There are several very good restaurants to choose from in Santa Marta. On each of my trips there, I had a hard time deciding where to eat, whether to stick with favorites or to try new places. There are many choices such as traditional Colombian food, seafood, burgers, Mediterranean, pizza, and pasta.
One of our favorite meals was at a trendy restaurant and French bakery called La Canoa. It’s set inside a house with interesting photography on the walls. For a starter, we had Bruschetta del Mar (bruschetta with shrimp and guacamole). I had the Panini Cyrano (chicken, cheese, tomato, and avocado) and a mixed mango and maracuyá juice. Anna had the Panini Vegeteriano. Everything was excellent. Too bad we didn’t have room to try some of the fresh pastries.
Lulo is a restaurant that specializes in a unique twist on the Colombian staple, the arepa. Marisol and I started with a ceviche dish and each had an arepa. I had Lula Marina arepa (ceviche, mango, and avocado) while she had the Lulita arepa (chicken filet and tropical salad). We each had a smoothie. The food was excellent and reasonably priced. It’s well worth a visit. In addition to arepas, there are several paninis and wraps on the menu.
While the daytime is relatively sleepy, Santa Marta’s historic city center comes alive at night. Around Parque de Los Novios, there are several restaurants and bars, some with seating outside under a large tree. Calle 19, a pedestrianized street that leads to it, also has several restaurants and bars. Most of the restaurants we tried were located on Parque de Los Novios.
For an early and cheap breakfast, we ate at Mi Oficina, just a block from the park. Scrambled eggs and orange juice were only COP$6,000. A bar on Parque de Los Novios with the same name had great milkshakes. I tried the maracuyá (passionfruit) while my cousin Anna had the Oreo milkshake. They make decent mojitos as well.
Hemingway is a restaurant with a rooftop terrace overlooking Parque de Los Novios. While the setting and service were nice, the food was disappointing. We started with the Tomates Caprese (tomato, mozzarella, and basil) and Ceviche Pescado (Fish Ceviche). Those were good, but it was downhill from there. My main meal, Camarones a la Diabla (spicy shrimp served over a bed of mashed potatoes) came out cold and was lacking the flavor I had expected. Anna had a pasta with pesto sauce. The pasta was a little overcooked. Maybe they were having an off night, but at the very least the terrace is a great place to enjoy some drinks.
A Greek and Mediterranean restaurant called Ouzo is located at Parque de Los Novios. The interior is decorated with whitewashed walls and flower boxes giving a visitor the feeling of being on a Greek island. There is also outdoor seating. The service is good and the food is delicious, but many of the menu items marked as authentic Greek specialties were not authentic at all. However, the menu is full of creative dishes that are worth a try.
We had the Midia Saganaki (mussels) as a starter and the Keftedes (meatballs – the closest authentic Greek dish on the menu) as a main course. Marisol had the gyros, which was good but definitely a different style than what I’m used to. Also, if you’re looking to drink ouzo, it’s surprisingly not on the menu.
The best meal hands down was at a fish restaurant on Parque de Los Novios called Donde Chucho, which also has a branch in El Rodadero. We sat outside on the park and really enjoyed every minute of this meal. If you try one seafood restaurant in Santa Marta, make sure it’s Donde Chucho. On my first visit, I started off with French Onion Soup and had Salmón al Ajillo (Garlic Salmon) as my main course. Anna had the Róbalo (whitefish). Both of our meals were phenomenal.
On my second trip with Marisol, I had the lobster and she had the Cazuela de Mariscos. The lobster was a bit disappointing, so I would stick to the fish.