I hope my fellow Colombians don't get too mad at me, but Cali does not have the best dining culture. Hate to say it, but although typical food is tasty, it gets old...fast. Unlike Medellin, Bogota, and Cartagena good dining options are slim. It's not just the quality of food, but also the service. Food wise, you can get plenty of cheap, tasty Colombian food. This usually means a sopa, seco & sobremesa for way under $10 USD. This food is fine, but did I mention it gets old fast? Forget about Chinese, Mexican or Sushi (although there is an awesome Ramen spot). American food is so off the mark, and Italian - I'm not even breaching that subject now. The issue with the servers is that while servers are very nice here, they seem to lack a sense of urgency (and many times, common sense). Guess it's cool if you're vacationing, but as someone who is a Digital Nomad and needs to get back to work at a decent hour, it just does not do. That being said, there are a few spots that stand out and others that show potential. These are what I consider to be the best restaurants in Cali, Colombia.
Best Restaurants in Cali
La Hacienda Del Bosque Restaurant in the Santa Teresita Neighborhood
This is probably the most beautiful restaurant in the city, and if you head over on Sunday, you're in for a big surprise. We visited three times, and Sunday lunch was our favorite. This old estate serves typical Caleño food, but as soon as you taste it, you will see the difference from the stuff you get at the typical places that are abundant throughout every neighborhood. Not that those aren't nice. It's just that you can taste the quality of ingredients and the care that was put into making these dishes. On top of that, the restaurant is gorgeous. The setting is a 19th Century hacienda that is now owned by the adjacent Zoo. It feels like you stepped back in time. While the wine list is not extensive, it is better than most restaurants in Cali (the entire city is seriously lacking when it comes to wine). This is my number one recommendation in the city.
The one thing that drove me crazy was that I messaged the restaurant on both Facebook and Instagram and got no response. I just walked in all the times I visited and got lucky, but I would recommend reservations on Sundays, it was pretty packed. If you want to go, you may have more luck emailing email@example.com or calling 3187117755 o 4898690
Tips: It looks like it is far outside the city, but it is quite close. Dress "casual" but ready to wow.
Cost of lunch for 2 (with wine): $60USD
La Hacienda Del Bosque Is located at Avenida 2 Oeste #13 Oeste 14- 250, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
El Falso Olivo in the Ciudad Jardin Neighborhood
I put off going here for a while because it was so "far" from where I was staying. Don't make the same mistake. El Falso Olivo is ridiculously good. It's significantly pricier than most restaurants, but it is so worth it. The restaurant is located in a sort of strip mall (very popular in Cali) and offers outdoor seating at the entrance. Don't sit here, people will walk past and the area is narrow. You want to sit in the patio out back. It has a green wall and only two tables which makes for a very intimate and quiet evening. The rabbit ragu on pappardelle was impeccable ($12USD $36000 COP), and the Moroccan lamb ($16 USD $49000 COP) was perfectly cooked. I'm leaving in two days, but I am fully planning to sneak over there another time. I would absolutely argue if someone said this is not one of the best restaurants in Cali, Colombia.
Tips: Get there early, if you don't have a reservation, it's easy to get seated at 7, but as of 8pm, the restaurant is packed.
Cost of dinner for 2 (no wine): $40USD
El Falso Olivo is located at Calle 16 # 103-00, Cali, Valle de Cauca, Colombia
Ringlette Restaurant in the Granada Neighborhood
This was another lovely typical Vallecaucano (that's the area where Cali is located) restaurant. It's located in an old house in the Granada neighborhood, so it feels like you're in someone's house. The service was friendly and attentive, a huge plus. We were made to feel at home, but still felt taken care of. The food was also beautifully prepared, and their wine list was good enough.
Tips: Get the rabo encendido and the sancocho de pollo.
Cost for lunch for 2 with wine: $40USD
Ringlette is located at Norte # 15A 9N-31 Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
Go Go Ramen in the San Fernando Neighborhood
This was possibly the most pleasant surprise of our trip. This was ramen a die hard fan would love. It was up to par with Ivan Ramen in NYC. Stuff was good - and cheap. A huge bowl cost you between $3-6 USD depending on what you get inside. The prices at Go Go Ramen in Cali are quite reasonable.
Tips: The place is small and usually frequented by college students. No need to dress up here. The curry ramen was a bit too strong for me, but the chasu men was glorious.
Go Go Ramen is located at Cl. 4b #358, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
Cost for lunch for 2: $10USD
La Comitiva in the San Fernando Neighborhood
This gorgeous restaurant located just a few steps from El Parque del Perro has a gorgeous outside area that almost makes you forget you're outside the city. Their mix of music is a bit scattered, but nice. The service is wonderful (depending on which server you get). The food - again - is Nuevo Colombian. There are many touches of tropical fruits in the food, so if this is not your thing, then you may want to skip the restaurant. I quite enjoyed it. The ingredients were fresh, the food was cooked properly, and the wine (for once) delicious. So far, this is the best wine list we've seen in the city.
One thing drove me nuts. When we first visited, we wanted to see a menu. We felt a bit forced to walk in and sit to see the menu. Just something we're not accustomed to in the US. Tactic worked, we stayed...but it just felt odd.
Tips: Dress to impress. The service here was impeccable and they had one of the best wine lists in the city. Get the ceviche de corvina and the arroz atoyado.
La Comitiva is Located at Cl. 4 #3432, Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
Cost for Dinner for 2: $80USD with wine
Do you have another restaurant I should consider adding to my list of the Best Restaurants in Cali? Let me know in the comments below.