We look at eiight of the best restaurants in El Centro in Medellín, updated for 2021. There are hundreds of restaurants in El Centro and we look at six of the best.
The center of Medellín is the La Candelaria comuna, which is also known as El Centro. La Candelaria has a rough reputation and can be chaotic during the day with many people. And care should be taken at night when El Centro empties out.
Most of the hundreds of restaurants in El Centro are fast food or serve local Colombia food. But there are some good restaurants in El Centro that are worth visiting.
If you are visiting El Centro to see some of the tourist spots such as Museo de Antioquia or Plaza Botero, the eight restaurants in this article are good places in El Centro to go for lunch or dinner.
I have eaten at well over 35 restaurants in El Centro over the past several years. With my Colombian wife’s help, we both collaborated to select and order the following list of the seven best restaurants in El Centro.
Hacienda is a popular chain of Colombian restaurants with six locations in Medellín. This chain serves good comida típica – traditional Colombian dishes.
Hacienda restaurants are quite popular with local Colombians and some tourists. And the restaurants have a nice relaxed atmosphere.
Hacienda was founded in 1991 in the heart of El Centro in Medellín on Carrera 49 (Junín). It is located on the second floor with a quiet balcony overlooking the busy pedestrian street below.
The goal of Hacienda was to create a place where you could experience the Antioqueña culture, rescuing its values and traditions, through good service, music and good food.
The Junín location in El Centro is the chain’s original restaurant. And this is where all its recipes were created years ago by housewives from Antioquia. These housewives carefully selected the best ingredients and in their proper quantities with a goal to offer best comida típica from Medellin.
Since opening that first location in 1991, Hacienda expanded to where it now has six restaurants in Medellín. This restaurant chain specializes in comida típica – traditional Colombian dishes.
On the menu you’ll find 14 traditional Colombian dishes including Bandeja Paisa, Mondongo soup, Sancocho soup and several more. And the Bandeja Paisa, which is called Bandeja Hacienda is priced at 30,900 pesos or 15,900 pesos for a mini Bandeja Paiasa.
Hacienda has six restaurant locations in the Medellín area listed below:
- El Centro (Junín) – Carrera 49 # 52-98, 2ndfloor
- Barrio Manila – El Poblado – Calle 12 # 43D-114
- Ciudad Del Río – El Poblado – Carrera 48 # 20-34
- La Strada – El Poblado – Carrera 43A # 1Sur-150
- Guayabal – Calle 16 # 55-129
- Buenos Aires – Calle 49 # 21-38, local 301 in La Central mall
Hours: Noon to 9 pm (except the El Centro location, which closes earlier at 8 pm).
2. Hato Viejo
Hato Viejo is a popular chain of restaurants with four locations in Medellín. This chain serves good comida típica – traditional Colombian dishes.
The Hato Viejo restaurants are popular. And they tend to have a nice relaxed atmosphere plus at some locations (pre-pandemic) had live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Over thirty years ago, the history of Hato Viejo started when it opened its first restaurant located in the Las Palmas area in front of the Intercontinental Hotel in Medellín.
And at the same time, it would offer visitors the best of typical Colombian food, such as Bandeja Paisa, Ajiaco, Sancocho and Mondongo, complemented with roasts (also called “Planchitas” at this restaurant).
A short time later, this restaurant determined there was a need in Medellín for an upscale venue with typical Colombian food to serve the executives who worked in the city center. So, the company opened a location in El Centro.
And ten years later it opened a location in the Oviedo mall. Finally, in October 2018, it opened its newest location in the Viva Envigado mall.
This restaurant chain is known for its Colombian cuisine with a menu including salads, soups, casseroles, Colombian desserts, a varied selection of wines and spirits and a series of contemporary dishes that include various flavors of Colombia.
On the menu at Hato Viejo you’ll find over 20 traditional Colombian dishes including Bandeja Paisa, Mondongo soup, Ajiaco soup, Sancocho soup and many more. Prices for Colombian dishes range from 33,500 to 55,000 pesos. And the Bandeja Paisa is priced at 34,900 pesos.
Hato Viejo has four restaurant locations in the Medellín area:
- Las Palmas – Calle 16 # 28-60 in front of the Hotel Intercontinental, phone: +57 4 268 6811
- El Centro – Carrera 47 # 52-17, phone: +57 4 251 2196
- Oviedo Mall– Calle 6 Sur # 43A-227, 4thfloor, phone: +57 4 321 1965
- Viva Envigado Mall– Carrera 48 # 32BSur-139, Local 331, phone: +57 4 479 9453
Pizzeria Centro is a pizzeria located in El Centro in Medellín, which is a hidden gem and hasn’t been discovered by many foreigners. It has excellent thin-crust pizzas cooked in a wood-burning brick oven. And it’s my third favorite pizzeria in the Medellín area.
Rodrigo Puyo is the English-speaking owner of Pizzeria Centro. Rodrigo is an apprentice of Giorgio Budicin, a chef based in Medellin, who taught Rodrigo how to make pizza as they do in Italy.
This pizzzeria reportedly opened in October 2007 and it has a loyal local customer base.
The pizzas at Pizzeria Centro come in one size with eight slices. On the menu at Pizzeria Centro are 23 different pizzas with pizza prices ranging from 27,800 to 32,800 pesos.
Address: Calle 57 # 41-57, El Centro, Medellín
Phone: +57 4 254 4510
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 4:30 pm to 11 pm, closed Sunday and Monday.
Lupita is a Peruvian restaurant located in El Centro in Medellín with good ceviche and other seafood that hasn’t been discovered by many expats.
This is one of my favorite Peruvian restaurants in Medellín. I have eaten at this restaurant several times and the service and food has been very good.
In my experience, the dishes at this restaurant chain are well-prepared and well-presented. It’s a hidden gem that hasn’t been discovered by many foreigners due to being located in El Centro. And this is one of the best restaurants located in El Centro.
Lupita has a fairly large menu with many ceviche, seafood, rice, pasta and Peruvian dishes on the menu. Since this is a Peruvian restaurant, ceviche is a specialty. There are five different ceviche dishes on the menu that are priced from 24,900 to 28,900 pesos.
There are nine house specialties on the menu for 24,900 to 69,900 pesos. Also, there are five main dishes with seafood or beef for 30,900 to 36,900 pesos. And there are four Chaufa dishes (Peruvian-Chinese fusion dishes) for 29,900 to 30,900 pesos.
Also, there are five fish dishes on the menu for 24,900 to 34,900 pesos, four pasta dishes for 26,900 to 29,900 pesos and three soups on the menu for 21,900 to 26,900 pesos.
Address: Carrera 43 # 52 – 40 in El Centro off of Avenida La Playa
Phone: +57 4 218.2741
Hours: Noon to 10 pm.
Versalles is an Argentinian restaurant in Medellín located in El Centro that is popular with good empanadas plus a bakery and other good Argentinian food.
This restaurant is probably best known for its Argentinian empanadas. Versalles reportedly buys 50 lbs. of meat each day to produce 2,000 of its large empanadas daily. But the restaurant has many other things on the menu.
Versalles was founded by the Argentinian Leonardo Nieto on August 15, 1961. Also, Versalles started out as an ice cream and pastry shop and gradually became a popular restaurant and meeting point.
This restaurant became a meeting point for those who enjoy Argentinian gastronomy, social gathering, football and tango. And it is considered an emblematic site located in the center of Medellín for more than half a century.
Versalles has a variety of dishes on its menu. This restaurant is famous for its large empanadas that are priced at 3,500 pesos for Argentinian empanadas and 3,600 pesos for Chilean empanadas. And you can buy a box of five of the popular Argentinian empanadas for 16,900 pesos.
Also, on the menu you will find meat dishes, fish and seafood dishes, pasta, pizzas and sandwiches. In addition, Versalles is open for breakfast and there are seven breakfast dishes on the menu with prices from 8,000 to 15,800 pesos.
Address: Carrera 49 # 53-39, El Centro, Medellín
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 7 am to 9 pm; Sunday: 8 am to 6 pm.
Repostería Astor is a chain of Swiss cafés in Medellín that are famous for pastries, cakes and chocolates with a history tracing back to 1930.
Astor has eight cafés in Medellín and its largest location is in El Centro. This chain of cafés has European-style pastries, cakes, and chocolates and is very popular.
My Colombian wife loves the pastries, cakes and chocolates at Astor and buys them frequently.
In 1930, the Swiss Enrique Baer opened the Astor Tea Room in El Centro in Medellín, where he had arrived a few years earlier to work as a pastry technician in a chocolate factory.
From the beginning, Enrique and his wife Anny Gippert were in charge of supervising the precision of the processes and the quality of the products they offered. Astor started out as a small place with five tables and ten employees.
Over the years, this café in El Centro grew to its current size, which is one of the largest cafés/restaurants in El Centro. And this chain reportedly has a factory located in El Poblado.
Astor in El Centro is the largest of the Astor locations. And it has a bigger menu than the other locations.
The menu at the El Centro location includes:
- Five breakfast dishes for 6,000 to 12,500 pesos.
- Three soups for 9,500 to 11,300 pesos.
- Five sandwiches for 17,800 to 19,800 pesos.
- Three quiches for 13,400 pesos each.
- Two salads for 14,800 and 18,700 pesos
- Ravioli or lasagna dishes for 21,200 pesos.
- Six other dishes for 13,100 to 21,200 pesos.
Also, there are many pastries available for 3,700 to 7,900 pesos. In addition, there are many cakes with small portions for 7,000 pesos and bigger portions for 8,000 pesos.
Finally, there are several ice cream dishes on the menu. A single cone of ice cream is 3,400 pesos and a double cone is 4,700 pesos. In addition, there are several more ice cream options with prices ranging from 3,700 to 14,000 pesos. A banana-split costs 14,000 pesos.
Astor has eight locations in the Medellín area and its largest location is in El Centro on Carrera 49 (Junín), which is a pedestrian street in El Centro that all taxi drivers in the city will know.
Address: El Centro – Carrera 49 # 52-84, Medellín
Hours: Monday to Friday: 9 am to 7 pm, Saturday: Saturday 9 am to 6:30 pm, Sunday: Closed.
Palazzetto D’Italía is a hidden gem Italian restaurant located in El Centro in Medellín with some good Italian food with fresh ingredients. And since this restaurant is located in El Centro, it hasn’t yet been discovered by many foreigners.
Palazzetto D’Italía was founded in 1986. The chef and owner of the restaurant, Elena Cuccia Alloni, grew up in an Italian family where good food was very important. And her father always said “I live to eat and not to live.”
The motto of this restaurant is “the best in pastas”. Also, the pasta and sauces at this restaurant are homemade using high quality national and imported ingredients.
Palazzetto D’Italía has a fairly sizable menu with appetizers, pasta dishes, meat and fish dishes plus desserts.
One of the house specialties is the lasagna. There are 10 different lasagna dishes on the menu priced from 24,000 to 30,000 pesos. And mini versions of four of the lasagna dishes are available and cost 21,500 to 23,000 pesos. Furthermore, the lasagna is available for takeout in sizes for three, six or 10 people.
Also, there are 10 other house specialties on the menu priced from 24,000 to 31,000 pesos.
There are several other pasta dishes on the menu. For example, there are 17 different dishes available with either spaghetti or fettuccine pasta priced from 20,000 to 34,000 pesos.
Address: Calle 54 # 43-102, second floor, El Centro, Medellín
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm; Sunday: Noon to 4:00 pm.
Emiliano la Taqueria is a Mexican restaurant chain with two locations in Medellín, which has very good tacos but hasn’t been discovered by many expats.
Emiliano la Taqueria has two locations in Medellín in El Cento and in Belén. The El Centro location is small but is very popular due to having good tacos and inexpensive prices. So, there is normally a wait for a table during lunch at this location.
The specially at Emiliano la Taqueria is tacos. This place is like a small taco restaurant you would find in Mexico, which specializes in tacos.
There are nine taco options on the menu. For example, the taco al pastor is 4,000 pesos for one taco. And there are five taco dish options with three or four tacos for 11,900 to 15,900 pesos. For 15,900 pesos you get four different tacos. So, you can try the different tacos available.
In addition, there are five recommendations of the chef dishes for 10,900 to 16,900 pesos. For example, the chicken fajitas cost 16,900 pesos.
Also, there are four quesadilla dishes on the menu for 10,900 to 14,900 pesos. And there are several other Mexican dishes on the menu for 12,900 to 24,000 pesos. Plus, there are two appetizers on the menu (refried beans or guacamole with nacho chips) for 4,900 pesos.
Emilino la Taquiria has two locations in Medellín:
- El Centro: Calle 51 #48-9, Edifico la Bastilla
- Belén: Carrera 70 #135 near PriceSmart
The location in El Centro is about a five minute walk from the Parque Berrio metro station on Avenida La Playa.
Phone: +57 315.484.8798 (El Centro location)
Hours: opens at 11:30 am.
The Bottom Line: 8 Best Restaurants in El Centro in Medellín
El Centro isn’t necessarily known for having the best restaurants in Medellín even though there are literally hundreds of restaurants in El Centro.
However, there are some good restaurants in El Centro and we look at eight of the best restaurants in El Centro in this article that have good food.
In addition, we have more detailed reviews of each of these restaurants including the food and drink menus, which you can see by clicking on the heading for any restaurant.
Also, we previously looked at the best restaurants in Laureles, best restaurants in Envigado and the best restaurants in Sabaneta. And we plan to provide lists of the best restaurants in other neighborhoods in the Medellín area once we review more restaurants in other neighborhoods.
What is your favorite restaurant in El Centro? Did we miss any good restaurants in El Centro? We are happy to add to this list of the best restaurants in El Centro.
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Editors note: updated on June 14, 2021 to add Lupita to our list of the best restaurants in El Centro.
Editors note: updated on June 20, 2021 to add Emiliano la Taqueria to our list of the best restaurants in El Centro.