Eat List: Cartagena & Colombia’s Caribbean Coast
The restaurants, markets, street food stalls and bars you need to know.
The Caribbean coast of Colombia, running from the borders with Panama and Venezuela, is region of unbelievable culinary riches. Many know the port of Cartagena, a colonial gem with a vibrant cultural history, though the dining scene there has changed significantly in recent years. The over-touristed cruise ship restaurants still can be found, but creative fine dining utilizing the region’s exceptional ingredients, no frills street food and one of South America’s best markets are a better choice for your time. It's also home to some of the world’s best cocktail bars.
As you move further from Cartagena’s gravitational pull, the region opens up and spreads out. The parade of seafood is always a reminder that the beach is never that far away, while in the foreground, the towering, jungle clad Sierra Nevada Mountain range brings new fruits and vegetables from different altitudes that don’t grow on the sweltering lowlands. From Barranquilla to Santa Marta, talented chefs are opting to open up in these places, cooking with the ingredients around them, rather than move to Bogotá and Medellín to get lost in the noise.
In the far north and east, the final point of the entire continent, is the arid peninsula of La Guajira. Here, goat meat is the preferred protein, while Afro-Colombian and indigenous Wayúu communities maintain their ancestral food systems, resulting in one of the country’s most unique centers of gastronomy.
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