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An Adventurer’s Guide to Cartagena: What to Eat

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Part 2 of 3

Cartagena is a foodie’s paradise (or really, anyone who enjoys eating) and it is as affordable as it is delicious.

Seafood is the city’s speciality (Ceviche is the iconic dish) but really you can’t go wrong whatever you eat. Cartagena’s food is a fusion of flavours from Colombia, the Caribbean, Europe and beyond, and some of the best chefs in the world have restaurants here. 

Fair warning, some of my recommendations don’t quite fit the student budget as I decided that I wanted to splurge and try a few of the best restaurants in the city while I was there - but fear not, you can also get fantastic meals in Cartagena for less than a fiver!

Breakfast

Cartagena takes breakfast/brunch to a whole new level and it is all amazingly affordable. My favourite places were: 

  • Crepes and Waffles: home to the best ice cream I ever had and a menu that goes for days, I ended up going twice because I loved it so much, also great for lunch.

  • Café Epoca: come to this chic little café with a big appetite for delicious pancakes, omelettes, and the best Colombian coffee in the city.  
  • Beiyu: this adorable gem in Getsemani has the most amazing acai bowls, sandwiches and more smoothies than you can imagine (plus coffee with the best latte art).
  • Mila: this historic, picturesque bakery hits the sweet tooth with amazing pancakes, brownies, juices and coffee.
Lunch

In the Colombian coastal heat lunch is a lifesaver, and there are so many great spots to quench your thirst and your rumbling stomach, from grab and go eateries to eclectic restaurants. Some of my favourites were:

  • El Bistro: historic Cartagena lunch spot with lots of character and classic Colombian food.
  • Marzola Parilla: This Argentinian restaurant is known for its meat and its crazy décor, the whole walls and ceiling covered in bottle caps and memorabilia.
  • Rosa Mezcal: quirky Mexican place with Frida Kahlo inspired pink décor, delicious tacos and refreshing frozen margaritas.
A few other lunch places that were recommended to me but I didn’t get a chance to visit are Cevicheria Chipi Chipi, Espiritu Santo and La Mulata.

Dinner

All of the lunch places I’ve recommended are really affordable, however, some of my dinner recommendations are definitely for treating yourself (I’ll mark the expensive ones with a star). Even though you might be tempted to eat your fill at breakfast and lunch, save your appetite for dinner to experience taste sensations like you’ve never imagined. Here are my favourites:

  • 1621*: Without a doubt the nicest place I ate at, 1621 is the crème de la crème of Colombian eating. Situated inside a classic Colonial mansion, you can eat meals that are more like works of art in the romantic garden Courtyard served by waiters in tuxedos and gloves. I justified it to myself because in London my meal would’ve cost 5 times as much, and while your wallet might not thank you your stomach will.
  • Carmen*: This was arguably my favourite meal of my whole trip, and easily some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. This chic modern restaurant prepares Colombian delicacies with a modern twist and has unforgettable cocktails.

  • Malagana: This hidden gem in Getsemani has the cutest rooftop where you can enjoy fresh-made cocktails and amazing Colombian-meets-comfort food while you listen to the bustle of the streets below.
  • Cuba 1940: The food at this Cuban restaurant doesn’t quite live up to the ones I’ve already mentioned, but it makes the list because of their incredible mojitos (house speciality), the pool in the middle of the restaurant with overhanging plants and their great live music.

This is just a small taste (hehe) of the many places you can eat in Cartagena, and when you are wandering the city there is nothing better than an arepa or cup of fresh fruit from one of the many street vendors.

Gelateria Paradiso is the best ice cream in the city and the perfect treat in Cartagena’s humid hot weather. They make all their ice cream every day on-site and they have been featured in Conde Nast and visited by Barack Obama himself! Café del Mar, located on the historic city wall, is the best place to relax with a drink and watch Cartagena’s dramatic sunsets, but get there early because it is very popular and often fills up before sunset.

If you’re looking for good bars and cocktail places check out: Bar del Sur, Alquimico, Sunset gastro lounge and La Jugada.

Keep an eye out for the last part of the “Adventurer’s Guide to Cartagena”: Where to explore!




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