La Choza: Smart uptown choice
On our second day out with Betty and Marcello we again planned to have lunch together. Last time we had treated them; this time they wanted to return the favour and bought us to this smart-looking restaurant on a busy street in modern Quito, Avenida 12 de Octubre. In appearance it is the antithesis of cosy Mama Clorinda, being a large open dining room with a bustling atmosphere and some beautiful traditional art and decorative touches. But like Mama Clorinda it focuses on Ecuadorean cooking and is very well-established in the city, having been run by three generations of the same family for forty years.
Favorite Dish: I opted for the llapingachos con fritada – my favourite potato patties here served with fried pork. I loved the patties as I had elsewhere, the egg was nicely fried, and the peanut sauce that came with the dish was good. But I found the pork a little dry and though the meat had been over-cooked, not for the first time in Ecuador. Chris felt the same about the pork in his traditional platter, which he otherwise enjoyed, but Marcello had the same dish and enthused about the meat, so I am guessing that it must be local taste to serve it so dry, rather than poor cooking skills! Betty’s corvina (sea bass) in coconut sauce looked lovely, as she said it was, and I found myself wishing I’d ordered that ;-) I drank a delicious guanabana juice (another of my favourite Ecuadorean tastes). As our hosts paid I don’t know what the final bill came to, but main courses seemed to be in the region of $10-$20 – quite expensive for Quito.
Overall I enjoyed the meal, and loved the décor, but I’m not sure it’s worth the higher prices when there’s so much good value food in the city.
Next tip: shopping in the Mercado Artesanal Metropolitano
El Cafeto is a small café on Chile, not far from where I stayed. They serve breakfast, snacks like sandwiches and humitas, cakes and different coffee and tea. The coffee they serve is made by organic Ecuadorian beans. When I visited in June I came here a few times to rest from all sight seeing . This is what I paid in June 2011:
White chocolate cake $1.95
Guayaba juice (with milk) $1.99
Cheese cake and herbal tea $ 3.80
In August I came back a few times to eat breakfast. It was a very good breakfast with good coffee and bread, eggs and a fruit juice. The breakfast was $3.25 (August 2011). The café doesn’t open until 8.30 (sometimes earlier the other years I have visited) so it is a bit too late for breakfast though, but at my hotel the coffee tasted more like coloured water, so I went here instead.
Update 2012: In June, July and August I went to El Cafeto many times to eat breakfast. There are other places where breakfast is cheaper, but I like their breakfast with coffee, juice, bread (very good) and eggs. It is a quiet place and there is enough room on the table for a newspaper.
They open the doors when they arrive in the morning, around 8 o’clock and start serving breakfast as soon as they have prepared things, sometimes not until 8.30 and sometimes earlier.
This is what I paid in August 2012:
Large hot chocolate $3.25
Large coffee and cheesecake $5.50 and $5.20
Update July 2013 and August 2014: The breakfast (coffee, bread, juice and egg) is still $3.25.
Tianguez is a café/restaurant with a good location on Plaza San Francisco. It is situated in the stone arches below the Monastery of San Francisco. I came here because I wanted to sit outside to eat and from the tables at the outdoor area there is a good view over the plaza and what is going on there.
The first time I was here I ordered a coca-cola and Seco de Chivo con papas fritas. Seco de Chivo is a traditional goat stew, here served with a touch of passion fruit. It tasted very good, but I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t come with French fries as it said in the menu, but instead was served with rice and three slices of boiled potato.
The coca-cola (0.5l in a plastic bottle) was $1.20 and the food $6.10. With tax and service it was $9.03 (June 2011).
I came back in August and that time I wanted a big portion of meat, so I ordered the Lomo Cordon Blue, which was served with French fries and some salad. It was delicious. To drink I had a glass of guanabana jucie. This meal, with tax and service, was $14.03 (August 2011), which makes it the second most expensive meal I had in Ecuador.
Tianguez has also got a large souvenir shop with pricey, but good quality artefacts from all over Ecuador.
Update 2012: Altogether I spent quite many days in Quito during my holiday June-August 2012. I came back to Tianguez many times because of the nice setting and the good food. One thing which I don’t like about Tianguez is that there are mostly foreign tourists eating there, and once, when it was a bit colder and I was sitting by a small table inside with a view over the plaza, I was asked to move to a dark corner because they were expecting a big group of tourists with a reservation and wanted to prepare and move tables together for them.
This is what I paid in 2012 (with service and IVA):
Lomo Cordon Blue and a fruit juice $14.03 (same as last year)
Ceco de Chivo and guanabana juice $10.00
Chicken filet marinated in beer and juice $10.86
Camarones and juice $13.14
Chicken wrap and juice $7.68
Locro de Papa and maracuja juice $6 (I think this was the best Locro de Papa I have had in Ecuador)
Update 2013: Also this year I came back to Tianguez a few times. This is what I paid (including IVA and service):
Lomo Cordon Blue and maracuja juice $14.03 (price was the same in 2011 and 2012)
Chicken wrap and a guanabana juice $7.69
Chicken wrap, a juice and a glass of red wine $13.18
One day I also had a very good Ceviche de Camarones, but I have not written down how much it was.
Update July 2014: A Lomo Cordon Blue with a fruit juice is still $14.03.
The restaurant Vista Hermosa is situated on the top-floor of a building in Centre Hisórico so from their rooftop terrace you will have great views over the old town and surrounding mountains. The first time I came here I sat outside, but in the evening it can be quite chilly so the other times I sat inside. There are a few heaters outdoors though.
They have both Ecuadorian cuisine and things like pasta and pizza.
There is live music on Wednesday – Saturday starting at 20.30, but I have never stayed that late.
The food is average and quite expensive. This is what I had, and what I paid in 2013:
Seco de Chivo. guanabana juice and tax $15.30
Spaghetti Carbonara, mango juice and tax $17.00
Trout with sauce and French fries, fruit juice, a glass of wine and tax, almost $25
Seco de Chivo, orange juice, tax $15.58
Update 2014: I sat outside on the roof both times I visited and it was a little chilly, but okay. The first time I ordered trout and guanabana juice. It was $20.20 (July 2014). It was too much for that meal as I was still hungry after finishing it. And it was a disappointment that it was not served as last year. This year it came with a few slices of plantains and the sauce was not poured over the fish, but in a small bowl on the side.
Fruteria Monserrate is situated just a block away from the hotel were I stayed in Quito, so on my first day in Ecuador I went there for an early lunch. I had heard they have a good Locro de papas with avocado and cheese, but when I arrived at 11.00 it was not ready yet, so I ordered Locro de papas con almejas (mussels) for $1.50 and an orange juice for $1.35 (June 2011). The soup tasted good, and I must say it tasted better than the Locro de papas with avocado and cheese, which I had another day. I also came here once to have a fruit salad. I ordered the fruit salad with yoghurt and it came with the yoghurt and jam on the side. That was good because I wouldn’t have liked jam on the fruit salad. The fruit salad which was rather big was $3.50.
Fruteria Monserrate is not a cosy place and I don’t like the interior, which have steal tables and chairs, large concrete pillars and brick walls. There is always an armed guard at the restaurant.
On weekdays Fruteria Monserrate opens at 8.30 in the morning.
Update 2012: During my visit in 2012 I only came here once. That time I ordered warm morocho and an empanada for $2.60. Morocho is a drink made of milk, maize, sugar and cinnamon. I also ordered a fruit salad with yoghurt to take away. The price was the same as the previous year $3.50.
Update July 2013: I have now several times bought a fruit salad to take away. I have choosen to get the cream (as I need to gain some weight) but not the sweet things. The fruit salad was $3.30.
I have also eaten at Fruteria Monserrate which is situated in Quicentro Shopping Mall. A fruit salad and an empanada de verde de carne was $4.60 (July 2013). The queue was long and it was quite bustling, and customer’s numbers were called out the whole time. Luckily it calmed down and when my fruit salad and empanada was ready the queue was short and it was no longer so crowded at the tables.
Update July 2014: Also this year the fruit salad with cream (take away) was $3.50.
Juan Valdez Café
My first intention had been to go to Republica del Cacao but because there were noisy construction work going on just outside that café I went round the corner to Juan Valdez Café on Plaza Foch. On Plaza Foch the two cafes Juan Valdez and La Española is situated just next to each other. They have about the same things so I first went over to the counter of both to see which place seemed to have the best cake. I wanted to have the cheese cake they had at Juan Valdez Café.
I ordered a cheese cake (which was quite good) and a big coffee (decaf) and it was $4.99 (July 2013). The tables are facing Plaza Foch so it is a good spot for people watching.
Juan Valdez share bathroom with all other restaurants and shops in the same building. It is situated on the second floor and you need to leave a deposit at the counter to lend the key for it.
Juan Valdez Café is a coffeehouse chain with origin in Colombia.
Update 2014: Opposite the departure hall at the airport there is a building with several cafés and restaurants. One of them is Juan Valdez Café and because I had arrived to the airport before I could check in I sat down here to drink a coffee and eat caramel cheese cake. Unfortunately I didn't like the texture of the cheese cake, it was not the same as in the cheese cake I had eaten in La Mariscal.
Various: Local snacks
There are all kinds if places to get a snack, from various spots around the city we tried hot chocolate, sweets mostly made with sugar and milk, a fried dough with cheese inside. These were sold by vendors with small store fronts, the sweets sold at small confectionary stores.
Central market: Local food
The central market, in addition to selling meat, seafood, vegetables, ftuit and flowers, has many booths selling local food to eat fir next to nothing. We tried one of the booths recommended by our guide, Las Corvinas de don "Jimmy" and had corvina (sea bass), that was fried and served with either rice or potatoes, ceviche and a couple of other things I couldn't identify all for $4.50
There were ladies selling drinks made with local fruits, we tried one made with mora, a berry that tastes a bit like strawberries and looks like a red blackberry and coconut, delicious! And only $1. We also tried a milk and corn drink, served either hot or cold, only 60 cents.
I will mention that later that evening David got extremely sick and remained so for the rest of our stay in Quito, he thinks it was the milk/corn concoction. Since I ate and drank everything he did, actually even more since I tried the ceviche and he did not, I'm not sure if it can be attributed to what he ate or if it was just his body's reaction to the food. If you have digestive issues, this may not be the place for you to be eating and you might also think about packing some Pepto Bismal and/or Immodium for your visit.
Menestras del Negro: Fast food
Since David wasn't feeling well, I decided to eat fast food instead of dragging him to a restaurant and making him watch me eat. The 1st night I ate at a KFC across from our hotel, it was later in the evening and they had run out of everything but pieces of chicken. The 2nd night I tried Menestras del Negro, they offer different kinds of combos with chicken or steak with sides of beans, rice or plantains and a very small drink, mostly under $5US
Favorite Dish: I got the combo de Carne for $4.50 which was a small piece of steak, not bad really for a fast food place, with a side of rice and beans and a small Coke.
EL DECK Resto-Loft: first Resto Loft en Quito
It's for me the best surprise in Quito downtown 2014, fresh, young, modern french Restaurant with incredible music and very high service and food. Relax atmosphere with a lot of decoration details. Food is french with italian side and organic components, some vegetarian and raw food too. The have concerts and art expositions sometime, excellent sound! You'll feel home!
Favorite Dish: Everything seems perfect, but I tried Vol-au-Vent Portobello and Magret de Pato, veery good. Great Deserts too, try Creme brulee de Maracuyá for example. The change the Menu every 6 months...Excellent signature's Coctails
- Beer Tasting
- Wine Tasting
When I walked around in Parque Itchimbia in 2012 I looked for Pim’s as I wanted to eat lunch, but unfortunately I couldn’t find it. When I visited Parque Itchimbia again in 2013 I by chance saw that it was situated just below the Cultural Centre. If you are standing at the railing looking out over Quito, you are actually standing on the roof of Pim’s restaurant. It is very easy to miss it!
Pim’s had not opened jet, but opened at 12 (noon) so I waited for a while at one of the outdoor tables. It was very warm to sit there in the sun, so when the restaurant opened I decided to sit inside. I sat down at one of the tables by the windows where there is a lovely view over Quito.
There are a lot of things to choose from in the menu and I ordered Chicken sandwich with avocado (it was served with French fries), orange juice and a coffee. With tax and service it was $15.13 (August 2013).
I visited Pim’s during the day and the view over Quito and Pichincha was beautiful. I can imagine the views are great at nighttime as well.
There is a Pim’s at El Panecillo too (but I didn’t see it when I was there), and one in La Floresta and another one in Cumbayá.
Heladería San Agustin: San Agustin – restaurant and ice cream place
Heladería San Agustin was established already in 1858 and it is famous for its ice creams Helado de Paila, an ice cream that is handmade in big copper bowls. The ice cream feels a little bit like sorbet. They don’t only serve ice cream at Heladería San Agustin, but they also have a selection of traditional desserts and food.
It is a popular place and when I visited for the first time around lunch time it was difficult to get a table. I was lucky and someone just left. I ordered Arroz Marinero and it turned out the portions were very large. I could far from eat it all even though it tasted good. The woman who sat down opposite me ordered Seco de Chivo. Her portion was large and looked good too.
This is what I paid in August 2013:
Arroz Marinero $8.95
Limonada $ 1.50
Ice cream (two scopes) $2.50
Today’s lunch by Plaza del Teatro
I had seen that Café del Teatro had opened again and went there for lunch. Unfortunately they had only opened in small scale to begin with and were not serving set lunches. I did not want to sit down and chose something more expensive from the menu. So, I looked for another place to eat nearby and saw a small café/restaurant in the corner of Plaza del Teatro and Guayaquil. I couldn’t see any name of the restaurant. They advertised for set lunches (almuerzo) for $2.
As a starter there was a soup with vegetables, potatoes and maybe a piece of meat. There were three different choices for the main plate. I chose chicken. On the plate there were chicken, rice, green lentils and some lettuce and a slice of tomato. The soup was quite greasy on the surface and the drink didn’t look to inviting. But for $2 it was absolutely an okay meal.
Juan Fogonero is a restaurant situated at the courtyard of Archbishop’s Palace in Centro Histórico (at the same place as Ceviches Pedro and Pablo was situated before). It is a very nice environment, service was good and so was the food.
I ordered skewers with meat from beef and pork. It was served with potatoes and vegetables (broccoli, green beans and lettuce). While waiting for the meal bread and butter were served. With service and tax it was $11.34 (July 2013).
Café Caracol – Not so good breakfast
I was going to make a daytrip to Pasochoa and therefore wanted to eat breakfast early, before most places in Centro Histórico open. I went to Calle Benalcazar where I had eaten an early breakfast at a café before. Unfortunately it was not open jet but nearby Café Caracol was open.
I went inside, asked for breakfast and sat down at a table. I only stayed because all other places were closed. The door to the bathroom was open and it smelled of urine. I was asked if I wanted to have water or milk and knew that that was for the coffee. The coffee was in a tin mug on the table and I poured some of it into my cup and they added water, water that was not even lukewarm. The boiled eggs were dark grey and I could not eat much of them. And I got a toasted sandwich and a tomate de arbol-juice. When I was going to pay I was surprised that it was $3 (July 2013) and the woman told me it was because I had a sandwich and not a humitas. Well, there are both better and cheaper places for breakfast, so Café Caracol is a place that I will definitely not go to again.