Ecuadorian food is as diverse as Ecuadorian landscapes. A country of mountains, jungle, coastline, and bustling urban centers, the cuisine here is based on the incredible selection of produce, meats, and fish native to this surprisingly tiny place.
You can find traditional, simple meals of meat, rice, plantain and other staples just as easily as you can find world-class dining… or a combination of both. Indeed, Ecuador is quickly gaining a reputation as a hot spot for gastronomy in South America, with 9 of Quito’s restaurants making it onto the 50 Best Discovery list this year!
Looking for great food in the capital of Ecuador? Look no further than the 9 top restaurants in Quito.
What Is the 50 Best Discovery List?
The 50 Best Discovery list is an online database ranking restaurants and bars around the world. It’s an extension of the 50 Best rankings, which are curated by international restaurant industry experts, food writers and critics, chefs, drink experts, restauranteurs, and gourmets from across the globe.
Making this list is no small accomplishment. Restaurants cannot apply to be part of this list. Instead, they must receive a significant number of votes in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants or The World’s 50 Best Bars lists.
The list isn’t limited to Michelin rated restaurants, either. That’s what we love most about it. World’s 50 Best Discovery features fine dining and drinking establishments, of course, but you can also find emerging talent and local favorites.
Top Restaurants in Quito
9 of Quito’s restaurants made it to this year’s list. Below, we tell you a little about each of them.
Nuema is owned by husband and wife duo, Alejandro Chamorro and Pia Salazar. Chamorro creates dishes with some of Ecuador’s most exotic produce, like the orange-red Amazonian fruit called u’kuisi, while Salazar is in charge of pastries.
This restaurant only serves a tasting menu, which starts at $85 and includes a minimum of seven courses. Ask your server what local natural wines pair best with each plate, or order from the cocktail menu which features fabulous cocktails made with only three ingredients each.
This was the first-ever Ecuadorian restaurant to make this list and there’s a good reason why. It’s a shining of example of combining modern gastronomy and high end dining with traditional ingredients and plates.
If the progressive twist on traditional Ecuadorian dishes served up at Cire don’t win you over, the view most certainly will. Perched on the edge of the Parque de Cumbayá, the restaurant is three floors high, with a top-floor terrace that provides a 360-degree view over Quito and the mountains.
From there, you’ll enjoy chef Erick Dreyer’s original interpretations of authentic dishes, such as suckling pig, Ecuadorian Black Angus beef, and native potatoes. At an average price of $36 USD per person, Cire offers up incredible food and even better views at a price that’s more than fair for what you’re getting.
– El Salnés Gastro-Picantería
A picanteria is a traditional lunchtime restaurant in Arequipa, Peru. But chef Mauricio Acuña has brought that tradition to Quito and added his own modern, elegant twist. He’s kept the low-key style as far as décor goes, but he adds organic pops of produce to each dish, creating colorful works of art.
The restaurant specializes in homemade cold cuts but, for a taste of everything, try the seven-course tasting menu for no more than $30 USD. If you don’t have room for seven dishes, there’s also a three-course set menu for a mere $15 USD.
– Rincón de Francia
Having Rincon de Francia on the list is one of the reasons we love the 50 Best Discovery List. They don’t just give you the latest and greatest, they recognize the long-standing, established jewels that often don’t make these lists (but most definitely deserve to).
Rincon de Francia has been a Quito favorite for more than 40 years. Serving classic French cuisine, like their incredible crepes Suzette, you’ll also find South American and Spanish staples, such as ceviche and Spanish omelettes.
The average cost per person here is a little on the higher end at $50 USD. But with politicians and heads of state regularly dining here, you know there’s a reason you’re paying a premium.
Ecuador might not be known for its sushi, but with over 1300 miles of coastline, it has access to some of the freshest fish to make some of the best sushi you’ll find anywhere in the world. And for the best of the best in Quito, you have to visit Shibumi, where chef Junior Córdova Galarza is serving up his own take on this Japanese basic.
This intimate little restaurant has only a few small tables, but they always seem to be full. The average price per person is only $35 USD, but we highly recommend ordering a good value combo which includes a delicious and warming miso soup.
Somos has somehow found a perfect balance between Ecuadorian and French cuisine. That’s all the brilliant work of chef-owner Alejandra Espinoza, who takes influences from her childhood in Ecuador and combines them with the culinary expertise she learned in France.
The result is globally inspired dishes that utilize local ingredients, flavors, and traditions. Try the tasting menu, which starts at $25, or choose from the a la carte menu which will cost you approximately $32 USD per person.
We highly recommend trying the guinea pig while you’re here – a traditional meal done in a number of different ways including dumplings and shredded like pork.
On the higher end of this list is Urko. And when we say higher end, we mean everything from the dishes to the concept behind the menu. Chef Daniel Maldonado has created a dining experience centered around the astral cycles, with the menu changing according to nature and the four seasons: harvest, fertility, sowing, and flowering.
Tasting menus start at $80 per person and, in the past, have included Andean grains, clams with cacao, smoked Amazonian fish, and guinea pig belly. Enjoy a spot at the chef’s table, which is reserved for up to four guests, or sit in the more casual dining area where you can sample typical Ecuadorian street foods.
You can’t come to Ecuador and not try the seafood. And what better place to try it then ZFood?
Part fish shop, part seafood restaurant, this place sells the catch of the day for you to prepare at home or an extensive menu of seafood starters and fish mains, including fish and chip tacos, salmon poke bowls, and all kinds of ceviche’s.
But the thing we love most about ZFood is their commitment to protecting our oceans. They’re all about sustainable, responsible fishing and fair trade. At an average price of $40 per person, you can have some of the best seafood dishes in Ecuador and you can do it with a clear conscious.
– Chez Jérôme
French food in Quito? It’s not as uncommon as you might think. Indeed, there are three restaurants with French influence on just this one short list of 9 top restaurants in Quito.
But if you had to choose one, Chez Jérôme would have to be it. Owned and operated by French-chef- turned-Ecuadorian-resident, Jérôme Monteillet, Chez Jérôme combines French techniques with South American ingredients. You’ll also find staple French dishes such as onion soup, frogs’ legs, and foie gras on the menu.
Get There with Kuoda
If you’re heading to Ecuador, you’ll likely be making a stop in the capital. While you’re there, treat yourself to an incredible dining experience. Any one of these top restaurants in Quito is sure to fill your belly and feed your soul. Choose from traditional flavors and ingredients, globally inspired dishes, and long-time favorites.
To learn more about your options for traveling in and around Quito, have a look through what Kuoda offers in Ecuador.