Jeff and I ducked into a JVC outpost during our first morning in Cartagena, and the place was so jam-packed with upwardly mobile, espresso-sipping locals that we couldn’t find a place to sit--nor a bathroom.
That critical design omission compelled us to keep walking down Avendida San Martin, the main drag in the Bocagrande neighborhood (a zone almost completely devoid of American tourists), to another heralded Latin American chain: Crepes y Waffles.
As the name implies, this al fresco restaurant serves up dozens of varieties of crepes (both traditional and esoteric, sweet and savory) and waffles, plus pitas, soups, salads, blintzes and ice creams. The chain has created its own propriety blend of coffee, a mildly acidic brew that’s a nice counterpoint to all of those sweet, sweet desserts.
We sat in a lovely, spacious garden in front of the restaurant to order up our brunch, and decided to get a little creative with our food choices. In retrospect, perhaps a “Tex Mex” crepe wasn’t the wisest thing to order while visiting Colombia (it probably wouldn’t have been a the smartest option even if we’d been visiting El Paso, Texas).
Despite the abundance of excellent Colombian beans to be had Colombia, Jeff and I didn’t really have a favorite cup of café Americano until a local tipped us off to Mila, a European-style pastry shop in the Centro District of Cartagena. Located in what was once a centuries-old family home, pastry chef Camilla (“Mila”) Andrea Vargas interior has transformed the space in to a bright, airy café with a small courtyard seating area, white leather banquette and bakery fully visible behind a pane of smudge-free glass.
Within gleaming display cases, you’ll see all manner of irresistibly confectionery (think ginormous brownies with a teacup-size dollop of dulce de leche and slices of cake as big as a brick) and plate glass mirrors displaying a full menu of wraps, sandwiches, salads, drinks and coffee drinks.
Jeff and I ordered up two café Americanos and the brownie two split. Our coffees arrived served with a shot class of water with a floating sprig of mint, plus single-nibble square of cake. Between the caffeine and the giant hit of sugar, Jeff and I were on a high for the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening. A good thing, as during Carnival season in Colombia, the last thing you want to do is sleep.