Gastronomy

Gastronomy

Ecuador never ceases to surprise those who discover our food for the first time. Quito is the ideal place not only to taste the excellent local gastronomy, but also to discover the flavors of different typical dishes of the country.

THE FOOD OF QUITO, A GASTRONOMIC TOUR

Excellent products, great taste, unique recipes and a lot to discover and savor … Quito is a delight!

Lunchtime is sacred in the house of a Quiteño, and one dish is never enough. If you did not start with a good portion of soup and then with the “segundo” or main course (preferably with rice and potatoes) you simply have not had lunch … Surely if you have eaten in a “hueca”, a makeshift stall, a restaurant or a homemade food, the following traditional dishes will surely appear on the table (and will undoubtedly leave you wanting more.

SOME CLASSIC RECIPES

Figs with cheese (Higos con queso)

The figs are soaked in water for a day and cooked for 15 minutes until soft and then brown sugar is cooked in a pot. When it turns into honey, the figs are added until the honey thickens. Find them in coffee shops, even bakeries, served with slices of fresh cheese.

Potato soup (Locro quiteño)

The classic potato soup from the Ecuadorian Andes must be on your culinary list. A thick and simple soup, where the potato is the star ingredient. This is, without a doubt, one of the favorite dishes of Quiteños and foreigners. The accompanying avocado and cheese slices just make the taste better, a unique experience. Do not miss this recipe that may include broad beans, native mellocos, chard and pork rinds.

If you are looking for something very special, ask for a Yahuarlocro which is a potato soup prepared with sheep blood, beef stomach and other ingredients. It’s delicious!

Grilled guts (Tripa mishki)

The pungent and unmistakable aroma of the tripa mishki, which means delicious gut, literally stops traffic in Quito. It is an epic barbecue snack: garlic marinated guts with achiote and cumin, seasoned in the middle of the street and prepared in ten minutes on hot coals.

Guinea pig (Cuy)

Sacred to the ancients, the guinea pig, not only enters the pot to celebrate special occasions, it is also used alive in healing rituals. In certain indigenous households, they are boiled in soups, but for most Ecuadorians their grilled version is much more palatable.

Chocho Ceviche (Cevichocho)

Se licúan unos tomates en Blend a few tomatoes with lemon, chopped coriander, add some diced tomatoes, onion strips, oil (preferably olive) and “chochos” (lupini beans) with salt. A classic dish around the parks, look for the street carts!

Dishes with pork: Any pork recipe in Ecuador takes many hours of preparation.

Fritada: Pork bites fried in a bronze bowl in mmapahuira (cooked pork fat).

Hornado: A whole pig baked in the oven for 12 hours. It is exhibited with a chili in the mouth, but despite its imposing presence, it is a real delicacy!

The best places to try it: Mercado Santa Clara, Mercado Central or Sangolquí, on the outskirts of Quito.

Pork rinds (Chicharrón): It doesn’t matter the time or the place, you can’t say no to a good “mote” (water-boiled corn) with pork rinds! Try it at: Motes de San Juan.

Sauces (Salsitas)

All local dishes have one (or several) sauces to accompany. We recommend adding “agrio” (tomato, onion, orange juice, vinegar and brown sugar) to accompany your pork dishes, or homemade hot sauce (especially the one made with peanuts) to season everything else!

Corn and broad beans with cheese (Choclo y habas con queso)

The simplicity and delight of an ear of corn, or boiled broad beans, accompanied with cheese is an excellent (and nutritious) appetizer to accompany a main course such as baked pork, fried pork, or any other typical dish.

Small lupini beans (Chulpi chocho)

A delicious, energizing and very healthy snack: chochos and tostado (corn grains roasted in garlic) with a little salt.

Ecuadorian Ceviche

Although it is not specifically a Quito dish (the ingredients, mainly fish and seafood come from the coast) in Quito you find excellent versions of a phenomenal ceviche. Shrimp, fish, crab or “concha” (a mollusc). Our favorite spot: Zavalita Restaurant (Martínez Mera and Portugal streets).

The Canelazo

Drink made with naranjilla, cinnamon and an artisan liqueur made from sugar cane (Puntas), the canelazo is drunk a lot during the festivities of the city (the first week of December), either on the street or in the chivas.

Turnovers (Empanadas)

The wind one, with a dough of flour and filled with cheese. After fried, the cheese melts into the dough, so it looks like it´s only air/wind inside.

The morocho one, a delicious dough made from a kind of fried corn, with its typical filling of meat, rice and peas.

The mejido one, with a dough of wheat flour with a sweet and sour filling of cheese, raisins and sugar.

The verde one, which comes from the gastronomy of the coast, with a dough made from mashed green (verde) plantain and different fillings: cheese, shrimp or meat.

Ice cream made in copper pan (Los helados de paila)

There is no competition for the simplicity and delight of this traditional ice cream. The secret: the fruit is placed in a large copper pan that spins non-stop on a surface of ice and salt. Some of the flavors include: passion fruit, blackberry, naranjilla, soursop, among many others.

The Quito sweets (Dulces quiteños)

Colaciones: White sugar balls with peanuts inside.

“Dog poop”: A sweet snack made with toasted corn and brown sugar.

Candied figs: hard and green figs (try the ones from the San Agustín Ice Cream shop in the Historic center)

Candied Peanuts: Addictive recipe made with peanuts with cooked sugar topping.

Side dishes and classic bites

Llapingachos: Unforgettable potato cakes, cooked with achiote, with a cheese filling and sometimes covered with a delicious peanut sauce.

Maduro / fried maqueño: Essential in coastal cuisine, sweet, fried, ripe plantain, maqueño is a softer variety (very delicious!)

Mote: Corn kernels boiled in water that generally accompany pork rinds.

Avocado: An essential garnish throughout the country, it is even included in soups and ceviches.

Fried corn: The kernels of the corn, removed from the cob, and fried with salt and garlic. Sometimes they accompany soups or mix with rice.

Pickled sauce (“Encurtido”): The most typical salad: red onion (called “paiteña”), chopped and pickled with salt, lemon, tomato and chopped coriander.

Humitas: A real delicacy, made from corn, wrapped in the leaf of the cob, similar to a tamale. It is a preparation from the Ecuadorian highlands and there is nothing better to accompany a coffee!

Fruit smoothies

Los ecuatorianos tomaban jugos Ecuadorians have taken many natural juices long before the “boom” in healthy and organic food. With all the fresh fruit options available in the country, it makes sense that these juices would be offered on the table with every meal, in street stores, “huecas” and even parks to refresh a runner or cyclist.

We recommend Jugos de La Sucre (Sucre and García Moreno streets in the Historic Center).

COLADA MORADA AND GUAGUAS DE PAN

Day of the Dead (November 2) is the time to taste the most special traditional flavors of the Andean Ecuador: Colada Morada and its bread “guaguas”. On November 2, the Day of the Dead is commemorated in Ecuador. It is a date to remember those who have already left. There are groups of families who visit the cemetery, not only with flowers to decorate the graves, but also with the favorite dishes of their loved ones who have passed away. After eating next to the grave, a plate is left for the deceased to enjoy (it is a custom with indigenous origin). Death in the Andes is considered a transition to another world, and through food the ties between the two worlds are strengthened. In Quito, one of the places where this tradition is best observed is the San Diego Cemetery, southwest of the colonial center, just in front of the Panecillo.

The date coincides with the maturing of the mortiño, the Andean blueberry, which is a small round garnet blue fruit that grows in the paramo. Colada is a sweet hot drink, a little spicy and thick. The Colada Morada is prepared with mortiño and other fruits such as strawberry, babaco and pineapple and native spices such as ishpingo herb, and black cornmeal.

You will always try Colada along with the traditional “guaguas de pan” (wawa in Kichwa means child or baby), so these would be the bread babies. These delicious pieces of bread are made of regular bread dough, doll shaped and decorated with sugar in bright colors for the eyes and mouth, and filled with jam or dulce de leche.

The Colada Morada represents the blood and the guaguas de pan represent the body of the deceased, according to the indigenous tradition.

THE FANESCA

It is one of the most emblematic dishes of Quito, and one of the most elaborate, symbolic and complex recipes in the world.

Ecuadorian families prepare Fanesca during Easter (mainly in the highlands, but also on the coast) with 12 grains, as a reference to the number of apostles and the “body of the Lord” symbolized by the cod. Hard-boiled eggs and ripe bananas, cheese and empanadas, among other dressings, make this one of the most elaborated dishes in local cuisine.

There is no similar preparation in the world (neither by name nor by recipe). It is one of the reasons why the Holy Week has become so ingrained in the identity of Quito. We can even say that eating Easter “fanesca” is a custom that every Quiteño treasures as one of the most emblematic traditions. And of course, it’s even better when Mom prepares it.

Fanesca preparation begins on farms throughout the country, where this variety and quantity of products is produced. In the month of February, all the markets already have the necessary ingredients for this delicious preparation.

ROSERO

This is a traditional drink from Quito, made from rose water and fruits. In colonial times, this drink was consumed by Jesuit clerics. Now it can be found in shops and restaurants, especially in the Historic Center, like San Blas neighborhood, markets such as the Central and San Francisco markets, and some other local businesses.

This drink is prepared with an infusion of plants and species. First, all the spices are prepared in infusion, then naranjilla juice and rose water are added. At the end the chopped fruit is added: strawberries, babacos, pineapple, naranjilla, passion fruit and peaches, mainly.

It can be drunk hot or cold, with or without liquor, depending on the preference of customers.

MARKETS

Be sure to visit the markets of Quito, where you will discover the local food in all its splendor and delve into the daily life of Quiteños. Learn more about the products of the land, and try something new. 

Find all varieties of lettuce, tomato, squash, legumes, and grains. More than ten different types of tubers, including melloco, which, although it looks like a potato, has a completely different flavor and texture. Fruits from two different universes: from the tropics: pineapples, mangoes, passion fruit, bananas; and fruits from the Andes: naranjilla, chirimoya, the sweet and sour tree tomato, granadillas, babacos, uvillas. Try them fresh!

Market Medicine

The healer (herb savant) waits for patients at their market stall, to offer them a cleanse, which is done with herbs and flowers such as rue, Santa María, marco, chilca, elderberry, medio yuyo, tigrecillo or congona. They cure everything, from anguish, nervous tension, fright, to insomnia and depression.

Consejo para el sufridor”: martes y viernes son más propicios para eliminar el “mal de ojo”.

Market Dictionary

Casera: Originally, casera ‘the landlady’ is the housewife who faithfully visits the position of a particular seller, with whom she has found greater affinity, but in this market context, casera means seller.

Yapa: This is the “little more than what you have paid for” that the sellers add to the purchase, just because they liked you.

“Para que lleve”: What is said during haggling, when the lowest price that the seller will offer has been reached.

Reinita: An affective name used by saleswomen for their female buyers. The diminutive of Reina / Queen.

May God pay you: The regular ‘thank you’ from the market seller, with all its implications. Not literal though!

Markets in the North

Santa Clara: el más cercano a La Mariscal, con un sector de muebles de madera y de cabuya en las afueras (Marchena y Versalles).

Iñaquito: agradable y muy limpio, con tiendas con productos importados, incluyendo sitios para comprar productos asiáticos (Villalengua e Iñaquito).

La Floresta: se extiende hasta la calle los viernes (Galavis e Isabel La Católica).

Markets in the Historic Center (Not open on Sundays):

San Francisco Market: Rocafuerte y Chimborazo.

Central Market:

A chaotic place (Pichincha y Esmeraldas Avenues).

In the Historic Center of Quito, between the streets Pichincha and Manabí, is the remodeled Mercado Central, a traditional place that has been in operation for 63 years.

It is one of the traditional markets of the city of Quito, where you can see the variety of products available in the capital. Vegetables from the highlands, fruits from the coast and meats of all kinds can be found just a few steps away in the same place.

The Central Market is famous for its gastronomy. In addition to fruits and vegetables, there are prepared foods such as the famous sea bass “corvinas”; potatoes with pork skin and peanut sauce “papas con cuero”, braised goat stew “seco de chivo”, natural juices and many other delicious dishes.

SHORT PLANNER

If you have a morning:

  • Paila- Ice Cream San Agustín Ice Cream Shop
  • San Juan Quesadillas
  • Central Market

If you have a day:

  • San Francisco Market + Colaciones de la Cruz Verde + Dulce Placer Ice Cream Shop in La Ronda
  • Central Market + Cooking Class + Coffee Tasting in La Floresta
  • San Juan Quesadillas + Traditional Paila Ice Cream + Tasting Menu in Nuema

If you have two or three days:

  • Central Market + Cooking Class + Coffee Tasting
  • Craft Beer + Street food tasting in La Floresta
  • San Francisco Market + Colaciones en la Cruz Verde + Paila Ice Cream San Agustín Ice Cream Shop
  • +593 2993300
  • mercadeo@quito-turismo.gob.ec
  • Passage Oe3 Río Amazonas N51-20 & Street N50B
    Old airport, Quito

© All rights reserved

Quito Turismo - Visit Quito

  • +593 2993300
  • mercadeo@quito-turismo.gob.ec
  • Passage Oe3 Río Amazonas N51-20 & Street N50B
    Old airport, Quito

© All rights reserved

Quito Turismo - Visit Quito