Ecuador has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, from the Andes Mountains all the way to the coast with the stunning Galapagos Islands. This ecological variety provides an incredible selection of produce, meats and fish all found in Ecuador’s culinary scene. Eating out in Ecuador is a true cultural experience, especially in these ten great restaurants in the capital, Quito.
It might be hard to find this restaurant hidden behind plaza Mariscal Foch, but those who endure are rewarded with delicious food and a lovely atmosphere. Fried Bananas offers all the traditional dishes that make up Ecuadorian cuisine: ceviche, fresh fish, soups, as well as fried bananas, a staple dish in local kitchens and dining rooms. With its expertly-made specialties, generous portions and reasonable prices, Fried Bananas is the perfect choice for those who wish to take a break from the busy streets of Quito.
After a brilliant career in the United States, Peruvian chef Rafael Perez brought his experience and unique talent to Zazu. The cuisine here can be described as contemporary with Latin influences: snow crab chevice, octopus parrilla and the excellent Pisco Sour cocktails are only some of the highlights of the menu. Chef Perez pays particular attention to using only the freshest fish and meats for his dishes, and during August – lobster season in Ecuador – he prepares this crustacean delight in a number of different ways ranging from carpaccio to risotto and all the way to tempura. Another stunning feature of this venue is the wine cellar which, with its eight-meter-high glass ceiling, is one of the most beautiful in the country.
Octava de Corpus is a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Situated in a colonial house in the historic centre of Quito, this restaurant surprises guests with its cuisine and incredible atmosphere. Owner Jaime offers succinct and helpful advice on what to eat and drink, making the evening an incredibly memorable and personal experience. Jaime’s charisma transpires both through the cuisine and the eccentricity of the decor: every inch of Octava de Corpus’ walls is covered with artworks. At the end of the meal, Jaime will be more than glad to show his guests the incredible wine cellar and his private collection of more that 230 vintage wines.
Cafe Dios No Muere is perhaps one of the most unexpected culinary surprises of Quito. Nestled behind the 400-year old monastery of Santa Catalina, this restaurant could easily be mistaken for one of New Orleans’ finest haunts. Shrimp po-boys, Cajun-style yucca fries and jambalaya are all present on the menu as well as a wide selection of more traditional Ecuadorian dishes. Owner Matt brings his unique charm to the restaurant and always makes his guests feel at home, while Cafe Dios No Muere’s surprising blend of cultures brings Louisiana’s flavour to Quito.
Chef Jérôme Monteillet’s love for Ecuador is apparent in the meticulous attention he pours into the dishes he creats. Having spent more than 20 years in the country, chef Monteillet considers Ecuador his second home and describes himself as the most Latin-American French chef. Chez Jérôme is characterized by it sophisticated and elegant decor, complemented by the delicious food on offer. A wide selection of quality champagnes and wines, as well as the thought put into presentation and preparation, makes Chez Jérôme the ultimate French gourmet experience in Quito.
Cosa Nostra Trattoria Pizzeria offers a taste of Italy in the center of Quito. Although known mostly for its excellent oven-baked pizzas, Cosa Nostra’s menu is rich with traditional Italian delicacies. Perfectly al dente pasta alla Bolognese, olive ascolane, caprese salad, fried calamari and tiramisu are only some of the most popular dishes on the menu. Friendly service would be expected from an Italian restaurant but the owner of Cosa Nostra Trattoria Pizzeria goes above and beyond to make his guests feel welcome.
Alexander Lau is something of a celebrity chef in Quito, and his restaurant is one of the most renowned in the entire country. Lua is only a short walk away from La Mariscal, Quito’s nightlife district, and specializes in Peruvian fusion cuisine. Dishes like the Italian-inspired Peruvian specialty tiradito parmesan (raw grouper fish served with a light Italian cheese sauce) or the soy-glazed tuna steak with ginger and pisco, are an expression of chef Lau’s Italian-Chinese heritage. The decor is pleasant and minimalistic enough not to steal focus from the dishes; at Lua, it’s the food that speaks for itself.
Shopping at the Mercado Central is the best way to feel like a local. This bustling market showcases the best that Ecuador has to offer in terms of fresh produce, fish, meats and even flowers. The three floors of the market are filled with stalls that sell some of the tastiest and most affordable dishes in Quito and it is here that one can enjoy the homemade flavors of traditional Ecuadorian soups, sausages and seafood. All these characteristics make Mercado Central a mandatory stop for all those wanting a taste of Quito’s authentic food scene.
Casa Gangotena is a luxurious hotel in a beautifully renovated colonial building in the centre of Quito. Ranking among the top hotels in the world, Casa Gangotena is an example of elegance and class, and the hotel’s restaurant mirrors these qualities perfectly. The art deco furniture and the gorgeous ceiling mural painted by Ecuadorian contemporary artist Lucía Falconí are only two of the elements that characterize this beautiful restaurant. From the Andes to the coast, Casa Gangotena’s menu showcases the fantastic variety of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine. Chef Andrés Dávila leads the kitchen, delighting his guests with the traditional flavors of his childhood, re-elaborated and re-invented with a contemporary flair.
With a name that paraphrases Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, Naranjilla Mecànica (A ‘Little’ Clockwork Orange) is Quito’s new place to be. This hip new restaurant attracts young crowds with its fun menu, live band performances and easygoing vibe. The decor is edgy and radical-chic, with red velvet chairs, metal tables and unique artwork displayed on the walls. The menu is printed on comic books and offers a number of delicious and expertly prepared cocktails. Naranjilla Mecànica is the perfect place to stop for a meal or to have drinks while mingling with Quito’s trendiest crowds.