Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
South America

More Top Restaurants

Cartagena streets
Cartagena’s old historic streets are home to numerous high-quality restaurants.

Cartagena, the stylish offspring of the re-emerging country Colombia, is well-known for its varied culinary temples offering excellent gourmet choices.

For those who would like to experience Colombian taste sensations, here is our guide to some of the best tables in this South American hotspot.

1. Don Juan

Cartagena’s illustrious chef Juan Felipe Camacho has earned a reputation for creating culinary masterpieces. Indeed, his insistence on using only the best quality ingredients is reflected in some quite hefty prices. However, the clientele served here usually has the means. In fact, this restaurant often serves the president of Colombia whenever he comes to town.

Menu items include seven starters, 13 mains and four desserts. Exotic choices include grilled octopus, crayfish lobster risotto and the Entrecote.

Typical desert choices include chocolate mousse made with dark chocolate and black truffles. Grilled shrimp suffused with passion fruit sauce and topped with pico de gallo, grilled grouper as well as lemon and parmesan risotto are also popular.

The restaurant features Italian fare in high style and lush gardens.

2. Vera

Located in the cobblestoned old city, Tcherassi Hotel’s posh Vera restaurant is the definition of stylish luxury, giving its visitors a taste of the high life. In fact, Vera is the first fashion hotel in South America.

The 50-seat Italian restaurant is favored by the sort of high class locals and visitors. Vera serves Italian fare using local seafood and impressive techniques by Daniel Castaño, a former Mario Batali acolyte who most recently helmed Bogota’s popular Emilia Romagna restaurant.

Visitors can also sip cocktails in the relaxed yet buzzing bar before they sample the creative and sophisticated dishes reflecting vibrant Latin American cuisine prepared with a Caribbean flair.

3. La Perla

La Perla, a true Peruvian eatery, stands out in Cartagena’s romantic and charming old city. Lima chef Carlos Accinelli’s menu changes regularly, but favorites include tuna tiraditos (thin strips of fresh tuna or sea bass cured in tiger milk) cured in yellow chiles and ginger and suckling pig entrée served with heartbreakingly crispy skin.

A sophisticated spot from sipping drinks, the drinks list includes house-made limoncello and an array of pisco cocktails. Most often, the menu included the drinks menu is quite piquant.

The owner’s passion for cocktails comes through in La Perla’s selection of worldly-wise creations with the bar staff taking advantage of Colombia’s rich variety of fresh fruits to add a new twist to some staple South American tipples.

4. Marea by Rausch

Many say Marea is one of the best seafood restaurants in Cartagena. Marea By Rausch boasts a sensational sea view along with varied gourmet choices. It creates a full experience inspired by Colombia’s famous culinary double-act, Jorge and Mark Rausch.

Their top dishes include their signature dish, the Mojarra Frita, which at first glance appears to be a simple, well-executed version of the fried fish Cartagena staple. Other highlights from the menu include a Peruvian-style seafood rice infused with turmeric and entrecote. The choices are also well suited to the sweet-toothed visitor.

5. Malagana Café

Located in a rather quiet area in Getsemani, this family-owned restaurant offers a unique experience. Menu highlights include ceviche, empanadas and stiff margaritas. With the sweeping city views from its rooftop bar, Malagana is the perfect starting point to explore the rest of Getsemani.

Cartagena is a food lover’s dream, providing an inexhaustible and eclectic mix of talented chefs trained in some of the finest kitchens of the world. Combining Caribbean, Latin, Asian and Mediterranean influences creates a unique taste that cannot be experienced anywhere else.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

Best Times to Visit Argentina

Buenos Aires plaza
For most people, the best time to visit Buenos Aires and most other places in Argentina is in spring.

Cartagena Cruise Port Guide

Explore several one-day itineraries for traveling to Cartegena via cruise or otherwise.

South American Cruise Tips

Christ the Redeemer
A South American cruise can last from three days to 66 days. The most common is seven days.

Santos Brazil Cruise Port Tips

Falkland Islands Cruise Port Guide

Best Cartagena Beaches

Cartagena Cruise Port Attractions

Great Beaches in Argentina