Cartagena features a rich fusion cuisine, combining ingredients and methods of the New and Old worlds, as well as of the original African, Arabian and other legacies of its inhabitants. Eating set menu lunches and dinners in local restaurants called 'corrientes' costs around $6.000 (US $3). A typical dish consists of fried fish (if you are by the beach), chicken or meat, served with coconut rice (arroz de coco), fried plantains (patacones) and salad. There are many places that sell $2.000 fruit juices. Colombia boasts a very good range of exotic fruits that can be mixed with water or milk.
In the old town, dozens of good restaurants can be found dotted around the streets. They are particularly concentrated close to the Plaza Santo Domingo in El Centro, such as:
Note that many of the below restaurants are not open on Sundays - La Cocina de Carmela is not open for dinner at all (late Sept 2011), El Bistro and La Suiza are closed on Sunday.
Donde ChandyA great corriente on San Augustin 6-15. $5.500 for salad and main.
Pizza and PastaDon't be fooled by the name. Try their special menu of the day for dinner, just COP$1800 for salad, main, and choice of drink.
Club de PescaGreat seafood and great atmosphere. Located in Manga with view to the bay and marinas of Cartagena.
Saint MichelOn the northwest corner of the Plaza. If you fancy a change from the usual seafood or Italian restaurants, this French option serves some very tasty fondues as the main courses in its three-course menus, very good value at around US $10, as well as plenty of other dishes and wine at more reasonable prices than at most restaurants in this area.
El BistroCalle Ayos 4-462 blocks from Plaza Santo Domingo. Excellent European Kitchen, German Bakery, reasonable prices.
There are also several around the smaller but more intimate San Diego Plaza next to the Santa Clara hotel and include:
La CevicheriaPhone: +57 664-2760Calle Stuart, opposite Hotel Santa Clara. A great selection of hot and cold ceviches, around US $8 a dish.
Pazza Luna - Good, super thin crust pizzas, but expensive considering what is available nearby. There are other dishes as well such as pastas. Located on Plaza San Diego. Live music as well.
La Vitrola - Considered the best restaurant in town. Cuban ambiance, good food - high prices. It is located Calle Baloco on the corner front to the historical walls.
La Cava - Very good restaurant in the calle Santo Domingo. Dishes around US $16.
Quebracho - Argentinian restaurant at its best. Good meat, good ambiance. Dishes around US $18. It is located Calle Baloco.
Crepes & Waffles - Very nice Colombian franchise restaurant which offers very good dishes to excellent prices (dishes around US $5). It is located Calle Baloco.
El Corral - very nice Colombian franchise hamburger chain. Good quality hamburgers for $10.000-15.000 pesos for a combo. One is located in Boca grande; there are probably more.
La Cocina de Carmela - Colombian gourmet food in the Calle Santisimo close to Parque Fernandez de Madrid. Dishes around 12 USD. Hard to find open.
Cafe El Santisimo - One of the must see restaurants of Cartagena. Dishes around US $16.
Atahualpa had the best dinner 'Menu of the Day' I had seen. Peruvian place with fresh fish. Set dinner Soup, Main and Juice for only $12.000. At end of Calle de Tablada at the Plaza de Managua.
Restaurante Casa SuizaCalle de la Soledad 5-38 Centro HistoricoPhone: +57 312-678-9309Hours: 7:30AM-8PMPrice: US $4 and upGreat food at a great price. The Swiss-trained chef offers a daily lunch menu starting at US $4 including a fresh fruit juice, soup, mixed salad, main dish, and coffee. All meals are made from scratch. Even the bread and pasta are made in house. Pastry and pie dishes are also available. Check out the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu on their website.
Gelateria Paradiso has unreal ice cream. Fans of coffee ice cream must stop by for a scoop. $4.000 for small cup, $6.000 for medium. Corner of Calle del Cuartel and Calle de la Estrella.
Abaco Cafe & Book Store is a great place to relax and get some peace and quiet. Local books on Cartagena in addition to great coffee. Calle de la Mantilla
Sol de la IndiaSan Diego: Calle Tumbamuertos 38-43Phone: +57 660-9476Hours: 11:30AM-10PMExcellent Vegetarian Indian food in the old town. For lunch they offer an all-inclusive (also drinks) buffet for 15,000 pesos that varies every day. They also offer yoga classes (around US $8) and massages. Supernice and enthusiastic restaurant owners. El Laguisto Beach ClubThere are many good restaurants in the Bocagrande area on the beach. The food is of decent quality, but the delight is the water coming up to the restaurant. The host speaks English, Spanish, French, some Portuguese and Turkish! La MulataCalle Quero 9 58Phone: 66 46 222A choice of a few set lunch options. Different menu every day of the week. Delicious and unpretentious. Otro MundoCentro, Calle San Agustin 6-68Phone: +57 5 6602314Hours: 09-24Otro Mundo Bistr-Bar-Pizzeria it is located in Centro Historico de Cartagena de Indias, Calle San Agustin 6-68, close Universita de Cartagena (Cartagena University). There you can eat excellent Croatian dishes, pastas, and the best pizza of America. Ambient is rustically tip, very clean with excellent service. The price of dishes and pizza is very good. Croatian Cevapcici $18.000 (US $10), Pasta frutos del mar $20.000 (US $11), Pizza small from $12.000 (US $7), Pizza medium $25.000 (US $14), until Pizza large $35.000 ($20). In the local you can use gratis WiFi internet connection. They do also pizza delivery.
El BalkoonCalle Tumbamuertos No. 28-85 2do. Piso EsquinaPrice: About $26.000 with drink2nd floor restaurant that overlooks the Plaza San Diego. Small balcony for seating, but great food. Good set menus and 2-for-1 specials on cocktails every day from 6PM-9PM. (Feb 2012)