Traveler: Danielle Gervalis
When: May 2017
Overall Culinary Experience: As we mentioned in Part I of our Cartagena post, it’s really, really hot there. Our strategy to combat the heat and keep our strength up was to make frequent food and drink stops at many of the air conditioned restaurants and bars. We hope you’ll also enjoy some of our favorite places.
Food and Drink:
Coffee Shops: Let me tell you about the coffee here, it’s superb. I’m not a coffee snob but I do appreciate a good cup of joe and Cartagena delivers. I brought some back and almost wept when the bag was empty…
- San Alberto – This is the coffee worth crying over. It’s amazing. People were audibly “oohing and awing” over their caffeinated beverages.
- Epoca – This trendy café is also a bar! There were quite a few people hanging out, working on laptops, as well as taking a break from the heat! I tried an espresso cocktail and it made me realize why four loko was banned.
- Prispri Coffee Shop – A Cartagenian expression meaning “to become refined”, this café is more than just coffee, it has an excellent cheap eats menu. I had the empanadas and some refreshing lemonade which was delightful.
El Baron: This is where I was introduced to the most magically refreshing drink in the world, Coconut Lemonade. It’s the perfect drink for the hot and sticky Colombian weather. This tiny bar/restaurant has a variety of specialty cocktails as well as midday snacks. Feeling hungry? We devoured the shrimp toast!
Cande: Brace yourself for dinner and a show! Not only is the food delicious, you also get treated to dramatic dance theater featuring talented dancers including one dressed as the “angel of death”, who may or may not sneak up behind you and scare you while you are enjoying an appetizer! This place is rated one of the best restaurants in the city, and it lives up to its reputation. To start, I tried the arepas with crab meat. For dinner, I had rice with seafood sweetened with coconut milk. Cande’s is reasonably priced, good portions and tasty Colombian food. You can’t go wrong with a meal here.
Carmen’s: This is the top rated restaurant in the city and the prices will reflect that demand. It has a beautifully designed interior as well as an open air courtyard that is pleasant to dine at in the evenings even with the heat. Since we wanted to try multiple dishes we dived into the tasting menu and were in culinary heaven. The courses were an exciting and creative combination of flavors between traditional Colombian food and modern twists. There were so many ingredients in each dish I swear it took the waiter at least three minutes to describe each. I highly recommend trying the tasting menu if you decide to check this restaurant out. Since it is very popular, you will need to make reservations in advance and specify if you want to sit inside.
Alquimico – One of the coolest bars I’ve ever visited. The cocktail menu is expert level mixology. They have a row of little vials and beakers to concoct the perfect drink! The bartenders are quick to start a conversation and will make suggestions based on your personal tastes. The ambiance in the bar is hip and modern, with a wide range of ages represented. There are multiple floors including an inviting rooftop with string lights, city views, and Colombian murals.
Pata Negra – The “Black Pig” is a swanky bar located within a beautiful hotel. You can walk around the courtyard area to check out the fountain and lush greenery. The bar itself is decorated with vintage liquor posters and the menu has appetizers, sandwiches, and a list of complex cocktails. Best of all, this place is cranking the A/C so enjoy a break from the sun here.
El Bistro – While this bar is open air, it does offer refuge from the sweltering weather. They have a few Colombian beers on tap as well as excellent tapas. We tried a cheese dish and a sausage plate, both hit the spot! It’s more on the dive bar side, if you are looking for a quick beer and snack it’s a nice place stop and get refreshed to continue touring!
College Charladero – This was our last stop before we hit the airport. Truth be told, we were joining for some coconut lemonade and this café was the closest to where we stayed, Hotel Alfiz. They had a decent breakfast menu and drinks to go.
Street Food – Keep some cash on you because you will want to try some of the incredible smelling food you will pass on the street. Arepas, fruits, coconuts, and kebabs! You can’t go wrong with any of these economical choices.