AUTHOR Tom Laing
AUTHOR Tom Laing
Whilst it may be Ecuador’s southern neighbor Peru that’s on the map as a foodie destination – winning a remarkable nine of the last ten World’s Leading Culinary Destination of the Year awards – Ecuador is certainly no pauper when it comes to culinary riches.
With its varied landscape and climates – a long coastline, but also the world’s second highest capital city in Quito – and a wealth of locally grown produce, the country has developed a varied, not to mention tasty, culinary scene that is beginning to get noticed.
For Ecoventura guests travelling to the Galapagos, a night – or better still, two – in Quito or Guayaquil will be part of the itinerary. So make the most of your time in each of these wonderful cities and sample some of Ecuador’s finest restaurants. And so that you can spend less time searching, and more time eating, we have set out a list of our own personal favorites, in no particular order, below:
This extraordinary restaurant, attached to the hotel of the same name, has developed its own take on some of Ecuador’s signature dishes. Drawing inspiration from the country’s diverse and delicious ingredients, the tasting menu is the perfect way to try a bit of everything – ceviche, seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes, accompanied by locally grown vegetables like tonka beans, chulpi corn and yucca.
What’s more, the boutique hotel, a fellow Relais & Chateaux in the heart of the city’s historic centre, is a great base to explore the capital, so this couldn’t work better for those looking to explore the city before a Galapagos voyage.
Photo credit: Casa Gangotena
Seafood is a speciality at this buzzing restaurant and bar – ceviches, tiraditos and tatakis to start and a wide range of locally caught fish and shellfish for mains – the seared red tuna is delicate and delicious, whilst the paella is perfect if you’ve worked up a bit more of an appetite. With a huge wine cellar sourced from over 120 individually selected vineyards, and an outdoor, heated patio, La Gloria is also a great place to sample some of the finest wines the continent has to offer.
A colourful, upbeat and relaxed restaurant, Somos is a great spot for a less formal meal. With handpainted Ecuadorian murals by celebrated local artist Apitatan on the walls, an open kitchen and a woodfired oven, this friendly, modern location is a great addition to Quito’s culinary scene. Head chef Alejandra Espinoza spent several years learning her trade with Michelin starred chefs in France, before working in the emerging restaurant scene in San Francisco. Returning to Ecuador to set up Somos with her brother, their motto is fitting: “Born in Ecuador, inspired by the World”.
Photo credit: Somos
Nuema set out to showcase Ecuador’s remarkable biodiversity and abundance, blending its remarkable range of ingredients into a mind-blowing 16 course taster menu. Headed up by husband and wife team Alejandro Chamorro and Pia Salazar, between them they rustle up a host of original, contemporary dishes. The turron – one of Pia’s desserts made up of rice pudding and nougat served with dehydrated peas and honey ice cream – is a regular favourite. Nuema was recently voted one of Latin America’s top 100 restaurants. In the words of our Quality & Marketing Manager Johnny Ogilvie: “Enough said!”
The elegant, formal setting that is Zazu has been a firm favourite on the upmarket restaurant scene in Quito for many years. Using produce grown from its own gardens, the dishes are befitting of a Relais & Chateaux restaurant. To make the most of the occasion, try the tasting menu with wine pairing; the stone crab with cucumber and green apple is a fresh, delicate starter before you get into the meatier mains of oxtail and cuy (Ecuador’s famous guinea pig).
Photo credit: Zazu
“Easily the best restaurant in Guayaquil”. Bold words from Johnny, a Guayaquil resident, but ones many visitors to this wonderful restaurant would stand by. Housed within the lovely Hotel del Parque – our recommended hotel for guests waiting for an early morning flight to the Galapagos – Casa Julian is an oasis of calm, the perfect spot to unwind after a day exploring the city and its surroundings. Famous for its ceviches – widely considered the best in Ecuador – the ceviche manabi is, in our humble opinion, the best of the lot.
Photo credit: Casa Julian/Relais & Chateaux
Not far from Hotel del Parque and Guayaquil’s Historical Park you’ll find Le Huec. A great venue for traditional, local food, done well with no overdue fuss, Le Huec is a more casual dining experience, but no less delicious as a result. With a nod to Ecuadorian street food, Le Huec is a great place for a brunch or lunch – crispy calamari and empanadas vie with rices, stews and ceviches, all bursting with flavour and sure to leave you full and happy.
This stylish Peruvian joint serves up the best that Ecuador’s southern neighbour has to offer. Situated in Plaza Lagos, one of Guayaquil’s wealthier neighbourhoods, the outdoor seating in a modern plaza is a great spot to do a bit of people watching as the city’s bright and beautiful go about their business. Order a Crab and Octopus Causa or the signature Leche de Tigre Embarcadero 41 – the Grilled Tuna with Fettucine is a great option if you’re a bit more peckish – and watch the world go by.
For those looking to shake things up a bit, this Japanese/Peruvian fusion restaurant serves up excellent sushis, sashimis, tiraditos and temakis, all with a local twist – it’s not often you find chimichurri or quinoa making it in to your maki. With a great selection of hot dishes, rices and soups as well, including the sumptious King Prawn Udon Noodles with Mushrooms, Mikka is an excellent choice for those looking beyond the more traditional Ecuadorian fare.
Photo credit: Mikka
This lively, informal restaurant in the heart of Guayaquil is a great lunch option if you’re looking for something local whilst out and about. With pavement seating and a relaxed vibe, it’s great for a quick bite. What’s more, there’s a chocolate museum and chocolate shop nearby for something sweet after your meal, as well as wine bars and ice cream shops galore.
Whether you’re staying in Quito or Guayaquil before your Galapagos flight, there are a host of restaurants to cater for your every need. And if the ones above don’t take your fancy, take a look at our pre-departure information guide for a longer list of options.
As always, feel free to contact the team for any more information, and let your taste buds lead the way to Ecuador and the Galapagos!
Cover image credit: Zazu