El Bistro

A Lunchtime Legend in Cartagena's Restaurant Scene

More than a legend in its own lunch time, El Bistro, has become part of Cartagena's culinary landscape, as typical as coconut rice and carne en posta.

  • This Is What We Love

    • Ordering a grilled lobster feast that makes any lunch feel special
    • Meeting new friends even when you are eating alone
    • Bread fresh out of the oven and without sugar
    • Great cocktail offers during El Bistro's happy hour (16:00-19:00)
    • Knowing that your food hasn't been pre-cooked but lovingly prepared
    • Eating every day of the week in the same place but never getting bored
    • One of the best apple tarts in town
  • What You Need To Know

    • Get there before 12:30 to avoid having to wait for a table
    • The restaurant is found on the second floor
    • Bookings can be made only for large groups
    • To find the place look for the bread shop in front of the Olimpica supermarket
  • The Details

    Type of Food: Bistro

    Hours and Days: Mon-Sat: 09:00-23:00 ?

    Price Range: $

    Address: Calle Primero de Badillo 35-41, Cartagena, Colombia

    Neighbourhood: Centro

    Rating: TIC User Rating

    Rating: Trip Advisor


    Our Full Review

    It's hard to believe that German chef, Lars Brurein landed in Cartagena with his well-worked variation of the traditional sopa y seco (soup and a main), lunch scene as long ago as 1999.

    in the last two decade, El Bistro has become a legend in its own lunchtime, with a great reputation and loyal following built around its winning combination of European recipes with a tropical twist.

    Now to be found in its second location in the Calle Primero de Badillo, El Bistro's regular favourites include the succulent pork loin served with a passion fruit sauce and yam puree, a whole grilled sea bass cooked with fresh herbs, the grilled chicken, Hungarian goulash, or a grilled lobster feast that will give any Monday a boost.

    Brurein always chalks up plenty of vegetarian options for weary travelers tired of the meat and two carb diet in Central America, as well as a healthy selection of fresh fish options to keep the regulars from getting bored.

    Outside lunch hours, there are some fabulous meals a la carte that are well worth the glance and the new venue has a lovely little bar area built for evenings catching up with old friends.

    With the majority of mains stay safely within the USD$7-15 bracket, El Bistro is a culinary godsend for backpackers in town stung by Cartagena's prices.

    The fresh tuna filet served on a bed of herby mash packs a fresh and flavourful punch anytime of day. Likewise, the beef, cooked to medium perfection, practically falls into your mouth in a silky heap.

    If you're more on the peckish side, there's a dazzling selection of tapas and starters that double up as sharing plates. The sausages in a honey and dijon dressing play up the restaurant's German roots and go perfectly with a chilled beer, served in a traditional beer mug or stein.

    Their prawn, black pudding and plantain stack, with a bitter orange twist to suprise your tastebuds, is so popular with the local crowd, there are two variations on the dish.

    When the food is such a draw, it's easy to forget El Bistro is also a bar and bakery. Here you can enjoy some brilliant cakes and bread made en situ.

    Practically all the foreigners in town count on these guys for their fresh bread baguettes that taste just like home. Trust us, this is one of the only places where your complimentary basket of bread is as good as the main meal.

    El Bistro's giant-sized fresh juices can be ordered low on sugar and there are great cocktails and affordable wine offers to make your day a little bit sweeter. Cheap drinks are even cheaper if you head there anytime during the week between 16.00-19.00 for their excellent happy hour.

    The welcome addition of an espresso machine and a good collection of magazines and newspapers has made this a top spot to expand your vocabulary over a lazy cocktail or coffee session.

    Is there anything these guys can't do?


  • Centro

    Cartagena's nerve centre serves up breathtaking colonial architecture, the city's top attractions, finest hotels, eateries and drinking dens as well as being the administrative and cultural heart of the city. 

    Centro has lost none of its importance thanks to the universal lure of its colonial pomp and the concentration of government buildings, hotels, tourist attractions, bars and restaurants in the area. 

    Cartagena's finest hotels and restaurants have taken over the uber-casas built by slave traders and Spanish plunderers in the 17th century. 

    The richest residents knocked up stunning two and three-storey mansions by the westernmost tip of the walled city, where they bagged the sea breeze and first whiff of pirates. Today only those at the very top of Colombia's rich list can afford to maintain these opulent houses in their original residential state.

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