California born, co-chefs Carmen Ángel and Rob Pevitts of restaurant Carmen in El Poblado, and more recently in Cartagena, know their way around Medellin’s very underrated culinary scene. The restaurant’s playful take on world cuisine includes Korean tacos and sous vide prawns with candied bacon and pineapple chimichurri. Their dining choices outside of Carmen reflect their eclectic tastes. Here they pick their four favorite foodie haunts in four different Medellin neighborhoods.
Cartagena, Colombia, which already has a decent selection of restaurants, has seen a surge of interesting new eateries opening up around the old city and in neighboring Getsemaní. There’s a level of culinary diversity spreading around the city, partly by local restaurateurs opening up new spaces and chefs from Bogota and Medellin expanding into the city for the first time. Here’s what is worth checking out.
Chef Rey Guerrero has become something of an ambassador of the cuisine of Colombia’s Pacific coast in Bogota with his restaurant Rey Guerrero Pescaderia Gourmet. Arroz Tumbacatre is a sort of Arroz con Mariscos (seafood rice) hailing from the region. Here’s Guerrero’s recipe… RECIPE: Arroz Tumabacatre Ingredients: -30 prawns, peeled… Read More →
I have spent a great deal of time traveling around Colombia and would consider myself something of an expert on the food there, though the food of Colombia’s Pacific coast is a big hole for me. The region is rather remote, undeveloped and home to no major cities unless you… Read More →
Whenever I arrive to Cartagena, Colombia, after the hot, sticky cab ride from the airport, all I can think about is that I need something cold and refreshing to drink. In many cases a limonada de coco is waiting for me at check in at whatever hotel I’m checking into. It’s the unofficial welcome drink of Cartagena.
At La Perla, Peruvian chef Carlos Accinelli who learned his trade in the kitchens of Lima and Spain at the Michelin-starred Basque restaurant, Arzak, works closely with owner and manager Roberto Carrascal to ensure the menu gets a facelift as regularly as the petite diner’s stylish interiors. There’s no shifting the stars of the show though. Neither the classic Ceviche Corvina (sea bass ceviche) or the Lomo La Perla, a sirloin steak served with a Roquefort-laced sauce served on a bed of creamy mushroom rice, are showing signs of going out of fashion any time soon.
At Bazurto Social Club in Cartagena, Colombia’s once down and out Getsemani quarter, a new scene is emerging in the Caribbean enclave. There’s not the cookie cutter cruise ship emerald shops and Hard Rock Cafes, but rather the atmosphere is fueled by the faded stone walls, graffiti, loud music, and strong drink. In this day glow painted bar, owned by Jorge Escandón of La Cevicheria fame, that particular strong drink would be the Machaca’o, a newly invented cocktail that is aiming to become Cartagena’s official.
I imagine that wherever someone like Gabriel Garcia Marquez lives, the neighborhood gets better. Sitting down at a table at La Cevicheria in Cartagena’s old walled center, just beside the famed Santa Clara monastery (now a Sofitel), a clown comes by making squeaking noises. He squeaks when a van drives by as he acts like he is keying the side of it. He squeaks wedding music to a couple dining at the table next to mine, then sprays a string of fake ketchup from a red bottle on the girlfriend as she screams…then laughs. Soon three kids, no more than ten years old, rap for two minutes about Colombia. Then a neatly dressed maid walks by with a Dalmatian. She smiles. So does the dog it seems.
Outside Medellin’s MAMM (Museo de Arte Modern de Medellin) it begins to rain. First, a light rain. Then, a downpour. People are rushing across the brick plaza in front, ducking for cover anywhere they can. At Bonuar, the bar and restaurant on the side of the museum, patrons are arriving on the patio with a flurry, closing umbrellas and shaking the water off of their heads. One man takes off his jacket and reveals a t-shirt that asks “Que es arte?” I have been to Bonuar twice now and this sequence of events has happened both times. Well, most of it anyway.
Chile isn’t the only South American nation that is taking to craft beer. Colombia, which is better known for mass produced lagers like Aguila and Club Colombia, is taking big steps towards cerveza artisanal. In Medellin, craft brewery 3 Cordilleras is causing something of a scene. On Thursday nights, from 5:30-9pm, they open their brewery doors to the public hosting brewery tours and a lively bar area with live music and the incredible deal of five beers for CP$15,000. The later the evening gets the more crowded it gets. It’s standing room only. During the brewery tours, sometimes lead by the owner Juanchi Vélez, there are groups of 20-30 people, few of which have ever tried anything other than a basic lager. Still, they’re asking questions. What makes a beer dark? Where do you get your hops? It’s the start of something.