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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Nice article. When I have friends or family visit me in Medellin I always take them to Carmen. I agree it’s one of the best restaurants in the city.
I agree it is a good restaurant but for some reason not in my top 5 in Medellin. But for others in my group they love it
I had a disappointing experience at Carmen. I had been wanting to go for quite some time based on the buzz about the place so as a special treat I invited a friend to dinner for his birthday. Dining rooms of that caliber and price range in major cities will have a maître d’ with an eagle eye and years of experience in supervising the floor. We appeared promptly on time for our early reservation and were greeted at the door by a youngster with a pleasant enough smile. Although at that hour there were more than a few smartly placed tables for two in the street level elegantly done up room we were shown to the basement, more suitably described as the lower level which had the feel of a railroad car due to spatial limitations. Not for my long awaited splurge special occasion I thought, so I requested one of those available prestige tables at street level. We were escorted back up the stairs and seated at what appeared to be just the ticket; that is until the music began to play and we realized we were exactly under a large speaker. Ooofa. Switching again would make us feel like fools so we ordered a couple of brewskis and sort of cringed beneath the volume of it all.
I told my buddy it was my treat and he should order anything on the menu so he asked for the Porterhouse steak which arrived tough and flavorless with three, uh, microscopic potatoes and nothing else. I wish my fish dish had been typical of the entire evening because it was excellent; fresh and superbly prepared. I can’t give Carmen a thumbs up.
Carmen is more known for seafood dishes, suckling pig, pork tenderloin and the chef’s tasting menu. If you want steaks try their new Don Diablo Steakhouse. Carmen has cut back on the beef dishes on the menu and there is now only a couple beef dishes.
We have dined at Carmen for a number of years & the service & food quality recently have declined. When Rob & Carmen opened up the Carmen on the coast…I believe they were there a lot of the time(understood) and those in charge just let down. When we arrived for a recent reservation…we were not allowed inside(it was 7:10 p.m. and our reservation was at 7:15=?) we were told…”the staff is not prepared”. Once we were “permitted” to enter…we were seated promptly(as we were the first arrivals of the evening). the first thing that struck me was that a cook/chef was leaning on the bar…sipping a beer(hmmm…at Carmen ?) The filet my friend ordered was undercooked a lot…it was sent back & reappeared in 2 minutes(microwave, anyone ?) Then it was overcooked. My shrimp was fine, and the “event” of the evening was the wine. So Carmen has fallen way-off the list of fine dining list to me. Such a pity, as three(3) years ago, it was a great experience. I have owned two(2) fine dining restaurants in my life, so I do understand the concept.
I have eaten at Carmen in Medellin many times and most recently last week and every time the food has been excellent and hasn’t declined in quality for me. I normally get the chef’s tasting menu and it changes pretty frequently, which is a reason to go back. I probably eat there every three months since I have family and friends visiting me often from the US. If you go to a place like Carmen it is a mistake to order a steak as that is not what they are famous for.
I have never been disappointed at Carmen, they have excellent food in my experience and good service. And their cocktails are also very good. Its one of my favorite restaurants in Medellin.
The complainers whining above both had problems with steaks but duh ……. why order a steak at a contemporary restaurant that specializes in the variety of Colombia’s flavors and products? If you want a steak go to a steakhouse. An analogy would be going to a steakhouse and ordering fish.
This is slightly off topic but relevant to another commentator who was disappointed that he and his guest were seated near a speaker with loud volume at Carmen. I just had dinner service a couple of doors down at Don Diablo Steakhouse and my experience was identical. I know the ownership group owns both restaurants. My steak was fine albeit a tad bit overpriced even for an elite venue. Nevertheless, is rock music at high volume a staple at modern steakhouses now? I dunno, when one spends over 200,000 COP per person, is a shopping malls music catalog at volume 7 throughout the restaurant a wise choice?