Eating Cheaply in Medellin
Although El Poblado is comparatively a more expensive area of town, there are quite a few ways to fill your stomach for under a few dollars.
The Colombian traditional set lunch is the best way to get a big feed of hearty food that will keep you full for hours. Nearly all restaurants in Medellin (except the expensive ones) have a daily lunch special called the “Ejecutivo” or “Menu del Dia“. It usually comes with a soup, main meal and juice and costs about 8,000 to 12,000 COP. The main dish will general be a range of carbohydrates with choice of grilled chicken, beef or pork. A common and popular option is the Bandeja Paisa, which consists of way too many ingredients that usually revolve around carbs, such as rice and an arepa accompanied with meat and chorizo etc.
you can save a lot of money (but not calories) eating the various street foods in Medellin. An arepa with cheese is, at times, only $1 USD. There are always various street hotdog /meat vendors around popular public places such as the parks and certain busy roads. Also, for about $0.50 USD, an empanada (deep friend mince meat in batter), can be a perfect snack. One of the best empanada places is located on Calle 9 heading downhill from Parque Lleras – called El Machetico. Their empanadas tend to be more moist, crisp, and delicious compared to other places. They taste like Dorritos with meat and potatoes in the middle. Grab a beer from the humble liquor store near Parque Lleras and a couple empandas “para llevar” (to go) with a lime and salsa. Your heart will love you although your stomach may protest the morning after.
The best place to go in Poblado for a variety of cheap eats is Calle 10, Calle 9 and around Parque Poblado.
If you staying in accommodation with access to a kitchen a great way to save some money is to to cook for yourself. Choose a cheaper supermarket and an entire bag full of vegetables could be as cheap as a $1.50 USD. Meat is also ridiculously cheap. It’s entirely possible to have a delicious steak dinner for under $4 USD by buying and cooking your own food. Meat is supposedly so cheap because of the leather industry in Colombia, the meat is simply a bi-product that can be sold for amazingly cheap prices. If your Spanish is good enough, we recommend going straight to a butcher to ask for a fresh and inexpensive cut. Colombians like their meat cut thin and bashed with meat pounder to tenderize it. Add some powdered cumin and salt and you’re cooking Colombian style.
Exito is the largest supermarket in town and can be found everywhere, there is a large one next to the Poblado Metro station. Exito also own the slightly more upmarket supermarket brand called Carulla. However the cheapest supermarket in Poblado is D1 (pronouned “de – uno”), there is one on your left just after Exito Poblado as you climb up Calle 10 or the other is on Avenida Poblado opposite Parque Poblado. They don’t have alot of fresh food but what they do have is usually very cheap, for example you can buy a bottle of wine for between 10,000 – 15,000 COP.