Cartagena's best local food is sampled in the hidden restaurants tucked away along small side streets. Anny Wooldridge knows 7 of the best spots around to feast on the tastiest food in the city.
Colombians have been keeping Cartagena quiet for a long time and this has meant that the city's history, culture and delicious restaurants have been denied the praise they deserve. However, Colombia is now gaining recognition all over the world for its cuisine, and Cartagena is no different. This gem on the Caribbean coast is home to some of the best restaurants in the country and many use freshly caught fish, and local produce with a Caribbean-Colombian influence.
Cartagena has a good number of five star restaurants and popular tourist restaurants, but there are also a lot of local family-run restaurants that serve equally delicious cuisine in a homely environment. Read on to discover seven of them.
1. La Cocina de Pepina
Credit: La Cocina de Pepina Facebook
La Cocina de Pepina is a family-run restaurant located in the Getsemani neighbourhood of the city. This small, simple and traditional Colombian restaurant is hidden down a small side street but it’s worth finding. Often the owners will be around taking orders or helping within the restaurant that serves a delicious fusion of Colombian and Caribbean cuisines through the use of freshly caught seafood as well as meats and delicious soups.
Location: Calle 25 #10b-6, Cartagena, Colombia
Top Tip: Try to make a booking as they only have between 7 and 10 tables.
2. Restaurant Donde Socorro
Done Socorro is a low-key restaurant located in the back of a building in the Getsemani neighbourhood, complete with a dining room and garden area. This restaurant is run by a local family and serves delicious food in a basic environment. They have a big traditional Colombian-Caribbean menu that's complete with a large variety of fresh seafood dishes, rice and fresh juices.
Location: Calle 25 #8b-112, Cartagena, Colombia
Top Tip: Portion sizes are large and dishes come with a variety of sides, so bring your appetite.
3. Cafe del Mural
Credit: Cafe Del Mural Facebook
Cafe del Mural is a locally run coffee shop and restaurant that specialises in coffee, but serves a small variety of foods. Located in a small and uniquely decorated building, this hidden gem serves some of the best coffee in the city, and uses a variety of brewing methods, as well as coffee varieties, from different regions of Colombia.
Location: Calle 29 #9-100, Cartagena, Colombia
Top Tip: Ask for a coffee tasting tour to discover and learn about Colombian coffee.
4. Di Silvio Trattoria
Credit: Di Silvio Trattoria Facebook
Di Silvio Trattoria is an Italian restaurant located in Getsemani. The restaurant provides a good homely atmosphere, fresh ingredients and personal service in a quiet plaza with tables inside and outside. The inside is decorated with traditional Colombian art which makes you feel right at home. The food is delicious and authentically Italian: from the preparation methods to the bread, everything is traditional.
Location: Carrera 9 #29-100, Cartagena, Colombia
Top Tip: The pizza and bruschetta are amazing.
5. Caffe Lunatico
Credit: Caffe Lunatico Facebook
Caffe Lunatico is a Catalan, tapas and Colombian restaurant serving a variety of products typical of Catalan-Colombian fusion. Caffe Lunatico prides itself on having fresh local ingredients. Everything from the burgers to the bread is freshly prepared in house. Caffe Lunatico provides a local, homely and authentic atmosphere as soon as you walk in the door; friendly and family run, it’s a great place to spend an evening or lunch time.
Location: Calle del Espiritu Santo 29-184, Cartagena, Colombia
Top Tip: Caffe Lunatico offers one of the best lunches in the city; for around $5 customers can get the Menu del Dia which includes a soup or starter, main course with fresh juice and a dessert or cup of coffee.
6. La Laguna Azul
La Laguna Azul is a hidden restaurant located in the Centro Commercial Getsemani. It's found under the stairs so it only has two or three tables. Don’t let the small random location disappoint you; the three chefs have previous experience working within five star restaurants in the city. The menu is simple with fresh seafood either served as a cocktail or as ceviche. This small eatery rivals the city's big famous restaurants with their flavours and dishes.
Location: Local 1C-37, Centro Comercial Getsemaní, Media Luna 8B #8B-74, Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
Top Tip: Try your seafood in a ceviche style as the portions are very generous and delicious.
7. La Vitrola
Credit: David Shankbone / Flickr (CC)
La Vitrola is a Cuban restaurant located in a historic building in the city. Everything about the restaurant is Cuban-inspired; the live Cuban music, and surf and turf style fresh food with Cuban flavours are the highlights. The food is delicious and unique, and the menu has a large variety of dishes for every taste. There's also a welcoming atmosphere made even better with traditional Cuban music (that's sometimes live) and occasionally a show.
Location: Calle Baloco #2-01, Cartagena, Colombia
Top Tip: Try the mojitos, they are freshly made and delicious.