Eating Out in Quito

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Bustling Capital City

Quito, Ecuador’s bustling capital city, offers dining options to suit all tastes and budgets. From cheap and cheerful corner snack bars to fine dining, this city of contrasts is awash with places to refuel. The city is divided into the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the Old City, and the modern, relatively cosmopolitan New City – certain parts of which have been dubbed ‘Gringolandia’ due to the multitude of  foreigners making their base here.

The New City is the place to find upmarket bars and restaurants serving cuisine from any country you could care to name, while the Old Town is a good bet for sampling local dishes – roast guinea pig, anyone?

Best Bets for Budget Travelers

Ecuador is not an expensive country by Western standards, and even in the capital there’s no shortage of options for travelers with an eye on the purse strings. A good bet is to make like the locals and make lunch your main meal of the day – many restaurants offer good value three-course set lunches for just a few US dollars. These range from basic but filling plates of meat or fish with yucca and rice, to vegetarian or even vegan options. The city’s street sellers hawk all kinds of snacks from hotdogs to corn on the cob, and the abundant juice and snack bars are a good place to try exotic fruit juices, as well as empanadas – pies filled with meat or cheese. Chinese restaurants, known as chifas are widespread in Quito and are generally inexpensive places to fill up, although the quality is variable. There are many Arab food joints in the city too, many offering good value falafel and other tasty snacks. Vegetarians and vegans on a budget should make a beeline for Hare Krishna-run spots like Govinda, in the Old City.

Upscale Options

If you’ve got cash to splash and want to indulge in some fine dining, you won’t struggle in Quito’s New Town. There are numerous plush restaurants and pleasant pavement cafes, catering to well-to-do Ecuadorians as well as foreign tourists. From superior Italian dishes to sushi, you’ll find it here, alongside national staples such as ceviche, a seafood stew featuring shrimp, lobster, fish, crab or a combination, marinated in lemon and spicy seasonings. Don’t order this dish in restaurants where hygiene looks like it could be substandard – your gut won’t thank you for it.

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