There are many restaurants in Cartagena that serve not only local food but also national and international food. No matter what your gastronomic tastes are or what you are looking for, you will most certainly be delighted with Cartagenera food. Dishes from other parts of the country that are also found in Cartagena are the bandeja paisa and the ajiaco. However, in this article we will focus on the traditional dishes of Cartagena, those that represent the Caribbean flavor.

The best food in Cartagena

1. Bandeja de pescado frito

bandeja de pescado frito

This is a typical dish of the entire Colombian Caribbean coast. In different places (restaurants or beaches) they offer different fish options. Among the most common we find the crappie, sierra, red snapper and snook. Each person chooses the fish according to their tastes, sizes and costs. The fish is fried until golden brown and crisp. It is usually served with white coconut rice, patacones, and salad.

Three typical meals in one plate! This means that the fried fish tray qualifies as the number 1 dish on the list of the best traditional foods in Cartagena. It is an especially good option for lunch on the beach.

In this dish the fish is served whole, so if you are not used to that, you will need to be very careful with the bones. The trick is to eat it all on one side and then flip it over to eat on the other side. Don’t worry, in no time you will become an expert!

If you think that you will not be able to deal with the fish bones, I advise you to order a fillet and if you want even more flavor you can order that fillet a la marinera. This is a fish fillet in a seafood sauce with shrimp, clams, and calamari.

2. Cazuela de mariscos

cazuela de mariscos

This seafood soup is also one of the best typical dishes in Cartagena. Usually the casserole has shrimp, squid and clams. Some may also have fish and even lobster. Seafood casserole is prepared with coconut milk and the aforementioned shellfish. It’s like a Caribbean version of seafood soup.

The seafood casserole is usually accompanied with a portion of coconut rice and patacones. It is creamy and very delicious and ranks second on the list of the best foods to try in Cartagena. All the seafood that the casserole contains also makes it an aphrodisiac dish.

3. Camarones al ajillo

camarones al ajillo

This traditional food that you must try in Cartagena is one of my favorites. Its preparation is based on garlic, butter and white wine. Some places also add a bit of milk cream, which gives it a creamier consistency, it’s really delicious. If you prefer prawns or other seafood with garlic instead of shrimp, you can also order it and the result will be just as delicious. The magic is in the exquisiteness of the garlic sauce.

So now you know, you can try this dish either with shrimp or other seafood and if you don’t like seafood you can order garlic chicken which is also equally delicious. This dish is usually served with French fries or mashed potatoes and salad. There is also the option of coconut rice or patacones.

4. Posta negra

posta negra

The black posta could be considered a signature dish of Cartagena. It is a beef dish similar to carne asada, although in reality its cooking process is different in that the black posta is seared on both sides and then simmered on the stove after marinating overnight. What makes this typical Cartagena dish unique is its sweet and salty sauce. There are different variations, but they are all made with panela or brown sugar. Some people add a little Coca-Cola to it.

This is a meal that traditionally uses a tough cut of meat and basic and inexpensive ingredients such as the Cartagena black posta. This is a clear example of the culinary heritage of Cartagena’s working class. Many of the best restaurants in the city have decided to offer this typical Cartagena dish on their menus as a tribute to all those hard-working women who have prepared it over the years.

5. Sancocho


The vast majority of Colombians love soup. There are many who consider that a lunch is incomplete if they do not have a soup as a starter. The most popular type of soup is sancocho. Sancocho is a soup that is generally made in large quantities. This is prepared with meat and tubers. It usually has cassava, green plantains, potatoes, vegetables, and corn on the cob.

The sancocho is a typical dish to eat on Sundays. It is also popular to offer at gatherings and parties. Imagine a barbecue where everyone gets together to have a good time, eat and have a few beers, only instead of roast beef, it’s a big pot of soup on some kind of wood stove. If you have Colombian friends and they invite you to a sancocho, do not hesitate to accept the invitation. In the same way, if you don’t have friends who invite you to a sancocho, you can ask for one in a restaurant and it will also be very tasty. You already know that this is one of the most typical dishes of Cartagena.