These best restaurants in Medellín, Colombia will make you swoon

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Medellín’s culinary scene has a dizzying array of restaurants, reflecting both the rich cultural heritage of Colombia and innovative gastronomic trends across the country. With an emphasis on local ingredients and a deep appreciation for the region’s history and gastronomy, travelers can dine in the best restaurants in Medellín, Colombia, for anywhere between $5 and $200 per diner.

A gourmet shrimp dish garnished with microgreens, edible flowers, and crispy decorations, presented with a smoky effect.
Ceviche in Okus in Medellin. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

The city, nestled in the Aburrá Valley of the Andes Mountains, is not only famous for its pleasant climate but also for its vibrant city life. From traditional Paisa cuisine to contemporary fusion eateries, Medellín’s restaurants serve up a mix of flavors that could grace the pages of any culinary magazine. 

Some dining establishments in Medellín go beyond serving meals, instead providing an immersive ambiance that complements the local and international dishes. Food lovers can explore quaint cafés in El Poblado, bustling marketplaces in downtown Medellín, or upscale dining rooms that boast panoramic cityscape views. Several local chefs are embracing locally sourced ingredients to create innovative dishes that honor Colombian traditions while pushing culinary boundaries.

With an emphasis on fresh, high-quality produce and a burgeoning community of creative chefs, Medellín has cemented its place on the map as a foodie destination. Whether visitors are seeking the hearty comfort of bandeja paisa or the sophistication of gourmet cuisine, the best restaurants in Medellín promise an unforgettable dining experience, reflecting the city’s warmth and spirit of hospitality.

Top cuisine categories in Medellín

Medellín’s culinary scene showcases a diverse array of tastes, from traditional flavors to global gastronomy, offering something for every palate. You may think that the best restaurants in Medellín, Colombia, are all about Colombian food, but there’s a lot more to explore here.

Traditional Colombian restaurants

Bowl of creamy soup garnished with herbs, served with a side of rice and avocado slice.
Seafood chowder in Hatoviejo in Medellin. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

Traditional Colombian restaurants in Medellín serve an array of local dishes characterized by the mingling of Indigenous, Spanish and African culinary traditions. Signature dishes like “bandeja paisa,” with a rich blend of beans, rice, pork and avocado, reflect the region’s cultural heritage.

For traditional Colombian food, head to one of the Hatoviejo locations across the city — the one in the city center feels particularly homey. Hacienda Junín, located in a beautifully restored colonial hacienda just outside the city center, is another dining option that serves authentic Antioquian dishes like ajiaco, tamales, mondongo and sancocho.

International cuisine

Grilled fish fillet served with asparagus, corn, mushrooms, and garnished with onion and edible flowers in a stone bowl.
Pacific fish in Okus in Medellin. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

Medellín’s international cuisine is as varied as it is flavorful. Visitors can find authentic Italian pasta, sushi and Middle Eastern kebabs. The Asian influence here is strong, making itself known in popular Peruvian ceviches and more traditional Japanese dining options. 

For some of the best Peruvian food, head to Cevichería El Vicio or Lima Restaubarra, a Peruvian-Colombian fusion restaurant in El Poblado known for its ceviches and other Peruvian seafood dishes. Sushi Gama in the Manila neighborhood is a small and intimate Japanese restaurant that has won the hearts of locals with its fresh sashimi and innovative sushi rolls. For more upscale Asian-influenced Colombian food, Restaurante Okus is a dazzling space modeled with feng shui in mind where the dishes don’t cease to surprise.

Vegetarian and vegan options

Gourmet dessert plating with a scoop of ice cream and artistic arrangement of flower petals, sauces, and crumbles.
Cassava cake dessert from In Situ in Medellin. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

Medellín has observed a growing trend in vegetarian and vegan dining. Health-conscious and environmentally aware diners can indulge in creative plant-based fare at places like El Granero de la 80. This long-running vegetarian spot has an extensive menu of plant-based Colombian dishes like tamales, empanadas and seitan stews. Also worth visiting is El Herbario, an upscale vegetarian restaurant highlighting creative, refined vegetable preparations in a chic setting.

“My favorite restaurant in Medellín is Colosal. Not only does it offer upscale dining with a wide range of delicious dishes and craft cocktails, but it is perched high on a hill with breathtaking views. I recommend arriving just before sunset so you can watch the last light of the day paint the sky brilliant colors before it sinks below the horizon and the valley below twinkles like a sea of diamonds.”

— Sage Scott, Everyday Wanderer
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Noteworthy restaurants by neighborhood

Gourmet dish featuring a grilled octopus tentacle served on a crispy croquette with a dollop of sauce, presented on a ceramic plate with a diner in the background.
A course in Carmen in Medellin. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

Medellín’s separate neighborhoods offer distinct dining experiences, with some rising to international fame. Explore the best eateries, from gourmet to local delights, in El Poblado, Laureles and Envigado.

El Poblado best picks

A dish of glazed meat with sesame seeds, accompanied by round roasted potatoes and a bowl of green sauce.
An appetizer sampler in Gabo in Medellin. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

The affluent neighborhood of El Poblado is home to many expats and hipsters. Perhaps not coincidentally, it also has one of the largest concentrations of restaurants per square foot anywhere in Latin America.

  • Sambombi: Helmed by local celebrity chef Jhon Zárate, this higher-end restaurant still feels unpretentious and intimate. You can expect attentive, warm service that makes you feel at home while enjoying a weekly changing menu celebrating ingredients from small farmers in the region. Dishes range from gnocchi made from cassava to a simple heirloom tomato salad that tastes like summer. 
  • Gabo: Named after famous Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marques, Gabo offers a more laid-back dining experience with a distinctly Colombian twist.

Laureles culinary highlights

A plate of freshly baked empanadas with one being picked up by a person's hand.
Empanadas in Pergamino in Medellin. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

Recognized by Time Out magazine as the coolest neighborhood in the world in 2023, Laureles is known for being a trendy nightlife spot with plenty of loud discos and street food vendors. But in recent years, a proliferation of great coffee places has made it more appealing to a hipper clientele with quieter preferences. Just don’t try to go here after 8 p.m. on the weekend if you value your eardrums. 

  • Pergamino Cafe: This local cafe chain is decorated with beautiful brass and blond wood detailing. The Laureles location is upscale, trendy and well-known for its weekend brunch. 
  • La Causa: A restaurant devoted to the Nikkei cuisine of Peru, this place is named after its variety of “causas,” little towers combining seafood, potatoes, avocado and a creamy dressing. It’s like a very fancy potato salad that you need to taste in order to understand.

Dining experiences in Medellín

If we step away from the neighborhoods, some of the best restaurants in Medellín, Colombia, offer a diverse range of options, from high-end restaurants to local street food and quaint coffee bars.

Fine dining spots

Grilled fish fillet served with risotto and a brown sauce garnished with herbs.
Pacific fish from In Situ in Medellin. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

In Situ restaurant, located within the Botanical Garden, offers a serene dining atmosphere and an innovative menu showcasing local flavors. Carmen Medellín is a top-tier establishment known for its contemporary cuisine with a Colombian twist. Splurge for the chef’s choice menu with the alcohol pairing for an unforgettable experience.

Street food and cocktails

A chicken and avocado arepa with corn filling on a plate.
Stuffed arepa in Medellin. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

Throughout the city, one can find locations of Las Chachas, a late-night favorite for its authentic and flavorful Colombian cheese arepas. Try both the arepas de choclo and the arepas con queso for the ultimate exploration.

For those willing to travel far for food, the artisanal showcase and street food market at Parque Arvi is a must-visit for handmade pastries and local products. You can get here by cable car and enjoy a walk through one of Medellín’s best places to visit

Medellín’s craft cocktail culture is exemplified by Alambique, a hidden cocktail and restaurant bar that feels like a jungle refuge. Everything here is amazing, and you can either make a reservation at the restaurant or sit at the bar and try one of the hand-picked locally brewed beers or artisanal cocktails. Saturdays feature live music.

Final tips for enjoying Medellín’s food scene

A basket of fried empanadas served with two types of dipping sauce.
Empanadas in Carmen in Medellin. Photo credit: At the Immigrant’s Table.

Navigating Medellín’s restaurants and food offerings requires a blend of cultural understanding, adventurousness and insight into local practices. Here are our top tips for eating your way through Medellín. 

Food tours: Visitors should consider booking a food tour for a comprehensive sampling of Medellín’s gastronomy. These guided experiences provide a curated tasting of the city’s specialties and are often led by local food experts. Airbnb Experiences, Viator and Withlocals all have small tour options, but one of the better-known large tour operators is Real City Tours, which offers a Laureles food tour. 

Culinary events: Attend culinary events and festivals, such as the Festival Gastronómico, to experience a wide array of dishes and cooking styles in a vibrant, festive atmosphere. Check out Facebook and Instagram for the latest events.

Understanding the price range: Typical local dishes at casual eateries, called “comedors,” or street stands, are priced economically and offer an authentic taste of Medellín’s food culture. Prices range anywhere from 50c for an arepa to a few dollars for meat. For a more refined experience, upscale restaurants in El Poblado offer tasting menus with a higher price point of $100 and more, delivering a unique dining experience with exceptional service and atmosphere.

Ksenia Prints is a food writer, blogger, photographer and recipe developer from Montreal, Canada. She blogs over At the Immigrant’s Table, a food blog showcasing healthy, beautiful international recipes for adventurous home cooks. She loves to highlight ethnic cuisines and immigrant cultures by working with chefs from relevant countries and adapting those recipes to gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, sugar-free and other dietary restrictions.

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