On a balmy night in Cali, Colombia, the streets are abuzz with Caleños linking arms on their way out for a bite. The food scene here has grown rapidly and there are no shortage of hotspots. It’s not the first Colombian city to garner attention for its gastronomy, but its energy and edge set it apart. Cali is the salsa capital of the world and its tropical heat and party vibe make for a memorable experience.
Where to eat…
On Sundays, head to Zahavi bakery for the best buttery pastries and hearty huevos rancheros (scrambled eggs with ham, mushrooms and cheese). For bagels, waffles and eggs on any other day of the week, Corinne Café is the place to be.
Trained in some of the top restaurants in Spain, Pablo Ravassa and his partner Luis deliver some of the best food in town. Try the “buñuelos de marisco” as appetizer and then the “arroz atollado de pato”, the squid ink rice or the suckling pig. The pastas are al dente and fantastic. Highly recommended.
La El Zaguan de San Antonio
Come hungry to sample authentic Caleño fare at this little bolthole set high in the San Antonio old town. Feast on empanadas stuffed with minced pork and fried in drippings, marranitas and the delicious local soup, sancocho.
Platillos Voladores, Centenario
Colourful and inviting, Platillos Voladores serves up exquisite meat and seafood dishes. Take your seat inside or in the tropical garden. Good steak is hard to come by in Cali, but Platillos Voladores’ is grilled to perfection. Seafood is prepared Pacific style in coconut milk, light and fresh. We strongly recommend the enormous pink peppercorn gin and tonic.
Cool little shop-come-restaurant in Cali’s old town. Come for a browse before sitting down to dinner. The menu is Mediterranean/Colombian, staff are friendly and the ambiance the best in town.
A laidback establishment with an authentic atmosphere, Arepas Cuadradas was once a renowned street food stall that became so popular, the owners decided to open a restaurant in order to keep up with demand. Found in San Antonio, Arepas Cuadradas serves the very best arepas. This quintessential Colombian dish is simple and unfussy, offering a true taste of Colombian cooking.
Out and about
Dancing at Tin Tin Deo
No visit to Cali is complete without a night of salsa dancing. Practically a national pastime, nowhere in Colombia does it better than Cali. Plenty of bare skin, neon lights and flashy attire make this a night to remember with local professionals showing the crowds how it’s done.
We strongly recommend hitting Cali’s Old Town and San Antonia neighbourhoods. There’s a wonderful old church, plenty of little boutiques, tempting street food stalls and sweeping views of the city.