Zona Rosa is Medellín’s happening tourist spot, with all of the hippest shops, bars, and restaurants. Stroll down one of these streets and you could easily imagine you’re in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or any other major metropolitan hub. And while the prices definitely reflect the area, clocking in around 1.5-3 times that of other places in the city, they’re still highly affordable if you’re coming from a country like the U.S. or Canada.
We spent most of our time in Zona Rosa enjoying the relative comfort of the Panela Hostel 2 and eating amazing food. Because around here we like to eat dessert first, this post will be about the desserts of Zona Rosa. Our second post will cover other meal options. But seriously, you can eat dessert first.
The Dessert Tour
Our first Zona Rosa tour began with my insatiable sweet tooth. Stoytcho and I looked up all of the dessert places nearby by searching for “chocolate” on TripAdvisor and we committed to trying the following: MeLate Chocolate, Como Pez en el Agua, and Arte Dolce.
MeLate Chocolate was a true chocolate paradise, with chocolate bonbons, chocolate baked goods, and chocolate drinks. Nearly everything on the menu was touched by chocolate in some way. We ordered the traditional hot chocolate, which was perfect, and a white hot chocolate with lime, which was a bit too sweet for our tastes. Next up was the Encanto, a flourless chocolate cake with berry compote and whipped cream. This was absolutely phenomenal and was probably the best thing we had on the menu while there. And finally, last but not least, the chocolate bonbons filled with maracuyá (passionfruit) jam. Although the chocolate alone was overly sweet and had a mild burnt taste to it, the combination with the fruit filling was lovely.
Recommendation: For those with a craving for chocolate, this is a one stop shop. Try the traditional hot chocolate and the encanto covered in puree de frutas rojas.
Next stop, Como Pez en el Agua! This venue is a full-scale coffee shop and bakery, offering up high-quality tea and coffee alongside gorgeous cakes and pastries. The tea selection is wide and all of it is high quality, and if you get the chance you can also order fruit infusions that taste like fresher, cleaner versions of herbal teas—think berry or wild-rose hip tea if it hadn’t been sitting powdered in a sachet for months before you used it. If you’re a coffee snob, this is the place for you, because for 3000 COP ($1 USD) they’ll freshly grind beans that you bring in and make you either a French press or Chemex cup of coffee. Ironically, we’re tea people in Colombia, so we didn’t try much of the coffee. As for the pastries, we visited a few times and tried the following: the hazelnut Nutella brownie, the mini-cheesecake with wine-poached pear, and the Margarita (a lime-mousse cake). We weren’t wowed by the Margarita as it seemed a bit bland, but the brownie and the cheesecake were both fantastic. CPA also offers brunch until noon, which while we were there included bruchetta with fresh cherry tomato and onion jam. While on the pricier side for the portions, the taste is just right.
Recommendation: A perfect place for brunch or afternoon tea, but it may take you a couple tries to find the perfect dessert. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff for recommendations.
Arte Dolce was our third stop and turned out to be an amazing little gelato spot with a side of French bakery. The baked goods they offer were fairly limited, though we found the sundried tomato and basil quiche to be excellent when warmed. But where Arte Dolce really shines is the gelato, and in particular the Amarena, a sour liqueur-soaked cherry and cream gelato that sandwiches perfectly between their chocolate crumb coating. You can get it with an extra scoop of ice cream and fresh cream for 12,000 COP (around $4 USD), and it’s definitely a dessert for two.
Recommended: If you’re looking for a cool treat on a hot night, Arte Dolce hits the spot. It’s especially good for those looking for options on the less sweet side, as they offer gelatos such as the Amarena and tangy berry sorbets.