Zaitún Restaurant & Bar

An Arabic Restaurant with Colombian Soul

The Arabic food revival on the coast has seriously upped Cartagena's restaurant game in recent years. And Zaitún, led by local chef, Alex Quessep, is the latest Lebanese-fusion culinary smash you simply have to try whilst you’re in town.

  • This Is What We Love

    • Enjoying honest food with historical significance
    • The diverse menu that puts traditional Colombian food against more exotic Lebanese fare. It's so much fun to enjoy two different cuisines in one sitting
    • The homemade sauces! You can’t go wrong with their creamy humous, amazing guacamole or other concoctions artfully draped on the meat and fish dishes
    • Breaking the corriente lunch tradition by tucking into one of their well-priced wraps
  • What You Need To Know

    • The restaurant's laid back setting defies Zaitun's culinary punch. The chef, Alex Quessep, is serious about good food
    • The restaurant is open from midday until midnight from Thursday to Saturday and closes at 23:00 all other days
  • The Details

    Type of Food: Lebanese, Healthy Eating

    Hours and Days: Mon-Weds: 12:00 - 23:00 | Thurs-Sat: 12:00 - 24:00 |Sun:12:00 - 23:00 ?

    Price Range: $$$

    Address: Calle de Ayos, Cra 4, No. 34-37, Cartagena, Colombia

    Neighbourhood: Centro

    Rating: TIC User Rating

    Rating: Trip Advisor


    Our Full Review

    Ignore the distinctive 'no frills' approach to the decor—Zaitun's simple interiors are not the reason why everyone comes here.

    The beige walls and white tables are blank canvases that let their signature dishes, a rainbow mosaic of fresh fruits, veggies and homemade salsas, shine in all their glory. After sampling some of their delicious starters you'll begin to sink into the homely feel of the place.

    The good news is that Zaitun puts its heart and soul into their food offering, which is clear to see when you set your hungry eyes on the menu, an original and inspiring blend of traditional Colombian fare and aromatic Middle Eastern treats.

    Every food group is catered for here, you are literally spoilt for options. There are some strong salad headliners, cutting through the all those fried empanadas you've been over enthusiastically chowing down, delicious wraps and a tempting splattering of meat and fish dishes.

    We suggest having a little fun with the theme and tucking into an Arabic vs Colombian tasting stand off when you order.

    if you're in a large group, follow the 'mezze platter' sharing tradition and start with the signature Zaitun platter of juicy meat and vegetable patties, super fresh salad and hummus, quite possibly the world's best salsa at unifying such dynamic flavours.

    Colombia puts up a pretty competitive fight with the traditional pumpkin soup and oxtail empanadas getting extra brownie points for tasting like they've come straight out of your abuela's oven onto your plate.

    It's easy to overfill your boots with the wealth of starters, but make sure you leave room for the main affair, especially if you go for the beef fillet drenched in a homemade Jamaican flower salsa, a saucy treat with subtle spicy flavours to awaken your tastebuds.

    The wine menu is perhaps the only element that defies the restaurant's Colombian/Lebanese split personality, but that's more than forgivable when the food is this honest, fresh and lip-smackingly good.

    Colombia's Middle-Eastern ancestors would be very proud.



  • Centro

    Cartagena's nerve centre serves up breathtaking colonial architecture, the city's top attractions, finest hotels, eateries and drinking dens as well as being the administrative and cultural heart of the city. 

    Centro has lost none of its importance thanks to the universal lure of its colonial pomp and the concentration of government buildings, hotels, tourist attractions, bars and restaurants in the area. 

    Cartagena's finest hotels and restaurants have taken over the uber-casas built by slave traders and Spanish plunderers in the 17th century. 

    The richest residents knocked up stunning two and three-storey mansions by the westernmost tip of the walled city, where they bagged the sea breeze and first whiff of pirates. Today only those at the very top of Colombia's rich list can afford to maintain these opulent houses in their original residential state.

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