The best restaurants in Cartagena, Colombia in 2020
Cartagena de Indias has a rich array of options for food & drink, given it is the #1 tourist spot in Colombia, popular not only with local visitors from Colombia but also its fair share of backpackers and American holidaymakers – thanks to cheap return flights from the USA and frequent stops by Caribbean cruises. In this blog, we’ll cover what we consider the best restaurants in Cartagena’s walled city and the nearby barrio of Getsemaní, a slightly less polished, though increasingly popular area for tourists to stay in.
If you haven’t yet checked out our other guides to Cartagena de Indias and its surrounding beauties, get reading these!
First up, our top picks for the best restaurants in Cartagena’s walled city, the centro histórico. To be honest, there are so many quality food options here that it would be hard to go wrong – although you can quite easily wander a few doors down a street and find outrageously different prices, so keep an eye out based on your budget!
There is a small-group street food tour led by a local chef in Cartagena, which is perfect if you just can’t choose which dish to taste first. You’ll get a taste of 9 different delicacies, plus learn about the history of the city. You can book your place here!
Price Guide: $$
You’d do well to find a Colombia travel blog that doesn’t suggest La Cevicheria as one of the best restaurants in Cartagena’s walled city – but not without good reason. It is one of the top options in the old town of Cartagena to get some good quality fish with a nice vibe. There are plenty of other alternative options out there, but given the tradition of this place and the quality of food, the hype is justified. If you’ve never heard of ceviche before, it’s a delicious South American dish, originating from Peru, which involves ‘cooking’ raw seafood using not heat but lemon juice. In Colombia, ceviche usually involves shrimp smothered in tomato sauce. Image of La Cevicheria courtesy of Google Maps because we’re really rubbish at remembering to take photos (call ourselves travel bloggers?!).
Price Guide: $$
A great option for some typical Spanish tapas style food, with a local Caribbean twist, La Tapería is located on the outer road, facing the very walls of Cartagena’s walled city, and just a short walk from the Clock Tower area. This place has an incredibly intimate feel – mainly because of the fact it can only accommodate 3-4 parties at any one time. You may need to book or get in early with this one, but it is an entirely worthwhile dining experience in Cartagena’s old town. Don’t miss the sangría!
Price Guide: $$$
This is pretty posho, with a beautiful balcony on which to eat, unless you’d prefer to be in the swanky interior restaurant with the comfort of ice-cold aircon, of course. This is the kind of place couples come to get engaged – in fact, we saw two do just that in the same night. The food – mostly seafood – is gorgeous, all served by highly-professional waiters.
Cartagena Food Tour
Price guide: $$
Ok, so admittedly it’s not actually a restaurant, but certainly worth considering is the Cartagena food tour, which takes you on a 2 and a half hour whirlwind of traditional spots in the walled city to taste local foods (plus coffee & beer!) and chat to the chefs about how they’re made. Cartagena’s melting pot history means its food has influence from not only South America, but also Europe, Africa and the Middle East. You can book your place on this tasty tour here.
Where to eat in Getsemani, Cartagena’s hipster neighbourhood
Next, the best restaurants in Cartagena’s coolest barrio, Getsemani. This is an area that upon our first visit back in April 2018 was the more hipster and less touristic alternative to staying in the centro histórico of Cartagena, however with each of our 8 visits to the city, it has become more and more popular with the average holiday-maker. With that being said, it would still be our recommended part of the city to stay and has a wealth of options at a more affordable price range than restaurants in Cartagena’s walled city.
Sierpe Cocina Caribe
Price Guide: $$$
What can I say about Sierpe, this place oozes Caribbean vibes from the exceptional food to the attire of the staff – this offers you a great authentic experience at good value for the quality of the food. With a particularly good selection of fish, Sierpe is located just a couple of minutes walk from Plaza de la Santísima Trinidad (imagine you are walking towards the old town via the park).
Price Guide: $
A gem on the restaurant-heavy Calle 29, we love the budget, customisable quesadillas they offer at KTaquitos, so we end up going every time we visit Cartagena. The main pull is that you can grab a quesadilla to take away and enjoy it sat in the main square of Getsemaní, Plaza de la Santísima Trinidad, and be part of the bustling scene here of an evening. Towards the end of the week especially, this place is packed with as many performers and travellers as locals enjoying a beer or a cocktail while soaking in the laid back atmosphere of this vibrant square. Alternatively, there are a number of bars with outside areas on the square such as Solar Bar & Food, or several street vendors from which to grab a quick dinner, offering everything from meat skewers (aka street meat), burgers, hot dogs and arepas as meal options. Back to KTaquitos, though – these guys offer some very tasty and very reasonably priced options as a great way to kick off your night in Cartagena with a couple of beers (also available from street vendors).
Price Guide: $$
Demente probably goes down as our favourite spot to eat in Getsemaní. There’s two parts to this restaurant, a romantic feeling, low-lit tapas and cocktail bar when you first enter and a super open air terrace through the back of the restaurant, which has been built into the stone ruins of an old traditional house. The food here is incredible and the vibe is one of the coolest you’ll find in Getsemaní. Admittedly, most of our visits here have ended with us ordering one of the delicious pizzas handmade in their clay pizza oven in the terrace, but across the menu their food is excellent. There is also a really good selection of beers, with Colombian crafts from 3 Cordilleras, Bogotá Beer Company and many more available for a good price – a pint of BBC Septimazo IPA, for example, is around 16k COP at Demente, vs. 26k COP at Cartagena Craft Beer, just a couple of doors down.
If the best restaurants in Cartagena alone cannot convince you to get on that flight, let’s see if our vlog of what we did during our time in Cartagena and Isla Barú can sway you:
Got any other suggestions for the best restaurants in Cartagena’s walled city or Getsemani to add? Let us know in the comments!
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