7 Best Restaurants For Vegan Food in Cartagena
When it comes to places to visit in Latin America, Cartagena is absolutely one of my favorite places! The Cartagena vegan game isn’t quite on point, so I don’t go there for the food. I go there to be able to interact with the local Black folks, enjoy the Black art around town, and soak up the sun and sand at the beaches.
I’ve only stayed in the touristy part of town, which is along the water and crawling with out-of-towners enjoying the bars and restaurants. However, just a few hours south of Cartagena lies Palenque de San Basilio, which was one of the first towns of freed African slaves in the Americas.
So throughout Cartagena as well, are stories and descendants of the self-liberated Palenque Africans that were brought to Colombia as slaves. That makes for some powerful Black artwork around town and interesting history if you’re able to spark up conversations with Black locals.
It was during my first trip to Latin America that I became frustrated with the fact that I was meeting people that looked like me, but couldn’t communicate with them because we spoke different languages. During my first trip to Cartagena, I met two Black women that were there working remotely as they lived with a host family and took Spanish classes for that same exact reason. I realized that it was time for me to get serious about learning Spanish, and so my journey began!
Therefore, it’s been empowering to now be able to talk to my people in Spanish-speaking countries and learn about Black history in Latin America from Black locals. It’s also helped me to see that even with the dark history of slavery and war looming within the wall lining the beaches of Cartagena, the city is still a beautiful, bustling, and romantic place full of vibrant colors, music, and dancing.
As you can see, vegan food has always been on the back burner for me while in Cartagena, but I still have to eat! This brings me back to the food. There are many vegan-friendly places around town, most of which were within walking distance of each other.
You’ll have no trouble with finding things to eat, especially if you are able to ask questions and order in Spanish. For those of y’all that don’t speak Spanish though, check out my [Vegan Colombia] post for a guide on how to order vegan food in Spanish. So let’s get into my favorite spots around town!
1. La Mulata
Location: Calle del Quero #9 58, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
WhatsApp: +57 605 6646222
Website: La Mulata
Price range: $$$$$ (most expensive vegan entree is ~$7 USD)
Although the name itself is definitely NOT my favorite, La Mulata is my absolute favorite place to grab vegan food in Cartagena! I don’t recommend using that word outside of the context of the restaurant, as it is seen as highly offensive in some cultures and countries.
As with basically all of the restaurants in the touristy part of Cartagena at the moment, this place serves animal-based meals as well. Therefore, be very sure to let the staff know that you don’t eat meat.
It comes in handy to know at least a little bit of Spanish in Cartegena since you’ll almost always be ordering at restaurants that have vegan options, rather than being completely vegan. If you’re sitting there concerned because you don’t know a lick of Spanish, I got you. Be sure to check out my [Vegan Colombia] post for a list of common phrases to know in Spanish, and you’ll be a-okay!
I could have sworn that their vegan rice used to be listed on the menu, but it wasn’t this time around. I asked about the vegan rice and the staff knew exactly what I wanted. I made sure to explain that I don’t eat meat, butter, eggs, seafood, chicken, etc., and they assured me that they could make a completely vegan rice dish for me.
The rice is fried with mushrooms, sprouts, zucchini, and squash and topped with slices of avocado. It had a bit of a teriyaki kind of sweet taste to it. It was all-around delicious, well seasoned, and cooked perfectly.
2. Quero Arepa
Location: Calle Quero Calle 37 #9130, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
WhatsApp: +57 605 6790969
Website: Quero Arepa
Price range: $$$$$ (most expensive vegan entree is ~$7 USD)
Quero Arepa is a vegan-friendly restaurant that is known around town for having great arepas. Thankfully, they also have some vegan options on their menu, like their veggie hot dog. It comes topped with grilled onions, grilled peppers, and crunchy potato shreds. The hot dog itself is a lot like a long, slim falafel, rather than a veggie dog, but it’s still pretty darn good!
I don’t know if I just got lucky, but their fries were PERFECT the day that I ordered them! They had just the right amount of crunch on the outside, fresh out the frier, and not a granule of salt too much or too little. They were low-key better than the veggie dog.
They also have vegetarian arepas on the menu, but be sure to ask them how the masa is made for the arepas before assuming that they can be veganized.
Location: Carrera 7 #36-19, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
WhatsApp: +57 302 3838376
Price range: $$$$$ (most expensive vegan entree is ~$8 USD)
Pezetarian is a restaurant focused on seafood dishes, just like the name implies. What it doesn’t imply is that the entire restaurant is actually dairy-free as well. With lots of dishes, simply taking out the seafood and sticking with the veggies puts you in the clear for a vegan meal.
If you’re looking for something on the fresher/healthier side while in Cartagena, I would say that Pezetarian is the place for you. They seem to cut out all of the sauciness and syrupiness that I typically see at other restaurants. I happen to be a saucy kind of gal, but every once in a while, I make an exception.
Pezetarian ended up being a lot better than I was expecting! For some reason, I was expecting some overcrowded fast-food chain restaurants with overpriced, low-quality food. I couldn’t have been more wrong! When I visited, it was very low-key, but also low-key empty.
Their menu only has a few intentionally vegan options, so you really have to search for them. I gave up and just asked the staff what vegan options they have and went with their recommendations. I tried the Pezetarian Soda, which is a house-made passion fruit and kiwi sparkling drink, and the Vegetarian Wok, which wasn’t on the menu but was one of their vegan options.
The drink was iite… It definitely tasted like a healthy alternative to a regular soda. It was cheap and better than just having still water after it was all said and done. The Vegetarian Wok was bomb though!
Don’t dive into it expecting a bunch of sauces. It’s a very fresh bowl of sauteed veggies, avocado, and rice. It was basically something that I could have whipped up at home if I were in the mood for grocery shopping and cooking. As simple as it was, I still gobbled it up and felt amazing after finishing my meal!
4. Al Alma
Location: Calle de las Bovedas #39- 120, local 2, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
WhatsApp: +57 310 5133079
Website: Al Alma
Price range: $$$$$ (most expensive vegan entree is ~$5 USD)
I accidentally stumbled upon Al Alma while I was randomly roaming around the streets. My vegan spidey senses started tingling and told me to read their menu. Low and behold, they had plant-based milks and smoothie bowls on their menu!
Definitely do not roll up to Al Alma thinking that you’re about to have a whole vegan menu to choose from. I meant what I said when I said I saw plant-based milks and smoothie bowls on the menu. I’m sure that some other basic items, like a salad, could be made vegan. However, I was only looking for a warm drink, fruit, and a smoothie bowl that morning. Their Acai Smoothie Bowl was exactly what I was looking for, with the substitute of plant-based milk, so I didn’t look any further!
5. Agua De Leon
Location: Calle de Ayos # 4-46, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
WhatsApp: +57 315 2780517
Website: Agua De Leon
Price range: $$$$$ (most expensive vegan entree is ~$8 USD)
If you’re trying to get all dressed up and have a fancy meal, Agua De Leon is the best spot to visit. I’ll admit, I was walking around town that night lookin’ mad regular… borderline dusty. I’m not sure if it was that I was dining solo or that the Black person working the host booth was looking out for me, but they let ya girl dine on the rooftop yall!
The rooftop was dimly lit with a beautiful cocktail bar and plants surrounding it. The downstairs dining area was also dimly lit and looked very fancy. Matter of fact, everyone in there looked like money, but the meal was still less than $10 USD!
They had two vegan options: a pasta dish and a roasted cauliflower dish. The cauliflower sounded more appetizing to me, so I went with that. It was tasty and looked pretty in its little pool of tomato sauce and oil drizzle, but nothing to write home about.
Don’t get me wrong. The cauliflower did give what it was spost’ to gave, but the ambiance and service were the best part of the experience. Everyone working there was so nice and the folks that helped me were genuinely sparking up and carrying out conversations with me.
6. Kokoa Sushi
Location: Carrera 10 #30-40, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
WhatsApp: +57 314 6252795
Website: Kokoa Sushi Wok
Price range: $$$$$ (most expensive vegan entree is ~$6 USD)
One of the many things that I love about Cartagena is the Black art all around town! When I walked in and saw the art on the wall that depicted Black people dancing, I was sold! There is equipment in the restaurant for a live band, so it seems like Kokoa Sushi Wok is actually pretty poppin’ on some nights!
Their menu features 5 veggie rolls and a Veggie Wok option. I decided to rock with the rolls, so I got the Batata Roll and the Al Ajillo Roll. The Batata Roll consists of sweet potato, carrots, cucumber, avocado, and teriyaki mushrooms.
The Al Ajillo Roll consists of plantains, avocado, sesame seeds, and garlic mushrooms. I’ve come to really appreciate plantain in sushi, so I was excited about the Al Ajillo Roll!
The sushi wasn’t out of this world, but it was good enough and one of the only places for vegan sushi in Cartagena. I wouldn’t say to break your neck to get over there for a plate, but if you’re in the area and they happen to have live music playing, it might be worth sitting down and grabbing a roll or two!
Be sure to read the ingredients in all of the rolls and omit non-vegan ingredients, like cream cheese. Don’t be afraid to let them know that you are vegan and make them aware of what you do not eat. The staff there was very friendly and seemed extra dedicated to helping me once I told them that I was vegan!
7. Gelateria Paradiso
Location: Calle 36 #4-57 local 5, Cartagena de Indias, Provincia de Cartagena, Bolívar, Colombia
WhatsApp: +57 605 6604945
Website: Galeteria Paradiso
Price range: $$$$$ (a single scoop is less than $1 USD)
There are a few ice cream spots in Cartagena that have vegan options, but Galeteria Paradiso ended up being my favorite. I’m not really the biggest ice cream fan, so for me to want to get a second scope at an ice cream spot is saying a lot!
It’s not your typical situation where there are just icy vegan sorbets that are basically shaved popsicles. They have vegan fruit-based options like lulo, zapote, and guanabana (soursop) that are ACTUALLY creamy!
I mentioned to the staff that I was looking for vegan flavors that don’t have milk, and they knew exactly what to offer me. They even allowed me to sample a few flavors before I made my final decision.
I ordered their zapote, which is a fruit that is naturally creamy and makes for an amazing vegan ice cream flavor. Zapote is something that you can’t as easily get in the states, so I’d highly recommend trying the fruit itself and the ice cream if you are from the US.
Conclusion: 7 Best Restaurants For Vegan Food in Cartagena
In short, although there aren’t vegan restaurants galore in Cartagena, you can still keep your belly full while you explore the city. Given its touristy nature, there are lots of places that cater to vegan travelers and there are plenty of spots around town that have vegan options.
Be sure to have down the basics of ordering in Spanish, just in case you choose to visit a restaurant that has no English speakers. Once you have the basics down, you’ll be able to enjoy Cartagena and keep your vegan belly well fed!