Cartagena, Colombia has one of the most beautifully complicated histories in Latin America. The town of Cartagena was first established by the Spanish in 1533, by Pedro de Heredia. Its first name was Cartagena de Indias. Discoveries of gold and treasures in the region led to a settlement, and a terrible fire–which razed the village to the ground–led to stone architecture that has lasted until today.
Cartagena also became a slave-trading colony. The new Laws of the Indies pushed by Bartolomeo de las Casas did not allow any of the Latin Americans to be sold into slavery. However, Africans could still be bought and sold as slaves. This lent another dimension to the culture. Because it was a center of trade, it attracted immigrants who eventually became residents, such as French, Italians, Jews, Lebanese, Syrians, and Turks.
All of this history has combined into an interesting fusion of food.
Ceviche is a Latin American dish originating from Peru, but the marinade was brought from Spain who brought the idea themselves from Moorish cuisine. The preparation consists of uncooked fish marinated in citrus. The Caribbean provided the fish; the Spanish provided the citrus fruits; and Peruvian-Japanese chefs developed the modern preparation.
La Cevicheria was begun by Jorge Escandon, himself not a native of Cartagena. He and his mother found the little corner shop, and decided to set up La Cevicheria. It is a perfect place to taste the true non-commercialized ceviche of the region.
La Perla in Cartagena is truly a pearl of restaurants in that tiny city. It serves world-renowned authentic Peruvian cuisine, and not just the ceviche the region is known for. Customers go to La Perla for the tiraditos, thin strips of cured sea bass or tuna marinated with a capsicum kick. Of course ceviche is part of the menu, and the Ceviche Corvina is among the best.
Better than that, La Perla has a cocktail bar perfect for a late-night outing on the streets of Cartagena. Because Cartagena is a fresh fruit paradise, expect mojitos made with green mango and even a passion fruit taste. La Perla is the destination for a Cartagena food trip.
Sometimes, a food trip just needs one of those rest stops where you can take a break from the food and knock back either coffee or drinks. El Baron is the place to stop. By day, El Baron serves cappucino and cakes, in a quiet atmosphere perfect for rest and conversation.
But by night, the cocktail bar opens to a world-wide array of drinks, gathered by the owner all over the world. He has even made some original specials, like whisky with a rosemary taste and a Margarita laced with paprika. Whether you feel adventurous or just like a great bar experience, El Baron is the place for you in Cartagena.
Cartagena: The Best Place for a Food Trip
Cartagena is not only a feast for the eyes, it is a feast for the palate as well. When your eyes are tired of the stone walls and the weathered battlements, you can talk over the pirate attacks over ceviche or coffee, whichever you like. Either way, Cartagena is one of the best places to go restaurant-hopping for great Latin American cuisine.