Bolivian Restaurants

In the City of Alexandria and the surrounding area, there are several well-established Bolivian restaurants. Not only do these restaurants provide excellent food and service to the surrounding Alexandria community, but also they serve as meeting spaces for the local Bolivian American community, who–as noted by Tom Gjelten in A Nation of Nations, came to northern Virginia for economic and educational opportunities starting in the 1980s.[1] Yelp Reviews has compiled a list of the top 10 Bolivian restaurants in the Alexandria/Arlington area with Sibarita’s comes in at the top of the list as a family-style restaurant serving “Fresh, Healthy, and Delicious Traditional Bolivian Food.” The restaurant was opened by Bolivian immigrant and first time restaurateur Jorge Alberto and his sister, in Arlington in 2011.[2] Residents from all over Virginia and the Washington Metropolitan Area have traveled to the family owned restaurant. Customers have raved about the wonderful service and delicious food, with one customer leaving a 5-star review saying, “The best Bolivian restaurant ever. Delicious, authentic food. Great service.”[3]

Sibarita's Restaurant [4]

“Sibarita’s Restaurant.” Courtesy of Falls Church News Press, Accessed November 9, 2016.

Pan American Bakery is also an Alexandria community favorite with their customers loving the restaurant’s famous salteñas. Pan American Bakery was started by Bolivian-born Genny DeFoor and her husband Romero in 2003. Their first location was near Columbia Pike in Arlington and the couple later opened another location in Alexandria in 2008.[4] One customer even said Pan American Bakery’s salteñas “have a special, unique place in my heart.”[5] The Washington Post included the Pan American Bakery as a must-stop place to eat in a 2007 article by Nancy Lewis, “Places to Eat That You Should Know About,” praising the restaurant’s salteñas, “a beef stew in a savory pie that is a Bolivian specialty.”[6] In addition to Pan American Bakery, neighboring Bolivian restaurant Pike Pizza also made Lewis’ article as well as the top 10 list on Yelp Reviews.

Pan American Bakery [6]

“Pan American Bakery.” Courtesy of Accessed November 9, 2016.

Salteñas from Pan American Bakery [9]

Salteñas from Pan American Bakery. Courtesy of Accessed November 9, 2016.

Pike Pizza is another Bolivian restaurant and once again is a community favorite. Family run and co-owned by Bolivian-native Guillermo Molina, this restaurant located on Columbia Pike in Arlington attracts Bolivian food lovers and those such as how one customer stated, “I don’t know the first thing about Bolivian food, but I do know this place serves some mean dishes.”[7] Other customers have praised the restaurants salteñas, “I recommend the salteñas to everyone I meet that wants to try some or are looking for some.”[8] Pike Pizza serves a variety of authentic Bolivian food which some customers felt “transported [them] back to South America.”[9] Tim Carman, a writer for the Washington City Paper, penned an article in December, 2008, dedicated to the delicious authentic Bolivian food served in the Alexandria/Arlington area, titled “Do You Bolivian Love?” In his article, Carman discussed how he visited El Pike (another name for Pike Bolivian Restaurant/Pike Pizza), but was disappointed as their ever-so-popular salteñas were sold out. He explained, “Not only is El Pike known for this braided, Bolivian equivalent of the empanada, but the savory pastry is also the national dish of the South American country.”[10] Carman went on to explain that although the restaurant is gaining popularity, it is not as well-known as the Ethiopian restaurants on Ninth Street in D.C. and Pickett Street and Duke Street in Alexandria, or the Vietnamese restaurants on Eden Center in Falls Church, VA, because Bolivian restaurants “don’t have a centralized location to draw patrons and repeated media attention.”[11] However, despite this fact, Bolivian restaurants spattered throughout Alexandria and Arlington are community favorites as they provide family-friendly environments, great service, and delicious, authentic food.

Sign Outside El Pike [15]

Sign Outside El Pike. From  Tim Carman’s “Do You Bolivian Love?” Washington City Paper, December 5, 2008. Accessed November 10, 2016

  1. Tom Gjelten, A Nation of Nations (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015): 20-27.
  2. Tim Carman, “In Bolivian Cuisine, Meat Matters,” The Washington Post, October 10, 2014.
  3. Sibarita Restaurant, “Reviews” Accessed November 9, 2016.
  4. “Pan American Bakery in Arlington,” The Washington Post, December 10, 2008.
  5. “Pan American Bakery,” Yelp Reviews, Accessed November 9, 2016.
  6. Nancy Lewis, “Places to Eat That You Should Know About,” The Washington Post, April 27, 2007.
  7. “Pan American Bakery,” digital image, Accessed November 9, 2016.
  8. “Pike Pizza,” Yelp Reviews, Accessed November 9, 2016.
  9. Marissa S., “Pike Pizza,” Yelp Review, Accessed November 9, 2016.
  10. Tim Carman, “Do You Bolivian Love?” Washington City Paper, December 5, 2008.
  11. Carman, “Do You Bolivian Love?”

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