My first experience with cuy was at La Choza, a cuyería just off the Pan American Highway north of Quito. La Choza has the look of a primitive wooden and cane hut. They only offer two menu items: cuy and chicken (for the faint of heart). The portions were very large, such that we only had fruit for supper that night.
Favorite Dish: Before they serve the main dish, they served a plate of fried corn (tostado) and chocho (which look like butterbeans). I rather liked the tostado, but the chocho had little flavour. The cuy was good. My only beef with it is that too much breading dominated the meat. The salad that came with it had a creamy, mayonnaise-based dressing. They should have left the dressing to the side so customers could decide if they wanted it. As a result, I did not try the salad. The potatoes would have been bland were it not for an unusual peanut sauce. I will always remember La Choza for the cultural experience. They have real potential if they mind the needs of the customer more closely than their own convenience.
On the way to the Otavalo Market, Sergio, Christina, Thea, and I stopped by the Café Cayambe for breakfast. It looked like a good and simple place to grab a bite to eat. The waitress was very friendly and she tried to do a good job. When they messed up my order (a fried egg over well) she brought it over easy, but was glad to send it back. The first thing that bothered me about this place was Christina found a fly in her sugar. I have heard of a fly in soup, but never in sugar. She had the waitress bring out fresh sugar. The food was served on time and with a smile.
Favorite Dish: Before our main dishes were served, we tried two local favourites: biscochos and queso de hoja. I wasn't keen on the blandness of the cheese and I found the biscuits to be a touch on the dry side. The quesadillas (these are pastries, not the Mexican cheese dish that most Americans know) were not fresh. I did like the tree tomato juice and the vanilla capuccino. The tree tomato is a fruit unique to South America. For the main dish, I had the fried eggs. I had to send them back the first time because they were not done enough. When they did come back with the desired doneness at the centre the edges were tough enough that they could be used as a Frisbee. Café Cayambe was more of an educational adventure than a culinary experience.
Abdon Calderon and Sucre (CORNER), Otavalo, Ecuador
Good for: Couples
Cotacachi Imbabura, Cotacachi, EC
Good for: Business
The Hacienda Cusin is just outside Otavalo, at the foot of the Imbabura Volcano. It was built in...more