Wining and Dining in La Paz

Posted: July 5, 2012 by Ben Weber in English
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While we were in La Paz, in between mountains and hiking, we had opportunities to explore and find a number of different restaurants, some of which we really enjoyed and others that… well, we just went the once. A quick word in that service is, in general, not like anything you will get in Sao Paulo, the UK or US – most places take an eternity to get the food to you, so you will most likely need a bit of patience… but it is normally worth the wait. For two people we usually paid between B$100-$150 (main course and drinks, and occasionally dessert), though you can eat for less if you need/want. Here is a quick overview of some places which stick out in the memory.

Thai Old Town

The first night after meeting with Caleb, Kirk and Augusto, we went to this Japanese/Thai/Indian place just off Sagarnaga. The waiter was a Bolivian who had lived in New York for goodness knows how long and had a strong Italian/American accent and wasn’t afraid to show it. Nice guy. We ordered a mix of food – I had a gentle Indian curry which was nice, while Natalia had Japanese food which she enjoyed. We didn’t go more than once, though this wasn’t because it was bad – indeed, we would recommend it to anyone who wants to try different foods in the city and it is worth going to. They accept card, but at the end of the night when we left, they preferred that we paid in cash.

Luna’s Restaurant Coffee Pub

This is a reasonable place on Sagarnaga and is also at the same place as an agency that organises Yungas Road bicycle trips, and there are plenty of gringos here. We went there three or four times – quite a nice vegetarian lasagna (b$55) – large portions though very heavy. Spag Bol is b$35. Natalia did come down with further stomach problems the night after going there the last time, though not sure if this was due to the previous bug she had resurfacing or if due to the food here; I was fine though I ordered and ate the same food as she did. The owner is pretty friendly.

Restaurant Layq’a

On the opposite side of the street to Luna’s is a more traditional Bolivian restaurant. The atmosphere and ambient are… strange, to say the least. There are large satanic-like paintings on the wall, one rather graphically showing a food orgy with demons stuffing food down the guest’s throat… The food is okay though quite small portions, and there is a complimentary salad bar. We were quite late eating (after 9pm) and this bar had depleted somewhat, though Augusto went another time in the afternoon and said it was much better. We didn’t go back more than once.

The Steak House

Most definitely for the tourist. Expensive meat place – quite nice though after living in Brazil for the last five years, it is nowhere near as good as a good Brazilian churrasco. They serve Argentine steak which I found a bit tasteless but not bad. If you order the Jack Daniels Steak (or “Mega Jack Daniels”) you get a big steak which they pour JD over and set alight in front of you which is pretty neat. The Mega Jack Daniels is 600 grams, so go with an empty stomach if you want this! When we were there it was a bit smokey as well, which wasn’t great. The waiters speak English well and can easily help with your order. Accepts card.

Sol y Luna

A Bolivian-Dutch Pub on Calle Murillo with the corner of Calle Cochabamba. Probably our favourite place with the best food, very comfortable and a good selection of beers. Reasonable service as well and quite an eclectic selection of music. The order we enjoyed the most was the Fillet Steak; the steak is great and the veg and sauce that comes with it are also fantastic. Went back a couple of times (and watched Germany-Greece there as well), bringing Augusto and Kirk on one occasion and I believe they liked it too. Definitely worth going to. Accepts credit card as well.

Banais

A very cool place at the bottom of Sagarnaga, near the San Francisco church. As you go in, there are Cholita skirts hanging from the ceiling, and further inside you can find these fantastic masks hanging on the wall. The sandwiches are great (The Banais Sandwich is superb with meat and avocado as well as mushrooms and onions), as are the soups (which come with garlic bread though may lack a little salt but this may depend on the chef at the time) and also the main courses are pretty nice. Accepts cards.

Others

Cafe Berlim

Mercado, 1377 (Central). Not a great place; very heavy food. Not great service either. Natalia really didn’t like it, so no we didn’t go more than once.

Hotel Torino

Calle Socabaya, 457. Great courtyard where the main tables are and there was a tango band playing when we came in (quite loud and they played Happy Birthday at least four times in the hour we were there). Buffet lunch which you pay a fixed price and have two or three choices of main course, along with a salad bar. Food is reasonable and it is worth a visit.

Alexander Coffee

Nice little cafe which has a great llama meat platter as well as a good selections for breakfast, coffees, desserts. There are a number of these cafes in the city (we went to one on Potosi 1091) and they have small stands at the airport. The Spinach and Cheese croissants are nice though slightly heavy. They did forget our orders once so we waited quite a while, but we wouldn’t hold this against them and would probably pop in if we were to pass the place if/when we go back.

The Ritz

Yes, I know…. how decadent of us to go to The Ritz (down near Calle Hermanos Manchego). Let me explain… this was for breakfast early in the morning when we got back from the Salar de Uyuni and the guest house we had booked in had nobody around to let us in, answer phone calls or… anything really. We were hungry and tired, and it just so happened that The Ritz was around the corner. The prices weren’t actually that bad at B$35 for the buffet breakfast, including juice and coffee. It was a nice hour or so we spent there in a pleasant environment. We didn’t go back for dinner or lunch, and the prices are probably much more expensive… but if you have the time and cash on you, it might be worth it.

* * * *

There are plenty of random restaurants you can find in the city of La Paz and we went to a load more than what’s detailed above. Just experiment and be adventurous… you will find some great places. As a side note, we also got Saltenas in the street – chicken ones and also beef ones. They are great! With the beef ones… a bit like steak and kidney pie with sweet pastry… strange at first but definitely morish. Generally you get them in the morning, though some places will serve later.

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