La Queareparaenamorarte
La Queareparaenamorarte
La Queareparaenamorarte
La Queareparaenamorarte

Queareparaenamorarte was the first restaurant I wanted to visit in Medellin. I was a huge Anthony Bourdain fan, and it had been featured in the Colombia episode of No Reservations (2008).

My second day in the city, I took the metro to Centro to visit Plaza Botero.

Afterwards, I showed the restaurant name to a person in a little tourist kiosk, and was informed Queareparaenamorarte was located outside of the city. I’d have to take a bus at least 40 minutes to get there.

Being new to the city, I wasn’t interested in making a mission of it, so I took the person’s recommendation to visit Hato Viejo for lunch instead.

Fast forward six years, and Katherine, an American from Miami, writes me via Facebook to introduce herself. She mentions being a fellow foodie, and expresses an interest in getting a good meal together.

“Queareparaenamorarte” I respond, explaining it was featured on Bourdain’s show, and that I’d been wanting to go for years.

She accepts, and we make a date to visit this well-regarded restaurant in El Retiro whose name neither of us could pronounce.

The name is actually a play on words. Break it up “Que / are / para / enamorarte” and the meaning becomes more clear:

“What do I have to do to make you fall in love with me.”

I love the rustic, yet organized look of the open kitchen
I love the rustic, yet organized look of the open kitchen

Getting to Queareparaenamorarte turned out to be a mini-adventure in itself. I suggested we meet at the southern bus terminal, and do a share taxi to save money on the way up.

At the bus terminal, we began asking where to get a share taxi, only to find ourselves at a bus company window buying tickets to El Retiro. What the hell, we thought. It’s hard to argue with a $2 bus ticket.

The next bus was leaving right away, so we walked outside, boarded it, and were quickly on our way. Only there’s no bus that leaves Medellin quickly. They wind their way through traffic, slowly picking up as many passengers as possible before leaving the city.

Thirty minutes later, we were finally on our way out of the valley. By now, the bus was standing room only, which made me glad we went to the terminal, versus trying to pick it up from around the start of the Las Palmas highway near the San Diego Mall (my roommate’s suggestion).

The address was even tricker. All I could find was “Partida a El Retiro, al frente de Casa Verde, Las Palmas, Rionegro.” 

To deconstruct, it means the restaurant is at a traffic circle before the entrance to the town of El Retiro, in front of Casa Verde (a shop, I believe). Las Palmas is the main highway leading from Medellin to Rionegro, most commonly used to reach the airport.

Since we had no idea where to get off, I had given the bus driver the restaurant name and address when we boarded. To his credit, he dropped us off directly in front of the restaurant, before continuing on to El Retiro a few minutes away.

[Note: To get back to Medellin, the restaurant’s host called a taxi for us, which turned out to be his friend. If taking a taxi to/from Medellin, expect to pay about 50,000 pesos ($26.50) each way, or a little less than the cost to reach the airport.]

Semi-private tables are located around the edges of the garden
Semi-private tables are located around the edges of the garden

During the bus ride, Katherine was texting her Peruvian friend who was arriving at the airport for a short visit to Medellin.

The lack of a decent address meant she had some trouble reaching us, but eventually she made it too.

Queareparaenamorarte looks small from the outside, but once you walk in past the bar, and open kitchen, you’ll find a large outdoor patio, surrounded by tables. All of the tables are covered to protect customers from rain, which was important as we’d soon discover.

I was especially fond of the materials used to make the chairs and lampshades, cowhide on a wood frame. Very Antioquian.

Three types of Colombian empanadas, with four types of fresh salsa
Three types of Colombian empanadas, with four types of fresh salsa

It was a Friday afternoon, and we practically had the whole place to ourselves. The weekends, especially Sundays, are much busier.

For starters, we ordered the appetizer with three types of Colombian empanadas (Cachacas, Arrieras, and Obispos), and four types of salsas for 18,500 pesos ($10). Three of the four salsas were fruit-based, and all were delicious.

This appetizer was more than enough for three people. We still had our main courses on the way.

Additional starter options include chicharron, chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), various meats, patacones, potatoes, and arepas.

Tamale filled with fish, shrimp, coconut and spices, with a side of salsa de lulo
Tamal de Guapi

Katherine ordered the Tamal de Guapi, filled with shrimp, robalo (a white fish), spices, and coconut, and topped with a lulo salsa.

It was served with patacones, and a side salad of onion and pepper on a green banana leaf. The cost for this dish was 28,800 pesos ($15).

Robalo filet served over rice with a sour orange sauce, onions, sweet peppers, tomatoes, limoncillo and cilantro
Cazuela de Pescado

Katherine’s friend and I ordered the same thing, the Cazuela de Pescado (35,000 pesos or $18.50), which came recommended by our waitress.

The dish consists of a filet of robalo served over rice with a sour orange sauce, onions, sweet peppers, tomatoes, limoncillo and cilantro.

The fish was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was rich and flavorful.

I liked the presentation too, with the red peppers and green cilantro adding color to an otherwise drab piece of seafood.

Other entrees include a bandeja paisa style dish, chicken breast with potatoes, pork, frijoles (beans), chicharron, and various other meats. I felt a tad odd ordering fish instead of meat, but I knew I’d enjoy it more.

Myself, Katherine, and her Peruvian friend (apologies for the blurry photo)
Myself, Katherine, and her Peruvian friend

Around this time, the winds picked up, and a thunderstorm blew through the area.

We were seated near a door leading to the front of the restaurant, and without notice, a strong and steady wind began blowing rain sideways through it. A nearby plant was practically blown through the door too.

We huddled together near the stacks of chopped wood behind us, trying not to get too wet in the sudden storm.

Their version of a chocolate volcano cake, served with a vanilla ice cream popsicle
Chocolate volcano cake with vanilla popsicle

Once the winds died down, I ordered their version of a chocolate volcano cake (15,500 pesos, or $8).

It was good, but not great. The texture of the cake didn’t seem right.

I didn’t care for the popsicle. I found it difficult to eat, and would’ve preferred a scoop of regular vanilla ice cream instead.

"To eat with gusto, without remorse, with pleasure, fattens the soul."
“To eat with gusto, without remorse, with pleasure, fattens the soul.”

We were all stuffed by the end. My total bill for the 3-course lunch, plus a hot chocolate with cheese, juice, tax, and tip came to $48.

It was well worth it, and I’d return any day, though I believe it’d be more fun to go on a weekend, when it’s filled with Colombians.

On our way out, I noticed a poster on the wall. One of the world’s top chefs, Ferran Adria, had visited Queareparaenamorarte on April 12, 2013 for breakfast and conversation with 25 of Colombia’s greatest chefs.

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  1. Muy buena descripción de tu experiencia en el restaurante Queareparaenamorarte, Yo soy colombiano pero vivo en Canadá, luego de conocer tus opiniones sobre este restaurante no dudo que iré a conocerlo. Arepa es el nombre de una torta hecha de maiz cocinado, pero los hombres de Antioquia tambien le dicen Arepa a la vulva de la mujer para no utilizar el nombre verdadero y poder hablar de ella sin atraer mucho la atención. Cuando uno vé una mujer con un cuerpo espectacular, uno dice “¡¡Qué arepa!!” y agrega “ra enamorarte” para que no sea muy evidente que está hablando de la vulva de esa mujer. Éste tipo de frases se llaman piropos en español y se usan para galantear una mujer y al mismo tiempo hacerla reir.

    Très bonne description de votre expérience dans le restaurant Queareparaenamorarte, je suis colombien mais je vis au Canada, après avoir lu votre point de vue sur ce restaurant ne fait aucun doute que j’y irai. Arepa est le nom d’un gâteau à base de maïs cuit, mais aussi les hommes d’Antioquia utilisent le mot Arepa pour nommer la vulve de la femme et ne pas utiliser le nom réel et parler sans trop attirer l’attention. Quand on voit une femme avec un corps de rêve, on dit “Qué arepa!” et ajoute “ra enamorarte», donc ce n’est pas très clair qu’on parle de la vulve de cette femme. Ces phrases sont appelés piropos en espagnol et utilisés pour courtiser une femme et faire rire en même temps.

  2. Hello – I have found 4 different locations for this restaurant. Two different places in Medellin, one in Las Palmas (on the way to the place you show on your map), and the one you show in La Fey. The restaurant has Facebook and Google+ pages that agree with your map, but the restaurant’s web page (http://www.arepamor.com/) shows it in Las Palmas, and includes GPS coordinates – but satellite views show nothing there. Google maps shows it in La Fey, as your map does. I’m going to go with your map, but wonder if you can confirm? Thanks!

    • I went through the same runaround before I went, so trust me, my information is accurate.

      The restaurant is on the Las Palmas highway, but well outside of the Medellin valley.

      “Partida a El Retiro, al frente de Casa Verde, Las Palmas, Rionegro” is an accurate instruction, and one you can feel confident writing down and giving to a bus driver, along with the name of the restaurant. If you’re driving yourself, here are the coordinates for the location the best I could find it on Google Maps:

      Lat: 6.09397
      Long: -75.49001

      The restaurant is located in a traffic circle, across the street from “Casa Verde.” One of the roads splitting from that circle leads to the pueblo of El Retiro.

  3. QueArePAenamorarte – shares letters between words. this becomes more obvious when you realize that are isn’t a word. Que Arepa Para Enamorarte .Such an Arepa, You’ll fall in love’

    I found this site looking for a small probably chain restaurant called Que Arepa. The location I know is en a small strip center called La Mota, in Belen San Bernardo, Medellin.

    I lived in Colombia for a couple of years, in Medellin for about a year. Think about enlisting a Colombian to help out with translations and cultural idiosyncrasies.

    • Que “hare” para enamorarte is the actual correct form of saying: what would I do to make you fall in love.
      “Are” is written in a slang form for “hare” (Would do) from the verb “hacer” to do.
      So the word “hare” is indeed an actual word in Spanish.

      Great article!