Every seasoned traveler knows that the best authentic foods are found tucked away in tiny cafes, hidden off the main roads, and concocted in cozy kitchens with authentic recipes handed down from generation to generation. Cartagena is becoming a bucket list staple on many traveler’s maps as the beauty, culture, and vibrancy of the city are no longer a best-kept secret. However, there’s a wonderful offering of local gems that are still off the radar for the majority of tourists. Here are our three favorite hidden gems in the Walled City that we’re sharing exclusively to our friends and neighbors of the Zurfers’ community:
Nothing screams authenticity like a local street market and Bazurto Market is an exhilarating experience in sights, sounds, tastes, and smells. You’ll get no fresher fish than the ones offered here, with local fisherman dropping off their fresh catches each morning. If you’ve exchanged for a Zurfers’ lodging with a kitchen and are up for cooking, we absolutely recommend you pick up your favorite fish at this outdoor market. Locally caught seafood including parrotfish, tuna, and red snapper are all available for purchase alongside fresh fruit and vegetable vendors. This market is for those who like to see the grittier side of the city. Instead of white linen table cloths and five-star service, you’ll see street vendors, lots of locals, and very few tourists. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s an unforgettable experience for those who like their travel with a side of local adventure.
Address: Av Pedro De Heredia, Cartagena 130001, Colombia
Though it’s a bit harder to find, this tiny (we mean really tiny, with only seven-ten tables) restaurant is the definition of a hidden gem. La Cocina de Pepina is located inside a bright yellow building with bold blue doors, this family-run restaurant can be found in the Getsemani neighbourhood. There, they serve dishes that fuse classic Colombian flavors with a Caribbean influence and diners rave about their fresh seafood, hearty meats, and stuffed peppers.
Address: Calle 25 #10b-6, Cartagena, Colombia
The family-run Caffe Lunatico is famous for its delicious tapas and stellar sangria. Offering a Catalan-Colombian fusion menu, the restaurant offers an intimate no-fuss atmosphere where the food is the true star. Locals know that lunch time is unmatched, with an affordable yet filling meal (around $5 gets you a soup or starter, main course with fresh-squeezed juice, and dessert or coffee). Plan accordingly as the restaurant is closed on Sundays and only seats around 30.
Address: Calle del Espiritu Santo 29–184, Cartagena, Colombia