Seafood and vegetarian fare in Quito and Otavalo
I'd suggest reading all the recent threads on Quito and Ecuador, regardless of your preferences.
In Quito it is easy to find seafood. Corvina is the most common fish. Shrimp are big export for the country, so are abundant. Ceviche is as popular in Quito as any where, and comes in versions that use other seafood besides shrimp.
There is no vegetarian tradition in the country, except as dictated by poverty, and to some degree by Catholic Lenten fasting practices. Franesca might qualify as a vegetarian stew, since it is made for the week before Easter, and contains '12' grains, beans and vegies. Traditional meals are also heavy on the starches, since they wouldn't be considered complete without both rice and potatoes, possibly adding corn (hominy), plantains, and yucca to that. Quito is also known for its room temperature vegetable based salads - that is, lightly cooked vegetables served at room temperature dressed with a vinaigrette.
Selection in Otavalo is more limited, since it is a small town, with a market for the surrounding country side, and a growing tourist business. An adventurous tourist can eat in the open market with the locals, but most prefer one of the hotels in town, or one of the inns in the country side that provide room and board. The food can be good, but it is not likely to be oriented to a tourist with new fangled vegetarian convictions.
If you are there just before Easter, by all means, try the Fanesca soup. It is one of my favorite Ecuadorean dishes. Salt cod, beans, grains, cheese, onions, milk, peanuts..... are just some of the ingredients. Making it is quite labor intensive, including the peeling of individual beans. Although the recipe varies from family to family, they all produce a tasty, thick, satisfying dish. Great stuff.
Yes! There's a great vietnamese restaurant called Indochine in the Mariscal area of Quito, at Calama and Diego de Almagro. They are an omnivore restaurant but have several veg offerings (veg pho, summer rolls, tofu and noodles). The chef is really excellent, if it is not too busy he will even create a custom veg dish on the spot. I see him in the market hand picking the produce in the morning! This place was the perfect antidote to all the beans n corn I had been eating for months. Now I go here almost every day. The rolls are amazing. It is owned by a Vietnamese American and the chef is french-trained Ecuadorian. I think the bartender is Argentine! It's a fun place, reasonable prices.
We're just back from a trip to Ecuador and went in search of Indochine one night. We found a Vietnamese restaurant by the name of Uncle Ho's on Jose Calama. Is this the same restaurant as the one referred to as Indochine? The food was decent and a nice alternative to a steady diet of the local cuisine. There are a few (but not many) vegetariain dishes on the menu and the chef was willing to replace the chicken in one dish with tofu. But it's really not what I would call a mecca for vegeterians. In fact, on Monday nights, the restaurant makes a big deal of offering a nightly special of steak and mash. We enjoyed the filet mignon and pork ribs as well as several of the fried and cool rolls. The prices were very reasonable.
In Otavalo the restaurant Buena Vista is a nice second floor spot on the north side of the Plaza de Panchos. The restaurant at the Hotel Ali Shungu also has good veggie dishes. Good breakfasts at Oraibi. We were drawn into several small restaurants by the live music - a wonderful and frequent treat in Otavalo.
so glad to find the post on Indochine.....heading out there now........hopefully they are open on a sunday night......
for seafood and fishes........ascension de la taberna.......a spanish restaurant on whymper & corunha - north side of quito....la paz (gonzales suarez) (i don't have the tilde on this compu).......the owner, a great spanish lady...does most of the cooking...and the fried fishes (boquerones) are so amazing....it's nice to get some fried food in oil that smells very very fresh!