La Mulata's vivacious logo of a girls head with full on afro curls, sets the tone for Cartagena's fiercely grass roots eatery that screams 'I'm black and I’m proud' from the rooftops.
Leave it to other restaurants to deal with 'fusion cuisine', La Mulata's foodentity is rooted in the coast’s culinary gems. We're talking straight up honest, healthy and homely dishes with no genetically modified bad guys sullying the menu.
Seafood defines la vida Caribeña, so fish is the main attention seeker on the menu.
The lobster salad in particular is a tummy tickling triumph that doesn't scrimp on portion size. You get a huge tail, blushing pink and lightly tarnished with a homemade panela dressing, and plenty of roughage to meet your 5-a-day quota.
Savour the Pulpo Chambacú (grilled octopus), bronzed to perfection served with creamy of avocado, plantain and sweet baby tomatoes. Named after a working class barrio outside the city walls, it’s homage to the other side of Cartagena most tourists never get to see.
Lunchtimes are legendary in Cartagena, with locals more likely to choose a midday feat over a midnight one, and La Mulata is a fantastic way to familiarise yourself with the tradition.
The special lunchtime menu splits itself evenly between surf and turf specialities, with a mixture of fish fillet dishes in homemade salsas and plenty of plantains, coconut rice and fish soup (it’s free!) to go round.
Thankfully, La Mulata isn't just selling snippets of Cartagena culture to foreign punters at sky high prices. Here, no dish wanders past the USD$10 mark which means the clientele is a colourful mix of locals, backpackers and city high-rollers who don’t mind slumming it for the 5-star seafood on offer.
It's no frills interiors, but the place has more soul than some of the other sterile, fussy restaurants taking over the city centre.
There's plenty of wooden chairs and tables to deal with their hefty turnover, as well as an international wall of fame featuring homegrown talent such as Carlos Vives to Hollywood hotties, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.
The place is buzzing around the clock with the clattering of plates, shouts of chefs and a plethora of languages humming around the space.
Cartagena insiders know that the best seats in the house are in the secret terrace at the back. Beat the crowds and get their as early as possible to enjoy your meal in their leafy garden with a homemade Corozo juice in hand.
If that's not 100% Cartagenero, we don’t know what is.
THIS IS WHAT WE LOVE
* A homegrown menu that stays loyal to it's Caribbean roots and is inviting for both locals and foreigners
* Where else can you enjoy a lobster for $10! The lobster salad is the ultimate lunchtime treat that won't break the bank
* Doing the Mulata double whammy. Going for a slap up lunch and returning for dinner for the hell of it
* La Mulata will keep you more than hydrated. The juices are delicious and the wine and cocktails are dirt cheap. Quids in!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
* La Mulata has a different menu for lunch and dinner. Although prices don't vary too much
* La Mulata is closed on Sundays