Colombia has been a real adventure. In fact, one of the best travel experiences I’ve had yet. In addition to world class nightlife, and personal freedom that makes America look like the police state it is (small amounts of cocaine and marijuana have been decriminalized here) Cartagena offers some unforgettable culinary experiences.
From the street vendors who offer tasty meals (like delicious skewers and corn on the cob) for the humble sum of $5 or less, to four and five star restaurants, Cartagena delivers the goods. Rel spent a lot of time exploring the walled city, and tasting the different delights cooking at various establishments.
Here are 3 of Rel’s recommendations for those about to embark on an adventure to the Queen of the Caribbean Coast.
1. Quebracho Parilla Argentina. Quebracho is an Argentinean steakhouse that’s not far from Plaza Santo Domingo inside the walled city. My steak dinner at Quebracho ended up being one of the best meals I’ve had in my life.
I started the evening off with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and some water. Then, came an Entrada/Appetizer that consisted of some delicious chorizo and sauces I could spoon onto the fabulously prepared sausage.
Up next, was my Argentenian steak and mashed potatoes. The steak was prepared right before my eyes on a fiery grill located by the bar. When it came out, it made me realize all the flavor I’ve been missing from corporate chain steakhouses back in the States. From the marinade to the gentle, smoky notes from the grill, the tender and juicy steak made me want to savor every last bite. Similarly, the mashed potatoes were packed with flavor.
I ended up having a tres leches cake (my favorite) for dessert. Quebracho made the cake with passionfruit inside, and to compliment it the pastry came with a complimentary orange flavored liquor shot. Very tasty.
The bill came out to around $60. Reasonable for such a carefully prepared, enjoyable meal. Quite simply, it doesn’t get much better than Quebracho.
2. Cuzco Cocina Peruana. Another good place to visit inside the walled city is Cuzco Cocina Peruana, featuring cuisine of Peru. While known for its seafood, I opted for steak once again. My plate was the Lomo Saltado. It came with yellow bell peppers, onion, cilantro, and tomato, poured over top seasoned potatoes. And of course, some white rice. Another unforgettable meal. While it was fresh, it wasn’t as hot as I would have expected for a gourmet restaurant. The bill? About $40, including an ample amount of vino.
3. El Bistro. I first wandered into El Bistro looking for Caipirinhas. While the Caipirinhas are good but not the best you’ll find in Cartagena, the food in El Bistro is what really makes this establishment stand out.
I ended up taking a sexy Venezuelan chica on a date to El Bistro one night. (She was amazing in bed. More on that in another article.) Our salad came with an obviously homemade dressing, and importantly the lettuce was green and fresh. (As were the other ingredients.) It was the first salad I’ve had that included beets – and to my surprise – the beets really made the salad pop.
We both ordered steak, the Lomo fino Cordobés to be exact. Once again I was surprised at how flavorful and delicious it was. I’ve spent far more money at establishments like Ruth’s Chris in the States and enjoyed the meal less. El Bistro also offers paellas and other popular dishes, which I didn’t try. But considering how excellent the salad and steak I had were, no doubt their other dishes will knock a man’s socks off, too.
The bill for 2 at El Bistro came out to about $50.
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