Discover the best restaurants in Cartagena Colombia for tasty, healthy and plant-based friendly food options in the famous Caribbean city.
Cartagena de Indias is a delightful, charming city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. It’s the perfect mix of beach and historical city destination with a fusion of Afro-Caribbean and Colombia culture.
Cartagena also has some pretty amazing places to eat and drink. Restaurants in Cartagena cater for every budget and taste and if you’re really craving trying something new, you’ll fall in love with the food scene here. From sunset drinks at a casual bar on the old city wall to luxury restaurants to street food, Cartagena has something for everyone.
Keep reading for my guide to the best restaurants in Cartagena which focus more on healthy, nutritious and vibrant food as well as being plant-based and vegan friendly.
Note for vegans: If you are vegan, note that the food choices in Cartagena aren’t the best compared to other Colombian cities like Medellin and Bogota. As of 2022 the isn’t a single exclusively vegetarian or vegan restaurant in the Historic Center. Luckily there are many places that are adding more and more plant-based dishes to their menus. The downside is that they can be hard to find. I hope this guide makes it easier for you to navigate the best plant-based options in Cartagena.
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THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN CARTAGENA
Probably one of the best options for fresh, healthy and plant-based food in Cartagena, Pezetarian offers delicious, Asian- focused food. Their colourful menu contains only fish, seafood and vegan dishes. Come here for a range of vibrant rice bowls, salads, noodle dishes, sushi and more. This place is perfect for both lunch and dinner and for those looking for a vibrant, healthy meal for all diets. There is something here for everyone.
Drinks include a wide range of alcoholic cocktails and beers as well as non-alcoholic infusions, juices and lemonades.
Where: Carrera 7 # 36-19 | Calle Segunda de Badillo, Cartagena
NOVO KEBAB GRILL
While not Colombian fare, this was one of my favourites out of all the best restaurants in Cartagena. This is the place to go to satisfy your middle-eastern flavour cravings.
Choice of fillings includes pork gyro, chicken or falafel topped with your choice of hot or cold toppings and sauces in either a box or wrapped in a pita. Sides include fries and hummus with pita. The menu is simple but they really do deliver in taste.
I got the falafel pitta with cold toppings, tahini, harissa and garlic sauce. It was outstanding. The falafel was fried to crunchy perfection, the green harissa sauce delivered some spice and the whole wrap was just so well balanced.
Where: Calle 39 #9-136 | Carrera 10, Cartagena,
For those looking for an excellent place for breakfast or brunch, head straight to Epoca. Attached to the luxurious Hotel Casa del Arzobispado, Epoca serves some of the best coffee in Cartagena. You can choose from machine-espresso coffee or speciality coffee which includes preparation in options like Chemex, French Press, Aeropress and siphon among others.
The decor perfectly embodies Cartagena’s history and glory in a split-level cafe that is conducive to both relaxation and work. You’ll find all the brunch and breakfast classics here such as avocado toast, waffles, pancakes, eggs in all styles and typical Colombian breakfasts. While this isn’t a vegetarian restaurant there are many plant-based options on the menu here.
Where: Carrera 5 #34-52, Centro Historico, Cartagena
One of the best restaurants in Cartagena for healthy food on the go? Gokela. If you want healthy food without the wait, this is the place to go. Gokela offers a range of fillings in the choice of a wrap/sandwich, a salad, burrito/bowl or a pizza.
I went for the vegetarian salad (without the cheese) and while not the most flavoursome salad I’ve ever had it proved to be a good option for a quick and budget meal while exploring.
The dish contained a tasty variety of ingredients, all of them fresh. They also have a spectacular array of cold, freshly squeezed, raw juices which are heaven after a few hours of sightseeing.
Where: Calle de la Inquisicion. Carrera 3 # 33-08 Entre la San Martin y la Cra 3, Cartagena 130002 Colombia
EL BOLOLÓ: BOWLS DEL CARIBE
If you’re staying or exploring the vibrant neighbourhood of Getsemani this is the place you’ll want to eat at. For a simple meal packed full of Caribbean flavour, head to El Bololó, a simple eatery right next to Plaza de la Trinidad in Getsemani. Here there are just two options: a Caribbean bowl with an animal choice of protein and a veggie bowl that contains legume cakes, rice, beans, grilled veggies, fried plantain and fresh salad.
Portions are small, but perfect for this climate. They also have kombucha and freshly made juices. Take a seat by the window, order a veggie bowl and watch Getsemani go by. El Bololó is also great for travellers on a budget.
Where: Calle San Antonio #25-185, Getsemani, Cartagena
CAFE DE LA MAÑANA
Quite easily my favourite place for breakfast in Cartagena, Cafe de la Mañana is a small and chic little cafe serving breakfast, brunches and lunches. With great coffee and hot drinks in general you can choose from eggs any way you like, pancakes, American and English breakfasts as well as, for plant-based eaters, falafel and avocado salad. Eat breakfast also comes with a side of fresh fruit and a hot drink.
Cafe de la Mañana is great value and a delicious way to start the day. It’s also a great place for a mid-morning coffee and a spot of laptop work if you need to get things done when in Cartagena.
Where: Calle Estanco del Aguardiente #05-80, Cartagena, Colombia
You simply can’t leave Colombia without trying an arepa, a typical dish from Colombia and Venezuela consisting of a corn-based dough that’s grilled and filled with a variety of different fillings or toppings- it’s a lot like a pitta. One of the best places to eat arepas in Cartagena is Quero Arepa, which specialises in a number of veggie-friendly fillings from black beans and cheese to grilled vegetables and cheese.
They have an entire vegetarian page on their menu that includes arepas, burgers, other Caribbean- inspired bowls and main dishes. Many of the options listed can easily be made vegan too. Make sure to order a fresh juice here too, they are some of the best we had in Cartagena.
Hours: Open 24hrs
Address: Calle Quero/Calle 37 #9130, Cartagena, Colombia
For plant-based friendly Peruvian flavours head straight here to this great sushi and ceviche restaurant. There are many healthy options here such as a vegan avocado and fruit ceviche, vegan sushi and tacu-tacu- a stir-fried vegetable dish. Make sure to try their limonada de coco or coconut lemonade, a Colombian classic that’s super thick, a little sweet and sour.
For non-veggies, there is plenty of fish and seafood on the menu here with quite a bit of ceviche and sushi.
Address: Carrera 7, #36-50, Cartagena
Cartagena is full of delicious eating options from cheap wraps to luxurious candle-lit 5-course tasting menus. While it’s not as welcoming for plant-based eaters as Medellin or Bogota, Cartagena does have a large variety of cuisines available from local Colombian food to Middle Eastern fare.
Do you have any questions about the best restaurants in Cartagena? Which ones do you plan to visit? Comment below and let me know.
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