I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’m almost always for some new deliciousness. Maybe that’s because I’m always hungry.
Being in Colombia has certainly satisfied my cravings for tasty cuisine. And fortunately, I spend lots of time in the Buena Mesa neighborhood of Envigado, just outside of the busy main section of Medellín.
It’s peaceful here, like a trip through a marvelous tree-lined courtyard, each block opening up to offer some new foodie delight or amenity to fill up my daily existence with.
Let’s check out the five places that make Buena Mesa best place to be hungry in Medellin.
The immediate two block radius around my apartment hosts three of the top 7 Tripadvisor restaurants for Envigado. These restaurants are each unique and delicious, worthy of their peer-reviewed top status.
1) Cafe Otraparte
This is the most notable installation within the neighborhood. What was formerly the house of the Antioquian, poet-philosopher Fernando Gonzalez is now a full restaurant and museum dedicated to his memory. The covered outdoor cabana seating, wrapped around a patio, and open floorplan inside, communicates the free-flowing mindset of it’s former resident.
Candles deck the wooden tables by night and the gated walk comes around a beautiful garden complete with a pond. It strikes a balance between the lively, ever-present (read: busy) thrum of conversation, and a serene, Bohemian spot for meditation.
There’s an air of romance here, but the overall cost won’t be break your heart.
Most menu items are named after Fernando Gonzalez’s writing.
Pastas, gourmet sandwiches, empanadas, and various tapas dishes range from $5 (10,000 pesos) to $7.75 (15,500 pesos).
This is one of the few places to serve Coca Tea. Yes, as in Coca leaves. Don’t worry – you’ll be able to put the cup down. But expect an effervescent tingle amidst your palate while in the throes of sipping this unique blend.
The cafe serves up the rich and dark Don Benjamin coffee, as well a diversity of wines and cocktails. This makes it a popular locals meeting spot – and therefore quite busy around the usual dining times.
Cafe Otraparte also has great WiFi, which makes it popular choice for the work and study group crowd.
There’s a regular schedule of poetry readings, acoustic guitar and otherwise intellectual interests hosted here through the Otraparte Corporacion. There’s also free yoga on Saturdays and Sundays.
2) Chiclayo Cocina Peruana
With a recent renovation completed, this local gem of Peruvian food is just around the corner from the pad; Envigado Lofts. Several outdoor tables under a canopy face the Calle 30 Sur.
Peruvian dishes centered around seafood, beef, pork, and chicken are the mainstays. Rice and noodles are mixed with various meats and vegetables for savory culinary excursions. All the dishes are rich, flavorful, and abundant in their servings.
The “Aji de Gallino” is a savory, cream sauce chicken dish that cannot be overlooked. Or maybe the Peruvian beef sirloin smothered in Lucuma sauce is more your fancy. Seafood tempura with seared vegetables are also delicious.
While prices here are above average for Medellin, the surpassing quality of the meal and the excellent service make up for it. This makes a great, no frills lunch spot. An average meal, with entree and a soft drink, comes out $17.50 ($53,000 pesos).
I would visit Chiclayo even if it cost twice this price.
3) Black Pepper Steakhouse
As one might guess, this restaurant excels at cooking grilled steak. If you’re not into steak, a burger, grilled chicken, or caesar salad will please you nicely… Or perhaps a wide range of international and domestic beer, wine, and liquor. The mojitos here are out of sight as well.
Customize a delicious 16oz. New York Angus strip by pairing it with a mashed potato puree with bacon and a side salad (with bacon, you ask? It can be done). Or maybe you like the fire roasted corn on the cob, hefty potato wedges, mac and cheese, or fritters. Splash some grilled shrimp on top, calamari rings, or a side of salmon if you’re feeling adventurous.
And let’s not forget the whisky char or bleu cheese sauces available for a garnish.
This is an open air restaurant and dog friendly to boot. It sits on a very popular pedestrian corner of Calle 30 Sur, right in the thick of Buena Mesa’s restaurant district. Whether for a leisurely lunch or delicious dinner, Black Pepper brings the classic steakhouse up a notch.
This is the more expensive option in the neighborhood. The average steak will cost around $16 USD ($57,000 pesos). That said, this is a significantly cheaper price than anyplace else – and the beef is locally sourced from the “campos” (fields) of nearby Colombian farms.
If you value a great steak, don’t hesitate to splurge on this carnivorous cornerstone of Buena Mesa.
4) Sabor Ochoa
This longstanding neighborhood favorite brings the a tropical twist to traditional Colombian fare. Specializing in seafood, Sabor Ochoa offers a choice selection of snapper, halibut, sea bass – grilled, seasoned, or fried. All the entrees arrive with generous helpings of Colombian sides, including arepas, avocado, white, rice, and red beans. This is like bendeja paisa – but instead of meats, Sabor Ochoa take a liberty and swaps in fresh Pacific fish.
Word to the wise: don’t neglect the patacones with the chili paprika sauce.
5) Calle Jardin
This is a fun, 50s American concept restaurant. Eat and drink classic American fare from brunch through a full-service happy and into dinner. With upholstered leather booth seating, stainless steel table tops, pinup girls galore, and oldies coming through the speakers, Calle Jardin is a slice of the Americana unexpected – yet welcome – in Buena Mesa. Bring friends and family for burgers, fries, shakes, and wholesome, nostalgic atmosphere. While digesting or waiting for your food, play a few games on Chevy Coupe Deville pool table.
6) Jack & Roll
Some may disagree, but I love the flavor of bourbon. So Jack & Roll, which plays right to my love of Jack Daniel’s, cannot be overlooked here. With a great little outdoor seating patio, a hanging succulent garden and rock n’ roll music, this is a quaint and pleasant setting to enjoy cuts of prime fish, burgers, salads tinged with bit of the barbeque.
If you’re fancying a rack of babyback ribs with seasoned home fries, then go all in on the barbeque. A palermo cheese and smoked avocado burger was my choice. The chimichurri on top, with the fresh oregano roll sealed the deal… Mmm, heaven.
Now, the grilled salmon fillet adorned with caramelized onions and a light cream sauce was definitely worth the order too. But that’s for next time. Prices are reasonable, most entrees are around $6 ($18,000 pesos).
7) Antonio’s Gelato
So by now, it’s time for dessert. Thankfully, Antonio’s Gelato has us covered. As Buena Mesa staple, Antonio’s serves up generous whipped clouds of gelato served any way you like. With a rotating stock of delicacies – like key lime, cafe, Manyusa, arroz (honeyed caramel), cocoa fudge, and lemon sorbet – any traveller with a hankering for satisfaction can find their sweet spot.
The outdoor tables that spill onto the sidewalk make this a nighttime social scene – complete with lights in the trees above.
Anytime you’re hungry, the Buna Mesa neighborhood is a great place to be. With an international and world-class offering of dishes, restaurants, and local flavors, no traveller can be disappointed. And there’s so much more to try out there. So come on down, and when you do, come hungry.
PS – Most places in Medellin will deliver right to you. Download the Domicillios app and any of these delicious offerings can arrive right to your house. Give them about 45 minutes, on average.