Este es el Punto, Getsemani, Calle San Andres
Pretty basic but very acceptable. I think their best dishes are the guisadas (a kind of casserole). This place is especially popular during the p.m. because they are one of the few restaurants that do night-time corrientes at around the 6,000 COP price-point. The crowd is pretty much 50/50 backpackers and locals filling up on the cheap fare.
Street Lunches in La Matuna La Matuna, Near the Olimpica
At just 4,000 pesos, this is one of the cheapest lunches going and really tasty. You'll find the food cart set up in front of the Europa Pool Hall in the Joe Arroyo Mall in La Matuna Commercial area. You'll get a generous serve of whatever meat you choose (all that I've tried are slow-cooked tender and flavoursome with plenty of spices), rice, lentils, salad and cooked banana. I am always the only female that eats here. I sit on the concrete bench with all the old men and joke with them while chewing the (literal) fat.
Fruit Salad La Matuna, near Hotel Stil
Also in La Matuna, but in the neighbouring Plaza of Benko (formerly Plazaleta de Telecom) near the Hotel Stil, you'll find a mobile fruit salad cart. For 2,000 pesos, they will cut up and choc-fill a polystyrene container (sorry environment) with an assortment of watermelon, papaya, pineapple, grapes and banana. I think it's excellent value. You can also talk them down to a 1,000 half-serve that is pretty darn filling.
Ciudad Movil Pizza Getsemani, Calle Espiritu Santo
You'll hear me sing the praises of Ciudad Movil for a number of reasons. As the home of zumba, as a great place to catch live music, as a community centre to support Getsemani, as a place to learn and grow and upskill with dance and artistic lessons. But probably my favourite thing I love about Ciudad Movil is the pretty courtyard and the tasty pizzas they serve there. The pizzas are 10,000 for 1/2 size and 15,000 for full. The base is crispy and light. The toppings are delicious and simple. Here's a couple of photos.
It's retro as all get-up but sometimes I get a craving for the prawn (shrimp to those outside Australia) cocktails sold in the little food huts around La Matuna. The one I always go to is La Sirena. I am not sure why exactly, but Walter happily adds lots of extra garlic and chili because that's how I like it. He also seems to be generous with the prawns (shrimp) but that could just be luck/my imagination. Realistically all the different vendors are probably pretty much the same (the one with the giant Colombia vueltiado hat is particularly popular). Anyway.. if you are craving something that isn't carb/starch heavy.. this could fit the bill. I always get the doble (the, ahem.. double) which has just increased in price to 9,000COP. It isn't hugely filling but the richness of the prawns and the mayonnaise means you don't need a lot to feel sated.
Laguna Azul Centro Commercial Getsemani, Calle Larga (in front of Donde Pacho).
Another non-carby option, Laguna Azul specialises in ceviches. I like it because the ceviches are real ceviches in the sense that they are not filled with cream and tomato sauce and mayonnaise, but the raw seafood is “cooked” in the acidic citrus-based dressing. If you haven't tried ceviche before you really, really should. It is fresh and zesty and clean tasting. And you don't feel all gluggy and heavy afterwards. I normally get the Corvina which is around 12,000 pesos - a little above budget - but vale la pena. And the Blue Lagoon/Brooke Shields kitch-ness of t the restaurant is all nostalgic cool. Photos!
The only thing I ever order at Crepes and Waffles (not counting the ice-creams) is the salad bar. You are allowed to fill a large bowl or take-away container with as much salad bar that will fit for 8,000 pesos. Considering the general lack of vegetables and diverse salad options in Cartagena, this is a really great deal. Add in free wi-fi and Crepes and Waffles is a favourite ex-pat meet-point. Oh! And we all love the Crepes & Waffles policy of only employing single mothers - it makes the ice-cream taste sweeter.
La Orquidea La Matuna, Avenida Venezuela
Pull up a seat under the amazing giant fig tree and enjoy, al fresco, a big chunk of barbequed meat, served on a wooden platter. There's a distinct Cartagena-vibe here – music blares and your neighbouring tables will be filled with men enjoying cervezas and talking mierda. They also have a good rotating selection of soups (often including Mote de Queso) on the menu. Don't leave it too late to arrive. The food is served 12-2. The rest of the time is strictly for drinking. Top tip: If you still have room after your churrasco, go behind the tienda to the little stall frying up golden balls and try the best buñuelo in Cartagena.
Pardesh Indian Restaurant Getsemani, Calle Tripita y Media
A lot has changed since I tried my first truly spicy food in Indonesia when I was 12 and proceeded to run around the restaurant flapping my arms and downing everyone else's drinks. Now I crave spicier and spicier food - rarely finding any dishes that are hot enough for me. For this reason, Pardesh is an absolute godsend. Bangladeshi chef, Milton, serves up properly authentic curries that are genuinely spicy if you want them that way. He also cooks with actual vegetables! I usually order the Fish Marsala (COP$12,000) because it's super tasty and makes me feel that, even though I'm eating in an Indian Restaurant.. I'm still keeping things a little coastal and local. The vegetable curries (COP9,000) and dahl are first rate options for vegetarians and people craving some non-meaty vitamins and minerals for a change (often, me). The dipping sauce that comes with the onion fritters is a complete winner (the fritters aren't bad either). Oh! and the prawn/shrimp dopiaza (COP12,000) is delish. The other thing I love about Pardesh is the fact you can BYO (is this just an Aussie term? It means Bring Your Own drinks). So stop off at a tienda on the way and grab some beers or something stronger and save even more money on your night out. It's the perfect place to "pre".
There's almost ZERO atmosphere at Pardesh, however (those paintings of the Virgin Mary and complete absence of music just don't cut it), so you need to bring your own good-vibes too. I suggest a portable music player and a bottle of rum should help with that.
We call Pardesh a "pop-up-restaurant" because (a) it pops up only at night in a space that, by day is a restaurant called Cassova, situated opposite Malagana and (b) it makes the restaurant seem more hip and happening, right? Anyway. One of my favourite cheap restaurant options.
Sunday Mondongo Soup Getsemani, Plaza Trinidad
Sunday is a time for restoration and reflection, and a bowl of mondongo soup is a traditional answer for both. The main ingredient of Mondongo soup is tripe. Yup. Cow's stomache lining. For this reason it is a popular choice after a night out drinking and misbehaving as it is believed the fatty tripe helps soak up all the booze.. it's the coastal equivalent of McDonalds (and slightly better for you than the other greasy alternative.. Chicharones!). Every Sunday you can sample homemade Mondongo soup in Trinidad Plaza in Getsemani. Sitting in the shade, people-watching, sharing battle-stories from debaucherous adventures.. it's the perfect way to lick your wounds. Bowl of Mondongo soup with rice and panela costs COP5000.