El Santisimo

Let El Santisimo’s Saintly Fusion Tempt You

El Santisimo's chef and owner, Federico Vega, has been known to tempt even the most saintly Cartagenero with his wicked fusion of Caribbean flavours and flamboyant French flair accrued in some of the best Cordon Bleu kitchens across Paris and London.

  • This Is What We Love

    • Delicious food at a fair price. In 20 years. This place has stayed loyal in its mission to deliver high-quality food without the hefty price tag
    • Delectable seafood dishes that will leave you wanting more
    • This is a group-friendly restaurant. The large tables and spread out dining area makes it a great spot for feasts with friends
  • What You Need To Know

    • This eatery is a longtime city fave so it's best to make a reservation, especially if you're in a large group
    • Malanga the sister restaurant of El Santísimo is located just down the street
  • The Details

    Type of Food: Fusion

    Hours and Days: Mon-Sun: 12:00-15:00 | 19:00-24:00 ?

    Price Range: $$

    Address: San Diego, Plaza de San Diego, 8-19 Cartagena, Colombia

    Neighbourhood: San Diego

    Rating: TIC User Rating

    Rating: Trip Advisor


    Our Full Review

    This restaurant's thematic menu serves up a biblical selection of saintly starters and main courses followed by a sinful range of desserts in an angelic setting that's become one of the city's culinary temples.

    Tucked away on an inconspicuous street in San Diego backing onto the Sofitel Santa Clara hotel, El Santisimo has reached the impressive milestone of 20 years serving the most illustrious of visitors to the city.

    Found formerly in the Calle el Santisimo from which the restaurant takes its name and much of its interior inspiration, the restaurant's religious tilt throws works by local artist, Leopoldo Combariza and combines them with the kitsch creations of Vega's wife and muse Marta Puente.

    The main restaurant may be more formal than its earlier counterpart but the extra space has allowed Vega to indulge his bacchanalian spirit with the expansion of the wine cellar and the addition of the Cacerola del Santisimo wine-bar and lounge.

    Confess your greatest secrets with friends over the 'Pilgrim Cravings' selection of delectable sharing platters, served on delightful wooden canoes.

    The Angel's Caprice is a fabulous conversation starter of shot glasses filled with a homemade tomato chutney and jumbo prawns. While ceviche lovers will fall head over heels with the Pacha Mama: mini dishes of octopus, shrimp, calamari topped with chunks of plantain and aioli salsa.

    Fusion comes at full force in the main dishes. Particularly the salmon, which is lovingly sweetened with caramelised onions, asparagus and lightly douched with mustard for added tang. 

    The beef tenderloin is a godsend for carnivores. A huge steaming chunk of medium rare beef locked in a roasted vegetable embrace. Surprisingly, it’s not served on potatoes, but a buttery risotto which endows the dish with more power and meaning. 

    The portions are big, which suggests you won't need dessert, but you'll want one anyway because...well, you're greedy. A rather fitting homage to the seven deadly sins, all options are equally mouth watering, but it's the La Lujuria (lust) that got us hot under the collar. A mocha crepe filled with vanilla ice cream swimming in a bath of mint chocolate sauce.

    Like all the good things in life, the devil really is in the detail.


  • San Diego

    A healthy mix of sub-cultures makes San Diego one of the most interesting and varied districts in the city, something reflected in its diverse gastronomic offering.

    San Diego is formed by 16 blocks north of Calle de la Universidad de Cartagena and west of Calle San Agustin and Calle de la Moneda and stretches to the Baluarte de Santa Catalina and the walls that protect the city to the north. 

    Architecturally the houses are smaller and were built principally for the military, artisans and clergy. There are fewer of the two-or three-storey holiday homes for the ultra-rich that characterize the centre and you will still find traditional families living in some of the more modest houses in this part of town. 

    After Cartagena's moneyed classes swapped the claustrophobic centre for expansive mansions in Manga and later Bocagrande and Castillogrande in the mid-19th century it took the renovation of the former Santa Clara Monastery, converted for the hotel chain Sofitel into the city's pre-eminent hotel in 1995, to put this barrio back on the map. 

    Colombia's farandula, or celebrity set, has since colonized San Diego including John Leguizamo who bought a place here after filming Mike Nichols' Love in the Time of Cholera.

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