We love Cartagena! It’s fun, scenic, and the food is delicious. While Colombians complain that Cartagena is expensive, we found the prices reasonable compared to most other parts of the world, demonstrating how affordable the rest of Colombia is! In our five months in Cartagena, with side trips here and there, we ate out a lot. Why not? Cartagena’s restaurant scene is vibrant, varied, and affordable. I did a lot of research before coming, but many acclaimed restaurants closed during the pandemic, so my list is where to eat in Cartagena now.
When we first got to Cartagena, there was a curfew in effect and the town was empty. We ate a lot of lunches rather than have to rush through dinner at 6PM. Now hours are back to normal, and tourists are back, so I recommend reservations.
This list focuses on the more touristic neighborhoods, because those are where we hang out and the best places to stay in Cartagena. I’ve sorted by neighborhood for ease of navigation.
Food in Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena is a prime tourist destination, second only to Bogota in Colombia, and restaurants cater to visitors, serving all types of cuisine. Colombian cuisine in general features meat and rice, lots of tubers like potatoes and cassava, and legumes. Because Cartagena is on the Caribbean, also expect to see seafood dishes and plantains.
Plus, Colombia is a very green country and a big-time exporter of fruit and vegetables. Fresh produce is plentiful which is very different from other places we’ve stopped like the Bahamas and the eastern Caribbean!
Below are some of our favorite places to eat and food you should try in Cartagena, Colombia.
Where to Eat in Cartagena Now: Getsemani
Cocina de Pepina
We ate two meals at Cocina de Pepina and would go back for more if we lived in Cartagena. Both times we just walked in and the tiny space wasn’t very busy, and we were treated like honored guests. With a recent rave review in the New York Times, little Cocina de Pepina, with its earthy stews and great craft beer choices, is probably extremely busy now. As it should be! A gem like this with great staff and food deserves to be better known, but make a reservation if you can.
Cocina de Pepina, Calle 25 #9a, Getsemani Facebook page
The closest thing to a food truck market in Cartagena, Terraza Municipal was one of our favorite dinner spots. We went there at least 3 times, and its location on the waterfront in Getsemani made it an easy walk from the marina in Manga.
What’s great about Terraza Municipal, besides the outdoor waterfront view, is the convenience. Each food truck serves a different cuisine, but you only need to order once from as many trucks as you want. It’s mostly “fast food” style offerings but higher end ingredients and flavors. Choices include pizza, burgers, chicken wings, tacos, and a full bar with cocktails and craft beer, and more. Maybe because it’s outside and not shaded, Terraza Municipal is only open at night.
Terraza Municipal, cl 24 Getsemani Instagram
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, cocktails: Caffé Lunatico does it all with a smile. They even offer morning yoga which was too early for me, and cooking classes in a studio. A charming alfresco place upstairs near the wall in Getsemani, Lunatico offers a Spanish style tapas and mains, with lots of fresh fish.
Caffé Lunatico, Av. Pedregal#29-225, 2nd floor, Getsemani Website
One of Cartagena’s most celebrated restaurants, also located in hip Getsemani, Celele is worth a visit but definitely requires a reservation. Brian and I both felt like you could plop Celele down in any hot North American city and it would fit right in. The presentation of the food was spectacular and everything tasted great here too. Probably one of the pricier meals we had in Cartagena, but still 1/3 of the price of a comparable meal in Toronto.
Celele, Calle de Espiritu Santo, Cra 10c, Getsemani, Website
Sometimes you just want some Mexican food and it seemed pretty authentic at Maria Bonita in Trinidad Plaza in Getsemani. We tried tacos, nachos, and some appetizers over two visits. We liked Maria Bonita. It’s casual, reasonably priced, and in a convenient location.
Maria Bonita, Plaza de la Trinidad, Getsemani, Facebook Page
Di Silvio Trattoria
Di Silvio was recommended as one of the best and most reliable Italian restaurants in the city. It’s in a great location off Plaza de la Trinidad and has lots of space with open windows to keep things cool. Pizzas are popular at Di Silvio, but the best menu item I tried was the mussel penne. They serve good sangria too!
Di Silvio Trattoria, Calle 29 #9-72, Getsemani Website
Café del Mural
Touted as one of the city’s best coffee shops, it took us a while to visit Café del Mural because it doesn’t open until mid-afternoon. We eventually got there for a cold brew and to take some photos of this cool café and the beautiful street where it’s located, one of the city’s best for street art.
The coffee is delicious. We had cold brews on a very hot Cartagena day. And we loved the atmosphere!
Like I said, Café del Mural has weird hours for a coffee shop. It’s open from 3-8PM!
Café del Mural, Calle de San Juan, #25-60, Getsemani, Facebook Page
Where to Eat In Cartagena Now: Centro
One of the first places we ate in Cartagena, Carmen was also one of the best. It has a beautiful courtyard and absolutely delicious food.
Despite being a very well-reviewed restaurant, we went for a late lunch and almost had the place to ourselves. This was during huge lockdowns and curfews when Cartagena had very little tourists, so Carmen is probably much busier these days. I don’t think we had dinner that night because the menu was so tempting we ordered a few courses. And enjoyed all of it.
Carmen was founded in Medellin by a chef couple who trained at culinary school in California. The restaurant was so successful, they’ve expanded across Colombia, so you can eat at a Carmen or offshoot in Bogota or Medellin.
Carmen Cartagena, Calle 38 #8-19, Old City Cartagena Website
Maybe it’s a good thing we didn’t find Mama’s Pizza until our last week in Cartagena because otherwise I would have wanted to go all the time. With a downstairs restaurant and a sweet rooftop bar in the middle of the old city, Mama’s offers delicious brick oven pizza with ambience.
We watched some fireworks while sipping cocktails on the roof – Cartagena loves fireworks! The pizza was one of the best I’ve had since moving onto the boat, which is why Mama’s is on my list of where to eat in Cartagena now.
Mama’s Pizza, in the Casa Movida Hotel, Calle del Tablon #7-35 Website
Marzola Parilla Steakhouse
For some friends’ anniversary we dined at Marzola Parilla, an Argentinian steakouse in the old city. This place was worth going to just for the decór and people watching but the food is great too! We ate some good meals in Cartagena, and they like their steak.
Marzola Parilla Argentina, Calle de curato 38-137, Cartagena Facebook Page
Cartagena also has an outpost of Andres Carnes D’Res, but we didn’t go because we’ve been in Bogota – twice. But if you have never experienced an Andres Restaurant, we recommend it for the steak and the atmosphere.
Restaurante El Gobernador
An upscale restaurant in a high-end hotel, El Gobernador is a bit “fancy” but we went after returning from Toronto so it was still a bargain to us! We enjoyed a leisurely meal with excellent service and delicious food.
The seafood soup was rich and hearty and we loved the incredible meringue “egg” dessert. Serving the dessert was a performance so I had to document it on video.
It was almost too beautiful to taste. Good news! The egg tasted as good as it looked!
El Gobernador, in the Bastión Hotel, Calle del Sargento Mayor #6 – 87, Centro Website
Manga Restaurants: Where to Eat in Cartagena Now
A steakhouse quite close to our marina, D’Res is highly recommended by other cruisers and hugely popular among locals. The steak at D’Res is high quality, perfectly cooked, and very reasonably priced. Good value!
It seems to be a steakhouse thing in Cartagena to have live music. And D’Res follows the norm. On the weekends the mariachi band is good but quite loud, even for Cartagena!
D’Res, Carrera 17, #24-90, Manga Website
Señor Miyagi Sushi Express
The only sushi bar we went to in Cartagena, we loved their rolls and cocktails. Señor Miyagi is only a couple of blocks from the marina in Manga and is well-priced, fresh, and the staff was fun and helpful.
Sr. Miyagi Sushi Express, Calle 24 #20-2, Manga Facebook Page
Atrium Pizza and Burger
We were surprised how many places in Cartagena, especially in Getsemani, offered burgers and pizza. We didn’t go out for either very often, but we found the burgers and fries at Atrium, not far from our marina, good and reasonably priced.
This was a convenient stop on our way to some of the mechanics in Manga, and especially well located halfway to the mall where we did a lot of our supermarket shopping. The burgers, with fries or salad, range from $10-$15 depending on toppings, and they serve cold craft beer to go with them.
Atrium Pizza and Burgers, Calle 25 #19-26, Manga Website
Where to Eat in Cartagena Now in Bocagrande
One of our best meals was brunch at this hotspot in Bocagrande. This place gets busy, as it would in Miami Beach or NYC, because Ely is a super cute French-style restaurant with delicious and decadent dishes. Besides absolutely amazing brunch food and pastries, Ely is known for cocktail deals all day. At brunch, the varied mimosas, including passion fruit, are recommended.
Ely, Calle 7, #2-50, Bocagrande Cartagena Website
Another great morning spot, Charlie’s had delicious coffee and yummy pastries. Located right at the edge of Bocagrande, you could tell it was popular with locals and tourists both.
Charlie’s Coffee, Carrera 1, #56-2, Bocagrande Instagram
We didn’t visit Bocagrande as much as the other tourist neighborhoods of Cartagena, mainly due to location. So try these two places first and then branch out on your own. It’s a bustling neighborhood with a mix of hotels and residents, so Bocagrande offers a lot of dining options.
Food You Should Try In Cartagena
Now you know where to eat in Cartagena now, here are my suggestions of what to eat!
- Ceviche: many Cartagena restaurants offer this dish of fresh raw fish cured in fresh seafood dishes. You can also find kiosks near the Clock Tower selling it curbside, and restaurants devoted solely to ceviche. The local recipe is tomato heavy, which isn’t my preference, but it’s more about the freshness of the fish than anything.
- Fresh produce: the avocados alone are the best I’ve ever eaten. You can often find vendors pushing produce carts selling avocados, mangoes, whatever is in season. Buy some!
- Juice: Fruit juices are plentiful, varied, fresh, and cheap, usually a quarter or fifty cents for a cup.
- Coconut Candy/Manzanitas: Visit the vendors in the square inside the clock tower, known as Portal de Los Dulces, for the most delicious homemade coconut candy. A small bag will set you back a dollar or two and it’s worth it if you have a sweet tooth. They have different fruit flavors or plain coconut.
Where to Eat in Cartagena Now
Hope you liked my guide to eating in Cartagena. As you can see, it is very easy to eat well in Cartagena. Now I need to do more exercising on the boat to make up for it!
Cartagena is a big city so find out fun things to do in Cartagena between your meals!
After writing this, I am reminded of restaurants on our list which we didn’t visit. I guess it’s a reason to return again one day. Have you been to Cartagena or planning to go? Have I tempted you with any restaurants or are there places I missed? Please share in the comments. As they say in Colombia, Buen provecho!