Carlos E. Restrepo, at one point, was a neighborhood very similar to others. With apartment buildings, parking, tiendas (corner stores), the normal paisa way.
Its name honors ex-President Carlos Eugenio Restrepo (1910-1914) buried in Cementerio de San Pedro.
The neighborhood is middle to upper class, located close to Calle 50 (Colombia) and Carrera 65, both high traffic roads with plenty of businesses.
What makes it so special, though, is its proximity to the National University in Medellín, the public library (Biblioteca Publica Piloto) and Universidad de Antioquia’s Arts Faculty, all of which attract students.
Over the past thirty years, Carlos E. Restrepo, better known as “Carlos E.” has developed a strip of cafés and restaurants, while keeping the traditional tiendas in between.
It’s hard to categorize the restaurants and stores you can find in Carlos E. I could go through the oldest and the newest, the best, the worst, the ones I haven’t tried…and so on.
However, I decided to do this in a semi-organized way: what these places offer.
- Kaldi Kaffe – Known for their baked goods. No Wi-Fi.
- ExLibris – Good coffee, known for their desserts, also a bookstore with lots of knickknacks for sale.
- Cafe La Piloto – Situated adjacent the Public Library, it has literary afternoons, movie nights and other events.
Most of these places have art on the wall already, Kaldi has paintings of birds, Verde Albahaca has a mural on the wall, but a few of these restaurants pride themselves on being alternative, artsy places.
They all serve a daily lunch menu that goes for about 8,000 pesos ($3).
- Ciudad Cafe – After 17 years running, this place got a rep for being a good music spot; they have live music on Thursdays, and Mondays and Tuesdays there are film discussions.
- El Aula – The newest addition of Carlos E., El Aula is a classroom-inspired restaurant with a Mediterranean-inspired menu.
- La Comedia – The oldest of the Carlos E. scene, La Comedia has been around for almost 30 years and offers a variety of food.
- Frutti Jhon – Hot dogs, pizza, burgers, the whole nine yards. I haven’t tried it, but there are always people there.
- La Tiendecita – Because of the variety of pizzas offered in Carlos E., I have yet to try their menu, but the decor on the inside is artsy and attractive.
- Verde Albahaca – This is a place with a large music-inspired mural made by a Universidad de Antioquia student.
- Bigotes – This pizza has quite the reputation; the German owner makes his ham and bacon, so these pizzas are amazing. Arrive early, though, if you’re hungry. The line after 7 p.m. can postpone the satisfaction of your pizza craving.
The only one of its kind, the shoe store in Carlos E. has bounced from being an independent design store to its current form as a shoe shop.
Carlos E. Restrepo is such a weekend hot-spot that you will always see students sitting on the pavement selling sandwiches, having a beer, enjoying their night because there are no open benches left.
However, they also have events that pump up the visits, like Dias del Libro, during which, for a weekend, the place is full of book sale stands, food, drinks, and ambiance- even outdoor concerts!
All of these places and elements make Carlos E. an inexpensive and enjoyable outing any day of the week. Though it is one of the city’s smallest and lesser-known hangout spots, once you visit you’re sure to return.
Have you visited Carlos E. Restrepo and any of its cafés or restaurants? Let us know in the comments below.