Done right, eating well in Quito while traveling doesn’t have to break the bank. There are fast food chains that serve up the same old burgers, chicken, and happy meals that bring comfort to those lost in a mass of local set-menu places, rice and bean establishments, and soups stalls that have seen better days.
For those looking for heartier fare, there are options that take you away from the typical almuerzo stalls, and into the international offerings that the city is becoming known for. Keep reading for ten places to find cheap eats that make the grade while in Quito.
The Historic Center
Quito’s historic center is home to a great mix of restaurants, pubs, cafes, and ice cream places. It’s part of the fun to walk around and window shop in establishments where locals gather at lunch for a traditional meal. As more people are discovering a part of the city that used to close early and cater to tourists on tours-there are a few cheap and cheerful places that are hidden a stone’s throw away from the plazas and churches.
Viva Zapata is easy to miss. Located a few blocks from Plaza Grande past a café with a large mural, the shop front is deceiving. If you look closely, the telltale signs are two small Mexican flags hanging from the doorway.
Once inside things come into focus. Mexican art, festive decorations, and Chef Mauricio and his wife Chef Carolina greet those who enter.
The menu is classic Mexican. Tacos, burritos, mote, posole, and a killer tortilla and avocado soup are hints that this isn’t your typical restaurant.
Mauricio and his wife hail from Mexico, and everything on the menu is good. The service is friendly with the whole family visiting tables and taking care of preparing dishes from scratch. The food is mouth-watering for those who like traditional Mexican fare, and the value is right on the money. Add in reasonably priced Coronas and margaritas, and it’s a goto spot between legs of an adventure in Ecuador.
Garcia Moreno E2-60 y Manabi
Cafe San Blas is a small, unassuming, family-run eatery that fills up nightly with hungry patrons eying the small menu of pizza, pasta, and heaping plates of Italian food, including mouth-watering deserts.
The mother-daughter team behind the charming restaurant makes it a fun cantina for good food, getting away from the neighboring hostels for a few hours, and enjoying the romance of the historic center. Mom is found behind the bar-taking orders, serving food and drinks, and checking on orders in the kitchen-footsteps away-it is a small spot.
Her daughter, a classically trained chef-holds the kitchen down with her team. Pizzas come out of the oven piping hot, pasta has just the right kick of spice, and desserts like Tiramisu are made daily.
Jose Antepara y Vicente Leon
Sharma places abound in Quito’s New Town. Walk down any given street near Plaza Foch and storefront after storefront has a layered spit-roasting chicken in the window.
El Arabe takes the game up a notch, serving some of the best shawarma in the Mariscal, and a full menu of Middle Eastern food that hits the spot.
Falafel, hummus, quipped, chichlik, dawali, and combination platters quickly disappear off of plates, and more orders and rounds of beers are the norm for a fun dinner before headed out for the night.
Reina Victoria 627 y Carrion
A coffee lover’s dream café located in the La Floresta neighborhood of the New Town, Isveglio hits the right tone and balance in their blends. The owner, David Miño was the first-ever national barista champion of Ecuador.
Also on the menu are goto breakfast plates and a selection of a la carte poached eggs on wheat bread with avocado, and avocado and ham. Small lunch plates include sandwiches, and there are plenty of sweets to treat yourself after a day of exploring the city.
For locals and travelers alike, Bai Tam is a great find-they focus on serving tasty Vietnamese sandwiches for under four dollars. It’s a rare treat for those with a craving for healthy, filling food that ticks all the right boxes.
Menu items include shrimp, tofu, and traditional beef, chicken and pork recipes that bring the zest and zing to the table while offering a selection of juices and deserts that make it a place to return to when looking for cheap eats in Quito.
Leonidas Plaza y Vicente Ramón Roca
For Greek food that includes chicken and beef wrapped in bacon, mushrooms, and chorizo skewers or sandwiches good coffee, and traditional sweets, Suvlaki does the trick. It is good value food that doesn’t shy away from authentic yogurt sauces and marinades.
Av. Amazonas N21-108 y Robles
Located in the northern business district of Quito, Rómolo y Remo can be a tricky location to find-it is downstairs next to the Hotel Dann Carlton, a bit out of the way for travelers staying in the city center.
Once found, the busy Italian restaurant is a favorite of locals, people in town between legs of their journeys, and families. The hardy menu has a hearty selection of tasty dishes to choose from. Seventeen pasta dishes including gnocchi, vegetarian lasagna, ravioli, fettuccine, and spaghetti-sit aside 14 pizzas, focaccia, salads, and Minestrone soup.
Named after the twin brothers of Roman mythology, the popular eatery is a common ground for people across the city where plates are shared, bottles of wine are reasonably priced, and the staff are young men and women who are often working their first jobs-making the energy of both the staff, and the clientele a refreshing change from the somewhat lackluster service found elsewhere in the city.
Av. República de El Salvador y Irlanda
Also located in the La Carolina neighborhood, La Temakeria is a reasonably priced sushi joint that stands out in the crop of higher priced Japanese restaurants in the capital.
All the favorites are on the menu-including sashimi and California rolls, served creatively using fresh ingredients. Also on the menu are ceviche, miso soup, and spring rolls.
San Salvador y, Av. Eloy Alfaro
A few blocks away from Parque Carolina is Quito Pizza Co, where pizza by the slice fresh out of the oven brings a smile to the faces of people looking for a quick bite to eat while exploring the city.
New York style flat-crust pizza is the name of the game, and cheap beer and retro-chic decor make it a place to go with friends and spend an hour or so catching up before wandering the trails, ponds, and athletic fields of the nearby park.
Av. Eloy Alfaro N34-94 y Catalina Aldaz
Not your average burger place, Las Hamburguesas de Manuela is on a quiet corner near to the busy intersection of Coruña and 12 de Octubre.
In addition to hearty burgers with all the toppings, the restaurant has veggie options that bring people back again and again including garbanzo and black bean burgers. Daily and weekly specials are game changers, making it a small, out-of-the-way find for travelers who want to get away from the tourist places with high prices.
Calle Cristobal Gangotena y La Coruna