Gustu – surprise for foodies in La Paz, Bolivia

We like food. Let me rephrase it, we ABSOLUTELY LOVE FOOD.
It’s tough when you are on a budget and traveling longterm but we simply can’t live on chicken almuerzo every day.
We have predicted this would happen and set aside a special budget for foodies. We’ve set up a goal of trying 1 awesome restaurant per country. It’s definitely easier doing in South America than in Europe as the prices are definitely friendlier.

In Gustu, you are getting Danish quality of service with the best Bolivian produce for half the price.
After reading on some guidelines on what to do and where to eat in La Paz, it turned out that the Best Female Chef of South America for 2016 is based in La Paz.
It was decided.
We were quite lucky as we made the booking online and the next day we were already sitting in teleferico on our way to get delighted.

Gustu degustation

Roll it like a cigarette

South American prices, European service

Gustu which is the Quechua word for flavour has opened back in 2012 as an extended branch of Danish restaurant Noma that we don’t need to introduce to any of the foodies of this world.
It has the sleek modern but welcoming design, open kitchen and for some lucky of you a table in the middle of the chaos (cooking area) where you can dine and see the action from close up.
From the first moment as we entered we felt like we weren’t in Bolivia, nor South America actually.
Everyone spoke perfect English, was attentive, full of smiles and super quirky.
Within 2 minutes we had the Manager of a restaurant talking us through the menu options and within 5min we were served our first drinks.

gustu quinoa

Colours of Quinoa

Gustu takes you on a trip around Bolivia

Everything on the menu including the drinks is Bolivian sourced.
Comparing to Astryd y Guston in Lima, Peru the prices were very friendly so we opted in for the Full degustation with Pairing. (We’ve said many times to ourselves we will not go for set menu anymore but yet again we talked ourselves into it ;))
Within few minutes they had us started with 8 snacks that included things like smoked ants from Amazonian jungle, dried leafs with chicken miso sauce, or dehydrated aubergine with wasabi mayonnaise and deconstructed dried tomato. Each of them have been served on a piece of stone/rock from Bolivian mountains.
Gin cocktail with carrot and local plant ruda was served with snacks. It was fabulous.
I’ve learned to skip cocktails lately as they have so much sugar and cause lot of headache for me but I couldn’t resist this one.

8 snacks have been followed by actual 10 courses that have been surprising, weird and freaking awesome at the same time.
The ones that truly stood out were raw llama, ceviche style alligator tail from Bolivian jungle and surprise surprise palm heart with balsamic banana vinegar. FOOD ORGASM.

Gustu aligator

Aligator with watermelon and strawberries

Why we loved it so much

Service was another reason we enjoyed our time at Gustu so much. When we mentioned we really liked a particular wine they gave us a second pour. When I said I wanted to start with a glass of wine and then go for the degustation menu, the manager poured me wine off the menu to not repeat the taste.
Alcohol pairing was generous, included 2 cocktails, beer and introduced us to Bolivian wine.
One brand of Bolivian wine truly stood out for us and we actually measured a trip to Cochabamba to meet the winemakers of Marquez de la Vina. It was worth it!

Absolute cherry on top was when the manager took us around the kitchen to meet the head chef, showed us the pastry production and their own little laboratory.
They made us feel special and brought the art of set menus back to our favourite past time activity.

Gustu lives by the philosophy: Improving the World through food.
For $80 USD/560BOB pp for 8 snacks and 10 courses, they certainly improved ours. (Alcohol pairing was $30 USD/195 BOB extra).

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