Traditional food in Quito is a mixed bag of delicious dishes that rely on ingredients from the coast, the Andes, and the jungle. Eating out here is both a luxury and a necessity. Many small shopfront restaurants specialize in cheap and cheerful traditional plates, while stand-alone eateries offer their own take on Ecuadorian dishes like locro(potato) soup, ceviche, llapingachos, encocado, empanadas, and hornado.
This is the food that Ecuadorians have grown up with small restaurants, like home chefs, create their signature take on traditional favorites, drawing crowds daily in the process.
Yucca, pork, grains, and potatoes, and mote from the Andes are staples in everyday meals, while fish chowders from the coast and the jungle are filling inclusions on many restaurant menus around town that use ingredients like coconut, peanut, ginger, and citrus to surprise the palate.
The traditional lunch places around town are family run, with the whole crew helping to cook, serve, and wait on regular customers who stop by daily. These meeting spots’ set meals to sustain their patrons with soup, a main, and a dessert that change according to the blackboard outside.
Seco de pollo, an Ecuadorian chicken stew, seco de borrego-lamb stew, and seco de chivo-goat stew are tasty Ecuadorian dishes that slow cook meat in beer, wine, tomatoes, cumin, garlic, cinnamon, peppers, onions, citrus, cilantro, and the secret spices of the house.
Fried plantain, rice, beans, and potatoes accompany many dishes, as does aji; a hot sauce made in-house using the recipe of the chef-more often than not a mix of chili peppers, onions, cilantro, oil, and lime juice.
Fritada, another slow-cooked staple of Ecuador, simmers pork in a broth of orange juice and water until the liquid is gone and the meat is tender. A different twist on the dish uses chicken and substitutes chicha- a fermented corn beverage from the jungle to tenderize the meat.
Quinoa, avocado, plantain, corn, squash, pumpkin, beans, and cheese often find their way into soups-along with bananas, and sometimes chicken feet! Keep reading for some of the best spots around town to try traditional dishes of Ecuador.
De La Llama is one of the best places to try traditional food in Quito. Since it opened four years ago it has become a favorite for Ecuadorian food because of the quality and preparation of its dishes and the above the bar service.
Traditional dishes include llapingachos-potato and cheese pancakes substituting shrimp and octopus for the traditional sausage. Also on the menu are traditional and seafood locro soups, and an Andean risotto-a mix of grains and cheese simmered like risotto and served with mushrooms. For dessert, try the colada morada pie- a new take on the Ecuadorian drink that uses naranjilla, babaco, pineapple, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries to sweeten the pot.
The interns here at Happy Gringo Travel, Katharina and Jennai, visited De La Llama and were taken by the friendly and accommodating service, the attention to detail and ascetics of the plates, and the fun, casual vibe. Art on the walls is from previous patrons, and there are drawing materials on each table in case you want to add your work to the collection.
Suiza y Checoslovaquia
Pims is a longstanding favorite chain of traditional restaurants in Quito. Their location in the historic center overlooks plazas, church spirals, and presidential palace from Parque Itchimbia-an urban refuge on one side of the valley above the San Blas neighborhood.
The well-rounded menu has a selection of Ecuadorian dishes including ceviche, llapingachos, seco de chivo (goat stew), and fritada. Other menu items include beef, burgers, locro soup, and fish dishes.
Palacio De La Fritada ranks on the top of the list for the place to find fritada, empanadas, locro, and mote (hominy) dishes. It’s located in Cumbaya, a suburb of Quito where many new restaurants are ushering a new dining scene in the valley.
It is an extremely popular place that fills up regularly. Ecuadorians who discover it rave about the flavors of the dishes and many make it a weekly stop when eating out.
Salinas 135 y Via Interoceania,
Another one of the best places to try traditional food in Quito is located in the bohemian neighborhood of Guapulo between Quito and the valley, Ceviches de Guapulo is a happening local favorite. The outdoor tables fill up on the weekend overlooking the valley in the distance, and the ceviche and fish dishes hit exactly the right spot.
Service continues until the food runs out, they only take cash, and are not open from Monday to Friday.
Camino de Orellana
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