Published on January 13th, 2015 | by Mark Chesnut


Must-Try Ecuadorean Food: A Tasty Quito Travel Guide

During my most recent trip to Quito, Ecuador (where I covered and moderated two panels at the South America Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference), I had the good fortune to be treated to some of the most delicious Ecuadorean food I’ve ever had.

According to the chef at Hasta La Vuelta, Señor, a delightful restaurant in Quito’s historic center, Ecuadorian cuisine wasn’t served much to foreign visitors in earlier years. It wasn’t until the Hotel Quito (which at the time was an InterContinental hotel) placed locro de papa on its menu that upscale globetrotters were introduced to the nation’s traditional flavors inside a major hotel.

Today, all that’s changed. A recent program called Cocina Quiteña (Quito Cuisine) has highlighted the diverse array of tastes available on traditional menus, which are broken down into four time periods: pre-Hispanic, colonial, republic and modern. Each era is worth exploring; here are some of the most delicious examples of Ecuadorean food to sample (and stay tuned to for a listing of some of my favorite restaurants in Quito where you can find these tasty dishes).

Locro de papa: This rich potato stew was an Inca favorite long before the Europeans arrived, and today it’s one of my personal favorite dishes in Quito. Creamy and satisfying, it’s often prepared with onions, garlic, cheese and avocado slices.

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Pernil: Baked pork is a revered dish in many parts of Latin America, and Ecuador is no exception. Pigs from Spain were likely the source for the first cooks who made pernil, which is often served at festive occasions, prepared with lemon, achiote, oregano, salt and garlic.

Hornado: Ecuadorean roast pork is served with agrio, a tangy sauce, and can be a filling and tasty main course.

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Seco de chivo: Braised goat stew is another favorite, although — in spite of its name — it can also be made with lamb. The Quito version is usually served with yellow rice and a whole potato.

Dulce de higos con queso: If you have a sweet tooth and also like fruit and cheese, you won’t want to miss this tempting dessert. Fig preserves in thick spice syrup are served with a chunk of fresh cheese.

Empanada de Viento: Literally a “wind empanada,” this treat is puffed impossibly big, like a pita that’s ready to explode. (I especially enjoyed this at the restaurant called Hasta La Vuelta Señor; see below for my roundup of the best restaurants in and around Quito for sampling Ecuadorean cuisine.)

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Ecuadorean Drinks
Rosero: This popular beverage, which dates to the late 18th century, is made with hominy and a variety of fruit, including strawberries. Sugar, cinnamon and cloves round out the flavors that populate this mouthwatering Ecuadorean drink.

Canelazo: My all-time favorite warm cocktail, canelazo is an Andean treat, a spiced cinnamon cocktail prepared with sugar and aguardiente (sugar cane moonshine); a variation is made with naranjilla juice. It’s a perfect warm-up on a chilly day, and I loved it during one of my recent visits to the city of Cuenca, where it was served upon arrival at the hotel where I stayed.

More info about travel to Quito, visit the Quito Turismo website.

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About the Author

The founder and editor of, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.

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