Mexico City Best Restaurants – Our Guide On Where To Eat

Mexico City is Restaurant Heaven
Mexico City, Mexico – February 27, 2014: The Angel of Independence sitting in the middle of a busy street in Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City’s culinary offerings are as wide and diverse as the city itself, ranging from world-class fine dining outlets to irresistible street food and innovative, up-and-coming concepts. Two Travel’s Mexico City restaurant guide includes delicious bites of this extensive gastronomic landscape. Believe us when we say this for starters – we are sure you’ll be left wanting more. We can help you with more recommendations when you book a trip!

Pujol – A Modern Mexican icon

Pujol mexico city

It was a little more than two decades ago that chef Enrique Olvera first opened the doors to his fine dining venture, a truly daring gesture at the time. With a razor-sharp focus on ingredients and flawless technique, Olvera raised traditional flavors and recipes to new, unexpected levels. And he has continued to do so over time, challenging himself and his team to higher standards. 

These days, you can enjoy the Pujol experience in two formats. First is a taco omakase, in which corn is the main protagonist and the chef will surprise you with a series of delightful creations. Second is a multi-course tasting menu, featuring Olvera’s signature mole madre, a sauce that has been aging for more than 2,000 days. 

Price: $$$$

Dress Code: Smart casual

Reservations Needed?: Make sure to book two or three months in advance

Sud777 – Ingredient-Focused Fine Dining

Sud777 - Mexico City restaurant
Photo by: Sud777

Located in the city’s residential Pedregal neighborhood, this beautiful space invites you to take your time as you enjoy each aspect of the experience. At the helm is chef Edgar Nuñez, whose increased passion for putting vegetables at the forefront has allowed the kitchen at Sud777 to evolve over the years. 

In every dish, chef Nuñez and his team make sure every ingredient was grown or born in Mexican soil or water. These ingredients translate into perfectly balanced and beautifully presented creations. Try the smoked kampachi tiradito with hoja santa and chili salsa; turkey breast with amarillito mole, greens, and sweet potato purée; and warm crabmeat salad with butter and squash. Lunch and dinner at Sud777 are available á la carte or as a 12-course tasting menu.

Price: $$$$

Dress Code: Smart casual

Reservations Needed?: Strongly recommended 

Contramar – A Seafood Temple In The City

Contramar restaurant in Mexico City
Photo by: Contramar

It’s not an overstatement to say that most in-the-know visitors who come to Mexico City will hit Contramar at some point. It’s a places you’ll for sure hear about, either from a local or a fellow traveler. This is truly one of the best restaurants in Mexico City. It’s in the heart of Colonia Roma and it’s a favorite for several reasons. The first of course, being the food. Here, chef Gabriela Cámara serves super fresh, unpretentious seafood that is meant to be shared. Think tostadas and tacos, ceviches and aguachiles, and a legendary a la talla-style fish: served whole, half of it seasoned with a parsley rub and the other half with a red chili rub.

To make the experience even more delightful, the service is impeccable. And Contramar’s airy dining room is always bustling with lively conversation. Many patrons love to extend the meals for a couple of hours. Don’t miss the fluffy strawberry-meringue cake or the Carajillo cocktail (made with espresso and Licor 43). You’ll find this cocktail is a staple at most Mexico City eateries.

Price: $$$

Dress Code: Casual

Reservations Needed?: The restaurant doesn’t take reservations; we suggest you get there early.

Nicos – Traditional Recipes Served With Love

Nicos restaurant in Mexico City
Photo by: Nicos

For more than six decades, this family-run restaurant has been celebrating Mexico’s traditional dishes. Led by chef Elena Lugo and her son, Gerardo Vázquez Lugo, Nicos is all about preserving the country’s flavors and making diners feel like part of the family. 

Nicos’ warm, casual atmosphere is equally delightful at breakfast and lunch. If you’re there in the morning, you’ll find a wide variety of egg dishes. We recommend the hearty Enchiladas Nicos: stuffed with chicken and bathed in salsa verde and cream, and topped with poblano pepper slices and melted cheese. They will bring you back to life if you had one too many mezcals the night before.

At lunchtime, don’t miss the charales tacos (with tiny, fried fish from Michoacán), the classic tortilla soup, or chef Elena’s ribs in green pipián mole. Whatever you order, you can be sure that it will be made with excellent ingredients. One of the main drivers of the kitchen at Nicos is the relationship with small producers.  

Price: $$

Dress Code: Casual

Reservations Needed?: Yes

Em

Em - restaurant - Mexico City
Photo by: Em

If you’re looking to delve into one of the most innovative restaurants in Mexico City, Em is one of your best bets. Led by talented young chef Lucho Martínez, Em stands at the corner of Zacatecas and Tonalá in Colonia Roma, where the iconic Máximo Bistrot used to be. The location has proven auspicious for Martínez and his team, whose creative menu, based on using seasonal ingredients with unusual techniques, has drawn the attention of curious foodies in town. 

You can choose between an omakase-style tasting menu or the á la carte option. Unique dishes include a catch of the day with black garlic purée and garlic foam, as well as roasted baby corn with yuzu and soy butter. 

Price: $$$$

Dress Code: Smart casual

Reservations Needed?: Yes

Máximo – A Modern Cantina With A Fabulous View

best restaurants mexico city
Photo by: Máximo


Discover the vibrant culinary journey of Máximo Bistrot, founded in 2011 by chef Eduardo García and his wife, Gabriela Lopez. Rooted in a commitment to seasonal, fresh, and local ingredients, Máximo Bistrot showcases the best of sustainable gardens and crops in and around Mexico City. Chef García’s innovative approach has earned him acclaim as a standout figure in the city’s food scene, culminating in his recognition as the winner of the Estrella Damm Chefs’ Choice Award – Best Reinvention in 2021.

Amidst challenges, García’s dedication to innovation remained unwavering. During periods of closure, he tirelessly supported his network of producers, ensuring their livelihoods while preparing for the restaurant’s relocation to a new, more spacious venue. Here, the culinary magic continues as García seamlessly blends classic European techniques with traditional Mexican ingredients. Indulge in a symphony of flavors with dishes like grilled octopus paired with mole de olla sauce and organic sweet potato, or savor the richness of morels complemented by sherry and foie gras emulsion. At Máximo Bistrot, every bite tells a story of passion, creativity, and the vibrant tapestry of Mexican cuisine.

Price: $$$

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Reservations Needed?: Yes

Quintonil – A Modern Cantina With A Fabulous View

best restaurants mexico city
Photo by: Quintonil

Quintonil, a culinary gem in Mexico City, embodies the creative prowess of chef Jorge Vallejo and the warm hospitality of Alejandra Flores. Their innovative take on traditional Mexican cuisine, utilizing fresh, local ingredients, has garnered widespread acclaim. From spider crab in green mole to inventive dishes like cactus sorbet, each bite at Quintonil offers a journey through Mexico’s vibrant flavors. Following a 2020 redesign, the restaurant boasts a sleek counter seating area overlooking the open kitchen, enhancing the dining experience. Vallejo’s culinary journey, from Noma to Quintonil, alongside Flores’ hospitality expertise, creates a dining atmosphere that’s both inviting and unforgettable, solidifying Quintonil’s status as a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts in Mexico City.

Price: $$$

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Reservations Needed?: Yes

Terraza Cha Cha Cha – A Modern Cantina With A Fabulous View

Terraza Cha Cha Cha - Mexico City restaurants
Photo by: Terraza Cha Cha Cha

This lively restaurant is inspired by the beloved port city of Acapulco and its endless days and nights of partying. It also boasts one of the most spectacular views in Mexico City. Here you’ll get an amazing view of the Monument to the Revolution. This is a perfect spot to spend a Friday or Saturday afternoon. Enjoy tasty cantina-inspired bites, an ice-cold beer, or a refreshing cocktail. Watch the hours go by until night falls and the Monument lights up.

The menu features addictive tacos. We especially recommend the duck carnitas and the Baja-style fish tacos. Also the guacamole sprinkled with chapulines (fried grasshoppers) and seafood tostadas. For main courses, try the grilled octopus or an impressive rib eye served with glazed mushrooms. The fun cocktail offerings include their signature Cantarito, prepared with Patrón Silver tequila, grapefruit soda, and orange, lime, grapefruit, and lemon juice.

Price: $$$

Dress Code: Casual

Reservations Needed?: Yes

El Cardenal – Unbeatable Breakfast With Several Locations

El Cardenal restaurant mexico city
Photo by: El Cardenal

Born in the very heart of the city’s Centro Histórico, El Cardenal has grown to have four locations across the city. Despite this, it remains family-run and family-centered. Its comforting menu features appetizers like escamoles (ant larvae) if you’re feeling adventurous enough to eat some bugs, and entrées like traditional Oaxaca-style stuffed chili. But it’s breakfast that keeps everyone coming back to this iconic Mexico City restaurant. We love to start with their sweet hot chocolate and a fresh-from-the-oven pastry. Then dig into Michoacán-style enchiladas or scrambled eggs served in a clay pot. 

Price: $$

Dress Code: Casual

Reservations Needed?: Yes

Street Food – A Few Basics

Mexico City Street Food
London, UK – February, 2018. Mexican street food stall in Brick Lane Market. Landscape format.

The universe of Mexican street food is vast and delicious. Throughout your trip, you are bound to encounter all sorts of street snacks, from giant cups of freshly-squeezed juice to fried churros and tacos stuffed with every meat imaginable. Some of the most fantastic tacos you will come across will be al pastor (pork meat with an adobo rub), beef, carnitas (fried pork), or barbacoa (slow-roasted lamb). With just a splash of lime juice and a dollop of hot salsa, you’ll soon realize why the humble taco is so widely beloved in this country. 

As you explore street corners in Mexico City, you’ll also spot carts or stands offering elotes and esquites. These are two delicious iterations of corn: an elote is corn on the cob, covered in mayo, cheese, and powdered chili, while esquites are corn kernels served hot in a cup with the same toppings as an elote.

While no trip to Mexico City can be considered complete without at least one stop for street food, here are some tips for a positive experience. Choose vendors that look busy with locals. Sticking with a popular spot means you’ll most likely get the freshest ingredients and high quality preparation. Also, keep in mind that Mexico City street food is very spicy! When it comes to salsa, start by asking for a little, “poquito” and only add more if you’re up for it.

If you’re planning a trip to Mexico City, it’s highly likely that you’re already dreaming of the city’s fascinating food scene. This guide will take you to the best places to eat in the city. We can also help you to plan every single detail of your vacation!

2024 Guide to the Best Restaurants in Medellin

Food in Medellin is a big deal, and tourists and locals alike take it very seriously. At Two Travel, we firmly believe that your culinary experience in a country can make or break a vacation. That’s why we’ve made a list of the best restaurants in Medellin to ensure you are getting the most out of your trip. 

There are a handful of superstar chefs who have put Medellin on the culinary map. With innovative dishes, locally and responsibly sourced ingredients, and Michelin-starred resumes, their projects in the City of Eternal Spring have been a roaring success. But the beautiful thing about Medellin is that you can also find incredibly flavorful food on any and every street corner. Local dishes are hearty and filling, and evoke a comforting sense of home; even if your grandma isn’t an old Latina lady. Which brings us to the following question…

What do people in Medellín eat?

Paisa (local to Medellin) cuisine is famous all over Colombia. The most famous dish is the Bandeja Paisa, which is a mixed platter of some of the most delicious local foods. It consists of rice, beans, avocado, chicharron (fried pork belly), sausage, mincemeat, sweet plantain, and a fried egg. After all, calories don’t count when you’re on vacation! You can’t leave Medellin without trying an arepa, a delicious and versatile corn patty, served with pretty much everything. Mondongo is a traditional soup packed full of potatoes, yucca, meat, and tripe. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it; Paisas pride themselves on their mondongo recipe!

Many of Medellin’s best restaurants have adopted and adapted these traditional foods to put a contemporary and exclusive twist on them. The restaurants included in our list below range from Michelin-star-worthy fine dining to relaxed, hearty food. In Medellin, you can enjoy intimate, romantic dinners, or raucous cocktail-fuelled nights that end with you dancing on a rooftop. Given Medellin’s perfect, spring-like climate all year round, sourcing local, seasonal ingredients has also been a huge recent trend. Sustainability is trending, and we are here for it!

Where are the best restaurants in Medellín?

On your trip to Medellin, you will come across a plethora of restaurants. Some of the best restaurants in Medellin are hidden in plain sight, and some are conveniently located for going out to party afterward. Most are located in El Poblado, but some of the restaurants with the best views are a little further up the mountain. You’ll be sure to find some of the best restaurants in Medellin with a view in this list! As well as its exquisite variety in gastronomy, Medellin is also an excellent place to go out partying. Don’t miss our Guide to the Best Places to Party in Medellín!

The following places are our unmissable recommendations for foodies, so prepare your palate for some big eats at Medellin’s top restaurants. 

It’s our passion to help you plan your trip from start to finish, and help you with the small details too! We can make restaurant reservations for you, create personalized itineraries, and even do your shopping. Get in touch with us today to enquire about Two Travel’s Concierge Services.

El Cielo – Best for a Michelin-starred experience 

El Cielo Restaurant, Medellin
Photo by: El Cielo Hotel

El Cielo is an unmissable fine dining experience in Medellin. Its concept is proudly and undeniably Colombian, with avant-garde techniques that make it stand out in an exceptional way. Chef Juan Manuel “Juanma” Barrientos is a young chef who has achieved incredible things throughout his career, leading the path for molecular cuisine in Colombia and the USA. El Cielo D.C and Miami were both awarded a Michelin star, and its branches in Bogota and Medellin are on the same level. The menu is a 22-course sensory experience where you are encouraged to eat with your hands, play with your food, and truly enjoy yourself. This isn’t an experience to be rushed, so make sure you dedicate your evening to it, and let yourself be swept away by the creative innovation of Juanma and his team. 

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart 
Reservations needed?: Yes, make sure to book early

Carmen – Best for locally inspired fusion

Carmen Restaurant, Medellin
Photo by: Carmen Restaurant

If you’ve read our blog on the Best Restaurants in Cartagena, you’ll already have heard us sing the praises of Carmen Restaurant, which has branches in both Cartagena and Medellin. Carmen works with ingredients of the highest quality; locally sourced and expertly crafted. The restaurant itself is intimate and beautifully designed with its high ceilings and jungle-like conservatory. The cooking of head chef Carmen Angel takes Colombian classics such as the empanada, a stuffed fried patty common in Colombian street food, and makes it sophisticated. The meat is sourced from the nearby Andean mountains, and the fish is freshly caught in the Pacific Ocean. They also have a tasting menu with wine pairings that are highly recommended. 

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart 
Reservations needed?: Yes, book ahead 

X.O. Medellín – Best for a sensorial exploration of Colombian ingredients 

Photo by: X.O. Medellin

Part of the Carmen group (recommended in our Cartagena restaurants blog), X.O. is a haute cuisine must-see in Medellín. A true celebration of Colombian biodiversity, this restaurant pays tribute to small farmers and artisans, whilst maintaining an exceptional level of quality and service. In the words of Chefs Rob Pevitts, Mateo Ríos and Sebastián Marín, “Our inspiration is food coming from the source, which can become a powerful ingredient”. Each dish is a work of art and will take you on a culinary exploration of the Colombian territory. Check out the 13-course tasting menu, which is an homage to sustainably caught seafood. Despite the quality and outright beauty of their dishes, the concept of X.O. is “fun dining, not fine dining”, so come along prepared to have a good time!

Price: $$$
Dress code: Fun & chic
Reservations needed?: Book ahead

Sambombi Bistró Local – For true farm-to-table dining

best restaurants in medellin colombia
Photo by: Sambombi

Who said food had to be complicated? Sometimes we just need to let the ingredients do the talking. And in Sambobi Bistro Local, you can’t get much fresher than this. This unassuming Provenza-based restaurant is quickly gaining ground as one of the best restaurants in Medellin. With a sustainable approach to sourcing the best local ingredients, Sambobi is infused with modernism while still nodding to a rich cultural heritage. The interior is stylish yet unpretentious, and the food is consistently excellent. Highlights include the snapper crudo, the roast chicken with shiitake mushrooms, and the caramel/white chocolate flan. We also had the best, most flavorful tomatoes of our lives at Sambombi. However, the menu changes weekly and sometimes even daily due to being seasonal and local, which we love.

Another reason to visit Sambobi is for their forward-thinkingness in sustainability. They don’t use plastic bottles and use biodegradable packaging. We hope that all restaurants of the future look like this one.

Price: $$
Dress code: Laid-back yet stylish vibe
Reservations needed?: Book ahead

Mamba Negra – Best for craft cocktails and Mediterranean cuisine

best restaurants medellin colombia
Photo by: World’s 50 Best

Located on the 22nd floor on a luxury rooftop, Mamba Negra boasts stunning views over the Medellin Valley. It’s the perfect place for an intimate evening meal or drinks with friends. With a similar vibe to Alquimico, one of our favorite bar-restaurants in Cartagena, Mamba Negra has a laser focus on quality and local ingredients. They source ingredients seasonally and locally, and their Mediterranean-style cuisine with Spanish influence is second to none. And all their hard work has paid off, as Mamba Negra has been mentioned in the “World’s 50 Best Discovery” list; an impressive feat, given that Medellín has only come into its own as a tourist destination over the past 10 or so years. This place is definitely a vibe, and a hotspot for Medellin nightlife.

Price: $$$
Dress code: No official dress code, but you will want to dress stylish to come here
Reservations needed?: Book ahead to avoid disappointment

Oci.Mde – Best for gourmet comfort food

Oci.Mde Restaurant, Medellin
Photo by: Oci.Mde

Home is slow-cooked meat. Home is big plates of delicious food to share. Head chef Laura Londoño has done an incredible job in creating a warm and inviting environment in her restaurant Oci.Mde. Families, groups of friends, and couples gather around tables piled high with food. They share mouthwatering dishes such as the 5-hour braised pork, or short ribs 12 hours braised in lemon and chili caramel sauce. It tastes like comfort food but still packs enough punch with local Colombian ingredients and innovative techniques to keep you on your toes. Londoño trained at a 3-Michelin star restaurant in Paris and brought her many years of knowledge to her home country to create her own concept. Although Oci.Mde’s specialty is slow-cooked meat, vegetarian and vegan options are available.

Price: $$
Dress code: Smart / smart casual
Reservations needed?: Highly recommended, especially on weekends 

Colosal – Best for fine dining with a view

Photo by: Carlos Velez

If you want to make the most of the spectacular views on offer in the mountainous valley that surrounds Medellin, don’t think twice about heading to Colosal. Colossal is one of the best restaurants in Medellin with a view. Located in leafy Envigado, just a stone’s throw from Poblado, this restaurant stands out from the crowd. It offers outdoor dining, live bands and DJs, and impeccable service. The food speaks for itself, and has something for everyone. You can enjoy perfectly-cooked meat and fish, to delicious homemade pastas, and substantial salads. Colossal is the perfect place for a romantic evening, and their wine list is extensive and well-crafted.

Price: $$
Dress code: Dress to impress
Reservations needed?: Highly recommended

Oni – Best for fresh Japanese flavors

best restaurants in medellin colombia
Photo by: Sin Mente

If you’re looking for a restaurant that has it all; chic decoration, fresh and experimental flavors, and impeccable service, Oni is the place to be. This Asian fusion restaurant serves Nikkei-inspired dishes. The Nikkei style is a harmonious synthesis of Peruvian and Japanese cuisines. In true Japanese and Peruvian style, the dishes are simple with high-quality ingredients that speak for themselves. The tuna tacos in crunchy wonton are unmissable, along with the tiradito with ají amarillo, a Nikkei classic. They have perfect dishes for sharing, and some which you will want to keep all to yourself. Oh, and stick around for dessert. It’s worth it.

Price: $$
Dress code: Chic-casual 
Reservations needed?: Not strictly necessary, but book ahead for busy times

Alambique – For Secret Garden vibes and Latin American cuisine

Hidden behind a tiny and unassuming doorway in el Poblado lies an oasis filled with plants, flavors and aromas. Despite being difficult to find, Alambique is a hidden gem and definitely worth looking for. The interior is jungly and cozy, and gives vintage “living room” vibes, which make a refreshing change from the usual aesthetic of el Poblado. They also have a rooftop terrace where you can enjoy their creative cocktails and live music. Alongside traditional liquors, Alambique also makes use of local Colombian liquors such as Viche, a sugar-cane based drink that is part of Colombia’s “cultural and ancestral heritage”.

The cuisine at Alambique is traditional Colombian food with a creative twist. Common street-foods such as the buñuelo (cheesy fried maize balls) are reinvented and elevated. Portions are big and meant for sharing – make sure you don’t order more than one dish per two people. Service is slow so go with plenty of time and be prepared to enjoy their relaxed ambiance and some great conversation. Good food is not meant to be rushed.

Price: $$
Dress code: Casual 
Reservations needed?: Book ahead via WhatsApp

Rúnico – For a classy night out with a touch of mysticism

best restaurants in medellin colombia
Photo by: Forbes Colombia

Rúnico is the passion project of Colombian ex-footballer Juan Fernando Quintero. With over $700,000 USD invested in its creation, the result was always going to be impressive. Runico is super stylish and vibey, with an industrial interior and a varied international menu. There are several ambiences at Runico, but the general atmosphere is a party atmosphere rather than a super intimate one. Their DJ pumps out excellent tunes until 2 A.M on the weekends, making it a hotspot for Medellin nightlife, and an unforgettable night out. The menu boasts an array of textures and flavors; in their own words, “a ritual of ancestral sensations”.

Prices for mains average at around $70,000 COP – $100,000 COP per dish (around $20 USD), but reach up to $600,000 COP ($150 USD) for their signature Cowboy ribeye steak with truffle butter. The live shows (including juggling, aerial acrobatics and fire breathing) give a mystical and dynamic twist to your night out.

Price: $$$$
Dress code: Smart & stylish chic 
Reservations needed?: Yes – you can easily book on their website

Ritwal Mesa y Mística – For fancy Mediterranean cuisine and stunning mountain views

best restaurants in medellin
Photo by: Ritwal

Far from the hustle and bustle of central Poblado, in Alto de los Balsos, lies Ritwal. This restaurant consists of wooden “casitas” perched in the mountains. It offers stunning views of the city and the Aburrá valley. It is a breath of fresh air – quite literally – and gives the unique feeling of being in nature yet still close to the city that one can only experience in Medellin. Make sure to bring something to cover you up if you have dinner reservations, as it can get chilly at night. From brunch to dinner, the menu at Ritwal is hugely varied. Despite being pricier than other options in Medellin, the quality and presentation of the dishes is impeccable. 

The “brunch del sol” (available from 10am to 2pm) is unmissable – we can’t get enough of the caramelized banana and honey pancakes or the Italian mortadella sandwich with burrata as a savory option. They also offer sessions of yoga alongside the brunch to complete the transformative experience in the middle of nature.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Casual and chic 
Reservations needed?: Yes – a $50,000 COP deposit is required for each person in the reservation (this amount goes towards the final bill)

Dos Santos Cantina – For an authentic Mexican experience with mariachis

best restaurants medellin colombia
Photo by: Restaurant Guru

If you are looking for an authentic Mexican experience you came to the right place. Dos Santos is characterized for being a 100% Mexican restaurant that combines flavors of that country and has a wide range of liquors between mezcals and tequilas to live a complete experience of textures and flavors. In addition, every day there is a live show of the best mariachis in Medellin, so you will really feel in Mexico while listening to a famous ranchera and drinking tequila in a party atmosphere and with good food. Also, its location is perfect, as it is located in Provenza and very close to all the nightlife of Medellin.

And as if that wasn’t enough, on Tuesdays of course they do Taco Tuesday, where you can eat two octopus tacos, two chicharron tacos, two al pastor tacos, and two chicken tacos accompanied by two margaritas. So if you are looking for an authentic Mexican atmosphere to eat, have some good drinks, and continue the night this is the place to be.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Casual 
Reservations needed?: Not strictly necessary, but book ahead for busy times on their Instagram

El Botánico – To live an experience of senses around signature cuisine

best restaurants medellin colombia
Photo by: El Botánico

El Botanico is one of the most reputable restaurants in Medellin. Since it opened its doors 7 years ago it has become one of the references in terms of fusion food and sensory experiences around perfectly prepared food dishes served especially for each person who visits them. Their food and cocktails are perfect for any occasion and their exclusivity makes them one of the most sought after for locals and tourists.

Every process, every cut, and every ingredient is properly thought out to achieve a final result that blends tradition and flavor. At El Botánico the experience will be much more profound and you will feel that eating is really an art and that food should be enjoyed as in this restaurant.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Casual and chic (no shorts, no sandals, and no tank tops) 
Reservations needed?: Yes – You can easily book here

Mondongo’s – Best for a hearty local Sunday lunch

Photo by: Mondongos

Mondongo’s is the place to head for a Sunday lunch when you need some hearty home cooking to rectify a hangover caused by a heavy night out. Its generous portions, friendly service, and local vibe make it a favorite amongst Paisas and tourists all over the city. Make sure you try its namesake, mondongo soup, served with avocado, fried plantain, lime and arepas. Here is also a perfect place to try the famous bandeja paisa, a traditional lunch in Medellin. Its popularity means that queues can sometimes lead out of the door, but they generously provide bottles of water and the queue moves relatively quickly. Come hungry and prepare yourself for a true local Colombian dining experience.

Price: $
Dress code: Casual
Reservations needed?: No reservations, get there early to avoid queues on weekends.

With so much choice and gastronomic variation in the city of Medellin, this guide is your best go-to for checking all the culinary boxes during your vacation. Let us help you plan all the other details, too!

2024 Guide to the Best Restaurants in Cartagena

Photo by: Carmen

Foodies, rejoice! Gastronomy in Cartagena is BIG. Hidden amongst the cobbled streets of the walled city are some of the most talented chefs in Colombia. Wining and dining is our passion. We know all the best restaurants in Cartagena, from the classics to the new kids on the block. Read on for our definitive guide to the best restaurants in town.

Cartagena, being a touristic city, is a gastronomical melting pot. You can find an abundance of traditional dishes from the Colombian coast such as coconut rice, fried fish, and patacones. However, you can also find a varying range of flavors like Asian, Italian, Lebanese, Spanish, and everything in between. Due to its privileged location on the Caribbean coast, you can also expect some of the best (and freshest!) seafood of your life. It’s possible to eat at a different restaurant for lunch and dinner for every night during your trip to Cartagena, and still not even scratch the surface of the incredible restaurants that are on offer.

Along with the enormous variety of cuisines, Cartagena also has a huge variety of prices. From haute cuisine fine dining experiences at Alma or Carmen, to casual courtyard dining at La Cevichería, to $2 street pizza at Zazzy’s, there is something for everyone on the Cartagena restaurant scene. Some finer restaurants do have a dress code, so keep this in mind and save your sliders for the poolside, and get your long pants pressed! In Cartagena, high season is almost all year round, so make sure to make reservations in advance, especially if you have a bigger group and are looking to dine out on a weekend.

Don’t speak Spanish, or simply don’t fancy spending your well-earned vacay on hold? We got you! Just hire our concierge services. We can call in for you and make any and all reservations you need.

 

Cartagena’s historic center – known locally as Centro – is a hub for restaurants, bars, and villas. It is usually here where you can find some of the more high-end establishments. Most restaurants in Centro can be found inside beautiful 17th Century colonial buildings. They are rustic and visually stunning – often boasting internal courtyards, exposed brick arches, and palm trees. Dining in a colonial house adds to the irresistible charm of the Cartagena experience.

Carmen Cartagena – Best for fine dining Colombian fusion

Photo by: Carmen

Head chefs Carmen Angel and her husband both studied at Le Cordon Bleu, the most prestigious culinary institution in the world. Their experience and passion for local, fresh ingredients make Carmen Cartagena stand out above the rest. The restaurant is situated in an intimate and elegant colonial house downtown, and the menu is a celebration of local flavors, many of which are unique to Colombia. At their Cartagena restaurant, they also serve freshly caught lobster, octopus, and crab, presented in unique and creative ways. At Carmen, every plate is a work of art. Their à la carte menu is your best option for an optimal dining experience. Every tiny detail is executed to perfection, from the attentive service to the award-winning wine list and the innovative craft cocktails. For anyone looking to impress – think proposals, anniversaries, or milestone birthdays, Carmen is the place to come. 

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart 
Reservations needed?: Yes

 

 

 

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Photo by: Don Diablo

Don Diablo is inspired by Colombian meat, which is dry-aged in an exclusive cellar to bring to your table an unparalleled experience of flavor and texture. In a cozy and elegant atmosphere, Don Diablo is a proposal that seeks to vindicate the national beef innovation with modern culinary techniques and grill. Its menu offers a proposal of 100% Colombian meat dry-aged at home and grilled on a grill of our own design with local firewood. Vegetarian and seafood options are also offered along with a handcrafted cocktail proposal and a premium wine list.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart/Casual 
Reservations needed?: Yes

Apogeo – Best for Mediterranean experience with a view

 

 

apogeo restaurant in cartagena colombiaPhoto by: Apogeo

In a corner where the Mediterranean and Latin passion converge, this fantastic restaurant is born as a place that goes far beyond gastronomy. Here, cuisine becomes a universal language woven with art, exclusivity, and mystery. Apogeo is a space where the unexpected and the sublime merge, where each dish is a masterpiece and each ingredient a shared story. For this restaurant, the connection with the client is the true reason for being. Every detail, from the choice of ingredients to the live music, is carefully selected to create an unforgettable experience. In addition, the experience will be enhanced by enjoying one of the best views of the walled city on its fabulous rooftop, where the Caribbean breeze and the Cartagena nights will make you experience moments to remember.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart/Casual 
Reservations needed?: Yes


La Cevichería – Best for seafood and people-watching from the plaza

Photo by: La Cevicheria

If you went to Cartagena and didn’t pass by La Cevicheria, did you really even go to Cartagena? This cute seafood restaurant perched on the corner of Plaza San Diego may seem small and unassuming, but don’t underestimate it, as La Cevichería is infamous in Cartagena. It even appeared in restaurant magazines and TV shows when Anthony Bourdain visited on his show ‘No Reservations’. Its blue and white color scheme and outdoor dining tables give off a Mediterranean vibe, with a Caribbean twist. The food is also fresh, healthy, and Mediterranean-inspired with a distinctly Colombian flavor. The use of coconut gives a strong nod to the Caribbean, and its homemade hot sauce is unbeatable. So grab a seat, and enjoy the spectacle in the plaza put on by the famous Cartagena street performers (here, Michael Jackson is well and truly alive and comes out to dance every night).

Price: $$
Dress code: Casual
Reservations needed?: No reservations accepted, get there early and queue!

UMA Cantina Peruana – Best for authentic Peruvian 

Photo by: UMA

Come join us for a Pisco Sour at UMA restaurant in Hilton’s Hotel Nácar inside the Old City of Cartagena. This remarkable Peruvian-inspired restaurant will soon also be opening doors in Medellín and Miami. There will be no need to travel to Lima as you can find the best Peruvian gastronomy right here in Cartagena. From traditional ceviches to tiraditos (fish sashimi) and anticuchos (beef heart), it couldn’t get more authentic than this. The food is fresh, colorful, and visually stunning. We loved the grilled octopus with bok choy and shiitake mushrooms. It was truly some of the best octopus we have tried – and we know our seafood! We also still salivate thinking about the black spaghetti with tiger milk and prawns. You can even get the famous Inka Kola (if you’ve been to Peru, you will recognize this fluorescent green soda). UMA is perfect for a romantic night on a special occasion, or for exploring the majestic flavors of Latin America with friends.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Dress nice
Reservations needed?: Recommended

Restaurante La Única – Best for authentic Mexican food

La Unica restaurant CartagenaPhoto by: La Unica

If, after a few days in Cartagena, you have eaten yourself into a ceviche and lobster stupor and want to try something different, we absolutely love La Única. It’s a Mexican restaurant that actually has branches in Mexico – so you know it’s legit. This modern cantina will take you far away from the stereotype of a Mexican restaurant and allow you to focus on the quality and artistry of its food. From tacos and guacamole to grilled octopus and juicy steaks, La Única Cartagena will not disappoint. This restaurant is the perfect place to come with a group of friends, as it has a fun, playful vibe and has great music – from in-house DJs to live mariachi bands. Share a tequila or two with friends and let the good times roll!

Price: $$
Dress code: Smart/ Casual
Reservations needed?: Highly recommended 

Lobo de Mar – Best for Mediterranean fusion with style

The owners of one of our favorite clubs in Cartagena – La Movida – also have a restaurant in the center of Cartagena. We knew their taste was impeccable, as we always have an amazing time at La Movida. So it was no surprise to find Lobo del Mar quickly becoming one of our go-to options in Cartagena’s gastronomy scene. The menu is extensive and varied, but everything is exquisitely prepared. From fish and seafood (the tuna tartar is unmissable) to burrata pizza in their wood-fired oven, to pork belly bao, everything is spot on. The décor is distinctly Cartagenian; you will be charmed by their high ceilings, vintage tiles, and indoor plants. And don’t leave without trying one of their signature cocktails, which are a celebration of local liquors, fruits, and flavors.

Price: $$
Dress code: Dress chic to go out clubbing afterwards
Reservations needed?: Not always needed but definitely recommended for bigger groups and peak times

Want to learn more about La Movida club and our other Cartagena faves? Check out our Best Bars in Cartagena blog!

Buena Vida Marisquería – Best for cheat day and good times

Photo by: Buena Vida Marisqueria

Everything about Buena Vida Marisquería – from the decoration, to the music, to the menu – characterizes the Cartagena we know and love. Colorful, fun, and irresistible are three words we would use to describe this seafood restaurant. While its dishes, such as the crab nachos, seafood mac and cheese and desgranado de camarones aren’t light on calories, they sure are full of flavor. It’s no coincidence that this restaurant’s name means Good Life, as you are guaranteed to have a good time at this restaurant, which consists of 3 floors of deliciousness. The first two floors are for the seafood restaurant, and the top floor is an adults-only rooftop bar with an impressive cocktail menu and smaller snack options from the restaurant. Come with a group of friends to start off an unforgettable Cartagena night. 

Price: $$
Dress code: Casual chic
Reservations needed?: Highly recommended at peak hours

Candé – Best for an immersive Cartagena experience 

Candé CartagenaCandé

If Cartagena were a restaurant, she would be Candé. A lot of the culture of a city may come from its gastronomy, but we mustn’t forget about the rest. Music, dance, and traditional dress are all things that Candé incorporates into its dining experience to ensure that its diners are fully immersed in the Cartagenero experience. Enjoy the live musical show at both lunchtime and dinner time, and watch professionals dance the Mapalé and Cumbia, traditional Colombian dances. Stimulate your senses whilst you tuck into some incredible food. Make sure you leave room for dessert, however, as their menu features local delicacies you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Culture, music, and tradition all come together at Candé to provide an unforgettable experience for families, groups, and couples alike. 

Price: $$$
Dress code: Dress smart!
Reservations needed?: Yes. Make sure to request a table where you can see the show.

Feel free to cancel your upcoming flight to Peru, because Cuzco Cartagena has everything you need. Cuzco has really put itself on the map as one of the best restaurants in Cartagena. However, it is so much more than just good food. The entire experience offered at Cuzco Cocina Peruana makes for a fantastic night out. Enjoy live music by the glowing pool, some of the best ceviche in the city (and that’s saying something!), and romantic moments below the Colonial arches. Make sure to try chicha morada, a traditional Peruvian drink, but stay for the lobster risotto, a Two Travel favorite. The three varieties of sangria are enough to give you a merry start to your night.

If you’re looking for a lively restaurant with a youthful feel, you can also go next door to Baruco by Cuzco. There, you’re also sure to find awesome food and great cocktails to boot.

Price: $$
Dress code: Smart chic
Reservations needed?: Book a couple days in advance

Agua de Leon is also a local designer brand for adults and (extremely stylish) kids. Their restaurant is on the same vibe as their clothes. Visually stunning, perfectionist by nature, and great to show off on a Friday night. Their Colombian dishes are a sentimental ode to traditional local flavors, but with a contemporary twist. The fried costeño cheese with truffle is the perfect example of this; mixing the familiar, salty flavors of any Colombian childhood with the sultry umami of truffle. The restaurant itself is an architectural beauty, reminiscent of some of our favorite restaurants in Provenza, Medellin. Understated yet elegant are the words to describe the experience at Agua de Leon, an unmissable experience on your trip to Cartagena.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Dress to impress
Reservations needed?: Yes

Alma Cartagena

Situated in the super stylish boutique hotel Casa San Agustín, Alma is fast-becoming known as one of the unmissable culinary experiences in Cartagena. Its gastronomic concept pays homage to Caribbean Colombian cuisine and its traditional flavors, with a high-class and contemporary twist. We love going on weekends to enjoy the live Cuban son music, and the atmosphere is always warm and inviting. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic meal. Although fresh fish and seafood are the stars of the menu, Alma also offers vegan options and premium cuts of meat.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart. Long pants and closed shoes for men are a must.
Reservations needed?: Yes. Reservations are tricky so book ahead.

Getsemani is Centro’s younger, cooler sister. It’s the nightlife district where you can find the majority of the clubs and bars. People also gather at a central square, Plaza de la Trinidad, at night, to drink beer and watch street performers. It has a lot of incredible restaurants tucked away inside the colonial arches of its cobbled streets. Read on to find our favorite restaurant recommendations in Getsemani, Cartagena.

Celele one of the best 50 restaurants in South AmericaPhoto by: Celele

Celele by Proyecto Caribe Lab – Best for a gastronomical experience 

Hidden away in an unassuming colonial house in Getsemani, the bohemian neighboring barrio to Cartagena’s walled city, lies Celele. Voted as one of the “50 Best Restaurants 2020” and winning multiple other awards for their innovative menu and concept, chefs Jaime Rodriguez and Sebastian Pinzón have really hit the nail on the head. Celele is more than just a restaurant; it is a study of gastronomical anthropology. The chefs have travelled Colombia, talking to indigenous peoples and rediscovering long-forgotten flavors and methods. The food is visually stunning, and each dish has a profound cultural significance behind it. Celele restaurant celebrates the rich biodiversity of Colombia, taking humble ingredients and giving them a high-class spin. 

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart casual
Reservations needed: Yes

Want to know more about bars in Cartagena? Check out our Guide to the Best Bars in Cartagena!

If the streets of Cartagena remind you of Cuba, Calle Dragones bar and restaurant will transport you straight to 1950s Havana. This charming joint is perched on top of the famous salsa club La Habana in Cartagena’s buzzing night district, Gesemani. It was designed with an old cabaret in mind, evoking the golden age of Cuba. Everything about it exudes luxury and glamour; and you can enjoy food, drinks, and music in all of its three ambiences. Cuban chef Luis Pous explores, through his food, Cuban gastronomy and its Asian influences. We loved the pork dumplings with kimchi alioli and truffle essence and the New York steak matured in Colombian coffee beans. The flavors are revolutionary for Cartagena, a city dominated by fish and pizza.

The cocktail menu doesn’t fall far behind, and in Calle Dragones you can find some of the best cocktails in Cartagena. Certainly the best Old Fashioned. And, in true Cartagena style, you can enjoy the fresh air and live DJ from the rooftop terrace, while you watch the night revellers below you. And, of course, if you fancy joining them, you can pop downstairs to La Habana and dance the night away.

Price: $$$
Dress code: Smart chic
Reservations needed: Not necessary but recommended for busy dates

La Cocina de Pepina – Best for comforting Colombian home cooking

If you want to feel like you have been invited to the kitchen of a Colombian abuela, head down to La Cocina de Pepina. Located in a yellow Colonial house in Getsemani, this unassuming restaurant has won multiple gastronomic prizes. La Cocina de Pepina has local, fresh flavors and really captures the essence of local fare from Cartagena. Be prepared to try something new – whether it’s the tart corozo juice – a local berry a bit like a cranberry – or the mote de queso. Mote (pronounced mo-tay) is a cheese soup thickened with yam and yucca – new comfort food unlocked!

You will soon be eating like a Cartagenero (local to Cartagena) as you fall in love with the diverse flavors of the Caribbean. With African influence and of course the influence of the offerings of the Caribbean Sea on its doorstep, Cartagena has a world of flavor. Come for lunch – but be prepared to wait for a table at this popular local spot!

Price: $
Dress code: Casual
Reservations needed: No reservations accepted. Be prepared for a short wait at busy times

With so many restaurant choices in Cartagena, and new ones popping up every day, this list really could go on forever. We feel the need to make a few honorable mentions for some old favorites of ours with the Two Travel seal of approval. For those days when you really need a great steak, Quebracho Argentinian Grill is your best bet. They offer prime cuts any Argentinian would approve of. If Italian is your thing, Don Ignazio will transport you to the backstreets of Florence. Don’t forget to stop by Verona for some of the best pizzas in Cartagena. If you loved Cuzco and are craving more Peruvian food in your life, definitely check out Gran Inka Gastro Bar.

 

Dining in Cartagena is nothing short of a cultural experience. Don’t forget that we are here for you to make life as easy as possible. We can call and make reservations on your behalf, as well as resolve any other issues or questions you may have!

Don’t work harder, work smarter, and let Two Travel Concierge take care of you and your group!