Earlier this year we embarked on a family trip to one of my dream destinations: Colombia. For the past few years I have only heard great things about the country. Also, the warmth of the Colombian people I’ve met through my travels have made me only more curious to visit. I reached out to them in order to research some of the best places to eat in Cartagena. This trip was not as exploratory: no going from landmark to landmark. We rather lounged, ate good food, and took in the sunshine Cartagena had to offer. Here are my picks:
Tuc Tuc, the creatively decorated restaurant at our hotel Tcherassi Hotel is a must for places to eat in Cartagena, whether or not you’re staying at the property. The delicious breakfast, open to non-guests as well has a small buffet and a’la carte menu options available. A must is their french toast with a coating of hard caramel. Delicious! Bonus: you can get Tuc Tuc’s lunch and dinner menu at their rooftop pool.
Tuk Tuk, Calle Plaza Fernández de Madrid, Cl. 38 #6-21, Cartagena
This restaurant came at the suggestion of several people I know who have visited the city frequently for business. This tiny restaurant, as the name implies, specializes in ceviche. Ceviche being one of my favorite dishes, I was in heaven with the many selections of fresh fish. Not a ceviche lover? There are also other menu items to choose from. Tip: get there early! They do not take reservations and there was a long wait by the time we were done with dinner around 7:30pm.
La Cevicheria, Cl. 39 #7 14, Cartagena
Restaurant Carmen came at the suggestion of a friend who visits Cartagena often and the concierge at Tcherassi. This restaurant scores high on both ambiance and food. We ate at the courtyard where a tree sits in the middle of the courtyard and we had a view of the bar and open kitchen. This was our favorite dining experience of the trip. We started our dinner with a ceviche (yes, I ate ceviche at every chance I had!) and finished with the pork belly braised in tamarind and palm sugar.
Calle 38 # 8-19, Calle del Santísimo, Cartagena
Although we didn’t get to have a full meal at Alma, we went for cocktails and dessert. We truly wished we had another night in Cartagena just to dine there. The stunning open dining room playing live salsa music opens the experience. We decided to go to their patio for the drinks. We had a deliciously airy meringue and passion fruit dessert that sadly I no longer see on the menu.
Restaurant Alma, Calle de la Universidad No. 36-44., Cartagena
Clemente is a recent add to the Cartagena dining scene, having opened early spring at the Sophia Hotel. The hotel is tapas style and merges flavors from across the globe, focusing on local and mediterranean influences. I still think of the mini arepas topped with grilled octopus. Their seared tuna with hummus is also a must. While at Sophia hotel, make sure you go to their rooftop for a drink, it offers some amazing views!
Clemente, Calle 32, de la Aduana, Cra. 45 #26c4, Cartagena
Places to Eat in Cartagena: The Verdict
This is a snapshot of places to eat in Cartagena, but there are dozens more I wish I could’ve tried! I only spent three days in this gorgeous city, but fell in love hard. The people, the food, the atmosphere, the architecture… Most of all, every restaurant we dined had great service. We dined with our daughter who was 4 months old at the time and every place we went to was so accommodating. In Latin America we say “el amor entra por la barriga”. That means, you fall in love though your stomach. That was how my love affair with Colombia began.