El Café de Otraparte: A Cultural Café in Envigado

Tranquil Outdoor Area at El Cafe de Otraparte
Tranquil Outdoor Area at El Cafe de Otraparte
Outdoor area at El Café de Otraparte
Outdoor area at El Café de Otraparte

You might not know it exists, but just off Avenida Poblado in Envigado, a beautiful little café called El Café Otraparte thrives with its relaxed atmosphere and eclectic selection of beverages and food.

The café is just behind the Casa Museo Otraparte – a commemoration to and former home of the poet, philosopher and Antioqueñan writer Fernando González.

A renowned Colombian thinker, Gonzalez received national and international accolades, and the quaint museum tries to keep alive Gonzalez’s work and values through art and history collections.

It is also a cultural hub and hosts various events, such as the Cinema Festival Sin Frontera and the International Poetry Festival of Medellín. After the events many people will head to the café.

This way to the café...
This way to the café…

To reach the café from Avenida Poblado, walk round the side of the main museum and you will be guided by sign posts to the café – rated in Medellín Living’s top 5 cafes to visit no less.

The majority of the café’s tables are outside under parasols. There is a very attractive garden and pond on one side which provides a tranquil background while you while away your time with your latest novel.

It is quite the little oasis.

The crowd at the café is mixed. It is a popular spot for study groups and out of the office meetings (you will find many people with their laptops and notebooks), but there also many friends and family simply catching up over a coffee or wine.

Quite the educational menu
Quite the educational menu

Many of the items on the menu are named after Fernando González’s work and there are extracts from his writings, and other works, next to each dish or beverage. A nice touch if you would like to brush up on some of your Spanish and Colombian literature.

I was feeling like a bit of an energy kick when I arrived at the cafe so I ordered a Senorita Taylor, a concoction of café, amaretto and whipped cream for 5,000 pesos ($2.50).

It did the trick and was quite the sweet, energy boost.

A tasty beverage made with coffee, amaretto and whipped cream
A tasty beverage made with coffee, amaretto and whipped cream

There is a wide selection of drinks and desserts including: cold coffees, ice cream, hot drinks, a wide range of beers (imported Leffe for 13,500 pesos ($6.25) from Belgium and Negra Modelo 7,500 pesos ($3.75) from Mexico), cocktails and wine.

The menu for drinks is diverse. If you fancy a bite to eat, you will also find a variety of options.

On a previous visit I had tried some of the gourmet sandwiches and thoroughly enjoyed them.

The sandwiches range from just over 10,500 pesos ($5.25) to 15,500 pesos ($7.75) with one such option including smoked ham, salami, dehydrated tomatoes, blue cheese and guacamole.

There are also pastas starting from 11,000 pesos ($5.50) or good old fashioned empanadas for 10,000 pesos ($5).

If you want to have a sharing plate there are also tapas with bread, pesto, tomatoes and olive oil for 12,000 pesos ($6). The food is not on the cheap side for Medellín, but it is delightfully tasty.

Sandwich (photo: David Lee)

If you are there in the evening, staff will place a candle on your table as the night draws in and the atmosphere is relaxed, with chilled music in the background. Popcorn is also distributed to keep those thirst levels up.

The service, although quite slow (we can be kind and put it down to their popularity) is friendly enough when it arrives.

On the event front, the Museum and Café release their calendar of events every month through the cultural initiative Corporacion Otraparte and there is a range of activities from the worlds of literature, music and cinema.

A new cultural center is being built on the block and there is also a spacious car park/outdoor space which transforms into a space for different entertainment and activities such as free yoga on Saturdays and Sundays (you just bring your mat).

The various cultural activities at the Museum would be a reason for many to visit the Café, however anytime you feel like treating yourself to a nice beverage, or just want have some down time from the buzz of the city, El Café de Otraparte is the ideal escape.

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Nick is an international development professional from the UK and is currently working for an NGO based in Medellin that supports miners and their communities. As well as covering development issues, he hopes to share his insights into life in Medellin and the daily confusion/excitement that comes with living in the city.