Normally when someone hears Ecuador, they immediately think of Galapagos Islands, not the typical Ecuadorian cuisine found along the journey. But, after your visit to Ecuador you will be telling everyone, Ecuador has more than just the Galapagos Islands! Ecuador is home to an up-and-coming food scene that mixes traditional and modern Ecuadorian dishes together.
In traditional Ecuadorian cuisine the stars of the show are seafood, green plantains, coconut, peanuts, meat, and other fresh options. While these staples are not unique to Ecuador, the Ecuadorian flavors cannot be matched. These Ecuadorian dishes vary by region, but they all have one thing in common; their unique mix of flavors found only in Ecuadorian cuisine.
Walking around Quito you will hear Cuy! Guinea Pig! Enjoy! That is right, you read that correct a guinea pig! This roasted guinea pig is a delicacy enjoyed by many Ecuadorians for celebrations and is a rite of passage for most travelers in Ecuador.
You will be surprised with the lack of meat and the crunchiness of the cuy’s skin. Some love this dish while others just want a bite to say they have tried it. So do not over order and consider sampling cuy asado with your fellow travelers!
Best Fine Dining Cuy Asado in Quito: Restaurante Achiote or Zazu
Best Affordable Cuy Asado in Quito: Fiambre’s
One of Ecuador’s most beloved dishes, llapingachos does not look like the most appetizing Ecuadorian dish. Once you get past the looks of it and bite into the potato and cheese heaven you will want these for every breakfast in Ecuador.
Llapingachos are fried tortillas made with boiled potatoes and filled with cheese and is topped with a delicious peanut sauce accompanied with chorizo, fried egg, avocado, and salad. While these are the classic accompaniments, Llapingachos is also regularly eaten with hornado (roasted pig) or other delicious local meats from the market.
Best Fine Dining Llapingachos in Quito: De La Llama
Best Affordable Llapingachos in Quito: Café Mosaico & Hasta La Vuelta, Señor!
Bolones de Verde
These stuffed green plantain dumplings are unlike any other Ecuadorian cuisine. Bolones de Verde are prepared with cooked green plantains that have been smashed until they form a dough. The dough is later filled with chicharron (deep fried pork), queso (cheese), or other proteins like chorizo.
Either baked or fried, these bolones de verde are normally eaten for breakfast. Accompanied with scrambled or fried eggs, dried meat, and a cup of rich Ecuadorian coffee. But it is too good to only be eaten once a day. So delicious they can be served as sides for dinner or a quick Ecuadorian snack.
Best Fine Dining Bolones de Verdes in Quito: Restaurant Achiote
Best Affordable Bolones de Verdes in Quito: Rincón de Verde
Locro de Papa
In Ecuador there are many distinct types of locro, but the most popular is locro de papa. With different regions and various products, there are many varieties based on the Quito-style stew across the country. Typically, it is a puree of local potatoes and local queso fresco (fresh cheese). It is finished off with some avocados and always chili sauce made from local chilies.
Best Fine Dining Locro in Quito:Restaurante Casa Gangotena
Best Affordable Locro in Quito:La Vid Restaurante and El Balcón De La Riobambeñita
This thin and salty Ecuadorian grilled meat will melt in your mouth. This dish is enough for two, the beef is served with white rice, french fries, fried eggs, avocado, salad, and chimichurri. Not as big and juicy as one would imagine like an Argentinian steak, the Churrasco Ecuatoriano is a thin fillet that has been pan seared or grilled.
Churrasco is a popular dish all over Latin America, but, the Ecuadorian churrasco has its own flare. Special to Churrasco Ecuatoriano, an asado sauce is smothered over the thinly sliced filet.
Best Fine Dining Churrasco Ecuatoriano in Quito: Sur Parrilla Gourmet or Chez Jérôme
Best Affordable Churrasco Ecuatoriano in Quito: La Falda or La Choza
Ceviche de Camaron
Since Ecuador possesses high quality shrimp along its coast Ceviche de Camaron is immensely popular. Because Ecuador has an expansive coast, the preparation of ceviche varies with the distance from the coast.
But it is always a light dish made with fresh shrimp garnished with chifles (thin strips of fried green plantains), popcorn, or tostado (toasted corn). With every bite you take you will be able to taste the fresh shrimp drenched in a tangy lime, onions, and orange juice.
Best Fine Dining Ceviche in Quito: Zazu, Octava de Corpus, & Zavalita
Best Affordable Ceviche in Quito: Restaurant Achiote and Las Palmeras
Pan de Yuca
Yuca, a root vegetable like potato, is used to make a sweet bread filled with cheese. Pan de Yuca is delicious on the cold mornings for breakfast or in the afternoons as a snack. This bread can be found while walking through the City of Quito or alongside your dinner at many restaurants.
You might even want to trade in some empanadas for pan de yuca on your upcoming curated adventure through Ecuador!
Best Pan de Yuca: Maíz y Yuca
Watch the candy makers hand wrap warm taffy over a wooden peg to create the traditional candy commonly found in the Ecuadorian highlands. Wrapping it around the wooden peg removing air and hardening into sugar cane taffy, the experience is as great as eating Melcocha. Melcocha is sold in different shapes and sizes all over the country. But it is mostly produced in Baños, the gateway to Ecuador’s Amazon Basin.
Best Melcocha in Quito: Markets in The Historical Center
Best Melcocha in Ecuador: The City of Baños, Ecuador
A specialty in many Quito restaurants, Librillo originated from the mountain, but is enjoyed all over the country. This soup is not for the faint of heart, it is a unique dish prepared with an even more unique type of meat.
Tripe, or the stomach lining of a cow is the main ingredient in this dish. But you will be surprised by the chewy texture that entices you for more. If it makes it easier, it is comparable to chicken soup; just with a twist of tripe, tomatoes, peanuts and topped with avocados!
Best Modern Fine Dining Librillo in Quito: URKO Cocina Local
Best Affordable Librillo in Quito: La Casa del Librillo
Encebollado, is a tuna vegetable soup, which is commonly consumed to alleviate pain after a big night out on the town. The fish-based soup contains tomato, onion, yuca, pepper, among other ingredients and spices. Like other Ecuadorian dishes, Encebollado is topped with chifles (thin strips of fried green plantains), popcorn, tostado (toasted corn), or bread.
Encebollado is exceedingly popular along the Ecuadorian coast but can also be found in the mountains as well. If you find yourself feeling ill after a night on the town, Encebollado will be doctor’s orders!
Best Fine Dining Encebollado in Quito: Tianguez & Ishpingo
Best Affordable Encebollado in Quito: Encebolladas Los del Triángulo
This traditional Ecuadorian breakfast is made of hominy (dried corn) sauteed with onions, eggs, milk, chives, achiote, and parsley or cilantro. Mote pillo is never served alone. It commonly is eaten with fresh cheese and a piping hot cup of Ecuadorian coffee; that has hints of sweetness, fruitiness, body, and floral notes. These scrambled eggs can also be eaten as a side dish for Churrasco or other grilled or roasted meat dishes or a main meal for lunch.
Best Mote Pillo in Quito: Palacio De La Fritada
If you are one to plan trips around food, Quito is a beautiful place to indulge in authentic food and travel experiences. At Kuoda, we pride ourselves on designing the perfect vacation centered around your desires. When you are interested in sampling Ecuadorian cuisine or planning a whole trip around it, contact us today to excite your tastebuds for your next travel experience in Ecuador!