The Cartagena culinary dream team of Alejandro Ramirez and Juan Felipe Camacho is testimony to the idea that two gourmet heads work better than one.
After watching Juan successfully launch Basque cuisine onto Cartagena's restaurant circuit with his eponymous eatery, Don Juan, Alejandro opened the more rebellious younger sister, Maria, next door in 2012.
Remember the Skittles advert "taste the rainbow"? Where a truckload of colourful sweets would come raining down on someone, and each sweet would be an explosion of colour.
Well that's what a dining experience at Maria is like.
Interior designer Maria Pinto, not only gave her name to the venue but did an amazing job of juicing the colourful vibe of the city. Her tropical interiors are so vivid you can practically taste the rainbow.
Stunning striped banquet seatsand woven white chairs will make you think of those Barbados mansions you see in Hello magazine spreads. Huge tiger prints dominate the four walls, staring you out as you chomp on your starters.
The gilded snakeskin menus give off a nice hue to the dark blue walls. It's as if you were at the other end of a glass prism, with streams of color in every nook and cranny.
The menu is as equally well traveled and glossy as the hip types that swan in through their doors, with stopovers in Tokyo, (tataki), New York (steak and pork ribs) and London (fish and chips and bread and butter pudding).
All this global food trotting mixes wonderfully with the local produce. Shocking red beetroot risotto clashes wonderfully with the ghost white Sea Bass and blobs of creamy feta.
The yellow plantain mash couples nicely with the perfectly cooked Angus steak bleeding colour to your dish like a Picasso painting. Or how about some juicy tuna blocks with more color combinations than a Rubik's cube?
The cocktails are equally captivating. Hats off to José Avendaño, the master mixologist who can take the edge off any work day with a devilish range of original mixes every bit as invigorating as the restaurant's well-traveled play list.
One terrifically sharp Cactus Margarita, a couple of oaky Whisky Smashes and moreish Mango Mojitos and you could almost cheat yourself into thinking you were getting all your five a day.
From top to toe, Maria, hits all the highs you would expect from a restaurant venture from two worldly chefs that learned their trade from global gourmet gurus, Gordon Ramsey and Martin Berasategui.
This is no kitchen nightmare for fuddy-duddy magnolia types it's a vibrant triumph for gourmands looking to brighten up their stay in Cartagena.
THIS IS WHAT WE LOVE
* A seriously cool and elegant eating option that is about good food and good times - othing else
* An international show-and-tell of a menu with a strong Caribbean aftertaste
* Drinking a cocktail that accompanies the food like a fine wine. Be warned, you might leave with a bar bill that's bigger than your food one
* The bread and butter pudding dessert will make you believe English inspired cuisine can taste good
* Gawping at the loud and proud décor. We can't get enough of the enormous pineapple chandeliers!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
*Maria is closed on Sundays
* The menu changes every four months. Old favorites should stay, but don't be surprised if you see new stuff in the mix
* Large groups should book ahead on the weekends
* Maria is the sister restaurant to Don Juan next door
* These guys also offers private cooking classes and cocktail tastings. See their website for a full listing of client services