DEMENTE | CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

photo via demente

photo via demente

This year-old hipster haunt is located on a thriving corner of Plaza la Trinidad in the quickly gentrifying Getsemani neighborhood of Cartagena, Colombia. Through a nondescript turquoise door you'll enter a small bar and restaurant seating for about 20. Rocking chairs, a retractable roof, and local artwork make this refurbished ruin the late night place to be for locals and tourists alike. Considering they're one of the only places with Colombia's Aguila beer on tap, you'll want to get there early to claim your spot. This tapas only restaurant has a small offering letting you sample  virtually the entire menu. The Spanish-inspired choices created by Bogota-born owner, Nicolas Wiesner, were worth every bite. Upon learning the food was local and seasonal, we were hooked! The Hamburguesita de Rabo was a small slider, perfectly seasoned. The Ensalada de Cous Cous came with tabbuleh and mint so fresh you could smell it the second they set down the dish.

Our favorite? Queso a la plancha, an amazing piece of grilled cheese topped with a marmalade of chopped and grilled onions. Served with a few small pieces of crisp toast, spreading this salty and savory concoction served as a stand-in for dessert. Between courses we admired the artwork: mirrored paintings with quotes from famous, if slightly demented artists (hence the restaurant name) and the confounding hand-painted quotes from local poet, Raul Gomez Jattin, which were hand-written on our plates and revealed after each bite. We ended the evening full and happy, leaving with a bottle cap business card and handshake on our way out the door. Heading into the night, as sounds of kids play soccer echoed through the Plaza and the soft sway of Champeta filled the air, I realized that Demente might feel like an undiscovered neighborhood haunt, but it won't stay that way for long.

tapas $4 - $6 usd                                                                   Open 6pm - 2am daily