Savory secrets of Cartagena and Authentic Street Food Tour Experience

By Sebastian Quintana, Strategist at Structuring: A Marketing and Growth Strategy Company.

Dive into the heart of an Authentic Street Food Tour in Cartagena, Colombia. Full of savory secrets shared with locals through the bustling streets that make the an unmissable experience.

Cartagena’s street savory secrets are full of wonderful happy people that love to share unique local flavors like: empanadas, arepa de queso, arepa de huevo, enyucado, carimañola, dedo de queso, patacón con queso, kola roman, shrimp cocktails, exotic fruits, cocadas and more. Each one of this savory secrets creates and authentic street food tour in Cartagena, Colombia.

1. Empanada

This delightful pastry has evolved over time, reflecting the cultural influences and flavors of the region. Born out of a fusion of African, Indigenous, and Spanish culinary traditions.The empanada filling, a crucial element of its identity, is a harmonious blend of flavors. Ground meat, often beef or pork, is combined with potatoes, onions, and a medley of spices, that reflects the available ingredients in the region. Made from cornmeal, the dough is carefully handcrafted to achieve the perfect balance of texture and flavor. Then the empanada is folded into its distinctive half-moon shape and deep-fried to perfection. Resulting in a crispy exterior that gives way to the succulent and well-seasoned filling and the aroma wafts through the air. 

Empanada has become a symbol of this authentic street food tour experience. Whether served at a street vendors, local market, or family gatherings, these empanadas are a unique delicious representation of the city’s cultural diversity and culinary heritage. Each bite tells a story of Cartagena’s past, present, and the shared joy found in its savory secrets.

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2. Arepa de queso

A cornerstone of Colombian cuisine, the arepa de queso embodies a rich culinary heritage. Its humble origins lie in the ingenuity of indigenous communities, who transformed corn into a versatile and satisfying staple. Over time, the arepa embraced influences from Spanish settlers, especially with the introduction of cheese.

The essence of the arepa de queso lies within its filling—a generous helping of queso fresco, a mild and crumbly white cheese. This simple ingredient elevates the cornmeal dough, which is carefully shaped into a disc and cooked on a griddle. The result is a heavenly balance: a golden, slightly crisp exterior yielding to a soft center infused with the salty, melty goodness of the cheese. Every bite releases a warm, comforting aroma that epitomizes home-cooked deliciousness.  Another symbol of this authentic street food tour experience.

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3. Arepa de Huevo

The arepa de huevo is a culinary gem waiting to be discovered. It story begins with the indigenous communities who mastered the art of utilizing corn, crafting a versatile staple that sustained generations for years..

The arepa de huevo celebrates this legacy, featuring a warm cornmeal dough carefully shaped into a pocket. This pocket cradles a treasure: a perfectly cracked egg, its richness adding a new dimension to the savory corn base. Cooked on a griddle, the arepa transforms, boasting a golden exterior that yields to a soft and comforting interior. Each bite bursts with contrasting textures and flavors, the fluffy softness of the cornmeal harmonizing with the creamy richness of the egg. As the warmth fills your senses, the enticing aroma evokes a sense of home-cooked comfort, a true embodiment of this authentic street food tour experience.

4. Enyucado

Venture beyond the bustling streets of Cartagena and discover the enyucado, a hidden gem waiting to tantalize your taste buds. This traditional dish, crafted with love and passed down through generations, whispers tales of Colombia’s rich culinary heritage. Its story begins with the indigenous communities, who harnessed the power of the humble yuca root, transforming it into a nourishing and versatile staple.

The enyucado embodies this legacy, showcasing the simple beauty of utilizing local ingredients. Grated yuca forms the base, carefully shaped into a disc and enriched with a touch of cheese for a hint of savory depth. Each enyucado is then kissed by the heat of a griddle, transforming its exterior into a golden canvas. The result is a textural symphony: a delightful exterior yields to a soft and slightly sweet interior, infused with the subtle earthiness of the yuca. Every bite is a testament to tradition, a comforting journey through Colombia’s culinary landscape. The enyucado’s enticing aroma, reminiscent of warm kitchens and family gatherings, completes the experience, leaving you with a lasting impression of Colombian culinary magic at this authentic street food tour experience.

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5. Carimañola

This delightful morsel, born from generations of tradition, tells a story of resilience and the ability to transform simple ingredients into something truly special.

The carimañola’s journey begins with the cassava root, a versatile staple cultivated by indigenous communities for centuries. This starchy root is transformed into a pliable dough, carefully shaped into a canoe-like form. A savory surprise awaits within: a filling of seasoned ground meat, often accompanied by vegetables or cheese, adding a burst of flavor and texture.

Each carimañola is then kissed by the heat of the fryer, creating a golden-brown, crispy exterior. The result is a captivating contrast: a delightful crunch gives way to a soft and yielding interior, bursting with the savory goodness of the filling. The aroma of warm spices and fried goodness fills the air, a tantalizing invitation to experience a taste of Colombian tradition. Each bite of the carimañola is a testament to the resourcefulness and culinary creativity that have shaped Colombia’s unique cuisine try it at the authentic street food tour in Cartagena.


6. Dedo de queso

This playful snack, steeped in tradition, embodies the spirit of Colombian comfort food. Its story begins with the ingenuity of local communities, who transformed cheese, a legacy of Spanish settlers, into a cherished ingredient.

The essence of the dedo de queso lies in its simplicity. Long, thin strips of melty cheese, often queso fresco or mozzarella, are enveloped in a soft and fluffy cloak of breading. Each dedo is then kissed by the heat of the fryer, creating a golden-brown, crispy exterior. The result is a textural symphony: a delightful crunch gives way to a warm, gooey center, bursting with the comforting flavor of melted cheese.

Every bite of a dedo de queso is a celebration of Colombian ingenuity. The contrasting textures and the warm, inviting aroma evoke a sense of home-cooked comfort, a perfect companion for a stroll through bustling streets or a gathering with loved ones. The dedo de queso is a testament to the enduring legacy of Colombian cuisine, offering a delicious reminder that sometimes, the simplest pleasures can be the most satisfying. Try it at the authentic street food tour experience.

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7. Patacón con queso (Chesee Finger)

Dish that combines the satisfying crunch of fried plantains with the richness of cheese. Simple!. Made with green plantains,  variety of plantain that is not sweet like the ripe ones you can find at the store.  

The magic unfolds when this golden base meets the cheese . Queso Costeño fresco, a creamy local favorite, adds a touch of salty. Each patacón is a delightful textural contrast: a satisfying crunch gives way to a soft and yielding plantain interior, perfectly complemented by the gooey cheese and sometimes meet.

Patacón con queso is more than a taste sensation. It’s a testament to Colombian resourcefulness and simplicity. Two simple ingredients turn into a satisfying and comforting dish. It’s the perfect companion for a walk through the bustling streets of cartagena, a quick bite on the go, or a shared plate with loved ones. So next time you’re in Cartagena, Colombia, don’t miss out on this delightful symphony of textures. Try it at the authentic street food tour experience.

8. Kola Roman

The kola roman’s soft drink  journey begins with the kola nut, a fruit brought to the Americas by enslaved Africans created by Mr. Carlos Román in 1865 in Cartagena. Unable to access their traditional ingredients, they used the kola nut’s vibrant red color and bitter taste to create a unique treat. Over time, the recipe evolved, incorporating coconut, sugar, and spices, reflecting the influence of local ingredients and cultural exchange.

Today, the kola roman stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of its creators. A flaky, golden brown crust cradles a sweet and moist filling, infused with the warm flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and the subtle bitterness of the kola nut. Each bite is a captivating contrast of textures and flavors, a reminder of the creativity and resourcefulness that shaped Colombia’s distinctive cuisine.

The kola roman isn’t just a pastry; it’s a symbol of resilience and cultural exchange. From its humble beginnings to its place on Colombian tables today, this sweet treat offers a glimpse into the rich history and vibrant flavors of this fascinating country.

Try it at the authentic street food tour experience.

9. Cartagena’s Shrimp cocktails

The sun-drenched shores of Cartagena’s  offer a feast for the senses, and the Cartagena shrimp cocktail is a vibrant reflection of the city’s unique culinary identity. This refreshing dish, born from the fusion of Caribbean flavors and local ingenuity, captures the essence of the region in every delicious bite.

Its story begins with the bounty of the Caribbean Sea, where generations of local fishermen have harvested the sweet, succulent shrimp that form the heart of this dish. These are carefully combined with the vibrant flavors of the tropics: tangy lime juice, aromatic onions, and a hint of fiery spice. The use of fresh, local ingredients is a testament to the resourcefulness of the people and their deep connection to the land and sea.

Each spoonful of Cartagena shrimp cocktail is a symphony of textures and tastes. The plump, perfectly cooked shrimp contrast with the crisp bite of fresh vegetables, all bathed in a vibrant, citrusy sauce. The subtle kick of spice awakens the palate, leaving you wanting more. The aroma of the dish is a delightful blend of fresh seafood, citrus, and Caribbean spices, transporting you to the heart of Cartagena’s bustling markets and lively streets.

More than just a dish, the Cartagena shrimp cocktail is a symbol of the city’s rich cultural heritage and vibrant spirit. It embodies the ingenuity of its people, their deep connection to the sea, and their love for fresh, flavorful food. It’s a taste of the Caribbean, a refreshing escape, and a must-try for any visitor seeking the authentic flavors of Cartagena.

Try it at the authentic street food tour experience.

10. Cocadas

Cocadas embodies the sweet nostalgia of the Caribbean coast. This delightful treat, born from the ingenuity of local communities, is a testament to the transformative power of simple ingredients and love for sweetness.

The cocada’s story begins with coconut, a ubiquitous symbol of coastal life. Its flesh, carefully grated and combined with sweetened condensed milk, forms the base of this delightful confection. A touch of cinnamon or vanilla adds a layer of warmth and complexity, while a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes adds a delightful textural contrast.

Each cocada is then lovingly shaped into a small dome and baked until golden brown. The result is a symphony of textures and flavors: a soft, slightly chewy interior gives way to a satisfyingly crisp exterior, all infused with the sweet, comforting flavors of coconut and a hint of spice. The aroma of toasted coconut and caramelized sugar fills the air, evoking memories of childhood treats and family gatherings.

The cocada is more than just a dessert; it’s a cultural touchstone, a reminder of the resourcefulness and creativity of the Colombian people. It embodies the warmth of the Caribbean sun, the sweetness of life by the sea, and the enduring legacy of tradition passed down through generations. So, take a bite, close your eyes, and let the cocada transport you to the heart of the Colombian coast.

Try it at the authentic street food tour experience.

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11. Exotic Fruits

Venture beyond and embark yourself on a vibrant exploration of exotic fruits. These captivating exotic fruits offer a symphony of unexpected flavors and textures.

Indigenous communities and farmers, for centuries, have nurtured these fruits, harnessing their unique properties as sustenance and cultural symbols. Today, they continue to captivate our senses, offering a huge diversity of culinary traditions across the world.

From the mangosteen, a regal fruit cloaked in deep purple, revealing a snow-white flesh with a delicate sweetness and a hint of citrus. The Mango Biche, green mango. The mamoncillo, a small, green sphere, with the size of a marble, nestled amongst the vibrant foliage of a tree. The manoncillo is a seasonal fruit, available most of the time from late spring to early summer.

The pitaya, also known as the dragon fruit, with its vibrant pink or yellow skin and black speckles, unveils a refreshingly sweet and juicy interior studded with tiny edible seeds. The sapote, a large, brown fruit with a sweet and creamy flesh that resembles a sweet potato.

The passion fruit, bursting with a vibrant orange color and a tangy, aromatic pulp, offers a taste of the tropics, while the lychee, with its bumpy red shell and floral-scented, translucent flesh, provides a unique balance of sweetness and acidity.

Exploring the world of exotic fruits is an adventure for the senses. In each bite you can discover a journey through different types of flavors. From smooth and creamy textures to refreshingly crisp ones. The aromas can transport you to  tropical jungles.

Try them at the authentic street food tour experience.

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