Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena food culture is unique and delicious.
Image: Shutterstock

Cartagena, Colombia is having a moment. Well, to be more precise, it’s been having a moment for the last five years, since becoming the newest highly recommended travel destination, beloved for its beautiful beaches, historic architecture, and, especially, its food scene. Dining and cuisine in this Colombian seaport has always been special because of its mix of regional influences and the abundance of fresh ingredients right in its backyard. Since Cartagena has achieved global exposure as a go-to vacation choice, it has also been truly upping its food game.

According to an article in the New York Times, “While the rest of the world was looking the other way, Cartagena cultivated its own taste. Menus are sprinkled with bright vegetables and pungent spices, like cumin and coriander. With the Caribbean warming its shores, fish is abundant and the house specialty is always freshly caught something, rubbed with the fiery flavors so celebrated in this corner of the world.” Indeed, cuisine in Cartagena is dynamic, diverse, and unbelievably delicious; the small fishing village is influenced heavily by its Caribbean proximity, as well as by global hybrids of cooking style, flavors, and technique.


Cartagena’s location on the Caribbean means lots of fresh-caught seafood.
Image: Shutterstock

Perhaps much of the attention Cartagena began to receive a few years back can be traced to the elegant, high society nuptials of Lauren Davis and Andres Santo Domingo held there in 2008. Andres Santo Domingo is a native Colombian, so he and his wife Lauren have been traveling there for years and enjoying everything that Cartagena offers, especially its unique and delicious cuisine. When asked, Lauren often gushes about her love of Cartagena’s regional cuisine, mentioning the restaurant La Vitrola as one of her favorites. She says that the Havana-inspired jazz club “makes the best ropa vieja” she’s had, and the New York Times agrees, giving high praise to this now very popular local restaurant.

Cartagena is home to an abundance of outdoor cafes, fine dining establishments, and hole-in-the-wall eateries serving the stuff that foodie dreams are made of. The culinary focus in Cartagena is undoubtedly on freshness, local ingredients, seafood, and spice, and there is truly something there for everyone. If you aren’t drooling over your computer screen already, check out Bon Appetite’s Cartagena food guide for more about this incredible destination.