The Historic Center of Quito opens up the doors for moments that ring with authenticity-be it exploring the grandeur of cathedrals and museums, or taking a night to find an out-of-the-way spot to enjoy great food in good company. Keep reading for some of the best restaurants in the capital’s historic center.
Tucked away in a corner of the historic center where the traffic turns quiet as the sun goes down, Los Milagros sits next to a church of the same name and a site where folklore tells of Jesus appearing to a local woman in times past.
The history and culture of the neighborhood isn’t lost on chef Carlos Fuentes, whose menu strives to revive traditional Ecuadorian dishes from the past while celebrating the culture of the country. Ingredients include black corn tortillas-staying true to a recipe used by pre-Incan cultures. Los Milagros’ chicken stew is taken from a recipe that was served the soldiers and heroes of Ecuador’s independence in the 1800s.
The center hosts events by groups that celebrate the music and dance of Ecuador-a great introduction to the country before exploring other regions of the Ecuador or a night celebrating a fun trip before heading off to your next destination.
Vicente Rocafuerte and Fernández Madrid
Jumping into a cooking class at Altamira is a great way to learn about Ecuador’s food while enjoying the hospitality of the French-Ecuadorian owners. Both nationalities weigh in on the menu-crepes from France and potato soup from the Andes have their place, as do daily set lunches in a great spot overlooking the Basilica.
Classes are hands on-starting with choosing a menu and followed by a trip to the market with chef Edwin Yambay. Once back in the friendly confines of the colonial building-Edwin deftly guides you through the recipes of inspired Ecuadorian dishes including Encocado, a fish stew, and ceviche from the coast.
When the different courses are finished, guest chefs enjoy their creations alongside Lucie Besson, a French expat who has a passion for food and hospitality. The best option for contacting them online is their Facebook page.
Caldas y Vargas
With chef Mijael Proaño at the helm, Saguamby restaurant in the historic San Juan neighborhood raises the bar high for great food and service set against an inviting view of the lights and buildings of the historic center.
The revolving tasting menus feature ingredients of the four regions of Ecuador-creatively presented as visually stunning plates that startle the senses with deep flavors. The chef and staff personally take an interest in their guests-stopping by tables to explain the dishes and their relevance to Ecuador. Stop by their Facebook page for a sneak peak at what to expect.
Cotopaxi and Esmeraldas
High Tea at Casa Gangotena
Casa Gangotena is one of Quito’s resplendent hotels-it’s located on Plaza De San Franscisco in a beautifully restored colonial era mansion that pulls out all the stops for discerning travelers from around the world.
One aspect in which the hotel shines is its food. Cordon bleu trained head chef Byron Rivera sets new trends in the city-highlighting the diversity and depth of flavors found in Ecuador.
The chef’s dedication extends to Café Quiteño, Quito’s answer to High Tea. Served in the garden patio-courses of sweet and savory dishes appear that treat the taste buds to unique flavors. Shrimp-filled turnovers, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, white chocolate and lavender bavarois, and fresh herbal tea infusions are a few of the selections on the menu. For a fun time in elegant surrondings that doesn’t break the bank- Café Quiteño gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
Bolivar and Cuenca
Café Dios No Muere is the place to relax before, during, or after spending time in the historic center. It’s a Quito original-owned by an expat from Louisiana whose passion for Cajun food and hospitality turned into an up and down restaurant in the corner of Monastery Santa Catalina-a four hundred year old building on the edge of the San Juan Neighborhood.
Menu items include Cajun shrimp, po boys, specialty cheeses and meats, and a good selection of wine and local microbrews to wash it down. Daily, weekly, and seasonal specials like jambalaya help to spice things up after trying some of the milder, local fare.
Flores y Junin