While Cali may not be the culinary capital of Colombia, there is an array of exquisite restaurants spread throughout the city. Best of all, variety is in abundance, meaning there’s something for every taste and budget somewhere in this sweltering tropical town. From modest local eateries to upmarket fine-dining establishments, here are the best places to eat in Cali.
Restaurant, Fusion, Seafood, South American, $$$
PLATILLOS VOLADORES | Courtesy of PLATILLOS VOLADORES
The undisputed king of Cali’s upmarket culinary scene, Platillos Voladores serves up a delectable array of European, Asian, and Colombian fusion cuisine in an elegant setting. Despite having an expansive garden dining area and ample indoor eating space, this local favorite is known to fill up fast, so be sure to make a reservation.
Local legend Ringlete whips up the best Vallecaucano (the local region) food in Cali, hands down. Set in a bright pink former residence in the upmarket Granada neighborhood, the service is fantastic and the food even better. It’s a must for those looking to sample a gourmet take on the local cuisine.
For a more casual interpretation of Vallecaucano cuisine, head to El Zaguán de San Antonio and treat yourself to a tasty and filling Colombian feast. Delicious food aside, many customers love Zaguán for its stunning hilltop views, making it an ideal place for a sunset tipple.
Adjoining the five-star Cali Marriot Hotel is one of the city’s favorite fancy eateries, an upmarket joint where fashionable locals go to see and be seen. The Market Cali is particularly popular for the option to create your own dish from a mind-boggling array of ingredients and is a perfect place to splash some cash among the city’s financial elite.
Crepe in El Buen Alimento Cafe | Courtesy of El Buen Alimento Cafe
Vegetarians looking for a delightful meal should check out El Buen Alimento, a hip café-restaurant that offers a meat-free version of all of your favorite Colombian dishes. Other tasty options, such as vegetarian lasagna and burritos, adorn its extensive menu, while the freshly squeezed juices are a must.
Widely considered to be the best bakery in the city, the pastries at Zahavi are simply divine. Customers can choose from a huge selection of international and Colombian baked goods, with the local favorite, known as pandebono, being particularly worthwhile. Linger a little longer for their superb coffee and desserts.
Those hankering for Italian food are in luck because Trattoria Italia is about as authentic as they come. Ivy adorns the exterior of this elegant upmarket restaurant, while the inside is packed full of traditional Italian décor and colorful, quirky artwork. But it’s the food that reels in the crowds, with the homemade pasta served in a variety of delicious creamy sauces being a tried-and-true favorite.
The above Italian option doesn’t actually serve pizza, so those after an authentic Italian pie should check out PAO Pizza Bakery Café instead. Wood-fired with a generous serving of quality local ingredients, the pizzas here are about as good as you’ll find anywhere in South America.
Craving a cheap and tasty Mexican feast? Problem solved because the owner of this friendly family-run restaurant is a real certified Mexicano who lovingly incorporates his secret family recipes into this delectable authentic cuisine. All the usual favorites from Mexico are available in what might be the best value eatery in town.
Seafood and Mediterranean cuisine are done the way they should be at this bohemian fine-dining restaurant in the historic San Antonio. Aside from the sophisticated food, punters come for the artistic décor and cultured ambiance of one of Cali’s best upmarket eateries.