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Cartagena’s best bites are to be found in only one place: the street. The walled old city is home to some of the most delicious street carts — from fresh fruits to mouthwatering arepas. Here are some can’t-miss eats:
Arepas con queso. There’s nothing more authentically Colombian than an arepa, a griddled corn cake. The ones you’ll find sizzling on the grills of the old town are even more decadent, as they’re stuffed with a melted, gooey cheese.
Fruit juices. Colombians love their sweets, and the drinks they have are no exception. Cartagena’s streets are filled with vendors selling tart and sweet fruit juices. Opt for one filled with fresh fruit, since the country is known for its abundance of produce.
Ceviche. Every South American country has its take on this raw fish dish, and Colombia’s is typically raw fished served in a succulent coconut broth with tons of freshly squeezed lime or lemon. Another Colombian take is raw shrimp or fish served in a tomato broth with fresh chilies and onions.
Empanadas. What’s not to love about a warm cornmeal pockets stuffed with a runny egg, grilled meat, fresh avocado and cilantro? You’ll find a wide selection of empanadas all throughout the city, so it’s best to sample as many varieties as you can.
Bandeja paisa. This protein-packed platter teems with a variety of beans, pork, fried plantains, avocado, rice, sausages, polenta and a fried egg. One of Cartagena’s best versions is served at the local institution Rancho Paisa, and you’ll find a hearty mix of both local workers and hungover tourists noshing on this satisfying plate.