June 2015

El Wist’Upiku, an institution of the Bolivian cooking

Many Bolivians know the Wist’Upiku restaurant. For over seventy years, the restaurant is a reference in matters of empanadas. The history of Wist’Upiku restaurant has crossing the generations.

By: Morgane Bret
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Avignon, France

Wist’Upiku fried pasteles de queso with api and tojorí
Photo: Wist’Upiku

Wist’Upiku created in 1939. José Solís and his wife Elisa Lanzarte have started selling empanadas rojas (Bolivian specialities). The name of the restaurant Wist’Upiku comes from José Solís nicknames. He fought in the Charco war and came back with an injury on his mouth because he received a burst of grenade. At Cochabamba the people gave the nickname Wist’Upiku which in Quechua means turned mouth. During the first twenty-five years of the restaurant, José cooked empanadas and his wife Elisa was serving people.

Wist’Upiku meat empanadas
Photo: Wist’Upiku

In 1995, José and Elisa grandchildren’s (Víctor, Wilson Gonzalo and Ana María) decided to take over the family business. They created a logo about Wist’Upiku and expanded the menu. The first restaurant opened in the same year in the Sucre Street in Cochabamba. Seventy-six years later they have thirtythree restaurants in Cochabamba, Santa-Cruz and the Bolivian capital La Paz. For Víctor, the grand-son has initiated this project, it was easy for expanded the menu. “Bolivia has a big gastronomic potential”. But the most popular empanada stay the first empanada created by his grandparents (red empanada with spicy).

Wist’Upiku empanadas
Photo: Wist’Upiku

Wist’Upiku has known a very important evolution since his creation. For Víctor this restaurant is famous for several reasons. “We are the pioneers in this type of empanada”.

Their grandmother Eliza was the creator of the rounded shape empanadas and through our 75 years the people has embraced their products and brand. For much of Bolivian, Wist’Upiku is “definitely the best” in this area, as Alison said. It became a real date to go eat empanada. For Roberto, Wist’Upiku has good products, and whenever I can I’ll eat it!”. For customers Wist’Upiku associating local product which is very important for Bolivian people and the memories about their food.

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