Colombia’s lush Zona Cafetera
is famous for its coffee, but these rich lands also provide the region with another very important gift: farm-to-table ingredients. Fresh vegetables, herbs and meat are on the doorstep of these Zona Cafetera restaurants, meaning the food here is fresh, it’s healthy and it’s delicious. From world-class steakhouses to chic vegan cafés, here are 10 mouthwatering restaurants stealing the show in Colombia’s coffee region.
Helena Adentro, Filandia
Restaurant, Fusion, $$$
Serving up innovative Colombian fusion food in a chic chill-out space, arty Helena Adentro
is considered one of the coolest places to eat in the Zona Cafetera. A focus on farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients means an ever-changing tapas-style menu, but you can expect Colombian classics with a delicious twist: yuca croquettes filled with cheese, sour cream and sweet paprika, homemade meat empanadas and oven-baked trout with coconut rice.
La Eliana, Salento
Restaurant with Rooms, Indian, Italian, $$$
If you’ve been on the road a while and fancy a real guilty pleasure, La Eliana
serves up the best curries in this region, and maybe even in Colombia, served on a beautifully decorated deck overlooking a blooming garden. The Spanish chef and owner oversees every dish that goes out, and even imports his spices in bulk for maximum authenticity. All the generously sized curries come with homemade naan and rice.
BFFL Serrano, Manizales
Brasserie, Steakhouse, $$$
Introducing the juiciest steaks in the Zona Cafetera. Preparing each cut of meat and their respective side dishes to perfection, the guys at BFFL Serrano
take their beautifully presented farm-to-table plates seriously. The decor is modern and tasteful, and the service second to none. Make sure you try the pink peppercorn sirloin served with seasonal veg and creamy mash, washed down with a glass of Chilean red.
Cultivar Cafe Restaurante, Filandia
Cafe, South American, $$$
With floor-to-ceiling windows, hip Cultivar Café lets you enjoy a delicious cup of Colombian coffee with a panoramic view of Filandia’s rolling green Cafetera hills. But great coffee and gorgeous views aren’t the only draws here. Their innovative menu, full of hearty Colombian staple dishes with a modern twist, is one to watch. Put it this way: no one has ever made cow’s intestines look so good.
El Rincon de Lucy, Salento
South American, $$$
This no-nonsense locals’ spot
is where you go if you want to fill up, cheap. For just $3, you’ll get a hearty, home-cooked three-course meal: soup to start, a loaded plate of fish, chicken or beef served with rice, beans and plantain and a little something sweet for dessert. To the sound of blaring vallenato
, you’ll be making friends with locals and visitors on shared, graffiti-scribbled tables. It may be simple fare, but the food is great, and the atmosphere even better.
Aprisco La Española
Restaurant with Rooms, South American, $$$
Halfway between Filandia and Montenegro, a local goat-farmer and priest decided to open up his century-old finca
to the public. Upon request, the family prepare an Antioquian feast, complete with meat, plantains, rice, salad, avocado and sancocho,
using traditional cooking utensils and methods, including open-fire cooking. Whilst your meal is prepared, friendly Jairo will show you around the farm and even let you feed the baby goats! Make sure you try the delicious homemade goat’s cheese with a slice of their delectable clay oven-baked bread.
El Solar, Armenia
Restaurant, Steakhouse, Seafood, South American, $$$
Right in the heart of Armenia’s fun Zona Rosa, El Solar
serves up delicious meats, fish and veg prepared on an hot-coal grill. But why does this restaurant really stand out? Its decor! Roses, empty wine bottles, kids’ bikes, cowboy hats and a whole host of other random memorabilia hang above huge wooden tables made for sharing. Come on a Friday if you want to party, Colombian style.
La Estación del Food Truck, Salento
Food Truck, Fast Food, Street Food, $$$
Visitors often miss this unexpected gem
, located just outside of Salento’s main plaza. La Estacion del Food Truck is an outdoor space jam-packed with international food trucks serving everything from Moroccan mezze to Mexican and Colombian street food. Colourful bunting, fairy lights, live music, picnic tables and craft beer give this place a real festival feel. The best bit? It’s open for business every single day.
La Suiza, Manizales
Bakery, Patisserie, Restaurant, South American, $$$
A visit to La Suiza is like stepping back in time, with staff in burgundy and white uniforms, stained-glass windows and dark wooden booths. It’s most famous for its homemade cakes (the banana bread is dangerously good) and beautifully decorated chocolates. However, they also serve gourmet wraps, salads, pasta and amazing huevos rancheros.
Cafe, Healthy, Vegan, Gluten-free, $$$
Finding tasty vegan food in Colombia, other than the staple rice and beans, can be really tough. So when the 100%-vegan café Consulado Vegetal
opened up in the small coffee town of Jardin, you can imagine the excitement. Think raw chocolate, quinoa and peanut tart, loaded nachos with vegan cheese, and tabbouleh, humous and olive platters served in a cosy, arty café space.