Don Juan

If the Basque-influenced culinary delights of Don Juan are good enough for the president of Colombia when he's entertaining illustrious guests in Cartagena then they're good enough for us.

On president Juan Manuel Santos' regular trips to Colombia's showcase Caribbean city, Juan Felipe Camacho normally gets the nod for exclusive soirees in his official Cartagena residence, the Casa de Huespedes.

When he's not cooking for fat-cat politicians in Cartagena looking for summit special, Camacho is serving up his particular take on the new Basque gastronomic phenomenon in his understated but immaculate restaurant on Calle del Colegio.

Having passed through the kitchens of no less than three of San Sebastian's three Michelin star restaurants - under the tutelage of Martin Berasategui, Pedro Subijana at Akelare and Juan Mari Arzak - he returned to his home country in 2003 to set up 8-18, another top-notch eatery in the historic centre of Cartagena.

Two years after making a name for himself with his numerical debut he broke ranks and with a masterful helping hand with the interiors from his wife Maria Pinto of Pinto Design Group, he went about creating the city's top restaurant experience.

While his celebrated mentors made their names creating a new breed of Basque cuisine that's evolutionary, investigatory, and avant-garde, Don Juan built this special restaurant celebrating natural flavours served as they should be in a designer setting that stands toe-to-toe with the elegance of the food.

His exquisite menu includes seven starters, thirteen mains and four desserts that keep Cartagena's moneyed classes coming back for more.

If you are on a budget forget entering Don Juan's refined surroundings but if you're the type of traveller used to paying a premium in New York and London - dinner for two is about USD$80.00 (without wine) - for quality then Don Juan won't disappoint.

The punchy prices are reflected in Camacho's insistence on using only the best products and paying over the odds for first pick of the local produce that does the rounds every day in the Cartagena's walled city. 

Musts on the menu - there are plenty - but if you're losing your Don Juan virginity start with the grilled octopus, follow it up with the crayfish and lobster risotto and finish off with a chocolate mousse made with dark chocolate and black truffles.

If you overdid it on lobster in the islands then his grilled lamb chops with artichokes and new potatoes provide a welcome break from the seafood routine.

Plans to add a second restaurant next door - named touchingly after his wife Maria, once again responsible for the design - have the city filled with eager anticipation. Expect finger-licking food in the best Basque pintxo tradition.


Please note, Don Juan is closed on Sundays.

ADDRESS: Centro, Calle del Colegio 34-60, L. 101, Cartagena, Colombia
TELEPHONE: +57 (5) 664 3678 | +57 (5) 664 38 57 | +57 (317) 501 1415
OPENING HOURS: Mon-Fri: 12:30-15:00 & 19:30-23:00 | Sat: 19:30-23:00
FOOD: He's worked at three Basque restaurants with nine Michelin stars between them so it's very good.

Don Juan

Restaurant Information

Address: Centro, Calle del Colegio 34-60, L. 101, Cartagena, Colombia
Neighbourhood: Centro
Hours & days: Mon-Fri: 12:30-15:00 & 19:30-23:00 | Sat: 19:30-23:00
Type of food: He's worked at three Basque restaurants with nine Michelin stars between them so it's very good.
Rating: Trip Advisor