Juan Del Mar, San Diego

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CARTAGENA | Colombian bull fighter, actor, and singer, Juan del Mar Iglesias owns three restaurants in Cartagena – Juan del Mar Mesa Peruana, Juan del Mar Pizzeria Gourmet and Juan del Mar Restaurante. The original, Juan del Mar Restaurante, is housed in a restored 19th century Republican house and focuses on the diverse cuisine of the Caribbean, in particular seafood.

The space has been restored beautifully by designer Ignacio García, with the interior dining section opening into an open-air courtyard, which also houses the open kitchen. There are various artworks, decorations and trinkets dotted around the venue, which evokes memories of a sunset on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. A stage at one end of the courtyard features bands which play music in the evenings, often with Juan del Mar himself on vocals. By the end of the night, diners are often dancing in the restaurant.

The menu is split into raw, hot, and cold starters, and larger dishes. Chicharrones de pescado is a testament to the quality of the seafood on offer – it’s simply deep fried fish with “African sauce”, but it’s one of the best versions we’ve had anywhere. The fish is tender and flaky, and the coating crispy and light. The cebiche entreamigos, a combination of raw octopus, squid, shrimp, and fish, is also fantastic.

For something more substantial, the popular Mofongo Caribeño is a must. It’s a distinctly Caribbean dish of creole seafood covered with chicharrón dough and mashed patacón accompanied by a stew with garlic. Order it with a side of the tasty coconut rice.

For drinks, it’s a multi page list of predominantly Chilean and Argentinean wines along with a few beers, spirits, and Caribbean themed cocktails. There are also some very delicious natural fruit juices and other non-alcoholic drinks on offer.

A celebrity owner, live music and singing, and an abundance of decorations is usually a sign of a restaurant that lets its food suffer, but thankfully that’s not the case at Juan del Mar. The food here is delicious and fresh, and everything else combines with it to create a fun, worthy dining experience.

Juan Del Mar

Calle 39 #38-18
Cartagena
Bolivar
Colombia

Telephone: +57 5 6645862
E-mail: n/a
Website

Open
Mon – Sun: 11:00am to 11:00pm

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