Agua de Mar
Book ahead to ensure you get a chance to savour Cartagena's gourmet tapas destination, Agua de Mar, living proof that culinary dreams can come true.
Those lucky enough to have tasted one of the popular San Diego bar's 15 gin and tonics or the tantalizing tapas menu will appreciate why the owner dropped a successful life in Spain to make her fantasy come true in Cartagena de Indias.
The upbeat owner, Mar Alonso, traded a decade moving the financial markets in Madrid to live the stuff of dreams in the jewel in Colombia's Caribbean coast in 2012.
The more than satisfactory outcome is this stylish culinary mecca, built around a well-travelled fusion of tapas with other cuisines and a wonderfully worked cocktail list.
Forget shared platters of Manchego cheese, Iberian hams and papas bravas, Agua de Mar's menu is the extraordinary product of two decades of culinary experiments by the owner and executive chef.
Everything from the grilled lamb cutlet served on a creamy bed of saffron rice to the Mekong Scallops served with a citrus and soy butter, blends the couples' fascination with the flavours of India, Thailand and Japan with the tapas and gin bars of their former stomping ground, Madrid.
You can't go wrong with our three favourites - the Dordoña prime angus fillet steak with Foie Gras and a Pedro Ximénez reduction, the noodle paella with squid, mussels, prawns and alioli and the gazpacho with a skewer of Iberian ham.
Adding to the restaurant's exceptional culinary offering is a remarkable selection of cocktails, notably an unbeatable selection of gin and tonics that add a rosemary or cardamom flourish to Agua de Mar's overall experience.
Go for the food. Stay for the gin and tonics. The bar's open well into the early hours.
THIS IS WHAT WE LOVE
* Not getting a table and 'having to' drink your way through the bar's exceptional optics.
* Blowing the budget with an opulent selection of caviar and champagne.
* Following the couple's culinary travels in what is a very special tapas menu.
* Fighting with your fellow diners for the last of the classic croquettes.
* The owners' unbridled enthusiasm for what they do.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
* Agua de Mar is open for lunch.
* Tapas don't come cheap here but the complex flavours are worth their elevated price tags.
* The bar closes when the last person leaves.