The Restaurant With An Identity Crisis

Cartagena, Colombia

I love how they don't even bother with a name, it's simply called "Indian Restaurant"

“Hold up a sec!”, I stopped Jack on his track.

This Indian restaurant was SO not here before!

See, we would know. We love Indian food, and because we’ve walked down this street so many times before we would’ve spotted this Indian restaurant just around the corner from our hostel in Cartagena.

An Indian restaurant in Getsemani, the ghetto barrio of Cartagena’s old city?

We got a little more confused when we realised just hours earlier, we had lunch in that exact place but it was definitely not Indian food. I think we’d be able to tell the difference.

What’s Going On?

'Berce' Restaurant during the day

Later we realized that there are two different restaurants operating in the exact same place.

In the morning, the restaurant is called ‘Berce’ and it serves your local Colombian menu.

But in the evenings, a Bangladeshi man rents the place to cook and sell Indian food. He then tapes a handwritten menu listing typical Indian dishes such as ‘Vegetable Korma’ (7000 COP) and ‘Chicken Vindaloo’ (11000 COP) over the existing menu board.

He then tapes a hand-written sign over the permanent restaurant name.

Why We’re Telling You This

I’m writing about this not simply because I found the whole thing is really funny (we can be easily amused), but because we had dinner there one night, and it was one of the best Indian food we’ve ever had.

And we came from the Bay Area, California, ya? That area has a large Indian community. We know good Indian food.

And we’re now in Colombia and we’re having this excellent, albeit small in portions, Indian curries in a spanish-colonial style building? We felt like we’re having a minor location identity crisis ourselves.

Not only that, while we were having dinner (we were the only guests there)… three groups of people came in but left when told that they only have Indian food on the menu.

It made us feel sad for the owner. We have then noticed that the place is almost always empty.

I think it’s a pity.


So, if you ever find yourself in Cartagena and craving some good Indian food, or maybe you’re just sick of set lunches – don’t hesitate to check this place out. It’s across from Hostel Casa Viena, and right across from Este Es El Punto (our favorite restaurant until Jack found a maggot in his drink)

During the day, it’s a Colombian restaurant called ‘Berce’ – which serves decent food.

And at night, it’s an Indian restaurant, called ‘Indian Restaurant’ (yeah, very creative) – serving what could possibly the best Indian food in the Cartagena, Colombia

Note: Btw, this is SO NOT a sponsored post. We just feel it’s our obligation to share this with fellow Indian food lovers.

Tell us:

Are you a fellow Indian food lover? Where’s the best Indian food you’ve ever had outside of India?

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35 Replies to “The Restaurant With An Identity Crisis”

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  2. Hey – wow what a coincidence – I was in Colombia – also living right around the corner of this restaurant and we landed in the evening and so I visited this restaurant. I also loved the food but being an Indian I can confirm the cooking style was definitely not Indian perhaps because it might be difficult to get the ingredients out there. But if you like Indian food- come on over you guys! why did you skip India. Gastronomically and culturally – it would be totally worth your while 🙂
    Regards,
    Bharti

  3. I've been to this restaurant! Loved it! Some of the best food I've had in Colombia. I went to have an Indian lunch there, and found out that it was not Indian during the day. Too funny.

  4. I've been a silent, yet lazy spectator of your awesome blog for many months now (from google reader mostly). My husband and I are in SA for four months, on a eerily similar itinerary as yours, though much more compressed. I love your visa posts as we are Indian passport holders and if its any consolation, we need visas for more countries than you do. 🙁

    Anyway, I bookmarked this post thinking I'd need it when we get to colombia and boy, did I crave Indian food. I checked out this place and had the dhal which was great. But the best part was making friends with the Bangladeshi owner who introduced us to another Indian who works in the Cartagena, which led to meeting with the Indian and having more fun. Apparently Indians who work in Cartagena visit this place when they want Indian food.

    Cant thank you guys enough for finding this place, getting me interested and for such clear directions. Found it easily! Lovely blog, keep it coming!

  5. la verdad me parecio un restaurante muy malo, alli me robaron el bolso. la señorita que me llevo el almuerzo utilizo una estategia para robarme el bolso, ademas la policia de cartagena no hizo nada al respecto. con gran trizteza perdi muchas cosas importantes. me quede sin un peso en cartagena, gracias a estas personas del restaurante donde berce, que llegaron a ser unos " LADRONES" ESPERO QUE LAS DEMAS PERSONAS QUE PLANEN VIAJAR A CARTAGENA TENGAN CUIDADO. ESTE SITIO ES DE LO PERO, LA COMIDA BUENA, PERO NO TE ASEGURA QUE SALGAS BIEN.

  6. THanks so much for this I am a UK ex pat living in Cartagena and craving Indian Food so THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! If it is still in operation that man now has a new regular!!

    1. Hey Petra- I also chanced on another one in Cartagena – El sol de la India. It is a bit difficult to find as they have shifted but if your in Cartagena and looking for Indian food – this might be your place 🙂

  7. I have been reading your blog at the reccommendation of a friend. I leave for Colombia on Saturday and your traval stories have been much helpful. We will definitely eat at the "Indian restaurant"! Thanks for the info!

  8. I'm not too surprised that the place is empty. It can take a while for a "new" cuisine to catch on. I'm a big fan of Indian food too. 🙂 We have this place nearby in Dallas where we get take out for two for $15 and have enough for leftovers.

  9. Wild. Two different restaurants in the same place. I love Indian food also and will be sure to look them up if ever I find myself in Cartagena.
    Somewhat off topic, do they have any US pizza chains there that you've noticed? I'm currently end to end cycle touring Japan, and (although I love Japanese food) can't find a Pizza Hut to satisfy my cravings to save my life.
    ~Andrew

  10. Damnit, I'm so upset that I didn't know about this all those times I went to Cartagena. And now my ship's not going back anymore 🙁

    Best Indian I've had outside India was in London, followed closely by Toronto.

    1. Hopefully there will be next time. We love Indian food too and we did hear that London has some of the best Indian curries.

    1. OOoooh sushi. Now that you've mentioned it, we both can do with some sushi ourselves. Our next big town is Medellin. Let's hope they have good sushi places.

  11. Thanks for letting us know about it – we love Indian food and haven't had any in so long because, well, there is no Indian food in Chile and Argentina (that we've found anyway). Sort of related: we saw an Indian-Mexican restaurant in New Zealand. I thought your post was going to be about something similar, haha. We were too scared to try it.

  12. What a great use of space 🙂 I've never heard of this before! Maybe you should review this place on Tripadvisor and try to send more folks their way 🙂

    1. That is an excellent idea! I really do think that this place deserves more patrons that it currently does. But I guess the locals are just not that adventurous eaters and they will have to depend more on the tourists to come by. Thx for the suggestion.

  13. I am too an Indian food lover and the way the signs had been changing, it looks as if they are displaying each of their cuisines one by one, so that they can get multiple type of speciality crowd. Funny though, yet relieved to hear that you atleast got some good Idian food.

  14. mmm, this sounds good! I love Indian food too. I'm from Manchester where we also have amazing Indian food and I was pretty shocked by the lack of decent Indian food in Australia. I couldn't wait to get home and have a decent one. Of course, when I got home I wanted to be back in Oz having a BBQ on the beach!

  15. That just cracks me up! I have not ever heard of a restaurant changing its name and food style for different times of the day! Very unique to say the least. I'm glad you found the food to be so good.

    I live in the SF Bay area too!

  16. Sounds awesome 🙂 There's some pretty great Indian food in Sydney, and there's one particular restaurant in the inner city that I think has closed down now that did amazing food, the most authentic tasting I've had.

    I think I personally dish up some pretty great and authentic curries, too 😀

  17. I've been to a Mexican restaurant that used to be in an old Subway franchise. So there was the yellow booths, and subway maps of NYC, but it was a Mexican restaurant. Don't know how Subway felt about it, but it was a good restaurant. I've never been to a place where there's two restaurants that split time in one space, that's so odd, but if the food's good, then it's all good.

  18. So funny with the restaurant swap. It's cool when you get to know a place enough that you can notice this difference! Glad you got to enjoy some good Indian 🙂

  19. If ever you guys find yourself in Cuzco, Peru, there was a restaurant there (at least back when I visited in 2008) that was owned by an Indian family. Their restaurant was near the corner of Avenida del Sol (the main avenue leading to Qorikancha) and Marquez Mantas, almost a stone's throw from Plaza de Armas. It was on the second floor I think, if not the third floor. I had the place for myself when I ate (it was a late lunch), and they served one of the best shahi korma I had.

  20. Oh man, it's amazing how many good Indian places you can find in SE Asia…we found the tastiest Indian place in Luang Namtha in Northern Lao, which is close to the Thai Border. I don't know the name of it but I'm pretty sure it's the only one in town and it's on the main street. I love your story about how your restaurant is Colombian by day and Indian by night. That's the best part of traveling–all the weird stuff. Hey, speaking of weird, check out a bull fight while you are in Colombia–it's pretty interesting indeedy.

  21. YES! I'm a total Indian food lover, though I've never been to India (going for the first time this October!). I really love Dosa in San Francisco–have you been there? Though I think the best Indian food I've ever had was from no-name, hole-in-the-wall joints I've stumbled into around the city.

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