepa antioqueña

arepa antioquenaarepa antioquena 2

The arepa antioqueña may be the same as the arepa paisa, but you can almost taste the corn. It’s sometimes served with butter. The arepa antioqueña comes with bandeja paisa and street foods. Alone, it’s worthless, but sometimes comes with criollo sauce, which is basically stewed tomatoes with oil.

Arepa boyacense


The boyacense variety, from Boyacá, is where arepas start to add flavor. Boyacenses are yellowish and taste sweet. There’s cheese inside but so little you can’t really taste it. They’re sweet like a dry muffin. The boyacense arepas can be moist if you get them fresh.

Arepa con queso

arepas rellenas de quesoarepa con quesoarepa con queso 2

The arepa with cheese is the best, most reliable arepa. It’s exactly as it sounds – the paisa antioqueña mix filled with mozzarella. I fry them in butter.

Arepa de huevo

arepa con huevoarepa con huevo 2

Arepas with egg are a street food variety. They form the patty with the arepa mix around a raw egg. Then they deep-fry it to cook both at the same time. It’s a deep-fried biscuit with egg inside. They’re OK with lots of ají. Very greasy.

Arepa con bocadillo y queso

arepa con queso bocadilloarepa bocadillo queso 2

Another fast food variety, this arepa is stuffed with cheese and guayaba jelly so it’s sweet and the sharp cheese is a contrast. I liked these for a few weeks but got burned out on the grease (they’re also fried).

Arepa de choclo / chocolo

arepa de chocoloarepa de chocolo 2

Choclo in Spanish means yellow corn, as opposed to white corn. Yellow corn is sweet. So the bread they make from choclo is sweet like cornbread. In Peru, they serve a similar food called pastel de choclo, or corn-cake. The Peruvian variety is thicker, not in patty form, and drier. The Colombian arepa de chocolo is in disc / patty / arepa form and filled with a slice of cheese. The arepa de chocolo is the most edible arepa in Colombia.




  1. Nice post!!! I still prefer the arepa con queso and the arepa boycense (or maiz pelao). Personally the arepa paisa for me is extremely simple. I like things with more flavour.


  2. Ok. So last time I was in Bogota, I went to this place right next to Parque Jaime Duque – aka poor man’s Disneyland — and they had the most AMAZING arepas ever. I dont know why they were so good, but they were incredible.




  4. Hi,

    I am putting a book together about my travels to Colombia (my father was from Medellin, my wife is a Barranquillera). Can I use some of arepa pictures from this site?


    R. Alexander


  5. Que desafortunada opinión de las arepas a mí me gustan todas, menos la paisa en la que concuerdo con el post porque son muy simples, yo tampoco las como, pero noto algo y es que casi todas tus referencias de la comida están basadas en restaurantes de Bogotá. Si bien te diría que las mejores comidas típicas salvo el ajiaco, las encuentras fuera de la capital, la arepa santandereana por ejemplo no es una sola hay tres tipos de arepa santandereana, la de maíz blanco que usualmente es rellena, la de maíz amarillo que usualmente se usa para empanadas y la de maíz pelado (que es parecida a la foto que pusiste) las cuales sin dudarlo son las mejores del país, seguidas de las costeñas.


  6. Could you please tell me what sancocho is or what sancocho’s are? I can’t find them anywhere in food from Colombia.
    Thanks, Linda


  7. Sancocho, is a delicious soup made of large ingredients.
    Potatoes cut in half if to large, yuca cut in 2 inch pieces, corn on the cod, plantains and a meat like beef or chicken also in large pieces.
    Depends on the region they are prepair with different spices,
    Please google for more information.


  8. ¿La arepa cundiboyacence dónde está? Es como la santandereana pero esta es blanca (sin manteca) es un poco dulce, mediana y con manchas negras pequeñas de quemaduras del sartén, los que la saben preparar hacen que ciertas partes queden crujientes.


  9. I went to Frisby’s chicken once and withstood the mile long queue only for when it got to my turn they gave me damn arepas with my fried chicken – I told them – fries por favor! I nearly seized up on the spot.

    I like that idea of clear honey on the chicken! That works well indeed!


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