Food of Santa Marta

Villa stayed in the Santa Marta marina for two months, and while we were not always there, we did have a lot of time to explore the local restaurants. One of our greater joys was sampling the “executive lunch”, where for between $2.50 and $5 US, you could have a soup, entree, and juice. Colombia is pretty cheap in general, and that’s a deal even by local standards. So that’s a lot, but not all, of this post. Without further ado, we give you assorted restaurant reviews.

First stop: The Bistro, where the executivo was so good that we went back the next day to order off the menu. We were not fully acclimated to the heat yet, and Andrew was sweaty. (That’s a different, but identical, white shirt, because at that point Andrew wasn’t willing to wear anything that would be any warmer.)

That evening, we joined Patricia and Drew from Nautilife to visit The Cartel steakhouse. We felt bad, because Drew’s steak and Patricia’s octopus were disappointing, but we hit the motherlode with this excellent mix plate that was somehow the cheapest thing anyone ordered.

It seems that it’s not a proper meal without soup, even if it’s breakfast. After a morning explore of a market, we ducked into a tiny local place by parque sesquicentenario, La Esquina, and asked if they served breakfast. Soup appeared first, and for $2 each we weren’t sure whether anything else was coming, until eggs and a pork chop manifested. We tipped the waitress the equivalent of $.50 (20% in a 10% country), and she clearly wasn’t expecting that because her smile could have lit an airplane hangar. Also notable, the bucket and bowl used to flush the toilet and/or wash your hands.

For that same night’s dinner, Lulo’s had excellent piled-up arepas, and good 2-for-1 mojitos.

The Colombian street food game is pretty strong. Special mention goes out to this mango guy, always there by the pier with fruit and limonatas (limeade).

Our favorite executivo turned out to be a relatively new place, El Meztizo. We liked their big open courtyard, which provided a nice respite from the constant busking and begging. (We quickly learned to sit at least one table back from the street, but even that only reduced rather than eliminated the hassling.) The cooking at EM also had above average artistry, especially the soups – though they may have just had above-average amounts of butter. Same thing, says Andrew. They also had beer taps at the bar, though they were never actually hooked up to anything.

At one point, a quest for mountain-friendly shoes brought us to a mall, and we discovered a new beer, and that ice cream could be served in the shape of a flower.

We had gotten a strong recommendation for Shagu, and so we were disappointed when their lunch offering was only so-so.

Meanwhile, a surprisingly strong performance from an upstart place with no posted name, on Carrerra 3 by Calle 16, which delivered Jazz’s favorite bone-in chicken to date.

Meh review for the breakfast at Mas Que Pan, with its grainy arepas. On the side is a bowl of suerte for dipping, a kind of thin and extra-sour sour cream that’s pretty common here.

Much better, the piccada at Bohemia; the food is fine, but the people-watching is fantastic.

Right across the street, El Mexican makes pretty good tacos, with a deal for a plate of ten.

The marina restaurant is convenient and pretty good, and while you pay a price premium for the location, it does have the best view in Santa Marta. We just wish they would put those trash cans anywhere else!

Ouzo gets good reviews for its pizza, and deservedly so.

A block or so from the marina, just past the police station, La Cucharita does a pretty good lunch, and has the local traffic to prove it. Check out the mystery meat in the soup: that’s absolutely bog-standard here, and after two months we still have no idea whether you’re supposed to eat it.

Almost next door, Restaurante Medellin made what I would call a completely typical local lunch.

Pretty nearby, across the street, Bella Suiza also does a lunch. The food was fine, though what was available and what was written on their menu had nothing to do with each other. But they used disposable everything, which both leaves a bad taste in our brains and wanted to blow away in their wind tunnel. I’d stick to their bakery.

We had much better results with takeout from the local supermarket, Carulla, served with salad chez Jazz. This was our Thanksgiving feast.

Jazz got kind of obsessed with this supermarket’s deli section. I mean, just look at this bounty! (What, that looks normal to you? Then you haven’t spent as much time on islands as we have lately.)

A meh recommendation for Porthos, which looks like an irish pub but is not, and is notable mostly for the neck-level lights awkwardly placed between tables. Apparently they have a burger special on Tuesdays, but I wouldn’t bother on any other day.

Across from Carulla, Baguettina served Italian food from the hearty school, heavy with cream and not much else going on.

One of our last meals in Santa Marta was at Agua del Rio. We devoured the delicious food pretty much instantly, so we only have pictures of the drinks. Which were also good.

Also late, we had a nice mostly-Asian meal at Padma Wellness Center and Restaurant, where we learned that we could have been doing aerial yoga all November. (Well, maybe; it’s still a little unclear whether/how they were running classes during COVID.)

And finally, because dessert should come last, there’s Sweet Art, which had red velvet cake! Which turned out to be a little dry, but at least they had good coffee. And coffee limeade!

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