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Travel Colombia. Where to Eat Vegetarian in Style in Cartagena de Indias



The country in Northern South America has a coastline of 3,200 kilometres and Cartagena, with its tropical climate, faces the Caribbean Sea between Panama and Venezuela. The town founded in 1533, is named after Cartagena in Spain by Spanish conquerors. The walled city, Ciudad Amurallada in Spanish, since 1984 Unesco World Heritage Site, with its colonial houses and their colourful entrance doors that are often framed by bougainvillea, hibiscus or oleander is a come alive wonderland.

At times humidity can be as high as 97%, simply drink vast amounts of ice cold Limonada de Coco (it is blended coconut, lime juice, sugar and ice) to live through it. I got a map of the old town and walked literally every single street. The smell of jasmine wafts through the air, fruit- and handicraft sellers coexist with lots of coffee shops and stylish restaurants. I found the most amazing ones of the latter along the way, there are more than 600 of them in this town.

This town is surely one of the most exciting foodie destinations right now; try food-creations that are a fusion of indigenous, Spanish and African flavours. Restaurants offer high quality dining which is value for money. What is the point of eating out, if you won’t get the most amazing experience?

The look of restaurants is just as important as the food. Restaurants, often on Cartagena’s main streets, feel hidden and tucked away; the ambience in town is simply magical, and all restaurants I recommend, understand how to mirror their cooking skills in the design of their dining rooms (or probably vice versa). You will find many decorating ideas to steal.

Read on to find out where to eat vegetarian in style in Cartagena.


Don Juan

What is it all about: Caribbean-Bistro-Style

How does it feel: Trendy elegant, is there such a thing? Yes there is. High ceilings, black and white checkered floor, basket lamps, white ceiling height shelves, white and blue cushions, wooden chairs and lush green plant decorations. Spoil yourself. The food is made from only a few ingredients, nothing overly complex, the secret lies in putting together the right few things. The service is all smiles, friendly and welcoming. You will have nothing short of the best time ever here, it might well be the closest thing to food heaven in Cartagena.

I recommend: Grilled asparagus with fried egg, tomatoes and parmesan. Chocolate mousse (made from Colombian chocolate).

Info Don Juan Chef: Juan Felipe Camacho. Address: Calle del Colegio 34-60, Centro Historico, Cartagena. Hours: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm to 11pm. Expect to pay COP 100,000 per Person plus beverages. Best to book in advance: reservas@donjuancartagena.com.



Maria

What is it all about:

How does it feel: For a great vibe, a must-go is Cartagena’s Maria. Worth the visit are the wall murals alone. Hang on; there are these stunning pineapple chandeliers too. It is the sister restaurant of Don Juan, and named after the interior designer who is also the chef’s wife. Local and family oriented, what is not to love?

I recommend: Corn tortillas, roasted peppers, pico de gallo and guacamole. Chocolate cake and vanilla ice-cream.

Info Maria Chef: Alejandro Ramirez and Juan Felipe Camacho. Address:Calle del Colegio 34-60, Local 2, Centro Historico, Cartagena. Hours: Monday to Fri 12pm to 3pm. Monday to Saturday 6.30pm to 11pm. Expect to pay COP 100,000 per Person plus beverages. Best to book in advance: reservas@mariacartagena.com.


El Santisimo

What is it all about: Caribbean with a nod to France

How does it feel: Think of a ski hut in the Caribbean (surprisingly, the interior is exactly that really). El Santisimo, in English the holy sacrament is the gifts of bread and wine which are offered in mass (at Catholic Church). With clues to its name, the menu is full of metaphors, and all meals are named accordingly; the starters are described as pilgrim’s cravings and the desserts are named after the seven deadly sins. It would be a sin not to eat in this playful place.

I recommend: Avocado Salad. Eggplants in Tomato Sauce. Coconut Flan.

Info El Santisimo Chef: Federico Vega. Address: El Santisimo. Calle del Torno 39-76, Centro Historico, Cartagena. Hours: Monday to Sunday 12pm to 11pm. Expect to pay COP 100,000 per Person plus beverages. Best to book in advance: restauranteelsantisimo@gmail.com.


Agua de Mar

What is it all about: Gourmet Tapas

How does it feel: If we think of the ocean we think of the calming effect that the smell and the sound of the waves have on us, they let the stresses of urban life drift away, right? Instantly. As the name of the restaurant suggests, everything in here is white and blue and the atmosphere is as calming and the food as fun as a salty kiss.

I recommend: Quinoa Salad with kale and red onions (a burst of flavours). Mango ravioli with lyche and rose ice cream.

Info Agua de Mar Owner: Mar Alonso. Address: Calle Del Santisimo 8 – 15, San Diego, Cartagena. Hours: Sunday to Tuesday 5pm to 11pm. Wednesday to Saturday 5pm to 2am. Expect to pay COP 100,000 per Person plus beverages. Best to book in advance: reservas@aquademar.com.co.


Restaurante Vera

What is it all about: Italian Food

How does it feel: Italian food in an old restored mansion that houses also a hotel, in pretty lush tropical surroundings. As you walk through the golden iron cast door you reach the open air dining room with an impressive hanging garden created from native plants, a waterfall and a bar where you can have drinks on a glass floor above a blue pool of water.

I recommend: Rocket salad with oranges, honey, yogurt and macadamia nuts. Linguini with tomato sauce (simple and delicious). Tiramisu (what else).

Info Restaurante Vera Chef: Daniel Castano. Address: Tcherassi Hotel and Spa. Calle del Sargento Mayor 6-20, San Diego, Cartagena. Hours: Monday to Saturday 11am to 11pm. Sunday 11am to 10pm. Expect to pay COP 100,000 per Person plus beverages.




Interested in a few more restaurant ideas from all over the world? 

Travel Germany. Where to Eat Vegetarian in Style in Prenzlauer Berg (Berlin).

Travel South Africa. The Five Most Amazing Restaurants in Cape Town.

Travel Scotland. Where to Eat Vegetarian in Style in Edinburgh.

Positano. Where to Eat in one of Italy's Prettiest Villages.

Where to Eat Vegetarian in Style in Berlin, Germany

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Please also read Travel Colombia. The Complete Beginner's Guide to Cartagena
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From Berlin with love

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Greetings stranger. I always try to be myself and to be a tourist as often as I can. I would love to get in contact with lots of hard travelling tourists who love to be out and about as much as I do. I am looking forward to all your comments. Thanks so much in advance.