This bistrot-style venue brings some Gallic panache to the fried food and carb-heavy diet of Cartagena's most traditional barrio, Getsemaní.
Type of Food: Healthy Eating, French Fusion
Price Range: $$
Address: Esq Calle Vargas with Calle Larga, Cartagena, Colombia
Rating: TIC User Rating
Rating: Trip Advisor
Oh! La La... Cafe Bistrot, is manna from heaven for those looking for a sugar rush free start to the day or a light lunch that won't send you straight for a hammock.
Owners, Carolina Velez and Gilles Dupart, are both on a mission to expand the healthy eating options in Cartagena and resurect long-forgotton regional dishes with a modern, French flourish.
Bringing the Franco-Colombian couple back to the same Getsemani street in which they started their adventure into the Cartagena culinary scene eight years ago, Oh! La La...Cafe Bistrot, is big on organic ingredients and low on sugar and the other dietary bad guys.
The tightly formed menu includes plenty of health-conscious options starting with a strong salad lineup-a Greek one, Quinoa ratatouille and fabulous blue cheese and tomate de árbol number, soaked in a french mustard and honey dressing. Seriously, any locals who diss the taste merits of tomate de árbol simply have to try this salad out for size.
Tasty soups include a traditional Mote de Queso made with local costeño cheese, a carrot soup with a delightful touch of orange and a fish bouillabaisse with delicious hints of a tropical Paris.
The mains concentrate on the city's fresh fish supplies including a lip-smacking snail stew, a Moules Mariniere and grilled prawns with rock salt and alioli.
There are sturdy meat options as well, the ox-tail, soaked in beer is a delightful dressed down dish of the traditional red wine version, but still manages to pack in loads of fresh flavours.
Don't assume Cartagena breakfasts is just about Arepa de Huevo, sugary juice drinks and watery coffee. This place is on an ambitious mission to bring back long forgotton healthy classics such as Bollo de Mazorca (corn rolls) and Cabeza de Gato (plantains, onions, tomatoes and garlic).
You've also got a delicious mix of traditional 'brunch style' dishes to get stuck into. Get your day off to a healthy start with breakfasts that include porridge with freshly made jams, free-range eggs served up on homemade bread (without the local sugar quote) fruit salads with natural yoghurt hecho en casa, completely natural fruit juices and organic coffee.
The restaurant's decor is steeped in the history of one of the most historic houses of Getsemaní, with evocative photos of the first black governor of Bolivar, Francisco Vargas, meeting US president Franklin Roosevelt, hanging from the walls. To find the place look for the photogenic tropical graffiti by Andrés Molina on the wall opposite.
Cartagena's second historic walled city has gone from no-go to must-go in less than five years thanks to some of the city's hippest new bars and restaurants.
If Centro is Manhattan, Getsemani is more Brooklyn – an up-and-coming hipster hangout trying desperately to cling to its roots.
A little rougher around the edges than the already gentrified districts of Centro and San Diego and the lofty ambitions of the beach districts, Getsemaní offers a glimpse into the more unruly historic centre of the past.
A fiercely traditional barrio offering a heady mix of bars, dancing, affordable diners, hostels and hotels for backpackers and bohemian colonists looking to mix it up with the carefree locals.
Historically populated by merchants, smugglers and freed slaves thriving from activity in the port and main marketplace, Getsemaní has always been more raucous than the hoity centre with all its regal airs and graces.
Much of the district's newest bars, follow in the city's loudest traditions.
While much of the area's carefree population are direct descendants of the hell-raisers of yesteryear it is no longer the terrifying place that rich Cartageneros used to scare their children into staying at home.
Backpackers, never averse to roughing it for a cheap place to stay have braved the bogeyman with few problems for decades and a growing number of boutique hotels and hostels have followed their lead setting up shop in some of the bigger properties on Calle Guerrero and Calle del Carretero.
Uber-hotel chains, Viceroy and the Four Seasons have plans to kick the barrio into the stratosphere with stellar openings in 2017 / 2018.
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