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Most Beautiful Restaurants in Cartagena in 2022 - and how much they cost

Updated: Dec 20, 2022


Cartagena is known for its stunningly beautiful restaurants with incredible food at shockingly affordable prices. You can find delicious street food in colonial squares just as easily as you can find a 21-course tasting menu at one of Cartagena's many fine dining restaurants - there is something for everyone in Cartagena's restaurant scene. And regardless of which you choose, you won't have to sacrifice ambiance because, while pricing runs the gamut in the Cartagena food scene, aesthetics do not.


In this article we will explore some of the most beautiful restaurants in Cartagena for 2022 - and how much my tab was when I ate there.


 



I'm starting with Carmen because imo, this is the best dinner in Cartagena.


Carmen was founded by a Colombian-American raised in California, and her co-Cordon Bleu alum husband, Rob. One of 5 restaurants, the Cartagena location is known for its distinctly romantic setting. It has 5 rooms, the center one being a courtyard nestled into a centuries-old piece of fortress wall and stories-high trees, around which the restaurant was built. They often have an intimately-set stage with small, local musicians playing that perfect dinner-vibe music (you know, not too loud).


The restaurant has an extensive wine list and features contemporary Colombian fusion with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. They also have amazing cocktails. If you ask to sit at the bar you'll be entertained by Lucas and the other cocktail magicians for the duration of your dinner. The hostess always acts like it's a weird request but then she seats us there so don't be deterred by her reaction.


My Tab


The first 10x I went to Carmen's I got either the 7-course or the 11-course dinner - always with wine pairing. The price for those is $64 and $92 and it's a lot of food and a lot of wine.


This last time that I went, however, we decided to mix it up and go a la carte but we accidentally ordered dinner twice - so dinner and drinks for 4 - and our tab was $96.







Alma is a work of art. The restaurant is located in hotel Casa San Agustín (an old colonial house), and every detail has been meticulously thought out, if not already existing when the restaurant was built. Again, the walls of the venue precede the restaurant by hundreds of years. There's a pool that runs through the venue, under an ancient aqueduct found when they built the hotel. Super casual. And most likely the picture you've seen if you've ever google image'd "Cartagena hotels," or "beautiful Cartagena." Or if you've seen Cartagena influencers on Instagram.


The menu features traditional Colombian cuisine with a modern twist, and the food and the cocktails are outstanding. Chef Heberto Eljach specializes in fresh seafood, and signature dishes include seafood casserole, a variety of ceviches, and matured meat in various cuts. Not to be undermined by its competitors, there is live music from Wednesday to Sunday.


Our Tab:


A la carte dishes with a few cocktails each - sparing no expense our tab was $86.



This is the must-eat restaurant of Cartagena.


Candé is newer to the food scene but has quickly become one of the most popular restaurants here, and for good reason. It's the most Cartagena upscale restaurant in the city. From the decor to the music & dance (during lunch and dinner), to the staff's outfits, it's the best way to really experience the local culture through a culinary experience. It's located in a beautiful colonial building (shocking), and the food is amazing.


The menu features traditional Colombian cuisine with a modern twist. We got ceviche in a coconut and lobster claws that are lit on fire and cooked on your table. And some other things that satisfied me more than any man could - including and a tamale wrapped in a banana leaf. And cocktails.




Our Tab


We left stuffed (like we had to go to the hotel and nap after) and our tab was $123. So, expensive by Colombian standards but well worth it.



1621 is one of the best restaurants in Cartagena. It's located in the Sofitel Legend, where everyone has their weddings. This restaurant is also effectively a museum. It was a convent dating back to 1621, and the area where the head nuns used to eat has been converted into a wine cellar. It has historical elements all over the restaurant and hotel, including crypts, wells, confessionals, paintings, doors, hidden windows, and ceramic objects. Ask the staff for a tour.


The food is exquisite and the atmosphere is very romantic. You can do the upscale dining experiences 10-course, or a more casual (but imo prettier) garden.


Out Tab


We went with the 10-course with wine pairing and our tab was one of the most expensive dinners I've had in Colombia, at $201 for the two of us.



El Burlador is part of the same restaurant group as Candé and is beautiful in a less exotic way than the other Cartegna hot spots. It's Spanish food and the eating there feels like you're eating in Seville, Spain (not a bad thing!).


The food is excellent. Tapas, paellas, and cured hams squid stuffed with black rice and shrimp, and some innovative dishes such as Spanish chorizo on a beet puree.


Our Tab


The 5-course tasting menu for 2 people is $37, or $68 with cocktails and a bottle of wine.



Cafe Del Mar wins the award for best views. Situated on top of the city's fortress wall, you get to enjoy 360-degree views of the Caribbean Sea and the city of Cartagena. It's beautiful and if you're in Cartagena it's a must-do.


That being said, the drinks are sub-par and overpriced, and it gets crowded (as in maxed out). The service is slow and not up to Colombian standards of friendliness, and it has a more touristy feel than all the other must-dos in Cartagena. If you have a large group you'll actually need a reservation. But definitely stop by for a drink.


Our Tab


I can't remember what my tab was because I've only gone here once or twice but I remember thinking it was more on par with American drink prices.



Full disclosure I've never eaten at Cuba 1940 and I don't really think it's known for its food. I do, however, come here for drinks every time I'm in Cartagena. It's got a vibe that you don't want to miss. Pool in the center of the bar, with a stage over the pool - usually a band playing salsa music, and basic, but value-appropriate drinks. Also, I just found out there's an entire upstairs area with historical artifacts and a real Hemmingway feel.


Make this your first stop after dinner, when the crowds aren't too bad but the music is live. If you haven't tried the local beer grab a Club Colombia for $3, and this is also a good place to try Aguardiente if you haven't yet.


Our Tab


I don't remember. Drinks are like $6 I think.



La Mistura is a beautiful, upscale restaurant, originally from Medellin, but expanded to Cartagena and Barranquilla. The decor is a chic and elegant version of Spanish colonial, with distressed wood, authentic tiling, and a little bit of a wine cellar vibe. And while this is on my list of most beautiful restaurants, the food is what made this place famous - among both locals and tourists. Go for dinner so you can see the live music.


The mix at Mistura is like traditional Cartagena meets sushi. Think mango ceviche and octopus.


Our Tab


Lunch for 2 was $33 (we had some drinks too, don't judge).




If you're looking for a breathtaking view to pair with your meal (and I know you are because you're reading this blog), Mirador Gastrobar is the spot. This 4-venue operation has a cafe-bar, a restaurant, a discotech, and a rooftop restaurant. And guess what - it's located in a colonial building.


I was drawn in first by the AC wafting out of the door, then by how cute the cafe-bar was, then by how good the espresso cocktail was. Then I walked up to the discotech, which was closed but looked really fancy. Then we went to the rooftop and had our breath taken right away from us. On the edge of the walled city, this open-air beauty has really stunning panoramic views of the city and the ocean - and the famous clock tower! There's a stage where live music or a DJ plays nightly (and I think daily, too) and the staff is super friendly. Seems like a great place to hang out.


I didn't actually eat or drink on the rooftop because I was doing some research and in a hurry but it's #1 on my hit list next time I go to Cartagena. Their food seems basic - seafood, meat, pasta and burgers, but the atmosphere is a draw.


Our Tab


My espresso martini was $5.



If you're looking for a really beautiful and unique restaurant in Cartagena and the food isn't your main objective, head to Alquimico. It's a 3-story venue with a bar on the bottom, a bar with snacks on the second floor, and a rooftop with a bar and live music on the 3rd. The decor is like a mad scientist from 17th century France created a cocktail lab. It has red velvet chairs and large infusion jars on all the walls. You can feel the love and attention that the cocktail artists put into their craft, and the quality of the ingredients is apparent even before you taste them.


Start at the bottom and get a bespoke cocktail to your exact taste. They're here for it. Then head to the second floor and get some dinner snacks. The yuca dumplings sound amazing. After your snack dinner go upstairs one more time. Get another drink at the bar and enjoy the music.


Our Tab


Our tab for 2 drinks on the first floor was $12, and the yuca dumplings that I didn't get because I was so full were $6.47.


 

So the themes here are:

  1. Every restaurant in Cartagena is beautiful (seriously, I dare you to try to find an ugly one).

  2. They're all built in a colonial building.

  3. They all have live music.

  4. And you can't go wrong with the food or with the cocktails.


So if you're trying to figure out where to eat in Cartagena my advice is to choose your gastro-experience based on the vibe you're looking for and the rest will fall into place.


And if you're new to Colombia travel check out this Guide to the Perfect 1-Day Trip to Colombia







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