For 17-days, I ended up spending less than $600 on food and alcohol. That isn’t bad. Here are some of the things I feasted upon.
The restaurant has been in business since 1976. There are only 13 dishes on the menu. The cooks can prepare each dish to perfection and get it served quickly. I got my steak less than five minutes after ordering and it was cooked to a perfect medium level. Good, cheap, and quick? I’m all in. That’s probably why McDonald’s isn’t so popular here.
I ate a couple more times there as well. Food was always excellent, but occasionally when they were short staffed, it took a while to get your check.
Here’s another Mondongo dish. This is Ajiaco. It’s a traditional Colombian chicken and potato soup that comes with all the fixings to customize it however you like. The two small bowls contain capers and heavy cream to thicken the soup. The cookie-like object is a tostone. It’s made of corn meal and is used like Americans put crackers in their soup. It also comes with rice, lime, avocado, cilantro, and hot sauce to jazz things up to your heart’s content.
The ear of corn in the center could be eaten on the cob or shaved into the soup. Peruvian corn is a bit tasteless and chewy. It’s definitely not Ohio sweet corn. The meal was so incredibly filling I couldn’t eat it all. I gave my banana and tostone to a homeless street kid on the sidewalk outside.
The soup was $7.25. I added a small draft beer for $1.00 more.
The pic above shows a typical lunch for me. Served at a small sidewalk cafe without a website, it’s white fish ceviche with avocado, onions, red peppers, and cilantro. Accompanied by a tasty local craft beer. Seven US dollars for water, beer, and the meal. In the USA, a restaurant would likely charge a similar price just for the avocado alone!
Beef carpaccio at a higher end restaurant in the most tourist-oriented area of the city. I expected prices to be much higher here, but they weren’t bad. I ordered the carpaccio as an appetizer, but the plate was huge. It ended up being my entire meal. It cost right around US $9.00.
The restaurant was called Bonhomia and it was situated with prime real estate along one of the most heavily trafficked pedestrian thoroughfares in the Poblado neighborhood. I ate quite a few meals there. The food was universally good, but service was always slow and the waiters often had unpleasant attitudes.
I’d been eating a lot of steak and one evening was in the mood for something lighter for dinner. I thought I’d order a chicken Caesar salad. This is what came.
It wasn’t really “light” but was the best damn salad I’ve ever eaten. About a pound of teriyaki glazed chicken, bacon, corn, cheese, and croutons covering a bed of romaine lettuce and kale, tossed with Caesar dressing. It was $7.50.
And if you are wondering, yes, you can eat salads in Medellin. The city has potable tap water and the veggies are washed in that before serving.
The picture above came from one of my favorite restaurants called Botanika. It was right across the street from my hotel and had pleasant outdoor dining. They also had the best sangria I drank on the trip. I ate there half a dozen times during my stay.
Here’s their salmon ceviche, mango, avocado, and cherry tomato bowl. It was $7.00.
There was a tremendous variety of restaurants in my neighborhood. Middle Eastern restaurants, Kabob shops, vegetarian places, Greek, and Asian restaurants abounded. Strangely enough, the most popular for the locals seemed to be the Hawaiian Poke bowl restaurants and gourmet hot dog shops.
This is the “Park Bitch.” What makes it a bitch? It lacks a hot dog! It’s a hot dog bun filled with with cheese, about a half pound of bacon, onion, and potato straws.
The “Park Bitch”
I also tried one of the local Korean restaurants. The photo below is a sushi roll, but instead of fish, it’s stuffed with bulgogi, and fried egg. I thought that was unique enough to order. It was pretty good for $9.00
One of the restaurants that ranked well in the tourist guidebooks was La Revuelta. It was a fusion Mexican place owned by Colombians. It was always busy. I had lunch there once and it was excellent. They had a large and interesting menu. I wasn’t that hungry, so I had three tacos with fish and shrimp ceviche, pickled onions, cilantro, and black beans for $5.50. I accompanied it with one of their signature margaritas. It went down quite smoothly.
A restaurant that was also popular with the tourists was Masaya. It was a large hostel/hotel in a neighborhood popular with ex-pat remote workers. The hotel has a killer rooftop pool and supposedly good cocktails. I went twice and wasn’t impressed. The cocktail on the rooftop was only average and the servers seemed quite haughty and easily annoyed.
They also have what is supposed to be the best hamburger place in the city. I went during a slow lunchtime when there was only about six other customers. It took 10 minutes to flag down a waiter for my order. The wait staff and the kitchen crew were too busy screaming at each other to serve the customers.
I ordered. After waiting 30 minutes, I still didn’t even have my drinks. I left. It might have been a good hamburger, but it wasn’t worth that hassle.
The richest part of the Poblado neighborhood was called Provencia. It had several streets blocked off from traffic that served as outdoor dining and entertainment venues. It was fun and always crowded. See the video below for an idea of what it looked like.
I was in the mood for pizza on the first time I walked up the hill to visit. I had a medium, thin crust “artisanal salami,” three cheese, and onion pizza. It was really good and just the right size for one person’s dinner. It cost $8.00.
The restaurant was called Hasta la Pizza, Baby and also rented shisha pipes. I was in heaven.
My favorite Colombian dish was Bandeja Paisa. It has chicken, blood sausage, fried pork belly, and sausage with cheese accompanied by some mashed and fried plantains, a couple potatoes, and a small salad for $9.00.
Not all of my meals were opulent. I often had simple lunches. This one was a steak salad with plantain for $8.00.
There were some surprisingly tasty Colombian craft beers that were often available in both restaurants and convenience stores. My favorite was the Tres Cordilleras brand. They had several styles of beer (including a strange “Rosada” that only contained 3.8% alcohol and tasted like strawberries). I liked them all. In upscale restaurants they cost a little less than $2.00 US each.
One more thing for you foodies to understand if you ever go to Colombia. Tipping more than some pocket change at a restaurant is a uncommon idea for the locals. If you pay with a credit card, a tip of 10% will automatically be added to the bill. If paying by cash, many places will ask tourists if they can add the tip directly to the bill.
Before giving your waiter a big tip, check the bill. It was likely automatically included on your bill. There’s lots of competition for server spots in the tourist areas. The tourists don’t know the tip is already handled and then leave a cash tip on top of the bill. Therefore waiters get to double their tip money as compared with their fellow servers in more local restaurants.
Colombia isn’t known for its food, but I ate really well when I was down there.