The food scene in Quito, Ecuador isn’t as glamorous as Buenos Aires, not as trendy as Bogota, nor as original as Lima. It’s often overlooked by South American foodies, though Quito should be considered among the top food scenes on the continent. There are brilliant chefs here doing interesting things with the diverse little country’s many endemic ingredients (try Red Tuna in any form). Even the chain restaurants, backpacker dives, snack shops, street stalls, and markets are inimitable. Here’s a round up of Quito, Ecuador’s food scene:
In Quito’s La Floresta neighborhood, Alkimia, which opened in 2008, has a young Peruvian chef who prepares Latin dishes with mostly locally sourced ingredients. The owners are the same as Teatrum, which is considered one of, if not the best restaurants in Ecuador.
“I Love Ho’s” was the sticker I got with my check at the end of my meal at Uncle Ho’s in Quito, Ecuador’s Mariscal recently. I first heard about the restaurant from Tripadvisor where it was ranked in the Top 5 of about 150 of all restaurants in Quito. People were raving about it. Quito’s Mariscal District is a major hangout for expats in South America, many of them taking advantage of cheap Spanish schools or volunteering at the many non-profits based there.
For much of the past month I’ve been traveling throughout the Amazon in Ecuador and Peru while researching oil contamination and exploration, so it was with great interest that I watched Crude, which was released on Tuesday in North America. The film outlines the court case Aguinda vs. Chevron-Texaco that has had 30,000 people in the Ecuadorian Amazon face off against the American Oil giant for a good part of two decades.
On a trip to Ecuador, Native Californian and French-trained Chef Jeff Stern discovered the quality of Ecuadorian cocoa. Soon after he relocated to Quito and, after importing equipment from North America and meeting with cocoa growers he launched Aequare Chocolates. The company produces extremely high quality, small batch, single origin chocolate bars and French-style bonbons in flavors like vanilla, passion fruit, Amazon-ishpingo, lemongrass, saffron, citron, and blackberry cobbler. Stern, a former employee of USAID, works closely with local farmers to source all of his ingredients locally and giving back to the community. Aequare is the only chocolatier exporting to the U.S. who sources ingredients and manufactures entirely in the country of origin.
Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, is the center of the country’s seafood industry and much of the exported seafood passes through the city from the coast and mangrove forests. Good, cheap seafood is not difficult to find here. The Cangrejada, or crab house, is the Guayaquil equivalent of a Limeñean cebicheria and the best place to sample the regions specialties.
Writer Huw Hennessy, who I recently met in the Galapagos, has written an account on the Ecuadorian rainforest that I think all should read. In the Independent (What lies beneath the rainforest – Nature, Environment – The Independent) he discusses the Chevron disaster – and the ensuing $27 billion lawsuit… Read More →
Ecuador’s Arriba and Cacao Nacional cacao beans are considered some of the finest in the world and international chocolatier’s have long recognized their superiority. Only recently however, have artisanal labels sprung up from within the South American nation, much of it organic, fair trade, and of superior quality than has ever been produced before.
Zazu is the most renowned of the restaurants with Peruvian chefs to have opened in Quito, Ecuador in the past three years. Since opening in 2007, the restaurant has already been named one of Quito’s three best restaurants by LAN airlines and was awarded a Five Star Diamond Award by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. In 2009 Zazu won a coveted Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for its impressive wine cellar, which is shaped in a planetarium like cylinder that might be the best looking, at from the inside, cellar I’ve seen anywhere.
The Capilla del Hombre in Quito, Ecuador is an art museum and monument designed by the famous Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919-1999). The exterior of the Capilla del Hombre, or Chapel of Man, is shaped similar to a Pre-Colombian pyramid, made mostly of stone and overlooking Quito from a hill in the Bellavista suburb.