ColombiaTravel

The 20 Best Medellin Restaurants for 20 Different Occasions

Cover image of best restaurants in Medellin post - a colorfully painted table and a plate of food

A Confession

Before we go any further, we have a confession to make: We can’t tell you what the best restaurants in Medellin are.

We did eat at A LOT of Medellin restaurants during the six months we lived there, but we didn’t come close to trying every dish at every one. Plus we’re not professional food critics. Not even close. A year ago Chris couldn’t tell you the difference between parsley and cilantro.

But we can recommend you some of the best Medellin restaurants for specific occasions. So, whatever your budget or craving, you’ll find a restaurant here that hits the spot.

Close up of table of food at Medellin restaurant
Ready to dig in to the best restaurants in Medellin for whatever it may be you’re craving?

The 20 Best Restaurants in Medellin for 20 Occasions and Cravings

You can download this map of the best restaurants in Medellin for 20 different occasions to Google Maps on your phone by following these instructions.

If you want to go for a meal with friends before a night out in El Poblado:
Café Zorba

Location: Just off Parque Presidenta in lower El Poblado

We don’t know why Café Zorba has café in its name. It’s not a café. It’s a pizzeria. A vegetarian pizzeria.

The quality of the pizzas is debatable—some of our friends live and die for their stone oven-baked thin crust, we think they’re nothing special (their “grape” pizza had like five grape halves on it)—but there’s no debate it’s a cool spot always full of cool kids grabbing some ‘za before a night out. Plus it’s not that expensive. It’s about 25,000 COP ($9 USD) for a pizza big enough to fill the average belly.

Get a seat outside in the open back patio if you can.

Close up of pizzas from Cafe Zorba in El Poblado, Medellin
Cafe Zorba isn’t a cafe. It’s a super popular vegetarian pizzeria. Go with friends before a night out in El Poblado.

If you’re tired of bland Colombian food and want something really spicy:
Masala

Location: On Calle 10 in El Poblado

Masala is like the hot peppers they serve: From the outside it doesn’t look like much, but if you give it a try you’ll be surprised.

The lunch menu at this centrally-located but oft-overlooked Indian/Nepalese is one of Chris’ favorites (see his huge list here). Many of the ingredients come fresh from the owner’s farm a few hours from town. And whatever he can’t grow in Colombia he gets friends from India to ship over. The food’s fresh, authentic, and spicy.

Speaking of spicy, if you ask the owner Shakti for heat, he’ll make sure the meal packs a wallop. In a land where ground peppercorns are considered too “picante” for most, the spicy food at Masala is a welcome challenge if that’s what you’re looking for.

Masala restaurant menu del dia
Masala’s food is deadly delicious. And that red pepper is deadly hot.

If you’re tired of Colombian food and want the best Latin American cuisine:
Zacatecas

Location: Envigado, near Calle de la Buena Mesa

Sorry Colombians, but Mexican food is way better.

(Come to think of it, that might explain why there are so few Mexicans in Colombia.)

And if you start thinking to yourself Colombian food gets a bad rap and is underrated in the global food scene, it’s about time you go to Zacatecas. Their fantastic Mexican food will set you straight.

Because most people order delivery from them and it’s not centrally located, it’s never that busy. But it’s totally worth the cost of a taxi or Uber for their real Mexican flavors.

Also, while Masala may have the spiciest hot peppers, Zacatecas has by far the best hot sauces in Medellin. We’d go there just to buy cups of it from them to take home.

If you can’t wait to get to Peru and want some Peruvian food:
Chiclayo

Locations: One in Envigado and one in Laureles. The Envigado location’s nicer.

We went to Chiclayo‘s Envigado location for a date night and Kim liked it so much she took her family when they came to visit for Christmas. Her Japanese mom, who is picky when it comes to fish, loved it. That means a lot.

The ceviche as excellent as you’d hope it to be, but the surprise hit is the Ahi a la Gallina. We can’t really explain what it is other than saying it’s gooey, cheesy, chickeny, goodness and showing you a picture.

Close up of ahi a la gallina from Chiclayo
The surprise highlight from Chiclayo is this Ahi a la Gallina.
Ceviche from Chiclayo restaurant in Medellin
The Peruvian ceviche from Chiclayo satisfies even the most demanding tastes, including Kim’s mom.

If you want to get high and/or eat really good gelato:
Nuovo Fiore

Location: Between la 70 and Primer Parque in Laureles

Nuovo Fiore‘s gelato is “illegally good.” That’s because A) It’s tasty and B) All the flavors with “Maria” in their name are marijuana-infused.

According to the owner, they’ve been getting away with serving weed gelato for years because when the cops come by they get free scoops. They like it too. Unless you dress up in a uniform your scoops won’t be free, but they’re super inexpensive anyways (6,000 COP with weed, 4,000 COP without).

If you’re hankering for a creative, casual, and colorful vegetarian lunch:
Espiritu Libre

Location: Belen, a 13-minute walk straight south from Segundo Parque in Laureles

For 13,000 COP ($4.50 USD) the variety and quality of the food you get at Espiritu Libre is incredible. It’s one of the few casual restaurants in Medellin that take full advantage of the cornucopia of exotic and colorful plants and vegetables that come from Colombia.

For a more detailed review and more photos, click here to read about it in Chris’ list of his favorite lunch specials in Medellin.

Colorful and eclectic dish from Espiritu Libre
Espiritu Libre is the best restaurant in Medellin to go to if you’re craving a creative, colorful, and causal vegan lunch.

If you’re in need of a pick-me-up after doing the backdoor Parque Arvi hike:
Cable a Tierra

Location: Parque Arvi, a short walk from the Metrocable station

Our most recommended thing to do in Medellin is a “secret” back-door route to Parque Arvi. (Guide here.) You avoid the crowds, get some exercise, and enjoy the absolute best views of Medellin.

And at the top, you get to have lunch at Cable a Tierra.

The owners of Cable a Tierra have a few farms around Antioquia, including the one that surrounds the restaurant. From these farms, they get the bulk of the ingredients they use to create inventive, healthy, and hearty meals. And the hot tea they serve with their daily lunch special is a perfect pick-me-up in the cooler temperatures up high in the park.

Server at Cable a Tierra bringing out food.
Cable a Tierra is the perfect post-hike meal in Parque Arvi.

If you need a rest, refresh, and refueling in Mercado Minorista:
Aquí Paró Lucho

Location: Downstairs in the middle of downtown’s Mercado Minorista

Aquí Paró Lucho is Spanish for, “Here’s Where Lucho Stopped.” Who knows why he decided to stop smack-dab in the middle of Medellin’s busy Mercado Minorista produce market to put his sit-down restaurant there, but who cares. It’s a (relatively) peaceful spot to rest, refresh, and refuel amidst the bustling chaos that surrounds it.

Kim and her brother at table at Aqui Paro Lucho in Medellin
Kim and her family stopped at Aqui Paro Lucho for a lunchtime break in Medellin’s busy Mercado Minorista.
Dishes at Aqui Paro Lucho
Since it’s right in the middle of the market, the chefs at Aqui Paro Lucho don’t need to go far to get fresh ingredients.

If you’re tired of meat and want to have some seafood:
Buena Mar

Location: Itagüi, halfway between Envigado and El Poblado on the west side of the Medellin River

Medellin is up high in the mountains, so it’s not exactly seafood central, but if you want to eat fish you can get as close to the source as possible by going to Buena Mar.

Buena Mar is pretty much in the middle of nowhere from a tourism perspective. It’s south of town on the other side of the Medellin river, a couple blocks from Medellin’s enormous wholesale produce market (…which isn’t worth visiting. Go to Mercado Minorista instead). The benefit of being so close to the market is the fish you’ll get is as fresh as you can find in Medellin. And because it’s in the middle of nowhere, it’s affordable and authentic.

If you want to go to (or witness) a traditional Sunday family get-together:
Mondongos

Location: One in the heart of Laureles just off La 70 and one in the heart of El Poblado just off Calle 10. 

Mondongos is somewhat overpriced, but that doesn’t stop Paisas from lining up to eat there with their families and friends, especially on Sundays. It’s their tradition. Also traditional is the food on the menu. For a family-friendly Colombian dining experience, and for the best service we had anywhere in the country, Mondongos is the place to go.

Mondongos dishes
Mondongos is the place to go for a traditional family meal of traditional Colombian food.

If you want to try some exotic Colombian food you never knew existed:
La Chagra

Location: Provenza in El Poblado

The chef at La Chagra ventures deep into the Colombian Amazon, finds the craziest fruits, vegetables, and animals, figures out how to make them taste good, then serves them up at his restaurant. Because of the extreme level of difficulty in getting these ingredients, it’s expensive. It can also be hit-and-miss because it’s so out-there and experimental. But it’s guaranteed to be something you’ve never tried before and will never have the chance to try again.

Smoking potion drinks from La Chagra.
Start your meal at La Chagra off with a mysterious, smoking potion. The food gets even more exotic from there.

If you’re on the go and looking for a quick bite:
Empanadas El Machetico

Location: Half a block up Calle 9 from Parque El Poblado

There is always a huddle of taxi drivers, cops, and office workers enjoying a quick snack of sizzling hot fried empanadas in front of Empanadas El Machetico.

If you’re looking for a quick snack, get in there, order a couple, squeeze a few limes and some sauce on top, devour them, then get on with your day.

If you want to have a surefire awesome menu del dia lunch special:
Café Cliché

Location: Laureles, a few blocks northwest of Primer Parque

Both the vegetarian and non-veggie lunch specials from Café Cliché are fantastic. They’re just really good. Perhaps the best in Medellin. We don’t know what else to say. See our menu del dia guide if you want more info, photos of their food, and to see a sample menu.

Close-up of Cafe Cliche lunches
Cafe Cliche has awesome food for “regular eaters” and vegetarians.

If you’re downtown looking for a refuge from the chaos and a nice meal:
Credenza

Location: Downtown on the 10th floor

Credenza is better known locally as Café Colombo. We sadly never got around to dining there, but quite a few of our friends recommended it to us and we trust their tastes enough to pass that recommendation on to you. At the very least, you get to enjoy an elegant but not too expensive dining experience up on the tenth floor of a building in downtown Medellin.

If you want to catch your own lunch (or not):
Truchera Arcoiris

Location: Near Parque El Salado in Envigado

Truchera Arcoiris is a trout farm and restaurant in Envigado. It’s near Parque El Salado and the hike to the Higueron “caves” and waterfall we covered here. Go on the weekend when it’s packed with families who go there to catch some fish in the trout pond, then eat it in the restaurant. (You can skip the fishing and go straight to ordering if you’d like.) The food’s nothing fantastic, but it’s a worthy cultural experience.

La Trucheria Cuevas de Higueron Medellin Hiking
People hoping to catch their lunch at the trout pond beside Truchera Arcoiris.
Busy Truchera Arcoiris restaurant.
The trout pond at Truchera Arcoiris must be well-stocked, because it’s super popular on weekends.

If you want to impress your partner with a romantic picnic in the park:
In Situ

Location: In Medellin’s Botanical Garden, right off Universidad metro station north of downtown

You probably don’t need to go to Medellin’s Jardin Botanico if you’re only visiting for a few days (unless you’re a botanist). But if you’re spending a longer time in town, you should. It’s a peaceful escape from the noise, traffic, and pollution of the city. Plus it’s free to enter and easy to get to by metro.

Right in the middle of the gardens is In Situ. It’s a higher-end restaurant that’s a perfect spot to take a date on a romantic walk then lunch. Better yet, you can contact them in advance (here) to arrange for them to pack the food into a picnic basket along with a blanket.

If you’re looking to go for a casual, romantic meal and a delicious steak:
Pedacito de Amor

Location: El Dorado neighborhood of Envigado, a 14-minute walk from Envigado’s main square

Pedacito de Amor‘s name in itself is enough to earn you brownie points on a date. (It’s Spanish for, “a little piece of love.”) But even if you could care less about earning the love (or lust) of another, if you love meat it’s worth dining there. Their yuca fries are awesome too.

The small restaurant is located in the cozy (and super safe) neighborhood of El Dorado in Envigado. Few tourists go there aside from students at the nearby Columbia Immersion Spanish school (which organizes an excellent Friday evening language exchange you should check out). But you should, because their grilled meats are excellent and the prices are about half what the same thing would cost in El Poblado or Laureles.

Steak and sides from Pedacito de Amor
A delicious piece of meat from a Little Piece of Love (Pedacito de Amor) restaurant.

If you want Colombian with a modern, adventurous, and delicious twist:
Alambique

Location: Through a “secret door” up on the third floor just off Calle 10 in El Poblado

Alambique was probably our favorite restaurant in Medellin. The dishes are big and reasonably priced (which Chris likes), the food and interior is stylishly designed (which Kim likes), and the small menu is full of creative creations (which everybody likes). You’ll want to come back to try them all.

Canasticas de buñuelo dish from Alambique
Alambique serves Colombian food with a creative twist, like these buñuelos stuffed with shrimp cocktail and served over shots of rum mixed with coconut lemonade.

If you want a good ol’ juicy hamburger:
Lardón

Location: Just down the street from the Exito in El Poblado

Lardón is mostly known for its BBQ pork, hence the name, but we recommend them for their hamburgers.

During Medellin’s one-week Burger Master event, in which over forty restaurants around the city competed for the best burger in town, we (well, Chris mostly) went burger crazy. Chris had up to three different burgers a day all week long. Easily the best one was Lardón’s.

If you’re starving and want the best bandeja Paisa in the world:
La Gloria de Gloria

Location: Envigado, about a seven-minute walk from the main square

La Gloria de Gloria (Gloria’s Glory) is the number one place we recommend for travelers looking for an unforgettable authentic Colombian food orgy.

Ask any local in Medellin about La Gloria and they’ll respond with the same gesture: They’ll grab their elbow and wag their forearm. Why? Because that’s how big the chicharron (fried pork belly, or mega bacon) that Gloria serves is.

And it’s not just chicharron. La Gloria’s bandeja Paisa comes with morcilla (traditional blood sausage), the best arepas we had in Medellin (which isn’t saying much because they normally taste like dish detergent), pork hoof bean soup, ground beef, avocado, rice, fries, and egg.

But wait, there’s more!

Gloria is almost always around to pour out a welcome shot or two of aguardiente.

Kim holding up chicharron at La Gloria de Gloria in Envigado
Everything in the bandeja Paisa from La Gloria de Gloria is glorious, but the forearm-sized chicharron is truly unforgettable.

Time for Seconds?

This list of the best restaurants in Medellin for different occasions is just your appetizer. The main course is our Colombia Adventure Travel Guide. It’s an overflowing buffet of tasty tips and spicy recommendations that you won’t find anywhere else.

Whether you’re looking for more food recommendations, pueblos to visit, outdoor adventures, or off-the-beaten-path escapades, you are guaranteed to find something there that’ll improve your time in Colombia.

Dig in!


And One Last Thing…

Now that we’ve given you something, can you please please return the favor by leaving us a comment below? Ask us a question, share your own recommendations for the best restaurants in Medellin, or give your opinion. You’d make our day.

And if you’re lazy or don’t know what to say, just copy-paste this:

Hey Chris and Kim! You should change the name of the The Unconventional Route to ‘The Unbelievably Awesome Blog,’ because that’s what this is. Thanks for writing this and hopefully one day there is a world called Blogsville that I can vote you to be king and queen of.

Or this:

Kim and Chris… You guys should probably get off ‘The Unconventional Route,’ go back to the way you came, and beg to be given back whatever undoubtedly mindless jobs you dumb dumbs must have been fired from because this is terrible. Sheesh!

Chris
Chris is a guy from Canada. He particularly likes sports, nachos, and Kim, who is his accomplice in running The Unconventional Route.

1 Comment

  1. My girlfriend and I are travelling to Columbia in two weeks and are taking ALL your traveling advice. It is like you have planned our itenerary for us! Thank you for all your wonderful blog posts. Our eyes are glued to them! We can’t wait for our upcoming trip. Thanks again.

Complaints? Questions? Compliments?