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Oct 21, 2012 02:26 PM

Quito eats? Foodie tours? Cuy?

Seeking recommendations for lunchs and dinners in Quito as well as foodie experiences such as tours, markets, and shops. I want to try cuy. I'd love to find great Ecuadorean chocolate.

I've seen the posts suggesting Zazu and Alma Cucina but that's not exactly what I'm looking for. I'm interested in more traditional Ecuadorean cuisine. Doesn't have to be high end.

I'll be there in late December and dining solo.


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  1. Let's see...

    Markets: I think the Santa Clara market is your best bet. Good for meandering and also has some pretty solid options in the "food court" area.

    Chocolate: Kallari. You're bound to have Pacari and Republica del Cacao shoved in your face, but while they may have the best marketing, Kallari has the best chocolate. They have a café/store in La Mariscal, but you can also find their bars in the chocolate section at Megamaxi.

    Stores: Ecuador Gourmet in La Mariscal; El Cordobés on Gaspar de Villarroel is the best carnicería in the city; Zucca is a good Italian specialty shop near the Plaza Argentina; Warmi has great locally-made sauces, jams, honey, etc. at their store between Gonzalez Suárez and Guapulo

    Eats: The above-mentioned Warmi has excellent tasting-menus for lunch every day and for dinner on Friday and Saturday. Call ahead.

    Beyond that, the best Ecuadorian cuisine (Zazu and Alma aren't Ecuadorian anyway) can be found at:
    Estragón (La Floresta)
    La Ronda (the restaurant)
    La Ronda (the street - lots of little cafés with live music)
    Pim's (Panecillo and Itchimbía locations have the best views)
    Theatrum (on the fancy side, but worth it for the Octopus alone)

    There are many better restaurants in Quito, but none of them are Ecuadorian. I'd recommend walking around the Old City, finding the best looking/smelling rotisserie chicken in the window of one of the local places, and lunching there.

    The only "must" of the restaurants above is Warmi. Beyond that, the best Ecuadorian food I've found here has been out in the country. In general be sure to try Locro de Papas (a thick potato soup), llapingachos, ceviche, and the rotisserie chicken.

    Also, don't eat cuy in Quito. Nobody except tourists eats it in the city. If you want the real thing, leave the city and try it in Calderón or Sangolquí.

    10 Replies
      1. re: SailingNomad

        Thank you.

        I am trying to find contact information for Warmi as it is not a restaurant known to my hotel. Do you have any contact information?

        Leaving for Quito on Thursday and would greatly appreciate any recommendations. I will be sure to post back on my experience since Quito thread is thin.

        1. re: SArAHinNE

          Still stand behind my recs Zazu and Alma Cucina and Cafe Mosaico (drinks ONLY at sunset).

          1. re: SArAHinNE

            Here you are:

            I agree with Pelana's recs as well, but as I've mentioned Zazu and Alma are not Ecuadorian restaurants. Warmi is as Ecuadorian as it gets, and it's delicious. Phelana, if you haven't been there you should check it out.

            1. re: SailingNomad

              Thank you! We are looking for Ecuadorian and can't wait to get in touch with Warmi. But Zazu and Alma also on list of possible places to try. I will report back. Thanks!

              1. re: SArAHinNE

                I don't eat meat so did not eat Guinea pig..we did have ceviche and loved the bizcocho cookies..yumm..all purchased in Cayambe City. It was about 1 hour or so from Quito.

                1. re: SArAHinNE

                  IMHO, the best Ecuadorean chocolate IMHO is Pacari. We went directly to the corporate office to shop, right in Quito. AMAZING stuff..the lemongrass was sublime. My cousin is addicted to the stuff..

                  ECUADOR : 593-2-3230-270/600-1004 /2529-714 Ext. 105

                  1. re: phelana

                    Yes, Pacari is pretty good, but it sounds to me like you didn't even try the other chocolates which makes we wonder how you're able to peg Pacari as the "best Ecuadorian chocolate"?

                    The reality is that Pacari is a corporate ripoff of Kallari. Their chocolate is solid, but not amazing, and they sink way more money into marketing than they do into community development and sustainability.

                    Kallari, meanwhile, is a cooperative wholly owned and operated by Kichwa farmers in the Amazon (850 families are involved in the cooperative). In other words, it makes the term "fair trade" totally irrelevant - no "trade" to be had when the farmers own the business in the first place. They produce award-winning organic, single-origin chocolate that is some of the best in the world (not a joke, look it up). Check out this article in the New York Times:

                    1. re: SailingNomad

                      Wow, thanks for the rec on Kallari, Am off to online shop. We did try various types of Ecuadorian chocolate but I am by no means a connoisseur as you are. I appreciate the tip, :)

                      P.S I just ordered some off of Amazon. New Leaf sells it as well. :)

            2. re: SailingNomad

              My husband was insistent on trying cuy when we were in Quito, so we ended up at Leña Quiteña on Calle de la Ronda. It screams tourist trap, with a blown up article touting the availability of all the Ecuadarian specialties in the "La Ultima Cena Criolla" (humitas, chicha and cuy). We went in anyway.

              The food was good, way better than I expected. Maybe a little pricey, but everything was executed really well, and the terrace was a pleasant place to rest (and recharge your phone). I had an empanada de morocho and my husband had roasted cuy ($10 for a quarter cuy with side salad) - it was deeply bronzed and crispy, much more appetizing looking than ones I saw in Peru. Tasted like chicharrones.

              I wanted to go to Warmi but couldn't find any internet presence - has it closed?