Quito has become a city obsessed with food. We’ve observed its gradual culinary evolution down the years. Today, at all hours, you can find first class restaurants for all kinds of palates: from quick bites to sevencourse tasting menus.
We’ve put together a range of (really good!) suggestions to enjoy, whether a romantic dinner or family reunion, with friends or for business, at any time of the day.
The day in Quito begins with verve. The capital’s powerful sun imbibes us with vitamin D and K, readying us for the day ahead. Traditionally, we wake up early, close to sunrise, which here on the Equator is always at the same time year-round, 6 AM. The brunch kings are the Americans, (where breakfast is officially an excuse for the day with dessert …) and the stalwart Magic Bean hits the mark with its pancakes with all trimmings, smoothies and juices. Or try Hay Pan, an extension of Chez Jerome where the tradition of good French baking combines with Jerome’s excellence: the perfect way to start your day on the right foot.
For a lazy Sunday exploring the Old Town, Casa Gangotena’s brunch has become a firm city favorite, with every type of delight on offer and, you’ve been warned, unlimited sangría!
The weekend is a great excuse to sleep in, of course… or to rise early and head out to explore. Don’t hesitate to stop at the Café de la Vaca (in Machachi or Cayambe) on your way to the north, which apart from good locros, offers breakfast all day and a rural and family atmosphere. In La Casa de Rafa in Tumbaco, the all-you-can-eat is an endless festival (always more than usual) inside an “energy dome” (a curious octagonal structure), at the foot of the Ilaló mountain. Mu Lalá meanwhile offers its signature breakfasts in a country and nature-filled atmosphere in Tumbaco, with artisanal breads and traditional culinary creations. In Cumbayá, seek out Mercado Mixtura inside the artsy hub, La Tejedora. It offers an exquisite selection of breakfasts.
We recommend you try the toasts with salmon and poached eggs (these places require a reservation on weekends!).
Lunch options are always diverse. Fortunately, Quito is very cosmopolitan and for years it has attracted people from many parts of the world, who have shared their culinary cultures with us. This is the case of Carmine, for example, which brings deep-rooted Italian traditions to a beautifully landscaped house on Calle Catalina Aldaz (it’s nice to see it with light), a great place to reserve for lunch.
For good Lebanese food, try Baalbek, for delicious morsels of Middle Eastern flavor. True to his lineage, owner Roberto will sit with you at the table, making sure you know how to choose from the menu what is best for your taste buds. In Muckis, a German-inspired menu combines a wide and fresh array of ingredients, great taste and fine products, with excellent meats, sauces and the beauty of a country home worth experiencing (some prefer to get hungry hiking nearby Mount Ilaló).
And for a nice taste of Mexico, there is no ambience like La Fonda del Parque, at the La Floresta roundabout, ready to surprise you with tasty sincronizadas, fajitas (the shrimp variety is a specialty), micheladas “colder that your ex’s heart”, jamaica juice and chili that kills (watch out for the bottle of Satan’s blood!). For the finest Argentinian steaks, you can’t miss Los Troncos.
For a bit of Ecuadorian food, seek out Mi Cocina. We recommend their delicious locro.
Or why not something “from sea to table”?
Yes, it’s possible, even here in the high Andes, at ZFood: you can even feast on fish from the Galápagos. The menu, like at the beach, is based on the catch of the day. The product arrives fresh, straight from the coast, to the mountains… like magic. A delicacy.
Chez Jerome: Table for two, a nice tablecloth, excellent wine, comme il faut, and the classic confits, potages and other delights of one of the world’s most influential culinary traditions. There is also excellent French food at Rincón de Francia, which one forgets amid the rising gastro scene, but it has certainly been an ambassador of Gallic food in the city for decades, transporting you to a Quito (back in the eighties) when it was one of the only infallible restaurants around. Start off with delicious mussels in garlic.
For lovers of traditional Japanese food (and not the countless hip, fusion ventures of today), Tanoshii is still the place to go, with authentic dishes that are not that easy to come by. Asia also has, in Ati, another tasty representative, delicious Korean barbecue that is well worth it.
Zazu is another fine dining stalwart in the city, with an innovative menu and an excellent tasting experience at dinner, combing trend-setting Latino-Mediterranean inflections that has kept it popular for over a decade. Meanwhile, Theatrum boasts among the best Ecuadorian gourmet cuisine in Quito (complemented by excellent Mediterranean dishes): a dream evening if you organize well and attend a show at the Teatro Sucre (the restaurant is on the second floor). In La Floresta, another excellent option is La Gloria, which fuses Peruvian, Mediterranean and Ecuadorian cuisine into one delicious, varied and unique menu. Enjoy it with some excellent wines.
Finally, Al Mercato has become a new favorite of ours. On the outside it may seem rather unimpressive, but do walk inside to find a cozy ambience and a simple yet exquisite Italian menu (don’t miss out on the eggplant parmigiana).