Guayaquil is known for serving some of the best seafood dishes in Ecuador. However, the local specialty is simply boiled crab that is brought to the table accompanied by a bib, a mallet and plenty of napkins. Ecuadorians flock to local markets to purchase huge pallets of crab for a Sunday afternoon crab boil with family and friends. For those looking to eat the same great food but without a local connection, there are plenty of excellent restaurant options to try.
With several locations around town, it won’t be hard to find a Cangrejal Manny’s to eat at. Manny has been in business for more than 30 years and he knows how to please his customers. In fact, if there is any complaint, it is that the restaurants are a little too crowded. If you aren’t in the mood for eating crab with your fingers, try a delicious ceviche instead.
While not strictly a restaurant in its own right, this market is home to several vendors selling some of the best ceviches in town. This is casual dining taken to an extreme with plastic chairs at inexpensive tables or maybe, if you’re lucky, a coveted spot at the lunch counter. But if fresh ceviche is high on your list, then this is a must-visit location. Hours are changeable but since Ecuadorians eat ceviche for breakfast, plan on eating early in the day or for lunch, not later.
With several locations throughout the city, La Pata Gorda is popular with thousands of Guayaquileños for celebrations of all kinds. The restaurants can accommodate groups large and small with excellent service and delicious food. While crab is a definite favorite, La Pata Gorda has other seafood on the menu, grilled, fried, encocado, and the best comfort food of the Ecuadorian Coast, chaulafan, a local take on Chinese fried rice.
The Red Crab is a traditional Ecuadorian restaurant serving local dishes with some international choices like pasta on the menu. Any plate with crab comes highly recommended. The mood is modern, upscale and urban.
If you’re looking for seafood but not necessarily Ecuadorian dishes, check out Mariscos Azul. While they offer traditional Ecuadorian seafood dishes, their menu includes Peruvian-style ceviches and Spanish-style paellas. This is a modern, gourmet restaurant that is perfect for romantic dinners and special birthday celebrations.
With several restaurant choices near the Malecon 2000, it can be hard to choose just one. But Picanteria La Culata stands out as a great option for those combining a meal with a day of touring. The restaurant is relaxed, comfortable and very local. The seafood dishes are spot-on Ecuadorian and delicious. When a place is popular with the neighbors, it’s always a good sign.
This is another location without a single restaurant but with a selection of many. This busy fish market sees the arrival of fresh seafood directly at their dock. Local workers eat at the food stands right in the market, making turnover fast and guaranteeing a fresh product. Combine this visit with a trip to the Isla Santay and you’ve had an excellent day. If in doubt about your ability to handle raw seafood, stick to cooked dishes and avoid the fresh ceviche. Hours for the market vary but the food stalls do most of their seafood business for breakfast and lunch.
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