Medellin is our favorite city in Colombia. Cartagena is more captivating and with better food, but as a liveable city, Medellin is our favorite. It’s got a great vibe, incredible museums, and an efficient easy-to-use transportation system. Plus, it’s home to one of our favorite dishes in Colombian cuisine – bandeja paisa.
Traditional Colombian food is a comforting cuisine that features big plates of starch- and meat-heavy dishes. Thick slabs of deep-fried chicharron are a favorite, as are filling soups overflowing with beans, potatoes, and tripe. If you’re a big eater who likes nap-inducing lunches, then you’re going to love the food in Medellin.
We didn’t go to any fine dining restaurants with tasting menus in Medellin (we left that for Bogota), but we did spend our time tracking down some of the city’s best examples of bandeja paisa and other hearty Antioquian specialties like mondongo and cazuela de frijoles.
If comfort food is what you’re after in Medellin, the kind of food that feels like grandma’s cooking, then you’ve come to the right place.
MEDELLIN RESTAURANTS QUICK LINKS
To help you plan your Medellin trip, we’ve compiled links to top-rated hotels, tours, and other travel-related services here.
Recommended hotels in Laureles-Estadio, one of the best areas to stay for first-time visitors to Medellin.
- Sightseeing Tour: Comuna 13 History & Graffiti Tour with Cable Car
- Food Tour: Street Food and Poblado Rooftops Tour with a Local
- Coffee Tour: Coffee Shop Hopping Tour
- Day Trip: Guatape El Peñol with Boat, Breakfast & Lunch
- Cooking Classes: Medellin Cooking Classes
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WHAT IS PAISA FOOD?
You’ll undoubtedly come across the word “Paisa” a lot when you visit Medellin. It refers to a region in Colombia comprised of the Antioquia, Risaralda, Caldas, and Quindio departments. People who come from this part of Colombia are referred to as Paisas.
There are a few interesting dishes that hail from the Paisa region but these three stand out. Be sure to seek them out on your next trip to Medellin.
If you were to have just one dish in Medellin, then it should probably be bandeja paisa. It refers to an overflowing platter of food consisting of white rice surrounded by a variety of different meats and side dishes like chicharron (fried pork belly), sausages, carne molida (ground meat), red beans, platano maduro (fried plantains), arepas, avocados, and a fried egg.
It’s originally from the Paisa region (hence the name), though it’s now commonly consumed throughout the country. It’s considered by many to be a national dish of Colombia.
Sopa de Mondongo
Sopa de mondongo refers to a type of Colombian tripe soup made with sliced tripe – typically beef or pork – slow-cooked with different vegetables and herbs like carrots, peas, onions, and cilantro. It’s a hearty and filling soup that’s usually served with a side of white rice, arepas, avocado, and banana.
Cazuela de Frijoles
Cazuela de frijoles is another hearty Paisa soup made with Antioquian beans served in a bowl with chunks of chicharron, chorizo, avocados, and plantains. Like sopa de mondongo, it’s usually served with a side of white rice and/or arepas.
THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN MEDELLIN
The Medellin restaurant scene is mostly centered around two areas – El Poblado and Laureles. We spent most of our time finding restaurants in those two neighborhoods, along with a few other areas frequented by tourists.
I’ve arranged this list of the best Medellin restaurants by neighborhood to make it easier to digest. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
El Poblado is perhaps the most popular area to stay for foreigners in Medellin, especially those who like to party, but we personally preferred Laureles. It’s got a more local vibe with restaurants that didn’t feel like they catered to tourists.
Visit this restaurant at peak lunch times and you’ll quickly realize that Mondongo’s is one of the most popular restaurants in Medellin. A local favorite, Mondongo’s offers classic Antioquian and Colombian dishes like bandeja paisa, ajiaco, cazuela de lentejas, and of course – sopa de mondongo.
As described, sopa de mondongo refers to a Colombian tripe soup made with beef or pork tripe cooked with different types of vegetables. It’s a hearty and filling dish that’s usually served with a side of white rice, arepas, avocado, and banana.
I can’t say I’m an authority on sopa de mondongo but the version they serve here is very good. If you’re as big a fan of tripe as I am, then you need to try this.
Ajiaco is especially popular in Bogota but it’s widely available in Medellin as well. It refers to another filling Colombian soup made with shredded chicken, three varieties of potatoes, corn, and guasca herbs. According to many locals, Mondongo’s serves one of the best versions of ajiaco in Medellin.
During our time in Medellin, we found a few restaurants serving just three Colombian dishes – ajiaco, sopa de mondongo, and cazuela de frijoles. The dish pictured below isn’t cazuela de frijoles but it’s something similar – cazuela de lentejas. Instead of beans, it’s made with lentils.
When our server placed this beautiful bowl of food in front of me, my first thought was: “It looks like a Colombian version of Korean bibimbap!” Similar only in presentation, cazuela de lentejas consists of a bed of stewed lentils topped with different ingredients like chicharron, carne molida, platano maduro, avocado, and papas fritas fosforitos (shoestring potatoes).
With all the delicious dishes to try at this restaurant, I think you’ll be eating at Mondongo’s more than once. We did.
We love fried pork belly so we got this side order of chicharron with platano maduro and an arepa. You can never eat too much chicharron in Colombia or Medellin!
We always went in the first hour but don’t let this picture fool you. Mondongo’s is a very popular restaurant. Arrive at peak times and you’ll find a long line of locals waiting to tuck into a bowl of sopa de mondongo or ajiaco.
We went to their branch in Laureles but they have a branch in Poblado as well. Based on their popularity and rave reviews, Mondongo’s has to be one of the best restaurants in Medellin for traditional Colombian food.
Address: Cra. 70 # c 3 – 43, Laureles – Estadio, Medellín, Laureles, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 11:30AM-9:30PM, Mon-Wed / 11:30AM-10PM, Thurs-Sat / 11AM-8PM, Sun
What to Order: Traditional Colombian dishes
2. Cucayito Cocina Costeña
Costeño cuisine refers to food from the Caribbean coastal regions of Colombia. If you’ve been to Cartagena and enjoyed the food there, then you’ll probably want to enjoy a meal at Cucayito. As their name suggests, they specialize in costeño dishes like cazuela de marsicos, posts negra cartagenera, and mote de queso.
This glistening hunk of deliciousness is called sobrebarriga asada. It refers to a Colombian-style grilled flank steak served with coconut rice, corn, yuca, and a side salad. The word sobrebarriga literally means “over the belly”.
Be sure to ask about Cucayito’s daily specials. On the day we went, they offered this tasty bowl of sancocho de rabo (ox tail).
Sancocho refers to a popular Colombian soup made with meat, tubers, and vegetables. We’ve tried it with different types of meat like chicken (de gallina), beef (de res), and fish (de pescado), but this version made with ox tail was easily the best. It’s incredibly delicious.
Cucayito Cocina Costeña
Address: Cq. 2 #71 53, Laureles – Estadio, Medellín, Laureles, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 8AM-4PM, Mon-Tue / 8AM-10PM, Wed-Sun
What to Order: Costeño dishes
3. Parrilla Dejame Q’ Te Cuente
Parilla Dejame Q’ Te Cuente is another popular restaurant in the Laureles area that serves delicious traditional Colombian food. They offer the usual Antioquian specialties like sopa de mondongo, cazuela de frijoles, and bandeja paisa, but what caught my eye was this plato tipico.
Meaning “typical dish”, this Parilla Dejame’s plato tipico is similar to a bandeja paisa except you can choose your protein. Available proteins include chicharron, chorizo, ground meat, beef, pork, or chicken.
The plato tipico was delicious but even better was this lengua en salsa criolla. It refers to Colombian-style beef tongue drenched in a tomato-based creole sauce.
If you’d like a break from the more common Antioquian dishes, then I suggest trying this. It’s fantastic.
Parilla Dejame Q’ Te Cuente is located along busy Carrera 70 in Laureles. We went here for lunch, when it was relatively dead, but I’m sure the place gets much busier at night like the rest of the establishments along this strip.
Parrilla Dejame Q’ Te Cuente
Address: Cir 2 Carrera 70 #32, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia Medellín 32, Colombia
Operating Hours: 10AM-12MN, Sun-Wed / 10AM-1AM, Thurs / 10AM-2AM, Fri-Sat
What to Order: Lengua en salsa criolla, typical Antioquian dishes
4. Bárbaro Cocina Primitiva
Unless you’re a vegetarian or vegan, then a fat juicy steak is probably tops on your list of favorite dishes. If you’re a fan of grilled meats, then you’ll definitely want to enjoy a meal here at Barbaro Cocina Primitiva.
This restaurant specializes in a variety of steak and meat dishes like tomahawk, picanha, short ribs, and burgers. I went with this bife al barril which translates to “barrel steak”.
Bife al barril refers to a thick cut of beef tenderloin that’s encrusted with spices and then smoked in a charcoal barrel for two hours before being grilled. It comes with your choice of side dish and some chimichurri.
If you’d rather do pork than beef, then you can try this chistilla de cerdo. It consists of a cut of meat that combines pork ribs and bacon. Like the steaks, it comes with your choice of side dish.
We went to Barbaro Cocina Primitiva after reading more than one local describe it as the “best restaurant for steak” in Medellin. We went to their restaurant in Laureles but they have a branch in Poblado as well. Both outlets are TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice awardees.
As described, we didn’t go to any fine dining restaurants in Medellin. Barbaro Cocina Primitiva is probably the most upscale restaurant we visited. It has a beautiful interior and the type of menu that makes it a good choice for date night in Medellin.
Bárbaro Cocina Primitiva
Address: Cra. 76 #73b-39, Laureles – Estadio, Medellín, Laureles, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 12NN-10PM, Mon-Thurs / 12NN-11PM, Fri-Sat / 12NN-9PM, Sun
What to Order: Steak
5. Animal Cocina
Animal Cocina is another good restaurant that unapologetic carnivores can visit in Medellin. People are crazy for hamburgers and hot dogs (perros calientes) in this city and many locals describe this restaurant as having some of the best burgers in Medellin.
Animal Cocina offers almost twenty different types of burgers. Pictured below is the Master Animal. It’s their award-winning signature burger topped with smoked bacon, Philadelphia cream cheese, cheddar cheese sauce, pickled vegetables, and honey BBQ sauce.
Even more loaded than the Master Animal, the Hamburguesa Animal consists of an all-beef patty topped with breaded chicken, a thick slab of smoked bacon, onion rings, cheddar cheese, vegetables, and the house BBQ sauce. Animalistic indeed!
Like I said, this restaurant brings out the animal in you. F you too!
Address: Cq. 4 #73 04, Laureles – Estadio, Medellín, Laureles, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 12NN-10:30PM, Mon-Thurs / 12NN-11:30PM, Fri-Sun
What to Order: Burgers
6. Chicharron City
Chicharron is one of the most popular meat dishes you’ll find in Colombia, and with good reason. Crunchy and fatty, it’s absolutely delicious, even when it isn’t prepared as well as it could be.
If you like fried pork belly as much as we do, then you may want to grab a beer and some chicharron at this restaurant in Laureles. As their name suggests, they specialize in all things porky and fatty.
Chicharron City offers hamburgers, burritos, and sandwiches made with chicharron but if you visit with two or more people, then we recommend getting one of their para compartir (for sharing) platters. They offer five different preparations of chicharron – original, barrel-smoked, honey-glazed, popcorn, and spicy. Depending on what type of platter you get, you can try three or five of them.
There were just two of us so we got the smallest platter – the Trilogia. It comes with three types of chicharron of your choice, two types of fries/yuca, and three salsas and arepas. Can you think of better bar chow in Medellin to go with your ice-cold bottles of Aguila beer?
Chicharron City is a small, open-air restaurant in a less frequented part of Laureles. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a few bottles of beer while munching on chicharron over the weekend.
Address: Cq. 5 #69-15, Laureles – Estadio, Medellín, Laureles, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 12NN-8:30PM, Mon-Thurs / 12NN-10:30PM / 4-10:30PM, Sat / 3-8:30PM, Sun
What to Order: Chicharron
7. Guilli Arepas
In Colombia and in many other countries throughout Latin America, lunch is the biggest and most important meal of the day. Dinner is typically a quieter affair, confined to smaller meals like arepas and chocolate santafreño.
If arepa sandwiches sound good to you, then you may want to have them for dinner at Guilli Arepas. It’s a small arepa shop located in a quieter part of Laureles. They offer over a dozen types of arepa sandwiches filled with different ingredients like chicharron, cheese, ham, pineapple, and shrimp.
Pictured in the foreground below is their signature arepa sandwich – the Guilli. It’s stuffed with chicharron, chicken, beef, ham, corn, and cheese.
This one is called the Maicitos. It’s filled with corn, chorizo, and cheese.
Guilli Arepas is open only from 4PM till 10PM, making it an ideal place to have a light arepa dinner in Medellin.
Address: #39b-2 a, Cq. 76 #39b-104, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 4-10PM, daily
What to Order: Arepa sandwiches
8. Los Perritos
Burgers are big in Medellin. But even bigger are hot dogs, which Colombians refer to as perros calientes (literally “hot dogs” in Spanish).
Unlike American hot dogs, these Colombian versions are loaded with toppings you wouldn’t normally find in the US like feta cheese, arugula, and refried beans. More exotic versions can even be topped with ingredients like ceviche, crab, and shrimp in coconut sauce!
Los Perritos is one of the most popular perro caliente chains in Medellin. They don’t get crazy with their topping choices like some places but they do fill them with a boatload of ingredients like melted cheese, house salad, and shoestring potatoes.
Their standard hot dogs are called the perro and perrito (smaller version), but we tried these interesting versions called the perra and perrita. They don’t contain hot dog sausages at all. Instead, they’re filled with a ton of smoked bacon.
Los Perritos has many branches throughout Medellin. This one is located in Laureles but you can check their website to find an outlet near you.
Hot dog restaurants in Medellin typically open around mid-afternoon. Perros calientes seem to be more of a lighter dinner option or an after-clubbing/drinking snack in Colombia.
Address: Cra. 73 #N°41-61, Laureles – Estadio, Medellín, Laureles, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 2:30-11:45PM, daily
What to Order: Perros calientes
9. Empanadas de Laureles
Empanadas are among the most delicious street food snacks in Colombia. Not only are these deep-fried meat turnovers tasty, but they’re cheap as well, often going for as little as COP 5,000 per piece with a soda. If you’re looking for delicious cheap eats in Medellin, then look no further than an empanada.
Empanadas vendors are ubiquitous in Medellin but we went to this shop in Laureles after a local described their empanadas as the best in the city.
Empanadas are widely available throughout Latin America, the US, and the Philippines but in some countries like Colombia or Venezuela, they’re a little different. They’re made with corn dough which gives them a crunchier, crumblier texture. They can be filled with a variety of ingredients like ground meat, shredded chicken, ham, corn, and cheese.
Empanadas are typically crescent-shaped but here’s one that looks like an orb. This one was loaded with shredded chicken.
You’ll walk by many empanada roadside vendors in Medellin but if you find yourself in the Laureles neighborhood, then you may want to visit Empanadas de Laureles. It’s an actual restaurant so you can sit down and take your time while enjoying some of the best empanadas in Medellin.
Empanadas de Laureles
Address: Cra. 71 # 4-03, Laureles – Estadio, Medellín, Laureles, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 8AM-6:30PM, Mon-Fri / 8AM-1PM, Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Empanadas
10. El Tejadito
I absolutely loved this little pastry shop. Located along busy Carrera 70, opposite Parilla Dejame Q’ Te Cuente (#3), El Tejadito makes some of the most delicious pastries we’ve had anywhere in Colombia. Not only are they flaky and tasty, but most of their pastries are a good size as well.
El Tejadito makes pastries filled with both sweet and savory fillings like queso fundido (melted cheese), chicken, beef, and arequipe (dulce de leche). My hands-down favorite was this tejadito dulce which is filled with guayaba (guava) and cheese. It’s soooo delicious.
Address: Cq. 2 #70-01, Laureles – Estadio, Medellín, Laureles, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 9AM-7PM, daily
What to Order: Tejadito dulce
11. La Jugosa
Everyone loves ice cream, but healthier eaters may prefer fruits. If you like one or the other, or both, then you need to visit La Jugosa. It’s a chain of ice cream shops in Medellin that serves desserts made with fruits, ice cream, or a combination of both.
La Jugosa offers a wide menu of desserts but I was here specifically to try their salpicon. Salpicon is basically a type of Colombian fruit cocktail made with fresh fruits. It can be enjoyed on its own or topped with either vanilla ice cream or sweetened condensed milk.
At La Jugosa, you can try salpicon plain or topped with cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and crumbled cuajada (milk curd). I wanted to try their salpicon because more than one local described it as the best in Medellin. They may be right.
I got a kick out of one local’s description of La Jugosa. He said that their interiors didn’t match the deliciousness of their desserts. He’s absolutely right. Their restaurants look more like bus waiting rooms than dessert shops but don’t let their unappetizing interiors fool you, La Jugosa’s desserts are delicious.
La Jugosa has many branches in Medellin, including outlets in the popular tourist areas of El Poblado, Laureles, and Envigado.
Address: Carrera 70 #Cir 4-39, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM, daily
What to Order: Salpicon, helados, ensaladas de frutas
As described, El Poblado is one of the liveliest and most popular areas to stay for foreigners in Medellin. It has a bustling restaurant scene with plenty of fine dining restaurants, bars, clubs, and cafes. You’ll find a wide range of restaurants serving international fare like Japanese food, Mexican food, and other types of Latin American cuisine.
El Poblado doesn’t feel like the most authentic place in Medellin but you certainly won’t run out of restaurant options here.
12. Ajiacos y Mondongos
We prefer local hole-in-the-walls over polished restaurants that serve international fare. The latter seemed to be more dominant in Poblado but there are hidden gems that serve amazing food like Ajiacos y Mondongos.
Open since 1991, this humble restaurant offers just three things on their menu – ajiaco, sopa de mondongo, and cazuela de frijoles. Ironically, the restaurant’s best-selling dish is the only one that isn’t part of its name.
This bowl of cazuela de frijoles is absolutely amazing and something you need to try at this restaurant. I’m sure the ajiaco and mondongo are delicious too but there’s a reason why this dish is the most popular.
Check out that crunchy chunk of chicharron! In the eyes of many locals, Ajiacos y Mondongos is the best restaurant in the Poblado neighborhood for traditional Antioquian food.
This next dish looks like a dessert but you’ll often find it on the drinks list at many Colombian restaurants. What you’re looking at is mazamorra, a traditional Colombian drink made with maize grains and milk sweetened with panela (unrefined cane sugar). That big brown chunk in the middle is panela.
If you weren’t looking for Ajiacos y Mondongos, then you’d probably never know it was there. Open only for lunch, it’s tucked away along Calle 8, in a quieter corner of the Poblado neighborhood.
I walked in as soon as that green door opened but it wasn’t long before a steady stream of Colombians started rolling in. Clearly, this place is a hit with the locals.
With such a focused menu, Ajiacos y Mondongos has to be one of the best restaurants in Medellin for ajiaco, mondongo, and cazuela de frijoles.
Ajiacos y Mondongos
Address: Cl. 8 #42-46, El Poblado, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 12NN-3:30PM, Mon-Fri / 12NN-4PM, Sat-Sun
What to Order: Cazuela de frijoles, sopa de mondongo, ajiaco
13. Tika Dogs Gourmet
Most of the popular perro caliente shops in Medellin are restaurant chains so I wanted to find one that was a little more artisanal in feel. Luckily, we found Tika Dogs Gourmet in El Poblado. It’s a small restaurant that tops their perros calientes with ingredients you’d never imagine on a hot dog.
Tika Dogs Gourmet names their hot dogs according to popular Global destinations like Budapest, Machuppichu, and New York. I asked my server for recommendations and she suggested I try the Estambul (crab, mozzarella) or New York (medley of cheeses, BBQ sauce).
This was our first trip to Colombia so I went with something more befitting – the Medellin. It’s an overflowing hot dog topped with shredded meat, corn, hogao (Colombian sofrito), and guacamole.
Any of the top perro caliente chains are good but if you want something with more soul and pizzazz, then I recommend checking out Tika Dogs Gourmet. They’re a Traveller’s Choice awardee with a perfect 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.
Tika Dogs Gourmet is a tiny restaurant with an interior that’s just as interesting as their hot dogs. Based on their perfect TripAdvisor rating and creative flair for putting together toppings, they have to be one of the best restaurants in Medellin for perros calientes.
Tika Dogs Gourmet
Address: Cra. 34 #7-29, El Poblado, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 2-9PM, Mon-Wed / 2-10:30PM, Thurs-Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Medellin, Estambul, New York
14. Sr Buñuelo
Like empanadas or arepas, you’ll find shops selling buñuelos everywhere in Medellin. However, not all buñuelos are created equal. We tried these Colombian yuca fritters several times in Medellin and Bogota and Sr Buñuelo was clearly the best.
Buñuelos can take on different forms in different countries but in Colombia, it describes a crispy and chewy fritter made from corn starch and yuca flour. It’s typically made with melted cheese but it can be filled with other ingredients as well like arequipe, chocolate, and guava jelly.
We enjoyed all of Sr Buñuelo’s offerings but my clear-cut favorite was the bocadillo (guava jelly). These buñuelos are a little oily but they’re oh so chewy and delicious.
Sr Buñuelo is a popular buñuelo chain with branches in Medellin and Bogota. We would later go on a food tour in Bogota and we were pleased to find that Sr Buñuelo was one of our stops. According to our tour guide, they make some of the best buñuelos in Colombia.
Address: Cl 10 #43C-35, El Poblado, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 6AM-7PM, Mon-Fri / 7AM-7PM, Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Buñuelos
15. Mercado del Rio
When you’re traveling in a large group, one of the toughest decisions you have to make is where to eat. Everyone has their food preferences so it can be difficult to pick a restaurant. Thankfully, we have Mercado del Rio.
Mercado del Rio is a two-story food hall located near the Industriales MRT station. I was happy to discover this place by accident when I was walking from the station to the Medellin Museum of Modern Art. It’s a stylish food hall with around two dozen stalls offering a wide variety of food choices like Colombian food, sushi, Asian noodles, burgers, vegetarian pizza, and Latin American food.
From delicious pizza to sushi to Argentinian choripan and Peruvian chaufa, there really is something for everyone at Mercado del Rio. With all the great food to be had here, it can be hard to decide which stall to go to!
We enjoyed Mercado del Rio so much that we wound up going here twice. We ordered food from five stalls, starting with this tasty bowl of salchipapas from the Patatas Gourmet stall. It consists of french fries topped with sausages, bacon, quail eggs, cheddar cheese, and barbecue sauce.
If you’d like a quick break from perros calientes, then perhaps you’d like to try this tasty Argentinian choripan from the Par de Brutos stall. It’s a type of sandwich made with an Argentinian chorizo sausage served in a bread roll with chimichurri and salsa.
Par de Brutos offers a variety of meat dishes and sandwiches made with different types of meat like smoked chicharron, chorizo, pulled pork, and bondiola (pork shoulder). If smoked burgers and pulled pork sandwiches are your thing, then you’ll probably want to try this stall.
I love Peruvian chifa dishes so it didn’t take much deliberation for me to order something from the Peru Mix stall. They offer different types of ceviche and sanguches (Peruvian sandwiches) but what really caught my eye was this heaping plate of arroz chaufa de mariscos (Peruvian-Chinese seafood fried rice). Overflowing with seafood, it was delicious.
We’ve only eaten at five stalls thus far but Peru Mix may be my favorite. That arroz chaufa was fantastic.
I satisfied my Asian food craving with that tasty plate of arroz chaufa while Ren scratched her itch with this Indonesian-inspired bowl of noodles from the Wok in a Box stall. Hardly anything about this dish reminded us of Indonesian food but it didn’t matter, it was still delicious.
As you can tell from their name, Wok in a Box specializes in Asian-inspired dishes (emphasis on the “inspired”). With dish mash-ups like “Shanghai Pad Thai” and “Vietnam Char Siu”, their creations bear little resemblance to actual dishes from those countries but they taste good anyway.
It’s hard to say no to gelato for dessert, especially if it’s flavored with Amarena cherries. The Gelato Italiano stall offers a few classic flavors, the most interesting being this Amarena. Sweet, a little tart, and oh so creamy, it was absolutely delicious.
Be sure to grab a scoop or two from the Gelato Italiano stall before making your way out of Mercado del Rio.
Mercado del Rio
Address: Cl. 24 #48-28, El Poblado, Medellín, El Poblado, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 8AM-10PM, Sun-Tue / 8AM-11PM, Wed-Thurs / 8AM-12MN, Fri-Sat
16. La Gloria de Gloria
When I was searching for places to eat in Envigado, I found an article claiming that the late great Anthony Bourdain made a mistake by not eating at this restaurant on the Medellin episode of No Reservations. No one criticizes Uncle Tony so I was intrigued!
According to the writer, Bourdain made a mistake by not coming here because he missed out on the biggest plates of bandeja paisa you’ll find anywhere in Medellin. La Gloria de Gloria only serves bandeja paisa and the portions are always for two people or more. Just look at the size of that chicharron!
To my shock, I didn’t know that the portions were for at least two people until I got there. I ate here alone so I had to do my best Joey Chestnut impression before waving the white flag and bringing the rest home. This was a mammoth portion of food, and all for just COP 60,000 (around USD 12).
The chicharron is the star of every platter of bandeja paisa. At Gloria de Gloria, they give you 1 kg of it. That’s 2.2 lbs of crispy crunchy pork belly!
The chicharron at this restaurant was massive but unfortunately, a bit tough, due in part to its size. It was hard for me to cut through the meat and chew the skin.
The chicharron may have been tough but the rest of this bandeja paisa was terrific. This bowl of frijoles antioqueños (pork hock bean stew) was delicious.
No platter of bandeja paisa would ever be complete without morcilla (blood sausages) and arepas. These blood sausages were my favorite part of this meal.
If you plan on visiting Envigado, then you may want to check out La Gloria de Gloria, especially if you’re traveling in groups of two or more. They don’t serve the best bandeja paisa but they do give you gargantuan plates of food for very reasonable prices. It’s a great place to feast on the Paisa region’s pride and joy while rubbing elbows with locals.
La Gloria de Gloria
Address: Cl. 37 Sur #35-06, Zona 9, Envigado, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 9AM-6:30PM, Thurs-Sun / 9AM-6PM, Wed (closed Mon-Tue)
What to Order: Bandeja paisa
EL CENTRO (LA CANDELARIA)
This was perhaps the best plate of bandeja paisa I had in Medellin. They don’t give you copious amounts of food like La Gloria de Gloria but everything on this plate was done to perfection and in the right amounts. Their chicharron is fantastic.
El Centro (aka La Candelaria) has a reputation for being a little seedy but there are a few attractions there that warrant a visit, like Plaza Botero and the Museum of Antioquia. If you do decide to explore the Centro area, then I highly recommend having lunch at Hacienda.
Hacienda now has six restaurants throughout Medellin, including one in El Poblado, but it all started here in the heart of El Centro. A TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice awardee, they’ve been serving delicious Colombian food from this location since 1991.
Address: Cra. 49 Junín #52-98, La Candelaria, Medellín, La Candelaria, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 11AM-7PM, Tue-Fri / 9AM-7PM, Sat / 11AM-6PM, Sun / 12NN-7PM, Mon
What to Order: Bandeja paisa, traditional Colombian dishes
18. Salón Málaga
I’m drawn to places with history. If I find a restaurant or bar that’s been open for decades, even centuries, then I’m adding it to our itinerary. In Medellin, one such place is Salon Malaga. It’s a tango and bolero bar that’s been entertaining the people of Medellin with live music and drinks since 1957.
From the vintage photos and newspaper clippings to the jukeboxes and retro leather chairs, Salon Malaga feels like a time capsule smack dab in the heart of La Candelaria.
I didn’t bother to ask for the menu because I knew exactly what I wanted – Aguila beer – but Salon Malaga doesn’t look like the place to enjoy fancy-schmancy cocktails like cotton candy champagne or caramel apple sangrias.
I looked around and people were either drinking beer, coffee, or aguardiente (anise-flavored Colombian liqueur). It’s a throwback bar in every way and truly a cultural icon of Medellin. You can check the Medellin Living website to learn more about Salon Malaga.
If you like visiting places with history, then you need to enjoy a beer or two at Salon Malaga. It’s conveniently located just a few steps away from the San Antonio metro station.
Address: Cra. 51 #45-80, La Candelaria, Medellín, La Candelaria, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 8AM-2AM, Mon-Sat / 8AM-12MN, Sun
What to Order: Beer, aguardiente, coffee
19. Cremas Doña Alba
First-time visitors to Medellin will undoubtedly find their way to Comuna 13 at some point. As colorful as it is, it isn’t exactly the place to find the best restaurants or fine dining options in Medellin. However, there are a couple of things you can try there.
I was on my way out when I overheard a local tour guide tell a newly arrived group that their first order of business was to try mango ice cream, which is a tradition in Comuna 13. By “mango ice cream”, he meant this crema or popsicle made with mango biche (unripe Colombian mango).
If you like tangy sour flavors, then you need to try this mango biche popsicle when you visit Comuna 13. As the tour guide said, it’s a local tradition!
This mango biche popsicle is traditionally enhanced with lime juice and salt but you can enjoy it as is. It’s naturally tart on its own.
After overhearing what the tour guide said, I googled “best mango ice cream in comuna 13” and found this place – Cremas Doña Alba. A neighborhood resident was standing next to me while I was waiting for my popsicle and he told me that this place really does serve the best cremas in Comuna 13.
Cremas Doña Alba
Address: Cra. 110 # 35 f 34, La Independencia, Medellín, San Javier, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 8AM-7PM, daily
What to Order: Cremas
20. Museo de Cafe Yipao
I was riding the escalator back down when this colorful entryway caught my eye. Intrigued, I doubled back up the side stairwell and found this cute little cafe and shop called Museo de Cafe Yipao (aka Cafe del Filo).
When I arrived, the barista was brewing coffee for a small group of tourists so I walked up to him and asked how much their coffee was. To my surprise, he told me it was free. “Free?”, I asked, a little confused. He said yes but if I wanted to leave a tip, then I was welcome to do so. Thanking him, I dropped a COP 2,000 note in the jar and enjoyed my coffee.
Based on what I’ve read, Museo Cafe de Yipao aims to educate tourists about the Colombian coffee-making tradition. I arrived at the tail end of his demonstration but I believe he shows tourists how coffee is produced and prepared in Colombia, ending with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. ¡Muchisimas gracias!
Aside from leaving a small tip, you can show your appreciation by buying one of the many coffee-related products they have in the shop.
You’ll have an awesome view of Comuna 13’s famed escalators from inside the shop. If you’d like a cup of great coffee after checking out the neighborhood’s murals, then be sure to make a stop at Museo Cafe de Yipao. And don’t forget to leave a tip!
Museo de Cafe Yipao
Address: Carrera 110 Escaleras eléctricas comun 13. Tramo 2, Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Operating Hours: 9:30AM-6PM, daily
To help you find these restaurants in Medellin, I’ve pinned them all on this map. Click on the link to open a live version of the map in a new window.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA
If you like to party, then you’ll probably want to stay in the El Poblado neighborhood. It’s a lively area that’s home to many of the best restaurants, bars, and fine dining options in Medellin.
But if you don’t care too much about partying, then we recommend staying in the Laureles neighborhood instead. It’s a quieter area that’s more residential and authentic in feel but still with its own network of fine dining options, bars, hidden restaurants, and cafes. If you’ve spent time in Mexico City, then it’ll remind you a bit of La Condesa.
In any case, I hope you found this article on the best restaurants in Medellin useful. If you have any questions or would like anything clarified, then please feel free to let us know in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading and have a delicious time eating your way through Medellin!
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