El Santismo, San Diego

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CARTAGENA | El Santismo opened in 1998, and in that time has become a Cartagena dining institution. When a restaurant has been around for this long, one of two things tends to be true. Either it’s not as good as it used to be, or lives up to its reputation. El Santismo, thankfully, falls into the latter category.

The space is large, with a mixture of small tables and larger communal tables. Chandeliers made from recycled wine bottles hand from the high ceiling, and are just one part of the restaurant’s kitsch and cheeky religious theme. Interesting artworks and curiosities decorate the space, many created by local artist Leopoldo Combariza and owner/chef Federico Vega’s wife Marta Puente. It makes for a restaurant that straddles the line between formal and fun successfully.

Vega trained in some of the best Cordon Bleu kitchens across Paris and London and his food reflects this. It’s a selection of share and more substantial plates. Colombian Caribbean at its heart with fusions of French technique and flavour.

A favourite is the Commitment of Pacha Mama, which features mixed octopus, shrimp and calamari ceviche with fried chunks of ripe plantains. The Caprice of the Angel – prawns with tomatoes, chutney and jalapeños, is also well worth ordering.

Moving on to larger dishes, a standout is the Brahma, which sees a fresh, tender fish fillet smothered in a sautéed vegetable sauce, with ginger, garlic, coconut milk and lemon juice. It’s served with white rice and bananas and tantalises all the senses. The Obatala, tri tip stewed in its own juices and served with rice, plantains, and tomato salad, is also popular.

For dessert there are a lot of tempting choices, but it’s hard to go past the La Pereza (Sloth), a delicious, dense yet crumbly coconut pie topped with ice-cream.

There’s an extensive wine cellar on site and, if you’re not up for a full meal but just want a drink and a snack, there’s a separate wine bar, Cacerola del Santisimo, behind the restaurant’s main wall, near the entrance.

One thing to be aware of is that the entrance to the restaurant isn’t obvious. When you first walk past El Santismo, what appears to be the entrance is locked and you might think it’s closed. Keep walking until you reach the smaller door – that’s the entrance.

El Santismo

Calle Del Torno #39-76
Cartagena
Bolivar
Colombia

Telephone: +57 5 6601531
E-mail: [email protected]
Website

Open
Mon – Sun: 12:00pm to 11:00pm

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Paul
Paul
Paul founded The City Lane back in 2009 as a place to share photos of his travels around Europe with friends and family. The City Lane might have changed quite a lot since those early days but one thing that’s remained constant is Paul’s passion for food, travel and culture, and a desire to photograph and write about his experiences. Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. Paul is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast that may or may not actually be about beer.

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