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Best of the brunch

With nights that seem impossible to end early and a contagious vacation vibe, Cartagena seems made for lazy starts and long brunches. Oddly however, the brunch scene here has until recently been fairly lacking. The fact that Cartagena already created breakfast perfection with the invention of the ubiquitous “Arepa ‘e Huevo” might have had something to do with it?

For those of you who, like me, consider brunch to be the most pleasurable way to start the day/combat hangovers/delay reality, fear not! I am delighted to report we are seeing a host of restaurants and cafés brunching out (pun intended) into the realm of champagne-spiked breakfasts.

PASTELERIA MILA

When Mimosas in Cartagena were barely a mythical whisper from those fortunate-enough to have ventured overseas, Pasteleria Mila was pioneering their cause. The home of the original Cartagena brunch, Mila still remains one of the city’s best; thanks to an enormous selection of scrumptious sweet and savoury offerings, gorgeous French-farmhouse ambience and those aforementioned Mimosas. If you can make it out without ordering “breakfast dessert” from the ridiculously tempting window displays, you’re a better man than I am.

Try: Colombia’s unusual sweet/salty combo of hot chocolate and melted cheese.
When: Brunch from 8am Monday - Saturday and from 10am Sunday
Visit: Pastelería Mila

CAFFÉ LUNATICO

Cute and quirky, Caffe Lunatico has quickly won the hearts of Cartagena’s brunch bunch with beautifully presented breakfast plates that taste as good as they look. Wash them down with all-day jugs of Sangria, or on Sundays, why not sign up for bottomless Mimosas? Because, as they say, brunch without champagne, is really just a sad breakfast.

Try: Broken eggs with yuca or Cartagena’s (and potentially the World’s) best French Toast
When: Brunch 11am- 3pm every day.
Visit: Caffé Lunatico

EL BISTRO

Chef and foodie favourite, El Bistro, does a weekly Sunday brunch that places traditional Caribbean cuisine front and centre for a breakfast unlike anything you will try at home. Featuring elevated local classics such as arepa de huevo with smoked trout, chorizo empanadas, and fish Sancocho; your guayabo (slang for hangover) will be a distant memory thanks to this restorative fare.

Try: Empanadas stuffed with seafood casserole and the amazing selection of German-baked breads
When: Breakfast Monday - Saturday 9am -1pm; Sunday Caribeño Brunch 10am- 4pm
Visit: El Bistro

CAFE DE LA MAÑANA

The stunning Getsemani space of Café de la Mañana, (previously only open in the evenings as Gaucha’s Steakhouse), has recently received a new lease of life as a morning café. The joint-effort of gorgeous couple: Jan (German) and Naty (Colombian), this breakfast pop-up is filled each morning with delectable German baked treats, bottomless beverage options, eggs any way you like, and, of course, lots of love.

Try: Toasted sandwiches, like cheese-steak and jamon serrano, will cancel out any your previous night’s errors.
When: Brunch 7am-1pm daily
Visit: Cafe de la Mañana

CAFE ÉPOCA

Café Epoca is for people who choose their brunch based on the calibre of the coffee. Roasted in-house from the best of Colombia’s beans, this could be the very best cup in Cartagena. It’s not just coffee-snobs who will be satisfied; the food menu reads like a brunching all stars and definitely doesn’t disappoint in the delivery.

Try: It’s hard to beat creamy avocado smashed on toast, right?
When: Brunch from 9am daily
Visit: Café Epoca

CAFÉ STEPPING STONE

If you’d like a side of social conscience with your coffee and croissants, Café Stepping Stone is for you. The brainchild of two young Aussies, the project aims to share some of the cafe culture Australia does so well (yes, including brunch), whilst helping train, educate and support Cartagena’s disadvantaged and at-risk youth.

Try: The menu is loaded with yummy vegetarian and vegan options.
When: Brunch from 8am Monday - Saturday, and from 9am Sunday
Visit: Cafe Stepping Stone

CREPES & WAFFLES

For visitors it might be hard to accept that a restaurant that seems from the surface just to be a run-of-the-mill chain, is somehow capable of commanding the unfaltering devotion of an entire population. Yet this is exactly the power of the almighty Crepes & Waffles. Basically, if you live in Colombia, you will most probably eat here at least once a week, every week, for your entire lives. And then, on Sundays, it’s brunch time, baby. Mompox mozzarella, bread baskets, all the eggs, mimosas and nutella/banana crepes. There’s definitely worse ways to become a household name.

Try: Baked Lebanese eggs, guanabana smoothie.
When: Sunday Brunch from 10am
Visit: www.crepesywaffles.com.co

KRISTY ELLIS is an Australian, who has spent the past five years living and falling in love with all things Cartagena. She shares this local knowledge and contagious passion for her adopted hometown in personalised and group walking tours of the city and on her website Cartagena Connections.
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