Restaurants in Colombia

Just as the country is geographically diverse, with its Caribbean coastline, interior highlands, and even part of the Amazon, the best restaurants in Colombia reflect the various regions: with seafood dishes from the sea, beef from the highlands, and dishes reflecting Peruvian and Brazilian influences from the Amazon. Wherever you go, however, you will find the country's unofficial national dish, the arepa, on the menus of Colombian restaurants. This flatbread made with a corn flour dough is stuffed with fillings both savory and sweet and served in many restaurants in Colombia. You'll also find an astonishing array of juices.

In Cartagena, the Restaurante Casa de Socorro serves up authentic spicy cazuelas, a traditional seafood stew. The portions are heroic: a starter like the picada de tortuga (stewed turtle meat) is a meal itself, and a party of four could fill up on the cazuela de marisco, an intensely flavored seafood stew that's something like a spicy seafood gumbo studded with fish, shrimp, sea snails, and octopus.

In this convivial spot with potted palms, a dapper six-man Cuban band is always stationed at the door. It's Cartagena's unofficial clubhouse, a place where dignitaries and journalists trade off-the-record jokes and women in expensive sandals pick at complicated salads.

Traditional Caribbean cazuelas - spicy seafood stews - are served without fuss at a restaurant that deserves its reputation for having the most authentic food in town.

A nominally Italian restaurant (there's foccacia in the breadbasket), with refined South American dishes like cevice of corvina - a white-fleshed fish similar to sea bass - prepared with lime, hot peppers, and corn.

The sophisticated Caribbean fare draws a chic crowd. The best tables are upstairs and the mero comes with crema agria, something like a spice crème fraîche.

The restaurant serves house-made pastas.

On the edge of town, this restaurant puts on all-afternoon feasts of grilled steak.

The restaurant dishes up regional classics such as corn empanadas and ajiaco, a hearty chicken-and-potato stew.

Chef Juan Felipe Camacho—who apprenticed at Spain’s Michelin-starred Arzak—dishes up Spanish-inflected Caribbean fare (think grilled shrimp with pico de gallo).

The local dish rondón, a coconut, yuca, and fish stew, is especially good here.