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Once the stronghold of Pablo Escobar, Medellin, like much of Colombia, has shifted away from its darker past and become something wholly intriguing to the hungry traveler. Surrounded by rugged green mountains, Colombia’s second largest city is no longer shady and dangerous, but a thriving metropolis that has developed a rich food scene that characterizes the city’s cultural diversity.

Ph: Ollie Lythe

Ph: Ollie Lythe

When wandering the idyllic streets of Medellin, skip the chain restaurants — if you want to truly experience this city, do it through the local food.

Get A Drink In Medellin

In between paragliding, Pablo Escobar tours, and exploring the natural beauty both inside and outside of the city, travelers will have no shortage of things to do during the day, and to wind down at night, the hot evenings of Colombia are perfect for bar hopping.

The city’s main nightlife district is Parque Lleras located in barrio Poblado. Even if you don’t feel like rubbing elbows in the crowded discotheques (still rolling disco balls to this day), Parque Lleras is an excellent place to find a drink. If you’re not into crowds, opt to steer away from places with events like live music and locally famous DJs.

It is worth noting that even Parque Lleras is much quieter during weeknights, so if you want to see Medellin at its best, wait until the weekend to really let loose. However, the slower weekday scene does allow you to sample the local liquors, which makes for a fun night out with friends. The favorite drink amongst the locals is Aguardiente, or guaro for short. The anise-flavored liquor is typically taken in a shot and chased with soda. If anise isn’t quite your taste, give the locally produced Ron Medellin Añejo rum a try. The locals prefer this straight too, or mixed with some ginger ale.

Perk Up The Next Morning

As famous as Colombian coffee is, the country itself doesn’t have a huge coffee culture. If you need a pick me up after a night of discotheque crawling with some folks you met at a hostel, Juan Valdez Cafes are essentially the Colombian version of Starbucks (though they have those too). However, for what is almost universally agreed upon by travelers as the best coffee in the city, pay a visit to the Pergamino Cafe conveniently located in the Parque Lleras nightlife district. They truly pay homage to the excellent beans that come from Colombia and put any other coffee shop to shame.

travel medellin colombia

Best Morning-After Brunch Options

As a rule of thumb, most Colombian dishes are all heavy on the meats, grease, and salt, which essentially makes them all awesome after a night out and delicious any other time, too. As for what to eat in Medellin, the city has two regional specialties – Bandeja Paisa and Mondongo.

Mondongo is a thick soup of chopped tripe in broth served with various mixings that include rice, avocado, bananas, and cilantro. While tripe isn’t the most appetizing after a night out, it is this city’s favorite hangover cure. The best place to try this dish is at the eponymous Mondongo’s, a cafe in barrio Poblado. They serve other things there, but it is agreed upon as the best place to try your first Mondongo since tripe can go so wrong so quickly.

Bandeja paisa is a panacea that consists of beef, pork, or chicken served with chorizo, chicharron,  fried plantains, a fried egg, refried beans, rice, avocado and a small salad. There is literally nothing that a platter full of many different seasoned meats can’t cure, and because of that, you can find it in almost any good lunch spot.

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