As Ecuador’s capital, Quito is a great place to try the country’s street food. While adventurous eaters will relish the more obscure meat dishes, others will still find plenty to have them licking their lips in delight. Whether you’re a confirmed carnivore or a lover of all things sweet, here’s your guide to deciphering what’s what in Quito’s street food hotspot.
To experience authentic street food in Quito, pay a visit to Mercado de las Tripas (Tripe Market), a line of food stalls located in the Vicentina neighborhood. The best time to go is in the early evening, when you’ll find a buzzing atmosphere with many Ecuadorians enjoying a hearty dish or a snack.
Here, we mention just some of the most popular dishes on offer, though it’s also definitely worth taking your time and exploring. Make sure you arrive with an empty stomach by 5pm, when the stalls aren’t too crowded so you can take your time asking about dishes – plus, if you get there ahead of the crowds, you can even get a table.
Make a beeline for the stall selling tortillas – potato patties and sausage topped with a fried egg, served with chopped lettuce, tomato and sometimes rice. This is one of the hearty dishes that many Ecuadorians eat after a long day in the office.
Yes, it’s tripe, but don’t let that put you off. Seasoned and fried intestines are one of the most popular dishes here, and among the most delicious. According to many Ecuadorians, this dish is good for your gut (literally, no pun intended) as it takes a while to chew thanks to its consistency.
This cow’s stomach stew in a peanut-based sauce is popular on the coast, and the Mercado de las Tripas is one of the few places in Quito where you’ll find this dish, eaten with avocado, boiled egg and rice. The sauce itself is delicious and worth trying.
Deliciously moreish, these tasty empanadas are filled with a tiny bit of cheese before being deep-fried and then sprinkled with sugar. Make sure to get a couple, as not only will the first bite leave you craving more, their lightness (the clue is in the name – ‘viento‘ means ‘wind’) means you’ll happily have room for more.
This chicken stew served with rice, boiled egg and potatoes is one of the staples of Ecuadorian cuisine. This meal is found throughout the country, but has a particularly good reputation here – many travelers find themselves often ordering this stew after trying it for the first time in Quito.
And… onto the drinks. This beverage, made from morocho corn, is a sweet, hot drink that is obtained after cooking the corn with milk. Morocho is popular as a tea-time drink and can be found at street stalls throughout the country.
Nope, it’s not the drink you had in Central America. Horchata in Ecuador is a refreshing drink made of herbs and served as tea, or as a cold beverage. Originally from the south of Ecuador, this red, sweet drink is becoming more popular throughout the country.