I spent a month based in Medellin in August and absolutely fell in love with it! I was lucky enough to be in town when the biggest festival of the year Feria de Las Flores was on, had a very photogenic day trip to Guatape and saw the key sites from Narcos on a Pablo Escobar Tour. Check out my list of What To Do in Medellin. In addition to all this boy did I eat! There are some brilliant restaurants in Medellin as well as cafes.
There is an astonishing amount of variety and fusion and new places popping up every day. Medellin is a big place so I have focused on the El Poblado neighbourhood in this post with a couple of exceptions. This is where I stayed so where I ate the most and it is where most tourists stay. It is also known as a key restaurant area in Medellin.
The biggest surprise for me of the Medellin restaurant scene is its amazing value! Even the most expensive restaurants would be considered cheap in other big cities. The quality and serving sizes are not compromised. I would say this is the best value eating destination I have ever visited. So I highly encourage you to take advantage of this whilst in Medellin and eat eat eat!
Restaurants in Medellin: The Ones Not to Miss
1. Mondongos Medellin
Mondongos is one of the most famous “classic” Colombian restaurants in Medellin. This place is frequented by locals, presidents, tourists – pretty much everyone! It has a great location in El Poblado on Calle 10 – right in the heart of everything.
The menu is classic Colombian. They have the Bandeja Paisa classic – this is probably the place to have it! I had the chicken which was basically grilled chicken with a massive side serving of avocado (I love how liberal they are with the avocado servings in Colombia!!!), loads of salad, those plantains of course as they are served with everything. They are most famous for their tripe soup or Sopa de Mondongo.
2. La Causa Medellin
This was my second favourite restaurant in Medellin! La Causa is a mix of ceviche, sushi and revolution! The menu is extensive and everything sounds amazing with La Causa (ceviche with a bit of a milky sauce that tastes amazing) mega fusion sushi and classic ceviche and sushi. I think I went four times and it was always amazing!
3. Carmen Medellin
Carmen is one of the most famous upmarket restaurants in Medellin. We went as a big group on a set menu. Alas, it was a bit of a difficult evening as it turned out the most of the group had food allergies/issues which made the Carmen Medellin set menu pretty much unworkable and took some time to figure this out – the poor restaurant nearly went bananas!
This meant that I drank a lot of wine while this was being figured out and ended up a bit drunk by the time the food came! So I remember Carmen Medellin was absolutely delicious, I have quite a few slightly in the wrong spot photos and there was lots of it!
The restaurant is quite big with a bar area, a rear patio and an open kitchen.
4. Oci Medellin
Oci was my number one favourite restaurant in Medellin – if you only go to one restaurant go to Oci Medellin! And I would highly recommend that you book as it gets booked out. The food is amazing! It is a mix of modern European with some Colombian influences such as the amazing Chicharron. Long cook is the speciality of Oci Medellin Parisian trained chef. They also have a super cute little bar where you can eat.
5. Crepe and Waffle
There are quite a few Crepe and Waffles in Medellin. This is one of those local chains that everyone loves – and with good reason. Let’s start with their employment policy. They choose to employ women who have experienced difficult times which is fantastic.
They are of course best known for their crepes and waffles and my gosh they are good! There is a very long menu with every type of flavour from savoury to sweet. This also means that the same menu works well for breakfast, lunch and dinner! They also stock some absolutely amazing ice cream. I bought a tub of the salted caramel/arequipe and it disappeared fast!
I also heard a rumour that they have an amazing value take away salad offer. I am afraid I never got past the appeal of the crepes and the waffles! A must visit!
Mondoverde became my go-to lunch place! They have a fantastic super healthy menu where you can either put together your own salad based on a formula or choose one of their suggestions. They also do amazing juices. The perfect place for a healthy and tasty lunch.
Other Good Restaurants in Medellin:
I found this a slightly odd restaurant. It is vegetarian and quite innovative. The food was okay but not amazing. However, I am not a vegetarian so if you definitely give it a try.
Classic Colombian in the heart of El Poblado. I thought the food was okay. This restaurant was near where I was staying and it always seemed to be packed with locals. I think I was not the biggest fan of classic Colombian food thus my preference for some of the more fusion heavy restaurants. If you like the classic Colombian style then I would definitely recommend
Great lunch spot. Healthy salads, wraps and juices.
Good Japanese at the edge of El Poblado.
Meat-heavy! They do a great charcuterie platter and are also known for their cheese fondue. Good wine selection. Nice mix of outdoor and indoor seating.
Relaxed seafood-heavy restaurant with some Italian and classic Colombian thrown in.
Very good Japanese but has the bad luck of being next door to La Causa – and I would always choose La Causa!
Key Tip: Most of the restaurants listed above do sell some type of wine. However, I highly recommend you order wine by the bottle rather than the glass. A glass of wine in Colombia is more like a thimble of glass – they pour very very lightly! Not only does the wine disappear fast it ends up being much more expensive to buy wine by the glass than to get a bottle. So I would suggest just ordering a bottle. You can most likely take it with you at the end of the night if you don’t finish it.
Food Markets in Medellin:
Mercado del Rio is a fantastic conglomerate of over 40 small stalls/restaurants in the heart of Medellin. There is also a fantastic wine bar there (you can bring food in to have with your wine) and a couple of more formal restaurants upstairs.
The key reason to go is the amazing selection of different cuisines. There are quite a few stalls that do upgrades on Colombian classics like arepas. Then there is pretty much every other cuisine you could imagine – from bbq to Japanese to Mexican.
But if you only eat one thing on your visit make it a popsicle! They have some amazing popsicle stalls and they actually taste even better than they look!
Every Sunday there is a Farmers Market in El Poblado. It is quite small but the quality is high. There are quite a few eat now options – and some amazing fruit juices of course. And also some great take away options if you are staying in Medellin.
The Best Cafes & Coffee in Medellin
Often cited as the best café in Medellin and for good reason. Pergamino has mostly outdoor seating and is a lovely area that is very popular with locals and digital nomads. They have excellent coffee and a great menu of interesting brunch and lunch options.
8. 37 Park
37 Park is a bit of everything. It’s inside and it’s outside. It’s a little bakery and it’s a bar. It’s a restaurant and a café. It appears to be open all the time. And I really liked it! They do a fantastic brunch – interesting selections, great flavour combinations and good coffee. It is also a great place to meet for a drink and/or to have dinner.
Fantastic coffee! And such a lovely space! This is quite a long thin restaurant with a terrace at the front and an area in the back that is flooded with light. It is a popular choice for digital workers and there are laptops at dawn. The breakfast menu is more limited but they do have delicious pastries and some nice yoghurt and muesli offerings. But the key reason to go here is the amazing coffee!
10. Al Alma
My favourite brunch spot in Medellin! They do a big brunch menu and have quite a few fusion western options. They have this amazing brioche type bread that isn’t actually brioche but gosh it tastes good! Al Alma also has a bakery so you can buy this takeaway. And they do a proper English style fat pork sausage which is great on the brioche and their sweet cream cheese type spread.
There is seating outside as well as seating sprawling out onto the small street where Al Alma is located.
Urbania has outstanding coffee and some delicious local chocolates. It is quite small so best suited to take away coffee rather than digital nomad working.
Ganso & Castor
Fantastic breakfasts but bad coffee!
Interesting breakfast menu and tasty. Decent coffee but not as good as Pergamino and Velvet.
Medellin’s most beautiful breakfasts! They are well known for their amazing use of avocados. Nice location and good coffee.
Restaurants and cafes in Medellin are opening and closing all the time! Please do let me know any updates or different views and I will look to incorporate them into this post!
My number one recommendation is the Art Hotel Medellin. It is great value and super stylish! I also spent a bit of time using the gym at Hotel Charlee Medellin and would recommend it. It is more upmarket than the Art Hotel and I would probably stay here next time in Medellin. In addition to having possibly the best gym of any Medellin Hotels it also has a brilliant top floor pool with a bar and a great restaurant on the ground floor.