Sitting pretty within Ecuador’s hugely diverse ecosystem – from the mountain peaks and cloud forest tree tops, to the lush rainforest, rivers and the Galapagos Islands – Quito benefits from a wonderful array of fresh, local produce. Combine that with a rich history of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, and the new chefs bringing their own unique twists to staple dishes, and you find yourself in a bit of a foodie haven. The fusion of old and new is mirrored in the city’s distinct areas: the historic centre housing countless kitchens where generations worth of recipes are cooked up served in authentic dining areas; while the new town makes way for slicker interiors with off-beat culinary creations.
There are endless eateries begging to be tried; but for those who are tight on time, here’s our list of four foodie experiences to give you a taste of Quito.
San Francisco Market
Let’s start with the basics; local markets are the ideal place to get your senses in tune with the native foods you’ll come across during your adventures. San Francisco Market, right in the heart of the old town, has an abundance of sights, smells and tastes that will zip you straight into Ecuadorian life. Neatly divided into sections, so you can easily navigate your way to fruit, veg, meat, flowers (or whatever takes your fancy), we suggest you just amble and eat your way around the vibrant market stalls. Our particular favourites? Ceviche and fries, washed down with an exotic juice.
Hasta La Vuelta Señor
Hidden away from the bustle of Quito’s streets, this beautiful courtyard restaurant offers the kind of local fare that you’ll actually find the locals eating. Think traditional ceviche, fish dishes and soups. Hasta La Vuelta Señor may be a low key restaurant but it’s one that brings a certain luxury with it; think big portions and small prices, with the gentle buzz of those in the know.
Moving to the upper echelons of Quito’s food scene, Zazu is the brain child of Peruvian chef Rafael Perézthe – a man who for years cooked up a storm in the United States. Zazu, an exquisite and well-known eatery in Quito, offers contemporary fine dining with Latin influences. With Perézthe‘s desire for the freshest ingredients, this stunning menu is constantly updating so you can always expect the best seasonal ingredients. Zazu exudes with glamour and with an incredible eight metre high wine cellar, you will be spoilt for choice.
Whether you are after traditional local dishes at La Choza or a fine dining tasting menu at Casa Gangotena, Quito has it all. If you’re looking to really get under the skin of Quito’s food scene, then a culinary tour is the perfect way to experience the tastes of the city. Starting at one of the oldest bakeries, watch the masters at work creating batches of South America’s famously delicious quesadillas before sampling a few of the different varieties. For pudding, you’ll be ushered to a family business that has been producing local sweets called ‘mistelas’ for over 80 years, so you can discover how they are made and try the unique flavours of these moreish treats. After observing so many talented people and their kitchen craft, it’s time to put your own skills to the test by learning how to make the perfect empanadas under the guidance of a local cook in their home. When you head back to your hotel you’ll have had a taster of Quito’s food scene that will stay with you for a lot longer than the half day tour.