Hungry but feeling lazy, hooked on a binge-worthy series on Netflix, or struggling to order food because your Spanish isn’t up to a phone conversation yet? There’s an easy solution in the palm of your hand. Like almost everywhere else on earth, food delivery apps in Colombia have taken off in lockdown.
While there’s no replacement for discovering the city’s culinary charms by eating in situ, you can now easily explore Medellin’s foodie scene from the comfort of your Casacol hotel, vacation rental or long-stay apartment.
However, if you’ve become accustomed to getting food delivered and you want to make your life easier during your stay in Medellin you will probably have to switch allegiance from the principal door delivery apps ruling the roost in the US and Europe.
With the exception of Uber Eats none of the food delivery apps you may be used to – DoorDash, Deliveroo, Seamless and GrubHub – have landed in Colombia yet and none of these household names will be of much use to you during your time in Medellin or other cities in Colombia.
The kings of Colombian convenience in Medellin is Latin American super app, Rappi and its local rivals, Domicilios.com and iFood. While sticking with Uber Eats might save space on your smartphone, you won’t see nearly as many of their green backpacks bombing around as the bright orange of the “Rappitenderos”. Ask any Colombian not “do you use Rappi” but instead, “how many times per day do you use Rappi?!”
RAPPI TO THE RESCUE
The pride of Colombia’s startup scene, Rappi, has established itself as the country’s first unicorn ($1B+ company valuation) by connecting its users to whatever they need rapido (or fast) with the same “ask me for anything” approach that has made Chinese super app, WeChat, so powerful in Asia.
Whether you’re in Medellin for a few days, weeks or months you should download Rappi to order takeaways from nearby restaurants, get some shopping from the biggest supermarkets in Medellin, fix your hangover, or even book yourself tickets to some of the hottest happenings in the city.
Everything you need will be delivered to your door with the option of paying in cash or by card.
All of your orders will be handled by one of the multitude of “Rappi Tenderos” (the hard-working sorts that work for the company. Rappi has even explored the use of robots to deliver food in Medellin at the height of the pandemic.
The app is easy to use – set up like a supermarket where you can explore the different sections or “shops” and find what you’re looking for with easy communication at all times (albeit in Spanish) with the Rappi Tendero assigned to you for your purchase.
Some of Rappi’s most important trading partners include:
- Supermarkets: the largest grocery stores and supermarkets in Medellin – Carulla, Exito and PriceSmart (annual membership needed) – all have a presence on the app and sell pretty much everything you can find in their stores online. PriceSmart is great for comfort food that you might be missing from the US.
- Restaurants: Nearly every restaurant in Medellin is now using the app to connect with clients that don’t want to leave their Medellin vacation rental to “eat out”. It’s not just the fast food chains shipping their fare online, you’ll find some of the best restaurants in Medellin listed on these apps with a wide variety of options for every taste and budget. Before ordering, check out our list of the top restaurants in Medellin to take the food delivery roulette out of satisfying your culinary cravings. If you want to help the local restaurateurs recover from being hit by the pandemic, then ordering directly will help put money into their pocket rather than feeding big tech. Most of the restaurants on the list will have their own delivery service hooked up to their Instagram feed and some may even offer a discount if you order with them directly to avoid having to pay up to 25% commission to Rappi.
- Pharmacies: As well as delivering your food-fix, you can cure your hangover or headache and avoid a trip to the drug store with an online order at one of the biggest pharmacy chains in Medellin. La Rebaja and Farmatodo both operate 24 hours a day. You’d be surprised about what you can order over the counter in a Colombian drug store.
- Cash Money: If you need money for something and can’t leave your Medellin vacation rental for whatever reason, then you can request it online. The Rappi Tendero will withdraw the cash and bring it to your apartment for you to pay with your credit or debit card.
- Rappi Prime: If you’re thinking about staying in Medellin for a month or longer, the super app offers its super users discounts and free delivery if you sign up to Rappi Prime, pay a small monthly subscription (less than US$7) and make payments with your credit card (including almost all foreign cards).
Rappi currently accounts for almost two-thirds of food delivered via an app in Colombia but there are other smaller rivals out there that do the same thing, including: Domicilios.com, iFood and Uber Eats. If you have found a restaurant, bar or coffee place in Medellin that you love and want to support, cut out the middleman. Most of these businesses have set up Instagram + Whatsapp and have teams dedicated to food delivery.
The advantage of staying in any of Casacol’s hotels, vacation rentals, long-stay apartments or Airbnb options in Medellin is that you’re always within a 20-minute radius of the best restaurants in the city.
Staying with Casacol guarantees a superior food delivery experience than if you were to stay outside Poblado or Laureles. With nearly all of the top restaurants in Medellin having branches in Poblado and Laureles your food should arrive as fresh as you could possibly hope for from a food delivery service.
All restaurants on the app take their food hygiene and health safety measures seriously and will wrap your food to ensure minimal contact. Pandemic rules and regulations sometimes mean you have to collect your food from reception of the building or ask them to leave the delivery inside the elevator and send it to your floor. Otherwise it is a door to door service.
So if you’re feeling lazy and you want to stay home but eat out, download the app, set the table for two or more and sate your culinary cravings from the comfort of your luxury Casacol apartment.
Bon appetite from the Casacol Team.
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