Cartagena with its colorful streets and colonial architecture is one of the most visited cities in Colombia. Given this popularity, there is no shortage of amazing places to eat and drink in Cartagena. From Colombian flair to fusion food, Cartagena has something for everyone! This post covers the best places to eat and drink in Cartagena, Colombia.
These restaurants are listed in the order I visited and not in any other order or rank. That being said all of these places are ranked within the top 40 of 1000+ restaurants and bars in Cartagena on TripAdvisor. Given these rankings, it is important to make reservations at these restaurants beforehand.
El Burlador Gastrobar
El Burlador is a Seafood, Mediterranean, Spanish, Gastropub located in the heart of the Walled City. The service here was great and the live music added to the atmosphere. I got a seafood paella type dish but instead of rice it was with a type of short noodle. It was so delicious and flavorful that I cleaned the entire dish.
Located at the beautiful Casa San Augustin Hotel, Alma offers a sophisticated dining experience. Everything I had at Alma was simply divine. I had 2 starters because I wanted to taste more than one dish. First was a lobster empanada. Empanadas are one of my absolute favorite things to eat and these did not disappoint. The other dish was a grilled octopus carpaccio with truffled potato cream, radish and bacon. This dish was hands down one of the best things I have EVER eaten. Every mouth was an explosion of flavor!
For dessert I had a chocolate cake which had elements and ingredient sourced from all over Colombia. I visited Alma again one hot afternoon and tried another one of their desserts. This time a tres leches cake with coconut ice cream.
Mar Y Zielo
Also located in the heart of the Walled City, this restaurant and rooftop cocktail bar offers contemporary Colombian dishes. I opted to sit at the rooftop which had a great view of the cathedral tower. I ordered 2 starters here which were both great.
Carmen is located in one of my favorite areas within the Walled City of Cartagena where you can find lots of brightly colored houses. The restaurant is in an old colonial style house. Stepping into Carmen you feel an immediate coolness at the first sight of the green central courtyard. Carmen offers contemporary cuisine with an emphasis on Colombian flavors.
I had two starters here as well. I like exploring starters at restaurants because it lets me taste a couple of different things without sticking to one big dish. One of the starters was seafood empanadas with shrimp, crab and lobster served with a soursop relish. I’m not new to soursop as a fruit but had never eaten it as a relish and it was SO SO good! The other was a spicy crab Asian style dish with Caribbean flavors. For dessert I had angel food cake with condensed milk ice cream, guava pudding and costal sour berry soup. Carmen also gave me a small starter and dessert on the house.
So I’ve been to Spain and had my fair share of tapas before, but the tapas at La Taparia were truly out of this world! The owner Chris, personally met me and accompanied me to the restaurant as I had a little trouble finding it as they had moved during the pandemic. Situated in a historic building, Chris explained to me that they cannot change much of the interior as it has to be preserved.
Chris’s wife is from Spain and she comes up with the menu based on what she finds in the market. I got the mixed tapas which comes with an empanada, a Spanish frittata and 4 open faced tapas which were all amazing!! Don’t forgot to order the delicious house sangria. I cannot recommend La Taparia enough! The food, service and atmosphere were outstanding and I am so glad I visited. You MUST visit this restaurant! Below is the correct address.
El Arsenal – The Rum Box
This best places to eat in Cartagena post would not be complete without including the number 1 restaurant and bar in Cartagena. The small, unassuming entrance leads you to simply delicious food and drinks. I got the sea bass in passion fruit sauce with creole mashed potatoes and a house salad and trust me, I had to exert full self-control not to lick the plate. Definitely a dish I will be thinking about for a long time.
Buena Vida Marisqueria
This restaurants serves Caribbean, Latin, Seafood and Colombian dishes. They have a restaurant and a rooftop bar. The restaurant has a main menu while the rooftop bar has a more tapas like menu with some dishes from the main menu. I opted to sit at the rooftop bar which had DJ music and a really nice vibe. For food I had a creamed corn and creole shrimp dish with local farmers cheese and avocado. So delicious!
Gran Inka Cartagena
The Gran Inka Restaurant is located at the Santa Catalina Hotel (where I stayed). I stepped in here for a late lunch was highly impressed with the food. I ordered a starter of flaming shrimp and calamari with vegetables and creole potatoes and the portion size was massive. The chocolate mouse dessert was simply heaven on earth!
Sierpe Cocina Caribe
Located on one of the prettiest streets in Getsemani, just outside of the Walled City, this restaurant has a nice family vibe. The Caribbean seafood dishes here are excellent. I got the fish empanadas and crab rice which is made to a typical Cartagena recipe of coconut rice and crab. So good!
The bars listed below are also in no particular order. One thing to note is that almost all of these bars also serve food as well.
Located at Plaza San Pedro Claver, this bar has seating inside or outside where you can enjoy the atmosphere of the square. The service was really great here! I ordered off the menu and they were able to make me the custom drink I wanted!
Alquimico is a must visit bar in Cartagena. This bar is popping all night long. In fact, there’s even a line to get in during busy times. Alquimico has 3 different levels where you can enjoy your drinks. The 1st and 2nd floor has a club like feeling where the 3rd floor rooftop is a little more chilled out.
La Jugada Club House Gastrobar
This bar is located right opposite Alquimico and also has multi-leveled seating including a rooftop. I found my all time favorite cocktail here!
Mirador Gastro Bar
Talk about a great location! This bar has a big roof top bar that faces the Clock Tower with some amazing views. The music was really great at this bar that it’s hard not to get up and dance.
La Cata Rooftop Bar
La Cata is the rooftop bar at the Santa Catalina Hotel where I stayed. The rooftop has 2 great views; one of the cathedral tower and the other of the clock tower. This bar is ideal if you are looking for a quiet night out where you can have a conversation.
El Arsenal: The Rum Box
The number 1 place to eat and and drink in Cartagena deserved a separate mention in this bar section as well! El Arsenal has a rum tasting menu that you can try in addition to an extensive cocktail menu.
Movich Hotel Rooftop
You can’t search for images of Cartagena without seeing that iconic view from the Movich Hotel come up. This rooftop bar is one of the best places to see a 360 degree view of Cartagena and also watch the sunset. Come early to grab a spot.
Café Del Mar
Café Del Mar is a popular spot to watch the sunset. This restaurant is uniquely located along the walls of the old fortifications of Cartagena. They only open at 4:30 PM and there is usually a line to get in, so show up a little early or book a reservation ahead of time. This place is always full so if you do want to book a reservation, you may have to do it well ahead of time. Once you get a table, order a drink and/or food and enjoy the view. I read that the food was good but not great so I just got a cocktail instead. HERE is the link to make a reservation.
I did not go in as I visited during the busy Christmas season and there was a cover charge but Café Havana is a very popular bar located right outside the walled city in the barrio of Getsemani. It’s known for its Cuban cocktails and live salsa music
Have you read my detail posted on what to do in Cartagena? HERE and below is the link to that post.
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