The neighborhood of La Floresta maintains a residential air despite being bordered by some of the busiest parts of the city. People head to La Floresta for food – the streets near the Swissotel are packed with trendy restaurants, especially along Isabela Catolica. The main plaza of La Floresta fills each evening with food carts offering local specialties and is one of the best places to eat street food in Quito. A new concept, a food truck plaza, has opened just down the street. And every Friday, there is a great farmer’s market on Calle Galavis.
On weekend mornings, cafés and restaurants near Avenida Los Shyris along Parque Carolina are full of joggers stopping by for brunch after having run the trail in the nearby park. The neighborhood is full of tall, modern-looking apartment buildings, and provides an international smorgasbord of restaurants, like Dutch-owned Jürgen Café for breakfast and brunch, the Spanish-owned tapas restaurant La Tasca de Carlos, and the French bakery La Petite Patisserie.
La Mariscal is the favorite neighborhood of backpackers, if only because it is home to most of the hostels in town and has a vibrant bar scene, especially on Thursday and Friday nights. The heart of La Mariscal is the Plaza Foch, a quiet, low-key spot by day and the place to meet young, partying Ecuadorians and internationals by night. The neighborhood does have some lesser-known, quiet back streets with some excellent examples of historic Quiteño architecture where a few boutique hotels are cropping up.
La Ronda is a small neighborhood tucked into the historic center of Quito. The main street is pedestrian-only and is lined with restaurants and shops catering to tourists. Mornings are very quiet in this neighborhood and most places don’t open for business until later in the day. Afternoons make a great time to explore the artisan shops and learn about traditional Quiteño culture, from the popular children’s toy, un trompo, to handmade ice cream, helado de paila. Learn about making chocolate, how to craft intricate inlaid wooden chessboards and treasure boxes, how to work iron wrought metal, and more.
Gonazalez-Suarez is full of tall apartment buildings, the best of which have a view to both the east and the west of Quito. For the visitor, a few cafés have views over the neighboring barrio, Guápolo. People head to Gonzalez-Suarez to lunch in one of the several small but popular restaurants, for coffee in the late afternoons and early evenings, and for partying on Thursday and Friday nights. This neighborhood borders La Floresta.
Tucked into a steep hillside on the northeast side of Quito is the small neighborhood known as Guápulo. Its main street is narrow and windy, not unlike Lombard Street in San Francisco, California, though much longer. It is a difficult part of town to drive through as traffic can back up during the hours of the infamous pico y placa (a driving restriction policy aimed to mitigate traffic congestion). It is home to a small but popular church, the Iglesía de Guápulo and retains much of the flavor of old Quito, with white-washed walls and tiled roofs.
Some consider Cumbayá to be a town in its own right, but it is actually a neighborhood of Quito. If you leave the heart of town via the Guayasamin Tunnel, you will find yourself in Cumbayá, home to two large, popular shopping malls, a hiking and biking trail, and a small plaza with historic church and several great restaurants. Cumbayá is popular because it lies at a lower altitude and has a warm and dry microclimate when compared to neighborhoods up the mountain. It’s easy access to Quito make it a popular place for expats looking for great weather and the convenience of a big city.