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6 Amazing Restaurants in Santa Marta, Colombia

After spending a delightful three weeks in Cartagena, soaking up its rich history and indulging in plenty of local cuisine, I made an impromptu decision to chase some more sun, sand, and good food by heading over to Santa Marta—a bustling port city on the Caribbean Sea. Known for its stunning beaches, lush scenery, and proximity to Tayrona National Park, I was equally excited to discover how this coastal gem stacks up in the culinary department. Cue me searching for the best restaurants in Santa Marta, Colombia!

Join me as I recount my gastronomic journey through Santa Marta, where I’ll share the standout dishes, the can’t-miss restaurants…and some eateries you might want to keep off your culinary bucket list. From freshly caught seafood to masterful uses of mashed plantains, get ready to be taken on a tour of the best eats Santa Marta has to offer.

Views from Burukuka Rooftop Bar.

The Best Restaurants in Santa Marta, Colombia

Unlike many tourist destinations (like the restaurant scene in Florence) where the best eats are often tucked away in hidden corners, Santa Marta’s top restaurants proudly stand in the heart of the city’s busiest streets.

I can only speculate as to why, but my best guess is it’s because this coastal city, with its blend of laid-back charm and vibrant nightlife, hasn’t been completely overtaken by tourism. This means that the tastiest eateries, ranging from upscale dining to street food treasures, are centered around the genuine heart of local life. So be warned—on your trip to Santa Marta, don’t shy away from the restaurants on Carrrera 3.

However, keep in mind that although Santa Marta has its share of delicious restaurants—it also has quite a few really bad ones. Stick to my list of favorites (and avoid the less-than-ideal spots at the bottom) and you should be set up to enjoy the best Santa Marta food possible on your trip to Colombia.

And, if you want to start your trip off strong, consider booking a street food tour with a local guide to help you navigate the best and most authentic eats in Santa Marta during your stay!

1. Restaurante LaMart

If you’re honing in on the top restaurants in Santa Marta, Colombia, you can’t skip a visit to Restaurante LaMart. This “Gastronomía Artística” (their own words) caught my attention through several local recommendations, earning it an immediate spot on my must-visit list. Walking in, I was immediately struck by all the cool decor adorning the walls (shown below), it’s definitely a feast for all the senses!

I dove into their seafood and fish soup, and folks, I’m not exaggerating when I say it was a revelation. The broth was rich, savory, and generously filled with an assortment of shrimp, calamari, mussels, and conch that was as fresh as it gets. Along with a side of rice and a glass of water, the meal only set me back $16—pricey for Santa Marta, but insanely cheap for anywhere else.

Trust me when I say, it was genuinely some of the most delicious broth I’ve ever tasted (and I’m a seafood soup connoisseur). LaMart isn’t just riding the wave of popularity; it’s setting the standard for what dining in Santa Marta could be.

A colorful mural adorning the wall of Restaurante LaMart—one of the best restaurants in Santa Marta, Colombia.
A piping hot bowl of seafood soup from LaMart in Santa Marta.
Seafood soup with a side of coconut rice.

2. Ouzo Restaurante

When it comes to great atmosphere and spectacular food, Ouzo Restaurante effortlessly ticks both boxes—establishing itself as one of the top restaurants in Santa Marta, Colombia. The chef and owner, Michael McMurdo, is a master of Mediterranean cuisine and actually got his start at a Michelin-star Greek restaurant in New York City.

Nestled in the bustling city center on Carrera 3, Ouzo boasts a huge patio that places diners in the heart of the action (from one solo traveler to another, there’s peak people-watching potential). The ambiance here is electrifying, making it an ideal spot for dinner, particularly for those with plans to explore the city’s vibrant nightlife afterward.

Despite its prime location, which understandably leads to slightly higher prices than other areas of the city, Ouzo offers a fine dining experience with friendly service for what is still an incredibly reasonable price. On my visit, I opted for a change from the local fare and chose the spicy salami pizza—which very quickly proved to be the right decision. After bite #1, I was ready to declare it the best pizza in Santa Marta, Colombia. (You can trust me when it comes to pizza—I did live in Italy for two years).

Plus, it’s not often you get to enjoy dinner by a Michelin-rated chef for only $14!

A delicious spicy salami pizza made by Michelin-rated chef, Michael McMurdo, of Ouzo Restaurante.
Spicy salami pizza from Ouzo Restaurante.

3. Ancora Steakhouse

Following a tip from the Masaya Santa Marta hostel front desk, I found myself stepping into Ancora Steakhouse for lunch on my first full day in Santa Marta. Since I lived in Roatan, Honduras for a year, I am no stranger to the delights of a simple fried fish and some savory sides—and this is exactly what the Ancora menu offers its satisfied patrons.

I asked the friendly waitress for the best thing on the menu, and she brought me a fried red snapper, coconut rice, mashed plantain patties, and salad. Everything was delicious, and it was obvious that the fish was incredibly fresh.

For the full meal, including a Coca-Cola, my bill came to a mere $12.11. Considering the quality and portion size, it’s safe to declare Ancora Steakhouse as budget-friendly and worth every penny. I can’t recommend a visit here highly enough! (Especially since you can find both air conditioning and wifi inside).

A plate piled high with deep fried red snapper, mashed and fried plantains, coconut rice, and salad from Ancora Steakhouse—one of the best restaurants in Santa Marta, Colombia.
Fried red snapper, coconut rice, fried plantain patties, and salad.

4. La Muzzería

Are you ready for my #1 meal in Santa Marta? Introducing La Muzzería.

When searching for the best places in Santa Marta to try Cayaye (a Colombian dish made from mashed green guineos, a type of bananas)—only one answer surfaced time and time again: La Muzzería. Walking in, I was immediately struck by how cozy and colorful the restaurant was with its colorful chairs and wall-to-ceiling murals.

I ordered the Kokilla de Cayaye with seafood…which was nothing short of amazing. It’s not every day you find a dish that perfectly encapsulates the essence of the region, and that, paired with bottled water, only sets you back $14.

The staff at La Muzzería deserve a special mention too. They’re super kind and go above and beyond to make sure your dining experience is nothing less than stellar. Chatting with the waitress, I learned that the green plantains used in my dish are special to the region, which added an extra layer of appreciation to what I was eating. It’s the combination of great food, a warm atmosphere, and the thoughtful touches like this that really make a meal memorable. If you find yourself in Santa Marta and can only choose one spot for a meal, do yourself a favor and head to La Muzzería. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

My favorite meal in Santa Marta—the kokilla de cayaye with seafood from La Muzzería.
Kokilla de Cayaye with seafood.
A colorful mural on the wall of La Muzzería. This spot is definitely one of the best restaurants in Santa Marta, Colombia!

5. Restaurante Bar Burukuka

If you regularly read my blog, then you know there’s nothing I love more than a rooftop bar with great views.

Restaurante Bar Burukuka is the most famous rooftop bar in the area—for good reason. Not only does this spot serve delicious, and surprisingly affordable, cocktails and cuisine, but you can enjoy said cocktails and cuisine with one of the most amazing views in Santa Marta (pictured below).

If you’re staying in the city center, then Burukuka will be a hike. But take my advice, it’s worth it! Ordering a ride on inDrive (since Uber strangely doesn’t work here) will set you back less than $2.50, which is a lot less than I’ve paid for views not half as good as these.

After scouring the menu, I decided on the tamarind margarita and the risotto with two lobster tails. I ordered one of the most expensive things on the menu and a fresh cocktail AND got to enjoy views like this…all for less than $30. They also have a great vibe, with an incredibly friendly waitstaff and catchy music playing throughout your meal. 

If you want to truly experience one of the best restaurants in Santa Marta, Colombia with a view, then make sure to visit Burukuka for sunset.

A tamarind margarita with a view at Restaurante Bar Burukuka in Santa Marta.
Tamarind margarita.
Risotto with grilled lobster tails from Burukuka Santa Marta.
Risotto with grilled lobster tails.

6. Mas Que Pan

Located just down the street from my hostel, I passed by Mas Que Pan plenty of times before finally venturing inside. I rarely stumble into restaurants without a recommendation, but I got lucky this time around, because Mas Que Pan did not disappoint!

Literally translating to “more than bread”, this little bakery and restaurant is order-at-the-counter style and serves plenty of Colombian favorites. What enticed me inside, was the crowd of locals enjoying meals at all hours of the day! On my last morning in Santa Marta, I finally sat down for breakfast at Mas Que Pan.

Always the basic bitch, I ordered avocado toast with eggs, a cappuccino, and two pastries to go—all for 39,000 COP or $10. The food is simple but tasty, and the portions are huge. Mas Que Pan definitely serves some of the best cheap eats in Santa Marta, and it’s the perfect spot to hit before a long day of exploring the city (or in my case—before a 5-hour bus ride back to Cartagena).

A piping hot cappuccino from Mas Que Pan in Santa Marta.
Avocado toast and scrambled eggs from Mas Que Pan—one of the best restaurants in Santa Marta, Colombia for cheap eats.

Restaurants to Skip in Santa Marta

I don’t usually include spots to skip in a destination, but during my search for the best Santa Marta restaurants…unfortunately, I stumbled upon some not-so-great options. I fully acknowledge that my experience at these restaurants might not be the same as others, however, below are the restaurants that I won’t be visiting again in Santa Marta.

  • Nuggu at the Hilton Santa Marta: The cocktails at Nuggu were delicious and the food was pretty good. However, even though the restaurant was basically empty, the service took FOREVER. It took us 30 minutes to get even our water, and that was after I reminded the waitress. After our water and cocktails arrived, the food was out 10 seconds later. Although some might disagree, this is not my ideal dining experience. The atmosphere was also severely lacking.
  • Siete Mares: I had high hopes for this cute restaurant on the water, but unfortunately they didn’t pan out. I ordered a piña colada (which I will admit was a great price, at only 26,000 COP or $6.50), and it came out shaken instead of blended—basically alcoholic sweet milk. Next, I decided on the “Rising Sun” tartar as my entree and, while the photo and description indicated piles of fresh tuna, avocado, and white fish—the entire pile of what I thought was tuna ended up being watermelon. Additionally, there was a hair in my food, which made me lose my appetite very quickly.
  • La Oficina: I went here on a recommendation from the hostel front desk and, while their first suggestion ended up being fantastic, the second was a huge miss. I ordered the churrasco steak and specified with the waitress that I wanted it as rare as possible. Unfortunately, it came back so overcooked and dry that I could only get a few bites down before leaving. (I basically sprinted out of there when a cockroach decided to explore under my table, but I’ll be the first to admit that’s not the restaurant’s fault since I was sitting on the outdoor patio in a tropical climate).

Final Thoughts

Wrapping up my week in Santa Marta, I’ve had my fair share of hits and misses when it comes to dining out. The city is a vibrant, bustling hub with a wide array of restaurants, street food, and fine dining establishments to choose from, but, while some experiences left me eager to explore more of what Santa Marta has to offer, others were, frankly, less than ideal.

For anyone planning to taste the best of Santa Marta, my advice would be to do a bit of research (which you’re already doing reading this post!) and talk to the locals. And although not every meal is going to be a winner, there are plenty of delicious restaurants in Santa Marta, Colombia to experience during your trip. Now it’s back to Cartagena to eat more seafood and drink more local cervezas! Happy dining friends.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy some of my other recent posts linked below. And don’t forget to follow along for the adventure on Instagram @madisonsfootsteps!

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