What to eat and drink in Ecuador

The delicacies of Ecuador varies significantly relying on the place you might be within the nation. Alongside the coast, seafood reigns supreme, whereas the Andean highlands function potatoes, corn, pork and different earthy substances. 

The Amazon (Oriente area) additionally has its specialties, together with river fish fired up in imaginative methods. Wherever you go, custom performs a deep position within the cooking, with some recipes predating the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. This information to dishes and the perfect locations to strive them may help you select the right Ecuadorian meal.

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Guayaquil is the place to strive encebollado (fish stew) © Fotos593 / Shutterstock

Indulge within the seafood of Guayaquil 

The lowland metropolis of Guayaquil on Ecuador’s southwest coast has its personal culinary hits, together with cangrejo (crab), ceviche (extra soup-like than its Peruvian cousin), and numerous rice and seafood combos. The town’s most well-known dish, nevertheless, is encebollado (fish stew). It is eaten always of day (even within the morning as a remedy for a hangover) and is normally made with tuna or albacore, together with tomato, coriander and the leaves from the cassava shrub. It could even be garnished with pickled pink onion rings, ripe avocado, banana chips or bread, plantain, and popcorn.

The place to strive it: The upscale Los Cangrejos de Pepe Loza is a best choice for a seafood feast. Many locals take into account La Casa del Encebollado to serve the perfect encebollado on the town — as one may count on for a spot that has been named after the dish. 

Feast on chugchucara in Latacunga 

The central highland city of Latacunga attracts vacationers who come to go to the nationwide park surrounding Cotopaxi volcano, or to discover the indigenous villages alongside the Quilotoa Loop. But the central highland city can be well-known for its chugchucara, a tasty plate of fritada (fried chunks of pork, served with mote – hominy), chicharrón (fried pork pores and skin), potatoes, tostada (toasted corn) and different sides. The hearty, calorie-filled meal makes the right ending to a day of climbing.

The place to strive it: Latacunga’s essential market (the mercado cerrado) has meals stalls doling out piping-hot servings of chugchucara. There’s additionally the well-known Chugchucaras La Mamá Negra, an atmospheric restaurant the place the meal is fired up in a wood-burning oven. 

Coconut shrimp stew (encocado), served in earthenware dish, with rice and fried plantains
The meals tradition on Ecuador’s north coast means extra seafood dishes than pork © Ecuadorpostales / Shutterstock

Hear the waves crashing on the seashore whereas having fun with Afro-Ecuadorian cooking

Esmeraldas province on the north coast of Ecuador serves among the nation’s finest seafood. With some 70% of the inhabitants right here of African descent, the delicacies and tradition are fairly totally different from different components of Ecuador. Relatively than pork and potatoes, seafood performs a starring position in dishes like encocado, a flavorful fish or combined seafood stew cooked in coconut milk with spices.

The place to strive it: Within the seaside city of Sua, the easy, open-sided Restaurante d’Anita serves excellent encocado in addition to different seafood dishes.

Dine on Ecuador’s signature highland dish 

Probably the most conventional meals of Ecuador’s highlands is cuy, or roasted guinea pig, which is usually served on a spit and complete. Whereas some guests might balk at consuming cuy, it has been a highland staple for hundreds of years. (In the event you’re in Quito, try the portray of the Final Supper within the Catedral Metropolitana, the place Jesus and disciples collect over a plate of cuy.)  Those that’ve tried it realize it’s scrumptious, with a style someplace between rooster and duck. It’s additionally a sustainable and environmentally pleasant supply of animal protein. 

The place to strive it: You’ll discover cuy offered from market distributors all through the highlands. For a extra upscale expertise, guide a desk at elegant Guajibamba in Cuenca. 

Expertise Amazonian specialties

The Oriente, Ecuador’s easternmost area, is dwelling to Amazonian jungle and forest-fringed cities the place eating places serve up one-of-a-kind tropical flavors. One dish to hunt out is maito, a filet of river fish that’s wrapped within the leaves of bijao, banana or palm after which cooked over a wooden hearth or charcoal. Maitos will be present in most cities, normally steamed along with plantains or yuca, making a wholesome, deliciously filling meal. You may also strive the chontacuro, a protein-rich, fats worm that grows within the core of the chonta palm tree.

The place to strive it: At El Bijao within the riverside city of Misahuallí, you possibly can order a maito or a skewer of grilled chontacuros whereas watching mischievous monkeys on the central plaza.

A steamed cake wrapped in an achira leaf
Nice desserts are simple to search out in Ecuador © Edgar Daniel Yanchapaxi / Shutterstock

Sweeten your day with an Ecuadorian dessert 

Irrespective of the place you roam in Ecuador, you’re by no means removed from a little bit of candy temptation. Bakeries, road distributors and eating places are all good locations to browse for a wealthy dessert. Sometimes discovered on the coast, flan de piña (pineapple flan) is usually made with coconut or different fruits. It has a custard-like crème brûlée consistency and is flavored with vanilla and rum.

Additionally in style is the ever present pastel de tres leches (three milk cake), a sponge cake made with evaporated milk, condensed milk and thick cream. It may be topped with cream, syrup or fruit.

Quimbolitos are the candy tamales of the nation, made with cornflour, butter, eggs, cheese and raisins, after which cooked wrapped in banana leaves or achira leaves. 

The place to strive them: Overlooking the Plaza Grande in Quito’s historic middle, the Dulcería Colonial whips up traditional Ecuadorian desserts in addition to among the metropolis’s finest espresso drinks. 

There aren’t many selections for vegetarians and vegans 

Ecuador is a difficult place for vegetarian and vegan diners. Put together your self for a food plan of corn, potatoes and beans. You may discover maíz (corn) in lots of shapes and flavors: humitas are evenly sweetened corn dumplings, steamed and served within the corn husks. Tostada (toasted corn) makes a wonderful snack and is usually served as an appetizer in informal eating places. On the streets, it’s also possible to discover distributors promoting tortillas de maiz (skinny corn pancakes) and choclo (grilled corn).

The Andes are the birthplace of the potato and are accorded a respect they hardly ever obtain elsewhere. Dishes like llapingachos (fried potato and cheese pancakes) and locro de papa (a creamy, candy potato soup with avocado and cheese) showcase the versatile tuber, although you may additionally discover it served as an accompaniment to many non-vegetarian dishes. 

Aside from these conventional dishes, Ecuador has a rising variety of vegetarian and vegan eating places. You’ll discover the perfect selections in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.