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“Delicious but not cheap”

El Boliche Cebicheria
Ranked #73 of 748 Restaurants in Cartagena
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Colombian
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Reviewed June 30, 2013

We sought out El Boliche after reading great reviews about its ceviche. It did not disappoint.

The restaurant is tiny and reminded us of a small sushi restaurant in its setup. The menu included a variety of ceviche offerings. My wife, who is not a ceviche fan, selected congrejo (crab) empanadas and was very pleased. I had a Cartagena style ceviche, and it was superb. The seafood was very fresh, tasty, and perfectly prepared. The portion was not huge but did not leave me hungry. Service, as we generally came to expect of restaurants in Cartagena, was excellent. Friendly, attentive, and very accommodating of our limited Spanish. Although this may have been the best of many ceviches I had in Cartagena, it also struck me as the priciest. There were a few spots that I had really good ceviche for a bit less. Nevertheless, I left El Boliche hoping for a return visit.

Thank Mr_Picnic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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).

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Thank michaels1984
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

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Thank lynndiania
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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!

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1  Thank 32655Kateyg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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 :)

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Thank Felipe U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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