Since it is the last day of our month long stay in Medellin, I thought it was important to write about one of the things I will miss the most about living here – THE FOOD. As much as I can deny it, food makes me happy. Finding tasty meals and places to eat almost makes me giddy. Trying new places excites me. As I mentioned in a previous post, there is no shortage of restaurants or variety when it comes to food in Medellin.
Medellin even has food trucks:
Below I have created a list of my favorite finds in terms of drink, food items, honorable mentions since I don’t eat meat, and in some cases I have included the restaurants I frequented where you can find these items. Some things are unique to Colombia or Medellin and some aren’t which is the beauty about the food scene here, you can have it all! Side note, there are many restaurants or items not listed because unfortunately a month living on a strict budget doesn’t always allow me to eat out. With cost in mind, the food and drink listed below are all either budget friendly or mid-range. Despite all of that, I have quite long list so bear with me!
Guarapo. This fun, little bright green drink is sold everywhere on the streets near the metro stations, in the Centro, and I sometimes see vendors walking around Poblado with it. It is made out of sugarcane, lime juice and water is is very sweet and refreshing. I’ve never paid more than 1,000 CP (34 cents) for it. I hear from the locals that it is a great mixer for alcohol!
Fresh Juice. It is everywhere and thankfully so. Not only is it possible to find freshly made pineapple, mango, guanaba, maracuya (passion fruit), salpicon (mixture) and coconut juices in pretty much any restaurant but it is available through many street vendors as well. The vendors ask if you want sugar added which is a sign that it is just straight up squeezed fruit and no junk put into it!
Also, if I have a smoothie craving, Cosechas is a chain that provides freshly made fruit and/or vegetable smoothies that can be made with ice cream, water, or milk. They even have chocolate options.
Coffee. I think I have professed my love for Pergamino more than once in this blog and I’m not ashamed to do it again. Because Colombians typically don’t drink that much coffee and most of the good stuff gets exported out, there isn’t a plethora of great coffee around here, except at Pergamino. The vibe inside is laid back and has an open air atmosphere with plants everywhere. It just calls me to come in and read or write for hours while drinking their entire stock of Cold Brew. I’m sure most people will say that there are too many gringos there and it isn’t a local place but I don’t care.
Juan Valdez is another option and is the national brand of Colombia. It reminds me a lot of Starbucks and while the coffee is decent, it isn’t as good as Pergamino, doesn’t have the same atmosphere and is more expensive.
Michelada. Quite different from the Mexican Michelada, this tasty twist on beer consists of a light beer (I usually order Aguila Light), lime juice, and salt around the rim. It is almost like a shandy but with lime juice. It refreshingly breaks up the monotony of drinking nasty light beer all night. Micheladas are a good substitute for sugary, calorie loaded margaritas! You can order a Michelada at any bar even if it isn’t on the menu and is usually just an extra 1,500 CP (50 cents). This photo was taken at Medellin Beer Factory in Parque Lleras where they have an extensive beer list and pretty good food!
3 Cordilleras. 3 Cordilleras is a craft beer brewed and created in Medellin. Although we wanted to, Dan and I never got a chance to make it to the brewery itself but I’ve read great reviews on it. I was a little nervous when first ordering the Mulata as I wasn’t sure it was going to live up to my spoiled, American craft beer standards but it did! It tasted like any delicious American craft Amber Ale. I also tried the Blanca and loved it and Dan enjoyed the Negra. We were able to first taste these beers at El Social which is an awesome Tienda on Calle 35 in Poblado.
Menu del Dia. Menu of the Day isn’t something that is unique to Medellin but I love it despite the fact. Menu of the Day is a set lunch menu for typically somewhere around 10,000 CP ($3.40) and includes a juice, soup, full meal, and a desert. The best part is that I’ve found couple of restaurants that offer just vegetarian Menu del Dias. Most of them also change daily as well. My favorites so far have been at Marietta (shown below) on Calle 35 in Poblado and Naturalia in Laureles.
Mango with Salt and Lime. It is exactly what it sounds like and is a healthy snack that you can get from pretty much any fruit vendor. We were able to try a frozen popsicle version of this which was even better in Comuna 13.
Bunuelos, Palitos de Queso, and Empanadas. All fried. All bad for me. But all amazing. Each of these items can be typically bought from street vendors for 1,000 CP or less. Bunuelos (shown below) are little fried cheesy bread balls. Palitos de Queso are cheesy breadsticks that are almost like the Colombian version of mozzarella sticks. The best kind (which I found at the Poblado Metro Station) have cinnamon wrapped inside them. Empanadas unfortunately almost always have meat in them but Dan loves them and probably gets one everyday. They are basically meat, potatoes, and sometimes cheese fried in a pastry.
Cazuela de Mariscos. Is heaven. Cazuela de Mariscos is a hot, creamy stew with seafood in it. The broth has a cheesy quality to it and there is pretty much every type of seafood inside – shrimp, scallop, octopus, fish, etc. I first tried the Cazuela de Mariscos at Buena Mar in Itagui. The picture is a little blurry so it doesn’t fully do it justice but mine was served with a salad, rice, and patacon (fried plantain).
Waffles. I noticed I hadn’t included anything sweet which is very unlike me because I have a huge sweet tooth but it is also because there isn’t that much to say. There are a few pastelerias that sell some treats but nothing that I have been crazy about until I had some waffles. Waffles are kind of a thing here but for desert. There are little shops or tiendas that sell them along the street but the best place is Crepes and Waffles. It is a chain but their Nutella Waffles soaked in ice cream and whipped cream was amazing. Not to mention their crepes are actually really good too!
I wanted to incorporate this section because meat is a staple of the Colombian diet and according to everyone else, it is rich and well done here. Therefore, I have listed a couple of Dan’s favorite meat dishes.
Fritanga. In other words, grilled street meat. Different vendors have various meats or options to offer – pork, beef, chicken, or even different types of chorizos can be available. I’ve noticed that depending on where you are in the city, they are available at different times throughout the day. Dan has tried it in a few different locations but his all-time favorite is the bacon wrapped chicken fritanga on the corner of Carrera 43 and Calle 10 in Poblado.
Mondongo. Mondongo is a Colombian stew with the star of the show being cow tripe. According to Dan, it is really tender and not gamey at all. The best part, I think, is that Mondongo comes with a bunch of different ingredients that you can add into your stew – cilantro, rice, avocado, lime, arepa, plantain, etc. Mondongo’s Restaurant on Calle 10 is probably the most happening restaurant that I’ve seen in the city so far at any time of the day.
Now I have just sufficiently made myself extremely hungry. Although the cuisine and food scene in Medellin has completely barred me from loosing any weight this month, I feel grateful that we were able to really dive into typical Colombian fare but also satisfy some of our American cravings.
In case you were wondering, for our last day, we will be enjoying the Menu del Dia at Marietta and probably having some Aguila Lights on our patio to commemorate our time here. Buen provecho!