Stella Restaurante: New Orleans Flavor in Envigado

Jambalaya at Stella
Jambalaya at Stella
Live jazz every other Thursday gives this place a real feel of the Big Easy.
Live jazz every other Thursday gives this place a real feel of the Big Easy.

Editor’s Note: After a two-year run, Stella closed in February 2014.

Full disclosure: I have never been to New Orleans. The closest I have been is Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, unless you count my countless layovers in Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and I sure don’t.

I imagine, though, that an upscale restaurant in New Orleans would be something like Stella, my favorite restaurant in Envigado and my second-favorite in the Medellín metropolitan area.

I have been twice and each time I loved it, so much, in fact, that I often think about going back.

Jambalaya at Stella
Jambalaya at Stella

The jambalaya is the best I’ve ever had. I had never eaten it with escargot and fried green tomatoes before, which combined with the cajun flavor of the dish to put it over the top. It’s definitely worth the 31,000 pesos (about $17).

A spicy orange sauce comes on the side, because Colombians don’t eat a lot of spicy food, but I do, and I used it all, something that might have surprised my waiter.

“Es picante,” he warned me.

“Eso espero,” I said.

All of the staff is so friendly, just like the owner, Juan, who takes the time to greet his guests whenever possible.

He went to culinary school in the United States not surprisingly, the reason he picked a theme that’s popular in my home country and unique in his country.

The restaurant opened last July and I wish I knew about it in November, when my sister came to visit. She used to live in New Orleans. I think she would have liked it.

I know she would have liked the jazz band, Golden Cats. When I heard the lead singer I thought maybe Juan found an American girl to headline the entertainment.

I was wrong. She’s just extremely intelligent and talented, like many other Colombians, able to learn English quickly.

This was my experience on my second night there.

The pork tenderloin, something I will eat again.
The pork tenderloin, something I will eat again.

My first night there, I had the pork tenderloin, or chuleton de cerdo, which came with cheese grits and caramelized carrots.

The pork was perfectly cooked and marinated with just the right amount of barbecue sauce, the grits and carrots fitting complements. Not bad for 31,000 pesos, the same price I paid for the jambalaya.

It was much quieter that night but still very nice, with the low lighting and elegant decor.

Stella Restaurant (photo: David Lee)
Stella Restaurant (photo: David Lee)

One of my favorite things about the place is the big glass windows, which allow you to watch all the people passing through Jardines, one of the best neighborhoods of Envigado.

This particular area of Jardines is the Zona Gastronómica, or Gastronomy Zone, an area with a handful of nice restaurants. I don’t know for sure, but after two visits at Stella, I suspect it is the best one.

Editor’s Note: After a two-year run, Stella closed in February 2014.

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    • Hi Vanessa, Sorry, Stella closed in February 2014 as seen in the editors note at the bottom of this post.

      This restaurant is also listed in the Moon Colombian Handbook that was published in July 2014, which is another Colombia guidebook that is full of other errors. Be careful of all the Colombia guidebooks, I have six, and they are all full of mistakes and missing many of the best places in each city.