On our last night in Cartagena, Colombia, for our Memorial Day weekend trip, my wife Jun and I were growing exhausted following a full day trip to the Rosario Islands. We were both getting hungry but didn’t want to fill our stomach with random snacks at the famed outdoor bar Café Del Mar where we were having a few drinks while enjoying the sunset. I searched for several options in the Old Town where we can get traditional Caribbean dishes and we decided on La Mulata. By the time we got to the bright and colorful dining space following a 10-minute walk, we were already dehydrated and slightly tipsy from all the booze from Café Del Bar. As soon as we got seated, a server brought to us two bowls of fish soup that we didn’t order. We both didn’t think much about the soup until we tried a few scoops; and then the dinner at La Mulata only got better.
It’s hard to tell what fish (and which parts of the fish) went into the soup, but in any event the broth was rich and absolutely delicious. It certainly worked as an eye-opener to two buzzed souls! We became more intrigued with what La Mulata had to offer and ordered a couple of dishes recommended by the server. Of the two, our favorite was a simple plate of shrimps and coconut rice (camarones mulatos). The shrimps were quite fresh, and the rustic but balanced flavor made them quite a pair with the coconut rice we had started to get accustomed to during our time in Cartagena. It’s one of those dishes that doesn’t have the flair of something prepared from a haute cuisine restaurant, but a dish I would love to keep coming back to the restaurant (and Colombia) for. Our opinion was a little bit more divided over the other dish of octopus (pulpo chambacu) accompanied by mashed plantain. Jun thought it could’ve come out a little smoother in texture, while I still enjoyed it a lot.
La Mulata doesn’t accept reservations but the turnover of tables is relatively quick so the wait won’t be terribly long even for prime time. Out of all the restaurants in Cartagena Jun and I had been to, it seems to be the most “local” one where we didn’t see as many tourists as the other splashy establishments. The servers didn’t speak much English but that didn’t much get in the way of making them understand what we wanted. Add a bottle of Club Colombia beer to wash down the meal and you have one very satisfying dinner at a bargain (our entire bill cost no more than $30 USD!). When you visit Cartagena, La Mulata is one of the top choices I would recommend for a genuinely local dining experience where you want to explore the rich Caribbean culinary tradition in the city.
KenScale: 8.25/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: Calle Quero 9-58, Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia