Restaurante Vegetariano Los Girasoles in Cartagena, Colombia

Vegetarian lunch

Restaurante Vegetariano Los Girasoles in beautiful Cartagena, Colombia, serves healthy and inexpensive set lunches that should not be missed during any visit to this wonderful city!  Set inside an inconspicuous corner shop near the historic city center, the lower level is a natural foods and products store, while the upstairs contains a lovely air-conditioned dining area and kitchen serving up wonderfully nutritious, all-natural, and tasty meals!

Busy dining room

Founded 27 years ago as Cartagena’s very first vegetarian restaurant, with the goal of promoting healthy eating to Cartagena’s citizens, today the restaurant is still increasing in popularity.  The packed dining room is filled with mostly locals, a testament to the flat-out deliciousness of this place in a predominantly carnivorous culture.  The staff are friendly and always smiling as they provide quick and efficient service.  The complete lunch costs only 7000 COP and contains different selections each day.

Cream of onion soup

On our visit, we started with a mild cream of onion soup.  The main course (see top), consisted of aromatic rice, Asian vegetables, salad with a creamy dressing, lentil fritters, and a casserole of soy crumbles and veggies.

Lentil fritters

My favorite part was the sweet yet tangy Asian-inspired sauce covering the roasted vegetable side.  Everything in the huge lunch was fresh and amazing though, thus we had no trouble getting through the large portions!  All of this was also served with sugar-free, fresh-squeezed passion fruit juice, and followed by a sweet sampler of freshly-baked cake.

Strawberry and raisin cake.

After filling up on all your vitamins and nutrients at lunch, you can shop downstairs for all-natural condiments, herbs, and beauty products.

Selection of natural products in the shop

A great value and a truly great meal, Restaurante Vegetariano Los Girasoles will satisfy hardcore vegetarians and carnivores alike!

Location: Calle de Los Puntales #37-01, in the San Diego barrio of Cartagena, Colombia.

Restaurant from the street

This post was sponsored by Restaurante Vegetariano Los Girasoles.

Danny’s Fruits & Cocktails in Taganga, Colombia

Danny’s Fruits & Cocktails in Taganga, Colombia, has the best value of any restaurant along the beach.  With a daily “Sandwich and Jugo” special for 4,000 COP ($2), this spot became our daily dinner.  The sandwiches are toasted and contain ham, tomato, onion, and melted mozzarella cheese, and included in the price is a delicious slushy limeade.

The juice bar is colorful and hip, with friendly servers and a convenient beachfront location that’s perfect if you love people-watching while you eat.

They also make a variety of delectable-looking fruit salads and ice cream sundaes that are sure to satisfy the cravings of any sweet tooth!

Location: Calle 1, the road along the beach.  It’s near the middle of the strip.  (Not many places have real addresses in Taganga.)

Salinerito Pizzeria in Otavalo, Ecuador

We discovered Salinerito Pizzeria on our first visit toOtavalo, and when we crossed through the town again recently we just had to go back!  The place is amazing!  It’s a full Italian restaurant plus an awesome little grocery store too!

Service can be a bit slow, but it’s totally worth it for the amazing pizzas!  The “personal” pizzas are huge and range in price from $2-4.  Very reasonable!  They also have huge sub sandwiches, salads, breakfast, and desserts.

The pizzas have a deliciously thick crust, a smothering of mozzerella, and a sprinkling of oregano!  Zach got a mushroom, tomato, and onion pie, while I opted for the Chilé: tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and super-spicy orange chilés!  So good!

Location: Just off the intersection of Salinas and Simon Bolivar, Otavalo, Ecuador.

 

Café Cultural Restaurant Expreso Virgen de Guadalupe in Barranco, Lima, Perú

We very happily stumbled upon this excellent vegetarian buffet inside an old train car while wandering Barranco looking for a lunch spot.  For only 16 Soles, it is a steal!  The selection is also excellent, the food delicious, and the location could not be more unique!

The train car is from 1909, and the furniture and decor is all from that time period and beautifully maintained.  The buffet includes chicha to drink, a myriad of fresh veggies and salads, a soup, several delicious entrees and sides, and a couple desserts to choose from.

As salads and food this healthy is hard to come by in Perú (on our budget), we absolutely LOVED indulging in plate after plate of vitamin-rich veggie goodness!

This place was so good that we had to go back for a second lunch two days later.  Who knows, it’s quite likely we’ll end up back again for our third time today!

Location: Av. Prolongación San Martín 15, Barranco, Lima.  (Just off the main plaza.)

El Balcón de Don Zacharias in Chivay, Perú

Credit: http://www.balconcolca.com

El Balcón de Don Zacharias is the most famous of Chivay’s group-oriented buffet restaurants, and for good reason.  For 30 Soles ($10) you can enjoy unlimited servings from the spread of soups, salads, entrees, sides, and desserts.  The price also includes coffee or tea, although other beverages are available for purchase.

Credit: http://www.balconcolca.com

As hungry Americans, we definitely appreciate a good face-stuffing buffet experience every once in awhile.  Although the price tag of Don Zacharias would normally be out of our reach, on this day we had a special reason to splurge…we had just gotten engaged!!!  Combine our excitement and celebratory moods with our hunger after a five-hour hike, and we were ready to indulge!  I particularly enjoyed the salad bar, as fresh veggies are a rarity in Perú.  We sampled the trout, chicken, pesto alpaca, lomo saltado, and vegetable ratatouille, finding each entree quite tasty.  The typical-Peruvian potato/carrot/pea salad was one of my favorite sides.

Happy face and happy stomach.

And then we hit the desserts, of course!  Chocolate cake with amaretto-flavored mousse was exactly what my sweet tooth desired.  We also enjoyed lots of fresh melon, wishing that healthy fruit would negate some of the fatty calories!  All in all, El Balcón de Don Zacharias was a great experience: friendly staff and a delicious selection!

Note my obvious display of the new left-hand ring along with the chocolate cake.