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El Cielo Restaurante – a Remarkable Culinary Gem in Medellín

When I knew that I would soon embark on an adventure in Colombia, I began reading a lot of blogs to learn more about others experiences. What did they love? What should I not waste any time on? Certainly, the foodie deities were smiling upon me, as I happened to stumble upon a little bit about El Cielo in a post about Medellín. Afterwards, I knew I had to visit El Cielo Restaurante.

The entrance of El Cielo, there is a well dressed employee at the entrance
who greets you and opens the door for you

For reference, I am a self-declared foodie, fine dining fanatic that experiences a gravitational pull towards Michellin starred restaurants. I’ve dined at a long list of fine restaurants around the world – including Atelier Crenn, Quince and the culinary crown jewel, The French Laundry. With that being said, El Cielo Restaurante is exceptional – in quality, creativity, experience and service.

Entering EL Cielo Restaurante for our reservation – we were warmly greeted with a welcome drink

The masterpiece that is El Cielo was created by the owner affectionately referred to as “Juanma,” renowned chef Juan Manuel Barrientos. This location in Medellín broke ground in 2007, then a location in Bogotá in 2011. Now, there are locations in the US in Miami and Washington DC.

How to Make a Reservation

At the time of my visit, the reservation system seemed a bit confusing. You had to contact them via WhatsApp, and ultimately, I wasn’t able to make a successful reservation. Luckily, my amazing accommodation was able to secure a reservation for me.

Nowadays, it’s as simple as heading to their website and finding the day and time that works for you. Keep in mind, El Cielo books up weeks in advance on a regular basis.

The reservation system does require a deposit of $445,000COP per person. Which roughly comes out to $93.00USD per guest and is the entire cost of the tasting menu.

sand covered patio floor surrounded by green plants, bushes and trees with tan toned tables and chairs
Patio seating has a unique sandy bottom!

Tip: Please be sure of the time and date that you commit to before booking. You can only make changes to your reservation up to 30 calendar days beforehand. No shows and cancellations lose their deposit. There is only a 15 minute grace to hold your reservation, if you’re running late.

Should you Book for Lunch or Dinner?

I initially was hoping for a dinner reservation, but there were none available that could work with our schedule. Off we went for lunch. You know what? It was serendipitous, as I actually found the lunch seating to be divine. Lots of natural light floods the space. If it wasn’t a rainy day off and on, I’d have opted to dine on the patio. It was a colder day, so the staff closed off the patio doors to the main dining room. The earlier you go, the less crowded the restaurant is, as the later seatings started really filling up the place.

gourmet take on elite with a circle of sauce and sprinkle of a green topping on a white plate
A delicious and inventive take on Elote

Tip: Don’t plan anything right after this. We booked a private tour of Communa 13, as it was our last day in Medellín so we were trying to get in everything we really wanted to do. Our meal ran way over and our guide so graciously waited for us. But, you really want to enjoy this experience and not rush it, which in the end, we had to do unfortunately. Allocate at least 3 – 4 hours for dining here.

What is the Service and Atmosphere Like?

El Cielo is located inside of the El Cielo Hotel. An elegant, upscale, but approachable atmosphere with a sophisticated but completely unpretentious vibe.

A blue dress skirt covering the legs of a woman sitting at a wood table with a find dining table setting on it and white roses in the center
First impression as we were sat at our table at El Cielo Restaurante

The patrons are dressed tastefully yet casual and a broad age range. The service is thoughtful and polished. Overall, it’s a comfortable and extremely enjoyable environment.

Is the Food Actually Good?

two amuse bouche pieces with blue flowers on each, sitting on a rock on a leather placemat
One of the Amuse Bouche “moments”

Many people I encounter whom, perhaps, aren’t as deeply engulfed in the foodie and fine dining world always ask me things like: but… was the food actually good? Did you actually leave full?!

One of the 21 “moments”

El Cielo has artfully crafted an exquisite menu of 21 gastronomic “moments.” I believe this is partially why many of these dining experiences take place over the course of several hours. It really is an experience, and also, so you can pace yourself and digest all this delicious food. Believe me, you will leave full and satisfied!

glass of wine, white bowl of green soup, plump bread round on a wooden board all sitting on a wooden table
One of the 21 “moments”

Tip: I highly recommend getting the wine & spirits pairing to your tasting menu. It’s $297,000 COP, which is about $62 USD. The carefully selected pairings compliment the moments beautifully. Also, you simply cannot get a wine pairing of this quality for this price, anywhere else!

The Experience

Honestly, with all restaurants of this caliber (and price point), there tends to be a lot of, what I refer to as, culinary theater. You know, you’re not just served your meal and then you eat it.

a delicate red apple themed ice cream sandwich on a colorful plate
One of the dessert “moments”

There are theatrics – perhaps a bit of a performative element in how it’s presented. An avant-garde approach to something that may be otherwise perceived as mundane. I usually like to be extremely detailed when I cover anything, but this is an instance where I simply cannot spoil any of the unique presentations and experiences for you.

cup of coffee, large colorful sugar cubes in yellow, pink and white set atop a stone, a large oval ball of chocolate with a knife set next to it
After dinner coffee during one of our dessert “moments”

There are quite a few dazzling junctures during this meal worth noting with a big surprise at one point.

Nope, I’m not telling! You’ll just have to see for yourself.

Have any questions about dining at El Cielo Restaurante? Drop them in the comments, below!

Headed to Colombia?

Check out these related posts:

Hotel Celestino Medellín – a Unique Boutique Stay in the Heart of the City

Coffee Farm Tour in Colombia – a Special Experience

10 Fantastic Things to Do in Cartagena Colombia

Want a Memorable Experience? Tantalizing Cooking Classes in Cartagena

Why you NEED to Visit the Rosario Islands From Cartagena

Everything You Should Know About Hotel San Pedro de Majagua

Travel Tips & Resources to Help You Plan an Epic Trip!

Going – I’ve subscribed to Going (formerly, beloved, Scott’s Cheap Flights) for awhile now and it’s an amazing resource for finding… did you guess cheap flights? Yes, you can set your preferences from airports to flight class and get destination deals right to your inbox. It’s fab! I use the Premium paid version, but they have a FREE version too. So what are you waiting for?! Let’s get Going!

Booking.com – the majority, if not almost all of my stays are booked on Booking.com. It’s a reliable site to book and manage your reservations. It’s a great way to find boutique stays and unique accommodations at the best rates! You can also easily communicate with your accommodation through the app.

Expedia – If I am looking for a flight to a specific destination for specific dates, I find myself booking many flights on Expedia. It’s user friendly and straight forward. I often find the most cost effective rates, while earning points for every flight I book (in tandem with the points I receive from the credit cards I pay with).

Viator – most of the activities, tours and excursions I book for my trips are booked through Viator. Whether you’re seeking a guide for the day, a group tour, a cooking class, Viator has you covered!

Get Your Guide – this is another great marketplace to find tours, excursions and activities to book for your upcoming trip.

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