Breakfast in Ecuador can be leisurely, starting with a plate of fruit and a glass of freshly prepared fruit juice, followed by the main dish—some kind of carbohydrate like green plantain topped with a fried egg. The coffee arrives with the main and is often a cup of hot water or hot milk flavored with Nescafé. Or breakfast can be a slap dash affair. While not many Ecuadorians eat on the run, they might look for a quick bite in a small café or family run restaurant. Our list provides a selection of both options.
Café con humitas
Whether eaten as a light breakfast in the morning or a snack in the late afternoon, café con humitas is a tradition throughout the Sierra of Ecuador. A humita is like a muffin in texture, but the corn-based batter is wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf and steamed rather than baked. The humita can be salty (salado) or sweet (dulce). The coffee is generally a cup of Nescafé, though in some more trendy establishments it might be drip coffee (cafe pasado) or espresso.
Colada de avena
In Ecuador, a colada is a drink that is thickened using a grain, like oatmeal or ground corn. Ecuadorians love to drink colada de avena, better known by the brand name Avena Polaca (Polish Oatmeal). While this drink can be bought in small boxes from the grocery store, it is also sold by many small bakeries (panaderías) and quick-stop markets—look for a large chilled metal vat full of a creamy white liquid the texture of drinkable yogurt. The salesperson will dip ladlefuls into the cup of your choice. This drink is cold, slightly spiced with cinnamon and perhaps nutmeg, very sweet, and is like drinking eggnog without the eggs.
Empanadas de pollo
Workmen stop at the local bakeries or small mom-and-pop grocery stores to pick up chicken empanadas as a breakfast on the go. The pastry is flour based and the empanada is baked with a filling of seasoned chicken, a few vegetables like peas and carrots, and half a hard boiled egg.
Empanadas de verde
These deep-fried empanadas are gluten free, their dough made from the green plantain. For breakfast they are usually filled with cheese, but sometimes they can be found with ground beef or shredded chicken. Ask for a side of ají if you like your breakfast spicy.
Tortillas de yuca
Tortillas de yuca are small pillow-like croquettes of mashed yuca stuffed with fresh cheese and then pan-fried until golden brown. The combination is magical. Yuca is usually associated with the Amazon Basin, though some restaurants and small cafés in the Sierra also serve this delicious breakfast, often with a fried egg on the side.
Tortillas de verde
Another type of croquette, these tortillas are made with cooked, mashed green plantains and stuffed with cheese, then pan-fried until crispy on both sides. Green plantains are associated with the coast of Ecuador, though people living in the Sierra have readily adapted and tortillas de verde are easy to find. Often they are not on the menu, but you need only ask.
Pan de yuca
While many Ecuadorians have no clue what it means to be gluten free, they have been making one of the best wheat-free breads for as long as anyone can remember. The dough for pan de yuca is made from yuca flour, cheese, butter, and eggs. It is rolled into small balls and baked in a hot oven, where the dough puffs up. The resulting roll is crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside. These delicious rolls are sold at yogurt shops and by street vendors.
If you find yourself in the region around Cuenca, Ecuador, then you might want to try tamales for breakfast. A corn dough, filled with either chicken, beef, or pork, is steamed in a banana leaf. Tamales in Cuenca are served with black, sweet coffee.
Bolón de verde
Bolón de verde are dumplings made of green plantain, mashed and seasoned with sautéed onion. They can be ordered in three flavors: cheese, chicharrón (fried pork bits), or mixto (mixed). They can be eaten as fast food on the run, or served with a fried egg in a restaurant. Those with heartier appetites can also get bolón con seco de carne, or a side of braised beef.
Mashed green plantains, cheese, and egg are the simple ingredients of this breakfast casserole. This is a working man’s breakfast, rumored to stick to ribs for hours no matter what kind of manual labor you have to tackle that day. It’s also comfort food to the extreme.
Mote is known as hominy in the Southern United States, and as posole in Mexico. In Ecuador, mote is most often sautéed with other ingredients and served for breakfast, as a side dish for lunch, or as a snack any time of day. The most popular versions are mote sucio (dirty mote)—pan-fried with garlic, onion and spices—mote con chicharrón—add small fried pork bits to mote sucio—or mote pillo—pan-fried with scrambled eggs.
Ecuadorian wet-style ceviches are a common breakfast choice, especially along the coast. If you are concerned about eating raw seafood, consider ordering shrimp or octopus, which are usually cooked before being added to the final dish.
Encebollados are soups most commonly served for breakfast. Made with fish—usually tuna—and onion, and served with popcorn and plantain chips, encebollado is rumored to be a great hangover cure. The best encebollados are found at local markets or mom-and-pop restaurants.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.