A foodie is generally not a composed person because their enthusiasm for food is so great that they lose their mind at the sight of a plate of cacio e pepe. They bowl over small children and shove the elderly out their way to get to a Nutella-filled beignet.
A foodie is someone who you’d never suspect was lactose-intolerant because they eat cheese with abandon and just pay for it later (thankfully, when you’re not there). Cheese is worth it.
A foodie is someone who loves something so much, say pineapple, and they eat it despite the fact that their mouth starts burning and they develop an allergy.
That’s dedication. Or maybe those are all examples of a extreme lack of will power.
It’s definitely one of those 2 things…
Anyways, a foodie REALLY LOVES FOOD, composure be damned! I definitely count myself in the ranks of the food-obsessed but that’s only because “enthusiastic eater” is too much of a mouthful (pun intended!).
I need to clarify that I don’t care about the food unless I get to EAT it. You can always tell when I’m really enjoying what I’m eating because I do an involuntary little dance in my seat which cannot be considered refined in any way.
I love South America because it’s where my love of eating and travel get to intertwine in a lively salsa….in my stomach. While researching for my upcoming trip, Colombia’s culinary reputation had me salivating all over my keyboard from 2,000+ miles away. From arepas and paletas to ceviche and freshly caught seafood, I couldn’t wait to eat them all, to hell with maintaining any semblance of a bikini body. Muumuu dresses all the way!
When I travel, my stomach operates on baby schedule, meaning that I “have” to eat every two hours. At home, I have a desk job that has me sitting for 8 hours a day so when I travel, since I’m up and going from as early as 6am, running, swimming, hiking and flopping around in a mud volcano, I can eat as much as my inner obese gay man desires while still losing weight!
As a proud, self-professed enthusiastic eater AND a meticulous planner (at least when food is involved) obviously I had 2 types of food bucket lists in preparation for Colombia: one for the restaurants and one for the TYPES of foods I wanted to devour. From arepas and empanadas to ceviche and freshly caught seafood, Cartagena has plenty of gustatory pleasures for every type of over-excited foodie.
FOR THE ADVENTUROUS FOODIE
Where: Most beaches
We Got: grilled seafood, coco rice, patacones, salad
If you’re like me and have a cast-iron stomach from eating close really close to / expired food and don’t think twice about eating at questionable noodle stalls in Thailand, then you’re an Adventurous Foodie! Your bold approach to food is probably due to never having experienced incapacitating stomach issues while abroad.
Explore Isla Rosario by boat and eat grilled lobster, simply seasoned with roasted garlic, salt and pepper that your local guides catch fresh right before your eyes off the side of the boat.
Also, you can’t miss Maria’s Kiosk on Playa Blanca. She’ll bring out a tray full of the MASSIVE pescado del dia for you to choose from, served with arroz con coco (coconut rice) and patacones (fried plantains, pressed flat). If you’re feeling extra daring, claim heads over tails of the fish and eat the eyes. It’s good luck in Chinese culture!
FOR THE TRENDY FOODIE
Where: Demente Tapas Bar, Cra. 10 #29-29
We Got: burrata salad, the Demente hamburger, crab dumplings, tuna tartare
If the vibe of the restaurant is (almost) as important to you as the food, then you have a plethora of choice in the trendy Getsemani neighbourhood. Head over before the sun sets to check out the local graffiti scene and pick a spot to dine before catching a couple of post-meal cervezas in Plaza de la Trinidad. There’s something happening there every night of the week and if you’re lucky, you’ll witness a live band playing on the streets or a dance crew battling it out while you eat.
We ate at Demente Tapas Bar, just off of the plaza, that had a retractable roof so you could enjoy one of their many delicious, sharable dishes like the crab dumplings or tuna tartare with yucca chips. They also have an expansive outdoor bar in the back complete with twinkly lights, long tables and Aguila beers.
FOR THE ART-LOVING FOODIE
Where: Restaurante Maria, Calle de Colegio, Cra. 6 #34-56
We Got: octopus carpaccio, grilled seabass and beet risotto with goat cheese, angus burger with yucca fries
Do you like your sight to be as pleased as your tastebuds? Feast your eyes on Restaurante Maria’s whimsical, white-lacquered pineapple chandelier and the vivid, wall-to-wall tiger paintings. The ceilings are high, the clientele are beautiful, and the food is top quality!
The stand out dish for me was the warm octopus carpaccio on a bed of stewed leeks and sliced asparagus (so fancy) but I also really found it difficult to share the vibrant pink beet risotto with goat cheese.
This spot was high on my bucket list even though we almost didn’t make it, but I was glad we did because their passion fruit mojitos were an addictive (we each had 3) take on the classic. In case you need more convincing, La Paletteria is less than a 5 minute walk away and open till 11pm weeknights.
FOR THE FOOD NETWORK JUNKIE
Where: La Cevicheria, Calle Stuart 714
We Got: langosta ceviche, combinado ceviche, vegetariana leti, crab pincers with honey mustard vinaigrette
I personally HATE watching The Food Network only because I feel like it’s a tease watching celebrity chefs cooking delectable dishes that I can’t eat immediately! I’m stuck with a sad package of ramen (who am I kidding…I love packaged ramen!). But if watching Paula Deen add 4 sticks of butter too many to a recipe is your porn, then you’ll geek out over the Anthony Bourdain-approved La Cevicheria. The chef / author / tv personality lauds the Cartagena-based restaurant on his show No Reservations and for good reason.
Fitting in with the surrounding vibrant buildings of the city, La Cevicheria is bright and white, accented with turquoise and hand-illustrated chalk boards. Obviously you have to try as many kinds of ceviche from the impressive menu as possible so I’d opt for the Super size (over Mega) and ABSOLUTELY get the crab pincers with honey mustard vinaigrette. I could’ve eaten 8 servings of that dish by myself!
FOR THE RISE-AND-SHINE FOODIE
Where: Mila Café, Cra. 4 #35-76
We Got: churros con chocolate, chocolate completo, eggs benedict
If you’re a lover of brunch and like to start your day off right with a good meal, complete with relaxed conversation, Mila Café is the ideal place to visit. It has a cute, upscale, cottage-y feel, filled with rooster paraphernalia, gold-gilded cakes, and pastry boxes very reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.
We started off with mango mimosas (natch) followed by the most perfectly textured churros with chocolate and a very Colombian dish called chocolate completo, hot chocolate served with cheese, buttered bread, and jam. Sounds really weird but you’re supposed to melt the cheese in the hot drink (like marshmallows) so it becomes gooey so you can enjoy the contrast of the sweet and savoury. We both got a kind of eggs benedict in a lemony, poppyseed Hollandaise, Kelly’s with peameal bacon and an arepa, mine with smoked salmon and focaccia.
Which kind of foodie do YOU think you’d be in Cartagena?
For things to do and see in between meals, check out these picture-perfect ideas.
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