Local Hangouts, Local Vibes
It’s Saturday evening in balmy Medellin, Colombia. The skies roll from crystal blue to a dusty pinkish purple hue as the sun dips down behind the mountains. My friend and I finish off our mojitos and the carpaccio de res at Delaire Sky Lounge atop the Rio Sur shopping center that sits above the Medellin business district. I can feel the electricity building into the night. You know what I mean…Sometimes you can just feel it! Medellin nightlife options are endless on weekends and I’ve visited many amazing bars and discotecas in the city but that doesn’t mean I’ve seen them all. There is always something new to see! A guide to the professional Saturday night is a summary of some favorite city sectors and specific places so you can hit the town and go where the local crowds are Colombian, not tourists. See why the Denver of South America and my second home are tops when visiting colorful Colombia.
Parque Poblado Casual
After leaving the sky lounge we make for Parque Poblado. The park is a convenient location to meet up with a group, relax with a frosty beer, people watch, meet new friends, or enjoy a close by empanada or arepa de queso. We grab a couple tall Pilsen and find a spot amongst the growing crowd. Also, if you’re going to be close to the Parque Lleras area it’s a perfect place to start the night with a meal at a couple favorite Medellin restaurants in this area of the city; Graspo de Uva or Osea (reservations recommended). While a little smaller on the inside and less well known, these two establishments pack a flavorful punch! While being an eclectic part of nightlife in Medellin with many odd characters and hole in the wall type establishments, most bars and restaurants around this area are aimed at being casual, fun spots to enjoy some fresh air and talk to strangers. Tip: Parque Poblado is great for early week meet ups (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) for beers or drinks and there are more than a dozen restaurants open at lunch time. Search around until you see a special that appeals to you! Great bar choices include Tinto Tintero with live music and El Guapo.
Now after you’ve had a beer and a meal, you’re ready to make the stroll up to the Provenza area (slightly above Lleras Park). There are a myriad of bars to choose from in this small neighborhood of about 5 blocks but a few top my list and for good reason. One of my favorite places and a place where I usually kick-start my night is AltaGracia. This classy spot combines good music, quality drinks and beautiful people. Women and men dress to impress on Carrera 35, so don the jacket and use some shoe polish when heading out. While you’re there, enjoy a Gentleman Jack on the rocks or one…or two of their hand-crafted shots like I do. I recommend the Macho Alfa (Jagermeister and melon liqueur). After an hour or so talking to a few friends and listening to some smooth house tracks put on by the DJ, we’re on the move. Tip: This crowd is young, professional, and can spot a fake from a mile away. Practicing a little Spanish before you show up will do you well.
Next up, we walk around the corner to a pub style bar that originated in Bogota but that’s ok, we’ll let them pass since Bogota Beer Company makes some of the best ale in Colombia on a large scale. At BBC, you can reserve your own beer flagon, where they engrave your name on it and every time you visit they give you your mug along with a discount. Nice! I settle in with a classic black and tan poured from the tap. Professionals fill this bar and business discussions along with classic rock favorites intermingle in one of the nicest tree filled neighborhoods in the Poblado area. After a beer or two, our party heads out and we hail the first taxi. Tip: Other delicious restaurant choices in this 5 block radius include Brie Bon (French cuisine, open for brunch), Humo Barbeque by Carmen, Trattoria Italian, Zeta (Greek), Ocio (Surf and Turf), my favorites among many other dining options.
Rio Sur Nightlife Hotspot
If it’s a party and I’m in the mood, it’s time to go check out some high heels and short dresses. (No it’s not a strip club) I’m talking about Discoteca Kukaramakara, the ultimate Medellin nightlife hotspot, as we return to where we started our evening in the Rio Sur Mall. Que the high heels and lace dresses. Tip: With at least half a dozen eateries and a handful of other options, a pair or a group could literally spend the whole night here and no one would blame them since beautiful Colombians come here to celebrate!
The 7th floor of the Rio Sur Mall is quite possibly the best place for young people to share a bottle of rum with friends and make some good or bad decisions, all depending on how you look at it. The discoteca we went into has themed nights and it costs about $10 USD to get in but it’s well worth the cost. The band and performing group do a couple sets each night and we we’re lucky we had a table reserved because we walked in right around midnight and the place was packed! A bachelorette party was close to where we were and I was in the right place at the right time and got to dance with the bride to be. Throw away the embarrassment when you come here, shame does not serve you in Colombia. After meeting new friends, dancing to thumping bass electronica and two live sets, and a couple bottles of rum between the six of us, the night officially came to an end around 3am. Tip: Other lively discos and bars include 5inco Bar, Attico, Mixology, Sixtina, and more!
Another successful Saturday in the books and the people who shared it with us made all the difference.