I was introduced to an unforgettable restaurant in La Paz the other day, called Diez78 Lounge and Grill. Located across the street from the Casa Grande Hotel on Calle 17 in Calacoto, its nondescript exterior could cause you to pass it by. Diez78 offers what is known as 'fusion food', a meld of European and Bolivian ingredients.
From the entrees to the main dishes to dessert, every platter served is an edible work of art. Some of the meals we tried while there in May 2011 included shrimp ceviche, beef and sausage entrees; llama, beef and goat steaks as the main courses served with sides that are difficult to describe (tunta soufflé anyone?) and ice cream for dessert. All of these were served with astonishing flair, decorated with herbs, fried rice noodles, strips of green onion, plates painted with sauces and colorful spices. A separate wine list includes a fine variety of Bolivian, Argentinean, and Chilean wines. You can also order fruit juices, bottled water, or soda.
Diez78 is a mid-sized restaurant located in what used to be a large house. It has two dining areas separated by a fireplace, which the waiter will light if you ask him to. A glass partition enables you to watch the chefs at work, meticulously hand-decorating each plate. The upstairs area is a lounge where you can enjoy an after dinner drink in an area spattered with sofas. Prices are very reasonable. Our party of four adults enjoyed entrees, main meals, dessert, juices, water and wine for Bs. 605 (about $85.00 dollars, and $36.00 of that was the cost of a the most expensive Bolivian wine on the menu which we thought a perfect accompaniment for the food). We enjoyed it so much we dined there three nights in a row. The first night the conversation centered around the food. We were so enraptured by our edible art that we completely forgot about anything else (it really is possible to talk about food for 3 straight hours in a place like this).
We?re told the owner, David Maldonado, is American-Ecuadorean. He was in the U.S. on the nights we enjoyed his restaurant, but we did ask to meet the chef (we were so happy with our meals we wanted to personally thank him) and were very shocked to be greeted by a very young man who told us he had studied at a culinary school in La Paz. We absolutely loved Diez78 and would highly recommend at least one visit while you're in La Paz. Now, now, no drooling!
Av. Ballivián 1078, Calacoto