As a vegetarian, Caribbean food can be a challenge.
Many of the dishes from this part of the world are fish-based. When I visit the Caribbean islands, I often struggle to find meals that consist of more than just bland, imported vegetables.
My expectations weren’t particularly high for finding good food in the coastal area of Colombia, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover a handful of amazing restaurants in Cartagena with local Colombian/Caribbean dishes and tasty vegetarian options on their menu.
The street food in Cartagena is fabulous, too, though this post is more about restaurants and casual eateries. If you’re interested in trying the local street food with some veggie options, I’d suggest booking a street food tour of Cartagena.
If you’re heading to this vibrant Colombian seaside city, here’s my suggestions for vegetarian travellers on where to eat good food in Cartagena!
Demente is a restaurant/bar in Getsemani that was recommended to us by a friend, and it ended up being our go-to dinner place in Cartagena (we went there twice and would have one a third time if it wasn’t closed on behalf of the Pope’s visit!).
The menu featured a vegetarian section with around 5 tapas options. We sampled them all! Every one of them was delish.
As this place is also a bar, there are a great selection of drinks on the menu (I highly recommend the mojitos! They’re so good). The prices are kinda on the high side as the place is catered towards tourists but it’s totally worth the cost.
Restaurante DKP was one of my internet finds. This venue was kind of fancy and had a separate veggie menu (you just have to ask for it).
I ended up getting the risotto vegetariano, which had vegetables and parmesan. It was amazing! Rob said that his three cheese pasta wasn’t quite as good as my risotto, but he still enjoyed it.
Gokela is a chain takeaway health food store located in El Centro. You can choose the ingredients to make your wrap/sandwich/salad exactly how you want it.
We ended up getting some veggie wraps to take back to our hotel, and they were so damn tasty. This is a great place to go if you want something quick and casual.
Girasoles was a restaurant that I found while scouring the internet for vegetarian restaurants in Cartagena. This place in San Diego is super local and is definitely not fancy, so don’t go there expecting a tourist restaurant. It’s not.
The menu was a tad confusing, especially if you don’t speak Spanish, but here’s the deal – the restaurant makes one menu option each night, which is usually a traditional Colombian meal of white rice, side salad, and curry. The vegan tofu meal we had was simple and delicious.
La Mulata actually specialises in fish, but it has one vegan dish on the dinner menu – a coconut rice with vegetables and plantain.
I honestly didn’t expect much seeing as we were ordering a veggie dish from a fish restaurant, but it was so incredibly tasty. In fact, I think it was my favourite meal of the entire trip! It was also presented like a work of art, which is definitely worth some bonus points in my book.
Cafe Stepping Stone
Cafe Stepping Stone in Getsemani is run by some Australians. The owners give internships to disadvantaged youth to help give them a better chance of employment. It’s a place where you can be sure that your tourist money is truly assisting the local people.
The menu is typical of an Aussie one, with brunch foods like avocado on toast and scrambled eggs. I had the mushrooms and spinach on toast, and I loved it.
We randomly stumbled across this place as it was near to our hotel in Getsemani. The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the front, but it has a cute courtyard sitting area out the back.
Restaurante Pavia has an Italian/Colombian fusion menu (weird combo, I know). We ended up getting some tasty arepas, which are kind of like a savoury pancake/tortilla, stuffed with vegetables and parmesan. The arepas were quite small, so order 2 if you’re hungry!
La Paletaria is the place to go for dessert – it’s a popsicle store in El Centro with so many options that you may spend half an hour there just deciding which flavour to get.
Rob went for a milk chocolate popsicle which he said was “unreal” and I went for a vegan chunky fruit popsicle (it was sooo good). Do not leave Cartagena without trying this place!