There are several options for food in Cartagena, ranging from local cuisine to Peruvian to sushi. You can pretty much find what you’re looking for in this city as far as food goes. On my several trips to Cartagena, I’ve tried restaurants in Getsemaní, the old town, and Bocagrande. I’ve made return visits to many of them.
At Malagane, we had a very light meal starting with an octopus and bacon appetizer which was excellent. For my main course, I had a chicken Caesar wrap and mango juice in milk. For the two of us, we paid COP$66,000. On my second visit, I had a salad and Marisol had a club sandwich. With drinks and tip, it was COP$58,000.
Next, we ate at Saint Roque. It’s an Indonesian restaurant – the only one in Colombia – run by a man from Holland who has been living in Colombia since 2006. The restaurant benefits Fundación La Vecina, which aids underprivileged children in Cartagena. Saint Roque is open for dinner every day except Sundays.
Besides being for a good cause, they also have amazing food. We tried the chicken saté in spicy peanut sauce as a starter. I had the chicken in black bean sauce while my cousin Anna had the vegetarian meal in peanut sauce. Everything was incredibly good. It was one of the tastiest meals I had eaten in a long time. On my visit with Marisol, we had the special menu which included two meat dishes and a vegetarian dish along with a complimentary bottle of wine. This was an amazing deal and the food was once again incredible. It cost COP$135,000 after tip.
Con-fussion is a fusion restaurant right next to the church in Getsemaní. It’s a quirky place with a couple of rooftop terraces, good service, and decent food. I tried the orange chicken and enjoyed it.
Café de la Trinidad
Café de la Trinidad is located next to the church in Getsemaní. They have outdoor seating that is usually packed on an evening during the weekend. They have pizza, pasta, and sandwiches. I had a pizza on my first visit and a pasta dish on my second. Marisol had a sandwich which was huge. The food is decent and reasonably priced. We paid COP$42,000 after drinks and tip.
La Casa de Socorro
La Casa de Socorro was terribly overpriced for what we got. Both Marisol and I had ceviche and cherry lemonade. The portion was much tinier than we expected for the price. It was COP$98,000 after tip. Avoid it.
We took a group of tourists to Mistura for dinner one night. It quickly became my top choice for dinner in the entire city of Cartagena. The friendly service and comfortable atmosphere made for a great start to the evening, and our mouthwatering appetizers of grilled octopus, ceviche, and sushi got us excited for our main courses.
I had a spicy seafood rice dish while our guide, Carlos, had pan seared salmon. It was an unforgettable experience and easily became a staple of any trip to Cartagena.
Grecia Café y Suvlaki
Grecia Café y Suvlaki is a small Greek restaurant located in El Centro. After not tasting any Greek food in nearly a year, it was exactly what I needed! I went with Marisol for her first Greek culinary experience. We split a Greek salad and an order of souvlaki with tzatziki and fries. It was as authentic as it gets. The feta, which is very difficult to find in Colombia, was the real deal.
We also had a chance to speak to the owner. He was very surprised when I spoke to him in Greek and he treated us to a couple beers. In the end, it was a very reasonable COP$38,000 for a very delicious meal. I ended up going back with my father and his wife on my next trip.
Juan del Mar
Juan del Mar is located in San Diego and serves excellent seafood. I had the grouper with tabbouleh and it melted in my mouth. The ceviche is also worth a try. It is quite expensive, however. For three people, we paid nearly COP$300,000 after tip.
Condé is a restaurant in the old town that was recommended by our hotel. They specialize in 100% Cartagenan food. Servers wear colonial outfits and the dining room is in a beautiful setting. About once an hour, a traditional dance performance took place. Everything on the menu sounds phenomenal, and the presentation of the food was incredible, but I was a bit disappointed in my main meal. I had the grouper but I could tell it wasn’t fresh and it was a bit overcooked. The rest of the meal was excellent. I tried the cheese soup and ceviche and enjoyed both very much, as well as my dessert, a cake called pionono drenched in coconut milk and topped with cinnamon. A dinner for three including a bottle of Malbec cost us COP$450,000 after tip.
One restaurant I would avoid is San Valentín in the old town. It was good but overpriced and very geared towards tourists. I had the Langostinos Caribeños (Caribbean Shrimp). I paid COP$38,000 and got a tiny portion.
Bidding itself as a Peruvian restaurant, I decided to stop in for a reasonably priced “ejecutivo” plate for dinner. I had grilled chicken and a lemonade for COP$15,000. It tasted fine, but they originally brought me a plate of fried fish which I never ordered, and had to wait another 15 minutes for the chicken.
If you’re craving gelato, this is the place. It’s a bit pricy at COP$9,000 for two scoops (as of July 2017), but you’ll forget all about that once the flavor hits your taste buds. There were about 20 flavors to choose from, and I went for lulo and mango.
This café served soups and sandwiches at reasonable prices. Service was friendly and the atmosphere was cozy. I had a French onion soup. It wasn’t perfect but it hit the spot.
Hard Rock Café
I have to admit, I was craving a burger and a shake and hit up the Hard Rock Café. It was great comfort food.
Nassar is a Lebanese restaurant that opened in late 2016. It’s owned by a friendly man that makes sure you’re enjoying your meal. It’s located on a side street in Bocagrande.
I visited twice and both times had the bandeja mixta árabe, which included an assortment of excellent goodies, including tabbouleh, kibbe, hummus, a chicken kebab, and stuffed cabbage leaves. I finished it off with a coconut lemonade. It cost me COP$40,000 after tip (as of July 2017).
Craving Chinese food, I walked into this restaurant for lunch not expecting much and to my surprise I found almost every table full. That was a good sign. I ordered the vegetable chow mein which was served very quickly. It was a lot of vegetables and not many noodles, but it was delicious. I paid COP$23,000 for my meal, a Coke, and tip (as of July 2017).
This festively decorated Mexican restaurant had a good assortment of fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, and burritos, but it was missing any type of seafood on the menu. I happily would have ordered shrimp fajitas, but settled on enchiladas mixtas (beef, chicken, and pork). They didn’t have pork (they asked me to wait 20 minutes so they could run out and get some), so I went with a beef burrito instead. It was good, but I’ve definitely had better. With a drink and tip, I paid COP$36,000.
Street food in Cartagena is worth trying as well. You’ll find several people selling fresh fruit (but it seems to be terribly overpriced). Try mango con sal y limón (mango with salt and lime). You’ll also come by street meat in Getsemaní and arepa con queso in the old town, especially at Parque de Bolívar. Worth a shot!