With nights that seem impossible to end early and a contagious vacation vibe, Cartagena seems made for lazy starts and long brunches. Oddly however, the brunch scene here has until recently been fairly lacking. The fact that Cartagena already created breakfast perfection with the invention of the ubiquitous “Arepa ‘e Huevo” might have had something to do with it? For those of you who, like me, consider brunch to be the most pleasurable way to start the day/combat hangovers/delay reality, fear not! I am delighted to report we are seeing a host of restaurants and cafés brunching out (pun intended) into the realm of champagne-spiked breakfasts.
Here’s the best of the brunch:
When two New Yorkers teamed up with a brunch-loving Brit, it wasn't going to be long before they addressed the appalling absence of a decent boozy brunch in Cartagena. Their answer is the weekend Boozy Brunch: all you can drink Mimosas, Bloody Marys beers and breakfast delights such as Nutella stuffed pancakes, bacon & sandwich, breakfast taco, apple French toast and Hashbrown bake to soak up your drinking sins. All for the one respectable price of 100,000 pesos pp.
Brunch 11am-3pm Saturday and Sunday
COLETTE BISTRO FRANCAIS
Locals have embraced the opportunity to be transported to gay Paris each weekend thanks to the Colette brunch. The a la carte menu features stylish bistro fare such as croquet monsieur, cheeseburger with truffle fries, salmon tartines, omelettes and almond croissants etc and you can purchase unlimited mimosas to accompany your solids for 50,000 pesos pp
Brunch 11am-4pm Saturday and Sunday
When Mimosas in Cartagena were barely a mythical whisper from those fortunate-enough to have ventured overseas, Pasteleria Mila was pioneering their cause. The home of the original Cartagena brunch, Mila still remains one of the city’s best; thanks to an enormous selection of scrumptious sweet and savoury offerings, gorgeous French-farmhouse ambience and those aforementioned Mimosas. If you can make it out without ordering “breakfast dessert” from the ridiculously tempting window displays, you’re a better man than I am.
TRY: Colombia’s unusual sweet/salty combo of hot chocolate and melted cheese.
Brunch from 8am Monday - Saturday and from 10am Sunday
Cute and quirky, Caffe Lunatico has quickly won the hearts of Cartagena’s brunch bunch with beautifully presented breakfast plates that taste as good as they look. Wash them down with all-day jugs of Sangria, or on Sundays, why not sign up for bottomless Mimosas? Because, as they say, brunch without champagne, is really just a sad breakfast.
TRY: Broken eggs with yuca or Cartagena’s (and potentially the World’s) best French Toast
Brunch 11am- 3pm every day.
CAFÉ STEPPING STONE
If you’d like a side of social conscience with your coffee and croissants, Café Stepping Stone is for you. The brainchild of two young Aussies, the project aims to share some of the cafe culture Australia does so well (yes, including brunch), whilst helping train, educate and support Cartagena’s disadvantaged and at-risk youth. My absolute favourite breakfast is found here: Sweet Corn Fritters with wilted spinach which I order with the addition of a perfectly poached egg. You little ripper!
TRY: The menu is loaded with yummy vegetarian and vegan options.
Brunch from 8am Monday - Saturday, and from 9am Sunday (also great for lunch, closed Tuesdays)
OH LA LA
Take a beautifully restored high-ceilinged, light-filled Getsemani house with an incredible past, add soul-pleasing food and lashings of French-finesse and you have one of our favourite breakfast destinations. Think homebaked bread with real butter, homemade jams, granola and yogurts, toulouse sausage, decadently creamy omelettes, still-warm bollo served with the best suero you'll try (local delicacy).. all lovingly prepared and beautifully presented (like, really beautifully, in that, must upload to instagram immediately, kind of way).. trust us, you'll be charmed to bits too.
Breakfast 8am-1pm Monday - Saturday (Also great for lunch, or early dinner)
Found on Calle Larga, near the corner of Calle Vargas close to Cocina de Pepina
Chef and foodie favourite, El Bistro, does a weekly Sunday brunch that places traditional Caribbean cuisine front and centre for a breakfast unlike anything you will try at home. Featuring elevated local classics such as arepa de huevo with smoked trout, chorizo empanadas, and fish Sancocho; your guayabo (slang for hangover) will be a distant memory thanks to this restorative fare.
TRY: Empanadas stuffed with seafood casserole and the amazing selection of German-baked breads
Breakfast Monday - Saturday 9am -1pm; Sunday Caribeño Brunch 10am- 4pm
Café Epoca is for people who choose their brunch based on the calibre of the coffee. Roasted in-house from the best of Colombia’s beans, this could be the very best cup in Cartagena. It’s not just coffee-snobs who will be satisfied; the food menu reads like a brunching all stars and definitely doesn’t disappoint in the delivery.
TRY: It’s hard to beat creamy avocado smashed on toast, right?
Brunch from 9am daily
CREPES & WAFFLES
For visitors it might be hard to accept that a restaurant that seems from the surface just to be a run-of-the-mill chain, is somehow capable of commanding the unfaltering devotion of an entire population. Yet this is exactly the power of the almighty Crepes & Waffles. Basically, if you live in Colombia, you will most probably eat here at least once a week, every week, for your entire lives. And then, on Sundays, it’s brunch time, baby. Mompox mozzarella, bread baskets, all the eggs, mimosas and nutella/banana crepes. There’s definitely worse ways to become a household name.
TRY: Baked Lebanese eggs, guanabana smoothie.
Sunday Brunch from 10am