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Restaurants & Bars

Cartagena Colombia Trip Report

shanshan | May 31, 201806:42 PM

Recommend heavily: La Mulata, El Boliche, Carmen (Bar)
Recommend: Lobo Del Mar
Avoid: Alma
Strongly Avoid: Que Bracho

La Mulata:
Great locals dominated restaurant with a limited, but very good menu. Their pork with tamarind sauce was by far the best one of the trip; not complicated or fussy and with better flavor than the higher end restaurants we dined at. This is a casual restaurant and we sweated it out on the patio. But we ate here twice on our trip (for lunch). Highly recommend for a locals lunch option in the area. Fish soup was also the best we had on our trip. Highly recommend their hot sauce as well.

El Boliche:
Very great hole-in-wall spot with ambient house music, friendly local staff, and very flavorful ceviche. We were very glad we came here. Mojito took a while to make but it was clearly super fresh and well thought out (with green apples). The ceviche we tried were Green Mango (our favorite), Tamarind (sweeter side and very good) and Coconut (also very good). Small spot with only ~8 tables (including a large communal one). We are a fan and would definitely go back.

Carmen:
We ate at the bar and highly recommend it. We didn't plan on going to Carmen, but had plans for Moshi and decided against seafood at the last moment. This place is a beautiful machine. We ordered 2 appetizers and a dessert and re-ordered a mandarin orange sorbet that was delightful. The drinks and staff were delightful. the bar ambience was delightful. The food was 5 levels above Alma.

Lobo Del Mar:
We enjoyed our meal here. THis was our first night and we wanted something more casual. We went with Lobo Del Mar based on reviews and impression it was "off the beaten path". It wasn't off the beaten path at all, but it did come off as a more honest crowd and restaurant. The tacos we ordered were very good. My wife LOVED the tiradito (although I found it a bit too sour) - said it was the best she ever had. The drinks were very good and they have a big gin menu. Great option for lunch or dinner.

Alma:
Wow - definitely over hyped in our opinion. The drinks are very good. The food is not. The "crispy" octopus was indeed fried but limp/soggy. Their pork in tamarind sauce fell so flat... the pork was high quality and well cooked.. but woefully underseasoned.. the tamarind sauce was underseasoned... and they forgot to bring another accompanying sauce. As much as I love underseasoned meat, I did not want to finish this dish. My wife ordered the modern take of the fish soup, and that was shockingly confusing. It was a great presentation, but the substance was not there. The fried fish was overly breaded (versus the flash crispy ones you get elsewhere, even in a rural stand) and the fish itself was cooked and doughy (you couldn't even tell you were eating fish!). They took it off the bill without question or telling us. So the service here is good. The food less so. The crowd was, at this time, a lot of young New Yorkers as far as we could tell (bachelorette party etc).

Que Bracho:
Tourist trap. Should have realized this with the neon lighting and a guy in argentina jersey outside the restaurant soliciting customers. Should have realized this when I saw a $110 retail US bottle of Argentine wine (bought in the US mind you) on their wine list for $300 (more than it would show in a Manhattan restaurant). Should have realized this when their wine list often lacked vintages or the better lines of the big Argentina brands. Should have realized this when I realized they served California beef alongside Colombian beef -- no Argentina beef! With the New Yorker bachelor party crowds etc. Food/drink was OK and overpriced. My steak was undercooked to my liking - and was difficult to even see in the neon lighting - but it was a high quality cut. Overall, something is off with the Tripadvisor reviews here and I got suckered. You should not. This is NOT the real Argentina parilla or wine list.

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