La Doctora: Classic Paisa Food in Sabaneta

BBQ ribs
BBQ ribs
La Doctora Restaurante
La Doctora Restaurante

Remember when I took a day trip to explore Sabaneta earlier this year?

When I’d asked for suggestions on where to eat, several readers recommended La Doctora.

Located a ten minute walk from the main plaza along a little stream, La Doctora is an old school parilla housed in a semi-open space.

Here, they serve up classic paisa food all day, every day, including Sundays and holidays.

Despite our arrival mid-Saturday afternoon, I thought it was a nice touch that they had wax candles burning on the tables.

Plantain chips with salsa
Plantain chips with salsa

Once we took a table, a small plate of chips was brought out with several variations of fresh salsa.

The menu at La Doctora is extensive.

Breakfast is served from 9 AM to 11:30 AM, and features the basics like arepas with cheese, arepas de chocolo, and heavier breakfasts that include eggs, beans and chorizo.

The appetizer list hits on all the familiar items too: empanadas, arepas, patacones, soups, beans, fried mozzarella, buffalo wings, and shrimp ceviche. There’s even a salad on there for the healthy folks out there!

The star of the menu is the meat section, from which you can order any number of steaks or ribs, priced between 25,000 to 30,000 pesos ($13 – $15).

Moving on to the fish, you can choose from trout or robalo prepared several different ways. The seafood dishes are priced between 21,000 to 33,000 pesos ($11 – $17).

Avena juice
Avena juice

To kick things off, I ordered avena juice for the first time. Avena means oats in English, and this creamy drink is a mix of them, plus, sugar, milk, and water.

Apparently it’s a typical Colombian drink because Viviana was familiar with it, but I’d never seen it before.

Costilla La Doctora (BBQ ribs)
Costilla La Doctora (BBQ ribs)

We both ordered the barbecued ribs (26,500 pesos or $14), a specialty of the house.

And we were both overwhelmed by the serving sizes, which included French Fries, patacones, and arepas on the side.

We both dug in, and I quickly began making a mess with the homemade BBQ sauce spreading everywhere. The ribs were tasty, but there were simply too many, so we packed up the remainder to go.

The bill for our two-person lunch, including tip, totaled 70,000 pesos ($36), and it was well worth it.

La Doctora is the perfect option for anyone wanting to taste authentic paisa food, along with other restaurants like Hato Viejo.

If you’re planning to go out partying in Sabaneta on a Friday or Saturday night, stop here for a big pre-game dinner. Or take a more relaxed approach and head over on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon for a relaxing lunch.

Like the story? Take a second to support Medellin Living on Patreon!



  1. Hello David
    Recently I asked you about extended visa stay and was subsequently contacted by Colombian Consulate who said I qualifed for pension visa due to my Social Security benefits, With that solved, have a few questions,
    Is there any time of year better for finding apt in Poblado (?) area? It is winter there now I presume, as it is in Peru. Also, as for meeting paisas, is there a preferred on line site? Colombian Cupid or lacasadeamor or similar that you find is most effective? And last, when I arrive, can we go out and get some beers and chat a bit? Would like to meet you. Since I am retired I am pretty free to leave Texas anytime. Thanks. Chao

    • That’s great, congrats!

      “Is there any time of year better for finding apt in Poblado (?) area?”

      No, not really. It’s Spring weather all year. There are two rainy seasons, and the main dry season is summer from December to February. October is the wettest month of the year. And if you don’t want to get wet, do your searching in the morning, as usually the storms roll through mid-afternoon.

      “Also, as for meeting paisas, is there a preferred on line site?”

      I reviewed ColombianCupid based on my experience.

      “when I arrive, can we go out and get some beers and chat a bit?”

      Sure, this is why I started biweekly reader meetups, so we can all get together for some food and drinks. They’ve been a lot of fun, and it’s easier for me to get out and meet everyone with this approach than one by one. Plus, you’ll meet a lot of other people in the city too.

    • Hi Bill,

      I would recommend renting a furnished apartment as a trial of living in Medellín if you haven’t spent much time here. There are a couple big apartment rental companies in Medellín (theapartmentmedellin and firstamericanrealtymedellin) that between them have over 90 furnished apartments listed on their websites for rent primarily in El Poblado. You can also find some furnished apartments in Medellín listed on the Airbnb website.

      Depending on your financial situation as someone who is retired you may want to look at lower cost areas in Medellín when you decide to rent or buy an unfurnished place to furnish yourself. I previously lived in El Poblado and found that it is a fairly expensive neighborhood with costs similar to some parts of the US. If you have a fixed income my recommendation is to look at lower cost areas in Medellin and I would recommend the Laureles/Estadio, Envigado and Belen areas. I have experience living in both Estadio and Belen and prefer both neighborhoods over El Pablado.

      I understand David rents a room in a shared apartment so you should probably look to some of his other readers if you are looking for advice and information on buying or renting an apartment in Medellín. His biweekly reader meet-ups would provide an opportunity to meet some expats in Medellín.

      As far as meeting women on Colombian Cupid I would actually recommend against using this site or another of the similar sites. My experience is that most of the women found on these sites are from the poorer neighborhoods in Medellín and many have questionable motivations – focused primarily on money and materialism. I would instead recommend learning Spanish and you will find it very easy to meet women in Medellín if you speak Spanish. I also believe that speaking Spanish is a requirement for living in Medellín as few Colombians speak English. I highly recommend University EAFIT where I am taking Spanish classes. A university is also a great place to meet women and other expats living in Medellín.

      • “My experience is that most of the women found on these sites are from the poorer neighborhoods in Medellín and many have questionable motivations – focused primarily on money and materialism.”. . . . And what exactly is your motivation? You are welcome to lie to yourself but if you cant pick up girls on your own or if you need to goto a different country to meet girls then it obvious what “type” of tourist you are. You can call it something else but if you are on a pension visa and single and are asking about meeting women then ask yourself “why would a beautiful paisa girl want to be with me”? Or you can avoid questions that you dont want to know the answer to.

        • My experience is that beautiful paisa girls are just like beautiful girls in the US. They want to experience the world more fully. And some paisa girls see a foreigner living in Medellín as a conduit to that.

          Perhaps you don’t want what some foreigners have already found in Medellín. A perfect climate, lower cost of living than in the US, plus a beautiful paisa girl on your arm – not to mention living in a more exotic location.

          And this more exotic life in Colombia also appeals to women in the US, I have had several beautiful women in the US want to come with me to Colombia.

          If I were retired, I would definitely consider Medellín one of my top retirement location options. But I am not retired, I just happen to prefer living in Medellin over other parts of Latin America like Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires, where I could also live if I wanted to as I have a job I can do from anywhere. Medellín still has a reputation to contend with so it hasn’t been discovered by many. But I suspect that Medellín will continue to gradually become more popular as it continues to lose its reputation from the past.