Carmen Restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Medellín. It’s an upscale restaurant with a popular chef’s tasting menu and excellent food.
Carmen originally opened in Medellín in 2008 and a second location in Cartagena in 2012. Carmen focuses on ingredient driven cuisine that represents Colombia’s massive biodiversity.
The cooks at Carmen utilize a variety of both modern and traditional techniques. And the essence of the menu is contemporary while showcasing a variety of Colombia’s flavors and products.
Thanks to regional artisanal products of the highest quality and close relationships with local purveyors, Colombian ingredients are at the core of every dish at this restaurant and essentially inspire the entire menu.
Every time I have gone to Carmen I have been impressed with the attentive service. And I have found that the food presentation and quality is excellent. Also, this restaurant has a very nice atmosphere. Note the photos in this article are courtesy of Carmen.
Rob and Carmen: The Chef Owners of Carmen
Husband and wife team Rob Pevitts and Carmen Angel are chef owners of Carmen Restaurant (in Medellín and Cartagena), Moshi (in Medellín & Cartagena), Don Diablo Steakhouse (in Medellín) and Sushi Bar x Carmen (in Medellín).
The couple began their culinary journey in San Francisco, California, where they studied and graduated from the California Culinary Academy’s Le Cordon Bleu program in 2005.
Carmen’s mother is Hungarian and her father is Colombian but she grew up in the United States. And her childhood and adolescent vacations were spent in Medellín.
Rob is originally from North Carolina, in the United States. Rob studied at Berklee College of Music, one of the most prestigious schools in the world for the musical arts. He was a producer and played bass for several groups, but one day he decided that what he really loved was the ovens and frying pans.
In 2008, the two decided to make the leap to Colombia and started the Carmen Restaurant with Carmen’s father, co-founder Diego Angel.
In 2012, they opened a second Carmen Restaurant in Cartagena. And in 2017 they opened Moshi in Cartagena, which is a restaurant that showcases Colombian flavors with Asian preparations.
In 2018, they opened Moshi and also the Don Diablo steakhouse in Medellín. Don Diablo specializes in 100 percent Colombian grass-fed beef with prime cuts that are dry-aged in a dry-aging room. Also, in 2019, they opened Sushi Bar by Carmen in Medellín.
The Menu at Carmen in Medellín
The entrées at Carmen include seafood dishes, duck, suckling pig, pork tenderloin, a couple beef dishes and a vegetarian dish with prices ranging from 47,000 to 73,000 pesos.
My favorite entrée is the Cerdo 2 Veces – milk braised pork tenderloin, glazed 12-hour belly, green beans and spicy pork sauce for 56,000 pesos.
Also, there are nine different appetizers on the menu priced at 19,000 to 33,000 pesos. In addition, there are seven different desserts on the menu for 19,000 to 25,000 pesos.
And the highlight of the menu is the popular chef’s tasting menu.
Note that Carmen in Cartagena has a different menu with more seafood such as lobster from the Rosario Islands and Caribbean fish from artisanal fisheries. This restaurant in Cartagena is located in the walled city and it has a significant influence from Colombia’s Caribbean region.
The Chef’s Tasting Menu
The chef’s tasting menu at Carmen includes seven courses with wine pairing for 289,000 pesos. And there is also a seven-course vegetarian tasting menu with wine pairing for 269,000 pesos.
Here are the seven courses in the current tasting menu:
- Bites – daily inspirations.
- Crudo with sustainable farm-raised tilapia, coconut with trout roe and plantain vinegar.
- Empanada – Caribbean lobster and crab, soursop relish and Colombian vanilla aioli.
- Pig’s head with peanut relish and dried shrimp.
- Amberjack collar, baby banana and mandarin lime.
- Dry-aged 100 percent Colombian beef 21-day tenderloin and 45-day collar with native Andean potatoes and potato weed.
- Colombian blackberry, mango, lulo, pineapple, Antioqian palm nuts and pickled strawberries.
My experience with the tasting menu at Carmen is that each of the portions are relatively small but everything fills me up. And the wine-pairings are good choices to go with the tasting menu. Plus, the sommelier share details of the wine-pairing and how each matches with the food.
In addition, fairly frequently Carmen changes its tasting menu. Sometimes as often as weekly. The chef’s tasting menu is not something standard.
The Drink Menu
This restaurant has a pretty extensive drink menu. There are over 130 wines and champagnes on the menu priced at 92,000 to 999,000 pesos per bottle.
Also, there are several beers on the menu. And there are 17 craft cocktails priced at 27,000 to 36,000 pesos. For the cocktails, the restaurant makes everything from the syrups and infusions to the bitters and even their own house tonic water.
In addition, for non-alcoholic drinks the restaurant has natural juices, home-made sodas and waters available. And they no longer offer soft drinks.
How to Get to Carmen Restaurant
Carman Restaurant is located in El Poblado a few blocks from Parque Lleras.
If you aren’t located in El Poblado, the easiest way to get to Carmen is via the Medellín metro. The restaurant is located about a 15-minute walk from the Medellín metro Poblado station on Line A.
In addition, you can take a taxi from the Poblado metro station to this restaurant, which will be a minimum fare of 5,500 pesos.
Furthermore, you could travel via taxi to the restaurant from your location in the metro area. Just provide the taxi driver the address below.
Address: Carrera 36 # 10A-27, El Poblado, Medellín
Phone: +57 4 311 9625
Hours: Lunch: Tuesday to Friday from noon to 2:30 pm, Dinner: Monday to Saturday from 7 pm to 10:30 pm. Sunday: Closed.
The Bottom Line: Carmen Restaurant
Carmen Restaurant is one of my favorite restaurants in Medellín and I have been to this restaurant several times over the past eight years. I also have been to Carmen in Cartagena.
I recently went to this restaurant with a newcomer to Medellín I met at the April Medellin Guru meetup. And he was very impressed and even said it was the best meal he has experienced in Colombia and potentially one of the best meals he has ever eaten.
Carmen is a must-visit in Medellín for any foodie or fine-dining enthusiast. While it’s pricey for Medellín, a similar meal in Miami or New York would likely cost at least double.
For several expats I have talked to living in Medellín, this upscale restaurant is more for special occasions like birthdays or Día de Amor y Amistad or it’s a good place for a romantic date. Also, on most days Carmen gets busy. So, reservations are recommended and you will need to book in advance. And you can make reservations online.
My Colombian wife loves this restaurant and we normally go once or twice a year for special occasions like birthdays or our anniversary.
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