Salento is undoubtedly the most popular destination in the coffee region of the Colombian Andes. As a result, there is no shortage of food options around town. Here are our picks for the best restaurants in Salento.
Whether you’re needing a huge meal to replenish your energy after hiking the beautiful Valle de Cocora or perhaps you’re searching for a quick snack to keep you going as you do some shopping around this chill town – you might as well eat the best food Colombia has to offer!
We recently returned to revisit some of our favourites and explore even more great Salento restaurants. This updated guide has a bunch of phenomenal additions ranging from an epic breakfast to incredible cafes, cheap eats, and local specialties. You will have no problem eating well during your visit.
Brunch de Salento – Best Breakfast in Salento
Wildly popular with backpackers, Brunch is the hippest restaurant in Salento. The vast menu features everything from Colombian staples to classics like wings, burgers, pasta and salads — and, of course, an extensive breakfast menu. Though unlike many gringo menus you’ll encounter, the food here is perfectly executed and over-the-top tasty.
We don’t often eat out for breakfast, but when a restaurant is named Brunch, how could we not check it out? Steak and eggs, and a corned beef set us back nearly 40,000 pesos — but the portions were so massive that we didn’t eat again until supper.
They also offer quite a few vegetarian and vegan options, as well as packed lunches for those long bus trips to Bogota and Medellin.
Cumana Bistro Food – Venezuelan Food in Colombia
Cumana is a tiny, four-table restaurant that specializes in Venezuelan cuisine. It’s hugely popular with both locals and visitors, so expect to wait a bit for a table. That said, it’s worth waiting for.
The staff are all proud about their culture and food, and will passionately explain the dishes to you. On the menu you’ll find a range of smaller snacks, typical Venezualan meals and traditional specialty dishes.
One such dish is the ‘Christmas Pig’. Pork is roasted with pineapple and passionfruit and served with a Venezuelan bread stuffed with bacon and olives. It’s a combination of flavours as eclectic as it is delicious.
They also have a vegan-friendly option and 100% natural juices with no milk or water added.
Christmas Pork: 25,000 COP
Juices: 5,500 COP
Donde Laurita – The Bandeja Paisa
This rad little place is filled with vintage furniture, vinyl records on the wall and antique phones hanging on the shelves. The eclectic surroundings suggest that it’s dressed up for tourists.
However, they’re certainly not overcompensating on quality – the food is outstanding. It’s a pricier spot than others in town but it’s also the most like a real restaurant that we encountered, at least when it comes to service, but it was the food that really stood out. Huge portions of typical Colombia fare, all incredibly well done.
We stopped at Donde Laurita after returning from the Cocora Valley hike. Famished, we ordered their epic Bandeja Paisa and were more than happy to pay 22,000 for the delicious platter of awesome. Considering the meal was large enough to feed us both, the price was totally worth it.
On the western edge of town, along the road towards the coffee plantations, is Acaime. Their extensive menu has something for every taste with vegetarian options, steak and local specialties.
Acaime also functions as a tourist information centre, so it can be easy to miss on first glance. But it also makes a great place to visit when you first arrive. While you wait for your food, you can browse some of the activities they offer or simply admire the creative use of recycling to furnish the place (the tire chairs are shockingly comfortable).
Prices are a little higher than others on this list, but portions are sized well and quality is bang on. On our first visit we had bandeja paisa and one of the many trout options. We loved it so much we returned a few days later, this time sharing the loaded patacón. Everything was incredible.
Bandeja Paisa: 19,000 COP
Trout: 17,000 COP
Pizza is one of those hit-and-miss foods that, especially in Colombia, takes those to extremes. And Bambino’s is definitely a hit.
This tiny take-out spot is our favourite cheap snack in Salento. Grab a slice and eat it at one of the few stools inside or take it with you. They open at 5pm and typically have 2 different pizzas in the window changing styles regularly.
We grabbed a few extra slices for our next-day bus to Bogota and they were just as tasty when eaten as leftovers.
El Rincon de Lucy – Best Cheap Eats
This one should be no surprise to anyone who’s spent any time checking out where to eat in Salento. El Ricon de Lucy ranks high on every list, for good reason. Not only one of the simplest concepts of any restaurant we’ve visited in Colombia, but also some of the tastiest and cheapest. It’s without a doubt our favourite spot in town.
You grab a seat at one of the five or six tables and the server comes to take your order, without a menu. You’re simply given a few choices. First, you pick your meat – pork, chicken or trout. Next, your sides – mashed potatoes, vegetables, beans or lentils. With the sides, you can mix and match a little. That’s it, now you wait.
Within a couple of minutes, your feast arrives. Along with the choices you made, your meal comes with an arepa, corn fritter, fried plantain, salad, soup of the day and a cool glass of juice. All of it absolutely delicious. This is truly one of the best Salento restaurants.
The whole thing costs 8,000 COP or roughly $3 USD.
Shalem – Delicious Local Trout
The restaurant has a similar selection to others around town in regards to local dishes but we came here for one thing in particular. As mentioned in our Jardin post, this region of the country is known not only for their coffee but also the delicious river trout.
We’d been asking around as to where the best restaurant in Salento to enjoy this treat and Shalem seemed to be the spot. After ordering the food, we sat there sipping our beer while pan-flute covers of 80’s power ballads played in the background.
Soon, our meal arrived and our expectations were more than met. The fish was cooked perfectly, pan seared and basted with a plentiful amount of garlic butter. Along with the trout came a giant, crispy fried plantain chip and a nice salad to cut through the richness.
For 18,000 pesos, it was a perfect lunch.
There are a few burger joints in Salento, but El Cacharrito is the best.
They don’t mess around with a complicated menu here. From the simple, classic cheeseburger to bacon, blue cheese, and a few really tasty vegan options, they do burgers right.
Another reason this place stands out is their fantastic selection of local brews. The cooler is stocked full with all kinds of beer from breweries all across Colombia.
And considering the quality of the burgers, the prices are tough to beat. We devoured a bacon cheeseburger (13,000 pesos) and a vegan lentil burger (8,000).
Ella y Yo
Tucked around the corner near the ravine bridge is Ella y Yo. This small, family-owned restaurant is home to one of the best menu del dias in Salento. The service is fast and friendly, and the food is outstanding.
Changing daily, the menu features your choice of soup, a main and a juice. Typically there are two choices of each. The soup may or may not be vegetarian or at least have a vegetable-based option, though the mains are almost always grilled meat.
And the portions are huge. In addition to soup, every meal comes with a generous portion of rice, salad, beans or lentils and these incredible plantain fritters we’ve never encountered elsewhere.
Ella y Yo is open for both lunch and dinner, but is closed between services. So if you’re heading there for lunch, get there early.
Set Menu: 10,000 COP
Le K’fee – The Best Cafe in Salento
Seeing as this is where coffee comes from, a cafe needs to be on this list. And even two years on, Le K’fee is still our favourite coffee shop in Salento.
While the prices are a little steep for the budget traveller, they offer some outstanding dishes. From staples such as avocado toast to incredible salad bowls and gluten free deserts. If you’re a veggie or simply in need of a break from the heavy fried dishes found elsewhere, Le K’fee is the spot.
Of course, what would a cafe be without coffee? Le K’fee offers the typical selection you’d expect from anywhere else, but the real treat – for us at least – was when we ordered a French press.
We had expected to receive a French press filled with hot water and coffee grounds, as one would make back home. But here, the barista brought a tray over with a scale, a timer, a pot of water and a generous amount of freshly ground coffee.
She sat at the table next to us and proceeded to explain every step towards the perfect cup. From the amount of grounds, the surprisingly little amount of water, steep time, and even pouring method (into pre-heated cups).
Coco Bowl is the best vegetarian restaurant in Salento — hands down. It’s a bright, colourful cafe that specializes in vegetarian and vegan food with a focus on using organic, locally-grown produce.
From smoothies and coffee to veggie bowls and burgers, if you’re looking for something light and healthy, this is the place.
Speaking of burgers, the Coco Burger is where it’s at. Black bean patty, brioche bun, topped with American cheese, onions, mushrooms, and beet hummus with sesame honey. I can say with confidence that this is the best vegetarian burger I have ever tried.
They also have a selection of very unique tea lattes, flavoured and coloured with exotic spices and flowers offering.
Black latte – activated charcoal, cocoa, milk and spices. Eliminates toxins: 6000 COP
Blue Latte – Thai blue flowers, milk and spices, rich in antioxidants, relieves stress and stimulates the brain: 7000 COP
Cocktails in Salento
We can’t have a menu without a cocktail list now can we?
First, a Colombian classic: Limonada de Coco. This can be found in many different restaurants around town including the fresh fruit carts in the town centre. Sweet and refreshing limeade is mixed with real coconut milk to make a delicious and refreshing treat. Rum is optional but always encouraged.
To warm you up on those rainy days, head to La Fonda de los Arrieros in the main square, and sit down with a Canelazo. I challenge you to find a more Colombian cocktail. This tasty beverage begins with a base of warm panella, an unrefined cane sugar, with a hint of cinnamon and spiked generously with Aguardiente – a Colombian anise-flavoured liquor. Served at most Salento Restaurants, as well as restaurants around Colombia.
Eat Well in Salento
So there you have it, no excuses to starve or suffer through bland meals. Let us know what you think if you get a chance to try any of these suggestions, and please tell us of any unique finds of your own!