In recent years, Quito has emerged as being on the cutting edge of the vegetarian and vegan movement. These are some of the best meat-free options.
While there have always been vegetarians in Ecuador, it has only been during the past 20 years that vegetarianism has grown as a movement, as reflected in the number of vegetarian restaurants that are now available in Quito and elsewhere. Not coincidentally, many of these restaurants are also part of a greater phenomenon of citizens in a historically Roman Catholic country seeking alternative spiritual paths; several of the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the city are affiliated with religions such as Hare Krishna or Taoism.
Of course, most restaurants have vegetarian, if not vegan, options, though a strict vegetarian would have to ask if the kitchen is using chicken broth or butter even in their “no-meat” meals. The following are some of the more notable vegetarian establishments in Quito.
Restaurant, South American, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
Now in its 24th year and located in the tourist district of the Mariscal, El Maple has virtual landmark status in the vegetarian community, with a reputation that extends beyond Ecuador itself. Their options include stuffed Portobello mushrooms, hummus platters, and veggie empanadas.
Also in the Mariscal, on Carrión and Amazonas, you can have a full-course meal for under four dollars at Sakti. It offers an elegant interior and large portions, which include specials such as vegetarian lasagna.
Bocabierta, which means “open mouth,” is both a hopping cultural event center as well as a place to eat. The walls feature the best and latest of the local bohemian art scene, and any given night might feature an open mic poetry slam or an avant-garde music band.
Located in the beautiful and stylish La Floresta district on Mallorca and Coruña, Donde Gopal, a Hare Krishna-affiliated restaurant, features a pizza and hamburger, albeit of the vegetarian variety. The Hare Krishnas also have a similar restaurant, Govinda’s, in the historical district, on Esmeraldas and Venezuela.
As opposed to Govinda’s and Donde Gopal, Harivet’s vegetarianism is rooted in Taoism. It’s inexpensive, with lunches going for only two dollars, and they offer non-GMO bread. Diners can find them on Mariscal Foch between Cordero and Amazonas.
Perhaps the most politically progressive of all vegetarian restaurants in Quito, Tandana’s location, inside the look point, provides a spectacular view of the Guapulo valley. The operation is non-profit, with revenue going to serve Libera!, which advocates for the rights of animals, nature, and humans. They are vegan-only, and recycled materials are an integral part of the restaurant’s design.
Located in the popular bohemian La Floresta district on Andalucia and Luis Cordero and in the tourist center, the Mariscal, on Juan León Mera and Carrion, Formosa serves as both a Chinese restaurant and a vegetarian restaurant.