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“Good, but needs bigger offices and a few tweaks” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of El Boliche Cebicheria

El Boliche Cebicheria
Ranked #48 of 660 Restaurants in Cartagena
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Caribbean, Peruvian, Latin, Seafood, South American, Colombian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Local cuisine
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Free Wifi, Outdoor Seating, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
London, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Good, but needs bigger offices and a few tweaks”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 29, 2013

Enjoyed the food here - and we are not big ceviche fans. I had a plate consisting of various grilled seafood items whilst my other half had the a ceviche (costeno) on the recommendation of the head waiter (or co-owner - not sure which).

The grilled dish I ate was good and well presented, if a little lacking in a single item that dropped my jaw. Whilst the grilled octopus on the plate was good, I would not say that it was in the spectacular category as alluded to by some other reviewers on this page (although it may sound basic, it does not compare to the calamari at the superb London chain, Busaba Eatthai). The prawns on the plate were also good and came with a sauce, which was again solid, but not mindblowing. Finally, big bug bear - I found a spine in my white fish. Whilst this may sound a bit harsh, it is, in my eyes, the difference between an excellent piece of fish and an acceptable one (all else being equal) and should not happen in a restaurant that is aiming for this standard of cooking.

The ceviche was a little bit more inspiring, if a little overdone in the quantum of sauce present on the plate. I would say that although we requested a strong ceviche, it lacked some of the "punch" needed to move the dish on to the next level and really tie everything together. A little less sauce with a bit more bite would have moved this dish up from nice to fantastic in our book.

Big negative in our book is that the restaurant itself is very small and, if you sit on the right hand side, despite the presence of an extractor fan that looked like it could ventilate the Death Star, you should be prepared to leave smelling of fish. Moreover, air conditioning is light and the restaurant did not let you escape the overbearing humidity of Cartagena. This would be more bearable if there was an extensive outdoor area, but there are 2x two-person tables in a small alcove by the road side, as well as two or more tables that can be positioned out front. I would advise against the latter however as the pavements are slim and this is not a quiet area - watch out for passing wing mirrors!

Restaurant staff were very attentive and polite. Head staff's English is good, should you need it and the head chef looks extremely devoted to his work. Staff seemed to acknowledge we were not particularly blown away (expectations were high given #1 ranking on tripadvisor - which is a statement) and gave us a fantastic postre, gratis, to make amends.

Final note, as alluded to here it is expensive by local standards. Whilst 31,000 - 40,000 COP (£10 - £13) for a dish may not sound like a lot on an international basis, it is a significant outlay in the local surroundings. As a comparison, you can get a great plate of food including a white fish fillet in la Mulata for around 12,000 - 14,000 COP - less than half the price.

Overall, great staff, solid, if pricey, food (probably excellent if you are a ceviche nut). Will probably not change your mind about seafood if you are not a fanatic and above all else, needs to move to a bigger location in the future (I'm sure it will be a success so funding should not be an issue).

  • Visited June 2013
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank michaels1984
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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668 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    435
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    49
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
58 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Amazing”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 21, 2013

The food was amazing. We ordered a ceviche that was not on the menu. May have been a special. It was like no ceviche I have ever had. My husband had the grilled octopus and I had a white fish dish. I highly recomend this place.

  • Visited June 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank lynndiania
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“One of the highlights of our trip”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 12, 2013

The guy who ran the guesthouse where we stayed recommended El Boliche -- and we are SO glad he did. It was a quiet, hot night (as usual in Cartagena) when we wandered through the neighborhood. The place was empty around 7:30pm, and we stopped to chat with the chef and co-owner outside. They were so welcoming and sweet, we went in.

The grilled octopus rocked my world, and was one of the best dishes I've ever had! The place is small and has a cool vibe. Only a few other patrons came in, and we had amazing conversations and service with the guys. We watched as the chef and sous-chef prepped the octopus and ceviche in the kitchen (which is literally at the corner of the restaurant). They were so exacting in their methods and prep, we could tell they meant business.

The ceviche was also very good. We had a long conversation with the co-owner about how lime can override the taste of the seafood in most ceviches, and theirs was a different sort of beast -- you could actually taste several flavors going on.

I would go back all the time if I lived in Cartagena. Thanks El Boliche!

  • Visited April 2013
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank 32655Kateyg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cartagena, Colombia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“The best octopus ever!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 10, 2013

First of all, let me say that i'm a experienced spearfishing diver... so I went with my girlfriend, she order the octopus and I order the "tamarindo ceviche", both dishes were really nice, but I couldn't believe the tenderness of the octopus, till this date is the best octopus my mouth have taste, i would recommend El Boliche to anyone who wants to eat really nice Colombian Caribbean seafood :)

  • Visited March 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Felipe U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Unbelievably good! Best in South America”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 9, 2013

Wifey and I stayed at Santa Clara Sofitel for 4 nights on our honeymoon at the beginning of May.

We read about El Boliche on trip advisor and went there for lunch. It was a short 2 min stroll from the hotel. We had the Tamarindo and it just blew our minds. The seafood was so fresh and the sauce like nothing we had tasted before.

William the co-owner spoke very good English and was super friendly. He explained the dishes we ordered in great detail.

We went back again on our last night and tried the other Cebiches which were just as good as our first!

IT was by far the best food we had eaten in Cartegena and also the best over our entire one month honeymoon throughout South America.

Not too be missed if you are in Cartegena!!

  • Visited May 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Leigh2211
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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