Bar at Casa San Agustin, Cartagena, Colombia

Alma Restaurant and Bar

The relaxed yet refined restaurant at Casa San Agustin is a must visit. Begin your night in the picturesque courtyard or eclectic dining room with a libation from the creative gin and tonic menu. Afterwards, savor the excellent ceviche and other Colombian specialties. The top-notch food and drinks are matched by the impeccable service, and there is live music at dinner from Wednesday to Sunday.

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Alquimico Bar

Alquimico is a Cartagena hot spot for drinking and dancing that serves craft cocktails and Asian-inspired bites inside a glamorous colonial mansion.
Evening View - Café del Mar, Cartagena, Colombia

Café del Mar

Café del Mar is a lounge on the top of the Old City’s muralla. Great drinks are served, complemented by music and the occasional dancer. It’s spacious so during the high season (December) you can either relax or get in on the party.

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Café del Mural

Located in Getsemani, an up-and-coming neighborhood where local families have lived for generations and where you’ll find street art and chic eateries, is this hip local spot. While the atmosphere is casual, the coffee is raved about. 


At Carmen, the cuisine is contemporary and inspired by local flavors (the pez negro is delicious), the atmosphere is serene and the service is personalized.
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Located in Getsemani, the bright and colorful Celele was touted as one of the hottest restaurants in South America upon opening.
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Bar at Demente Tapas Bar, Cartagena, Colombia

Demente Tapas Bar

Just a few blocks outside the old town walls, the Getsemani neighborhood asserts its own bohemian personality.  Bustling Plaza de la Trinidad is a vibrant central point and home to Demente Tapas Bar. The owners wanted to be as much a part of the plaza as possible so classic wood and leather rocking chairs are arranged around cocktail tables on the sidewalk—a hipster take on the habit of area residents who drag their rocking chairs out in front of their houses to catch the evening breeze and the day’s gossip. This small but stylish place also has the only retractable roof in Cartagena, which lets even more of the outside in.

A chalk board tapas menu includes addictive sweet peppers (flash-fried then salted), brochette of remarkably tender shrimp, fried local cheese with onion marmalade and secreto de cerdo, a little-used but delicious cut of pork. The most popular plate of all is a sweet, rich, satisfying oxtail slider served with homemade potato chips. Everything is served on custom-made plates, which each have a quote from Colombian poet Raúl Gómez Jattin hand-painted onto them.

Demente is as much a bar as an eatery with a comprehensive list of liquors, wines and beers, including hard-to-find Aguila beer on tap. Bar staff make ice cubes the size of navel oranges by hand so they don’t melt too quickly in the Caribbean heat.  No one wants that 20-year-old Colombian rum you just ordered to end up watered down.

Entrance at Di Silvio Trattoria, Cartagena, Colombia

Di Silvio Trattoria

This casual place in the Getsemani neighborhood just outside the old city walls is well known for its pizzas, though a full Italian menu is also offered. Over the years the restaurant has sprawled to include three adjoining locations. The roofless, crumbling, peeling façade of a gutted historic building serves as an outdoor dining room, and it’s one of the most atmospheric al fresco dining locations in town.  Just try not to feel romantic on a clear night with the stars as your ceiling.

Food at Donjuán Cartagena, Cartagena, Colombia

Donjuán Cartagena

The chic, blue-and-white palette, denim napkins, floor-to-ceiling wine racks, an intimate bar and inevitable crowd of smartly dressed locals make Donjuán Cartagena the kind of casual fine dining restaurant that Hampton residents wish they had. Here Chef Juan Felipe Camacho and his energetic staff (who wear white Crocs as part of their uniform) present wonderfully fresh and well-rounded dishes like grilled grouper on lemon parmesan risotto and pork chops with fried yucca and artichoke aioli.  Even ingredients that are often not done well in Cartagena, like lamb, succeed in the hands of this chef who trained at Michelin-starred restaurants before opening his own in 2009.

Indagare Tip: Don’t settle for a reservation at Maria, the restaurant chef Camacho opened next door. It does not get the same kind of raves.  And be aware that when large groups are dining, service at Donjuán Cartagena can become rushed. Reservations required.

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El Baron

El Baron offers excellent people-watching in the bustling square and stunning view of the San Pedro Claver Church which is lit up magically in the evening.
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Food at El Boliche Cebicheria, Cartagena, Colombia

El Boliche Cebicheria

This local favorite is one of the top spots in Cartagena for ceviche. The charming restaurant, with only 16 seats, puts an upscale spin on the South American classic, infusing their ceviches with ingredients like tamarind and coconut, while also serving such elevated dishes as grilled octopus with a light potato foam. One of the owners, Oscar Colmenares, even trained at the Michelin-starred Martin Berasategui in the Spanish Basque country.

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Dinning Area at Juan del Mar, Cartagena, Colombia

Juan del Mar

The original restaurant of the growing empire of the legendary Juan del Mar, this restaurant specializes in seafood. Set in a colonial house on the same square as the Hotel Santa Clara, Juan del Mar is one of the most popular restaurants in Cartagena. Its owner oversaw the kitschy décor, a colorful celebration of the sea in garden courtyard, but he also mans the kitchen and even joins the band most evenings to sing. The menu emphasizes local seafood.

Dinning Area at Juan del Mar: Pizzeria Gourmet, Cartagena, Colombia

Juan del Mar: Pizzeria Gourmet

Considered by many to have the best pizza in Cartagena. Open for dinner only.

Food at La Cevicheria, Cartagena, Colombia

La Cevicheria

This brightly painted little ceviche joint stylishly occupies a corner right behind the Hotel Santa Clara. Innovative, flawlessly fresh ceviche is served on hand-painted plates to diners at a handful of outdoor tables. Though still a favorite among locals and visitors, some grumble that the high prices may have more to do with La Cevicheria’s fame after appearing on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations series in 2008 than for its cuisine.

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Dinning Area at La Mulata, Cartagena, Colombia

La Mulata

Walking into La Mulata is like walking into a super stylish dorm room.  Cool graphic logo stares down from the wall, utilitarian wooden furniture has been painted in bright primary colors, and the floor is a checkerboard of black and white tiles. Thankfully, the kitchen is turning out gourmet versions of classic Caribbean meals, not cafeteria food.  Each day of the week has its own lunch menu with three set main course options, including seafood and meat dishes. Each remarkably affordable selection includes a bowl of homemade soup and their homemade lemonade is a must in the Caribbean heat. This is the best place to try thoughtfully prepared Colombian Caribbean food in a bustling setting along with local workers and clued-in visitors.

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Icecream at La Paletteria, Cartagena, Colombia

La Paletteria

The historic center of Cartagena has no shortage of shops selling some form of frozen treat. It’s hot here, after all.  What makes La Paletteria, opened at the end of 2012, stand out from the frosty crowd is their all-natural, handmade approach to gourmet popsicles and their celebration of local flavors and ingredients.  Water, yogurt or cream based flavors include tamarind, maracuya (passion fruit’s sweeter sister) and mora (a sort of rustic blackberry), along with classics like pistachio and chocolate and newbies like Nutella. Seriously consider having your selection dipped in chocolate. Be prepared for a crowd and seating is limited to take your paletta to one of the nearby plazas and enjoy.

La Vitrola

For those who remember Harry’s Bar in Venice or Mortimer’s in New York back when neighborhoods had watering holes that operated as informal eating clubs for café society, La Vitrola will feel familiar. Opened in 1994, La Vitrola is now a favorite haunt of a who’s who of Colombia’s elite who table hop between courses or get up to merengue to the Cuban house band.

Though the quality of the food can vary, the restaurant remains an institution. With tiled floors, a long mahogany bar and overhead fans, La Vitrola (named for the old Victrola that commands a central spot) harkens back to an earlier era, as does the menu. Starters include grilled calamari, smoked salmon and carpaccio, which can be followed by grilled fish, lobster, mini hamburgers or an inventive salad like lettuce heats topped with blue cheese and a slice of pear perfectly poached in red wine. Don’t miss the homemade coconut cake for dessert.

Mar y Zielo

Spread out over two floors and a rooftop, May y Cielo serves Peruvian dishes using local ingredients in a stylish and lively atmosphere. The rooftop is a must for those looking to lounge in the evening while sipping one of the many cocktails on the menu, enjoying the creative dishes, listening to live music and savoring the warm air.

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Marea by Rausch

Located on the water, with views of the Bahía de Animas and the charming Old Town, this seafood restaurant serves dishes highlighting Mediterranean and Caribbean flavors.


At the elegant Maria, guests enjoy Bogotá-born chef Alejandro Ramirez’s carefully crafted cocktails and inventive seafood dishes like cured salmon served with a jalapeño infusion and grilled sea bass with bacon succotash.


This charming café owned by pastry wizard Camila Andrea Vargas serves up delicious coffee drinks and pastries from tarts and custards to churrios as well as salads and sandwiches in a bright modern white space.

Movich Hotel Rooftop

The rooftop of the Movich Cartagena De Indias has some of the best views in the city, as well as two small pools and a great bar.


The rooftop bar at Townhouse serves fantastic cocktails in a tropical atmosphere, while Members Only, an intimate jazz bar, is on the ground floor.
Dinning Area at Vera Restaurant Cartagena, Colombia

Vera Restaurant

If you are lucky enough to snag a table here, don’t bother showing up for dinner before 9 p.m. (Attractive Colombian couples that may be dressed in clothes by Silvia Tcherassi, the hotel’s owner, do not even order drinks until 10:30) Order what the chef recommends. Daniel Castaño, who worked at Lupa and Babbo, stops to chat at each table. Once you’ve tasted his fried chickpeas, you will find yourself craving them as the perfect accompaniment to a chilled drink on a hot afternoon. Even seemingly typical Italian dishes like Caprese salad come with a twist; a ball of buffalo mozzarella rolled in pesto sauce is served with oven-roasted tomatoes. Other dishes that had our group oohing and ahhing: the risotto with portobello mushrooms, the tuna carpaccio and the chopped asapargus tossed in olive oil and parmesan.

Thanks to a wine list more than 100 labels strong, there are fantastic New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and Italian Barberas and much in between. Be sure to save room for dessert, though. We were so won over by the chef’s guidance that we let him choose our dolci. The Pane Mocca, a brioche bread pudding with coffee ice cream, mocha drizzle and a sour cream ricotta foam was a standout. Vera, which means true, can truly be named as one of my all-time favorite restaurants. No walk-ins; you must have a reservation.

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