Thousands of visitors are drawn to Colombia each year to experience gastronomy tourism in the Coffee Cultural Landscape. Cities such as Manizales, Pereira and Armenia are gaining an international reputation for their gastronomy, fusing this much-loved region’s past and present to create a uniquely delicious cuisine.
The city of open doors
Manizales, the city of open doors, is known for its lush streets, thriving cultural events and its imposing view of Nevado del Ruiz volcano but also for its world-beating coffee. Foodies will find plenty to eat in Manizales, including restaurants such as La Azotea Rooftop in the majestic Plaza Bolivar. La Azotea offers dishes as diverse as New Orleans ribs, Sicilian fettuccini and chicharrón (fried pork) ceviche, fusing the food of the surrounding mountains with the influence of overseas cuisine.
Cortesana, in the city’s hip Zona G district, is another great place to spend time with friends and family. This restaurant refers to itself as having a ‘young soul’ and puts its own twist on north American favorites, such as burgers, sandwiches and sizzling dishes served straight from its barbecue. Cortesana serves great salads, and fresh fish too, all of which can be paired with cocktails.
Couples in search of a romantic evening should head to Vino y Pimienta for a taste of Italy in the Colombian countryside. Chef and owner Jorge Mario Gómez highlights Manizales’ international flair, offering interesting cuts of meat and various seafood dishes in an intimate and charming atmosphere.
The Pearl of the Otún River
The first stop for a fine dining enthusiast in Pereira must be the renowned restaurant Ambar, brainchild of Diego Panesso. Ambar is one of the coffee region’s most influential restaurants, serving exquisite dishes that are rooted in local ingredients and offer creative takes on international cuisine. The food here is as innovative as the city of Pereira itself. With Risaralda blood sausage spring rolls, Vietnamese-style chicharron and the signature crayfish with chontaduro fruit. The restaurant’s vast wine cellar offers some of the finest varieties from France, Spain, Chile and Argentina.
Octavo By Rausch, on the eighth floor of Pereira’s Hotel Sonesta, is the city’s first revolving restaurant. It offers diners an incredible 360° view as its barely imperceptible rotation reveals every corner of the city. Perfect for romantic evenings, important business meetings and special events, Octavo’s elegant cuisine includes its delicious chorizo meatballs, prawns in coconut and saffron sauce, dates wrapped in bacon and its famous Cartagena blackened beef.
No foodie should leave Pereira without trying the local chorizo sausage either. Santa Rosa de Cabal is the best place to sample this traditional treat, one of the culinary wonders of Risaralda. The Santa Clara Hotel Restaurant is proud to serve one of the best Santa Rosa chorizos around.
Helena Adentro, a restaurant in the small town of Filandia, captures the essence of the culture and spirit of the Coffee Cultural Landscape. It’s a testimony to the region’s aptitude for hard work and discipline and has its roots in the Santa Helena coffee farm in Santa Rosa de Cabal. Decades later, its kitchen remains loyal to the customs and cuisine of that era, serving traditional food made from fresh local ingredients. Diners will enjoy the region’s most typical dishes here, washed down with locally-produced beverages and, of course, the world’s finest coffee.
Close to Filandia is Salento, also known as the Father of Quindio. It’s the department’s oldest village and an essential ingredient when it comes to culinary tourism in the Coffee Cultural Landscape. Salento’s standout dish is trout, prepared according to regional recipes and accompanied by exquisite local delicacies. The most popular side dish here is the patacon, a generous fried and flattened green plantain, which is topped with salt and hogao sauce to bring out the flavors of the fish.
A visit to the Coffee Cultural Landscape is the ideal opportunity for all lovers of traditional dishes and high-quality cuisine to pamper their palates and immerse themselves in everything this rich and fertile region has to offer.