Taste the creations of a Colombian-born, San Sebastiántrained chef at Donjuán (reservations recommended), a bistro where guests can watch chefs through a window into the open kitchen. Expect some of Cartagena’s most refined dishes from chef Juan Felipe Camacho, who cooked at the Michelin-rated Arzak, including tender grilled octopus with candied potato ($23) and lobster tails grilled with lemon butter served alongside plantains ($75).
Order Italian-influenced dishes made by Bogotá-born Daniel Castaño, a former protégé of Mario Batali, at Vera (reservations recommended). Designed by famed Colombian designer Silvia Tcherassi, this posh spot in a colonial mansion attracts locals scenesters; your reasons to dine here are snapper carpaccio ($15) and steak with gorgonzola and cherries ($23) served on tables next to a 250-year-old stone wall.
Book in advance for dinner at popular Maria (Centro Calle del Colegio 6A; 57-5660-5380), where chef-owner Alejandro Ramirez brings experience from London, Paris, and Tokyo to the kitchen. Whimsical paintings of tigers and chandeliers tower over long tables that are ideal for sharing small plates of oxtail tacos with guacamole and mango pico de gallo ($23) and lemon- and orange-cured ceviche with baby squid, black sea bass, and shrimp ($18).