We tried many delicious Ecuadorian dishes during our trip to Ecuador with Gate 1 Travel.
Ecuador is a small country with an extensive culinary reputation. From the coastal seafood of the Pacific to the Andean highlands to the Amazon rainforest, Ecuadorian cuisine is as diverse as the country itself.
Stews and Soups in Ecuador
Having grown up surrounded by mountains in Bogotá, Colombia, I am a soup lover. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of soups in Ecuador. We spent our first night in Quito, and after a long flight from Miami, I needed a little soup to warm me up. As we continued to explore the Andean region of Ecuador, I continued to try different soups.
Ecuadorian food is hearty and filling, and stews and soups are a popular way to warm up on a cold day.
Locro de papa
This hearty soup is made with potatoes, corn, and cheese and is often served with avocado. Locro is a popular dish in the Andean region of Ecuador and is a great way to warm up on a cold day.
When we visited Ecuador with Gate 1 Travel, we visited a beautiful Hacienda in the mountains of Patate. The weather was cold, it had rained most of the afternoon, and we were tired from all of the day’s wonderful activities. When we arrived at Hacienda Leito, and I was given the choices for appetizers, I knew I had to have Locro de Papas, and I was so happy I did. I loved it!
This delicious stew is made with different kinds of meat, vegetables, and starches such as yuca, potato, or plantain.
If Sancocho is on the menu, you bet I will order it. I love soups, and this is a hearty soup that generally fills me up and warms me up. To me, Sancocho feels like home. It reminds me of the ones my mom and my grandmother used to make for me when I was a little girl growing up in Colombia. Although the ones below are Ecuatorian Sancochos, the idea of a Sancocho is the same. It’s a delicious soup with meats, vegetables and starches.
The first Sancocho I had in Ecuador was at the Hilton Colón the day we arrived in Quito, but I forgot to take a photo. The first photo is the one I ordered for lunch at a small restaurant in downtown Otavalo. Finally, on our last day in Ecuador, back in Quito, I ordered Sancocho at Hostería Papagayo, and that’s the second photo.
Ecuadorian Ceviche is a refreshing seafood dish with fresh fish or shrimp cured in citrus juice, onions, and cilantro. Ceviche is a popular dish in many coastal countries, but Ecuadorian ceviche is known for its use of high-quality seafood and its unique flavor. Although Ecuadorians consider it more an appetizer than a soup, it can look like a soup as it has a lot of liquid.
I am personally not a fan of seafood, but my husband Bas loves it. Before traveling to Ecuador, many of our Ecuadorian friends had told us to try the Ceviche. Bas loved the flavors, and now he highly recommends it to everyone traveling to Ecuador. He loved that it was served with plantain chips, and that added a little yummy crunch.
Traditional Ecuadorian Dishes
You’ll find several traditional dishes in Ecuador, such as cuy (roasted guinea pig), Llapingachos, and hornado (roasted pork).
Llapingachos are potato pancakes that are made with mashed potatoes and cheese. They are often served with a fried egg and a side of ceviche or encocado.
I first tried Llapingachos at Quito’s La Mitad del Mundo (The Middle of the World). I asked the server for recommendations, and she told me my son, and I would love Llapingachos. She wasn’t wrong. Our first lunch in Ecuador was delicious. I ordered a picada that came with different meats, a fried egg, a salad, and a side of Llapingachos.
Later when we got to la Casa del Suizo in the Ecuadorian Amazon, I was so happy seeing Llapingachos for lunch in the buffet. I had to have a few more. They are delicious.
Cuy is a roasted guinea pig dish that is traditional in the Andes and is often served with potatoes and corn. Cuy is not for everyone, but it is a unique and delicious experience. My husband Bas, a chef, loved it.
Humitas are corn tamales filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables. They are a popular dish in the Andean region of Ecuador and are often served as a snack or appetizer.
Hornado is a roasted pork dish that is slow-cooked over a wood fire and is typically served with rice, potatoes, and vegetables. Hornado is a popular dish in the Andean region of Ecuador and is often made for special occasions.
Empanadas de Viento
Empanadas de viento. Viento = wind. These delicious empanadas are filled with cheese, and when the cheese cooks, it creates a little pocket of air hence the name.
We enjoyed empanadas de Viento at the entrance of El Pailón del Diablo near Baños in Ecuador. They were absolutely delicious.
These are just a few delicious dishes you can try in Ecuador. With its diverse cuisine, Ecuador is a great place to explore the flavors of South America.
Other foods we tried while traveling through Ecuador
We made several stops between cities as we traveled Ecuador with Gate 1 Travel. From the Mountains to the Amazon and then from the Amazon to the mountains, we got to try many different fruits.
One of the amazing things about exploring Ecuador with Gate 1 Travel is the unexpected. As we drove from the Amazon to Baños, our bus unexpectedly stopped. Our Tour Guide Giovanna got off the bus and returned with something in her hands a few minutes later.
Source: Kathy D Travels
This thing looked like a giant peapod. Giovanna explained that those were called Guabas, and she showed us how to eat them.
Source: Kathy D Travels
She went row by row on our bus, opening the Guaba and showing us what looked like little cotton balls already pre-cut. We each grabbed one and tried it. Basically, it’s a black seed covered by sweet pulp. You eat around the seed and then spit it out. The flesh/pulp was very tasty.
Pepino Dulce / Sweet Cucumber
During our visit to the Plaza de Mercado in Otavalo, Ecuador, we tried Pepino Dulce.
The Pepino Dulce literally tastes like a cucumber with a sweet hint. It was yummy and refreshing.
Natural Juices are also very popular around Ecuador. Every single one of our hotels had natural juices readily available for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a snack. On the first day of our tour with Gate 1 Travel, we started it with a toast of natural juices. This set the tone for our vacation. Simply delicious.
Source: Kathy D Travels
One of my favorite natural juices was the Papallacta Resort and Spa. I had this juice for dinner. It’s called Mixto, which means mixed. It’s half guanábana juice and half blackberry juice. I loved it!
While exploring the Amazon, we spent a day learning from a Kichwa indigenous family. Once we returned to our hotel, our friends at La Casa del Suizo made a special meal that included yuca and suri grubs.
What are Suri?
Suri is a popular food in the Amazon. These Amazonian grubs are the larvae of the palm weevil. They are a great source of protein and vitamins.
During our time in Quito, Ecuador, we saw these adorable Chococuys everywhere. They are tiny chocolate versions of a cuy.
Helado / Ice cream while traveling through Ecuador
This ice cream is made out of vanilla, mora, naranja (orange) and taxo (curuba).
What is Canelazo?
Canelazo is a traditional spiced hot drink from the highlands in Ecuador. It’s perfect for cold nights. It can be served as it is or with a splash of alcohol, depending on your preference.
Other meals, we had white traveling through Ecuador with Gate 1 Travel
Gate 1 Travel provides many high-quality meals when you take one of their tours.
Breakfast generally takes place at the hotel you are staying in, and it could be buffet style or served as individual plates. Options may vary from country to county and hotel to hotel.
In our experience, the buffets were fabulous for breakfast as they provided various options, allowing us to eat comfort foods while also trying some exotic choices of the region. Coffee, tea, and other beverages were always available. We enjoyed delicious fresh fruit juices at every hotel during our last trip with Gate 1 Travel to Ecuador.
Lunch. Some lunches are included with your Gate 1 tour, but sometimes you may also have the opportunity to try something at a local restaurant. Your tour guide will provide some on-point recommendations of places they like. We were satisfied with our tour guide choices.
The lunches that Gate 1 provided were served at beautiful restaurants throughout the country. Gate 1 took the time to carefully vet every restaurant to provide tasty and high-quality lunches for all participants.
When we visited Ecuador with Gate 1, we were given choices on the days lunch was included. We found this very helpful because our tour group had different dietary restrictions such as vegetarianism, no fish, only chicken, multiple allergies, etc. Gate 1 was able to accommodate all of these needs.
Dinner. Most dinners are included in your Gate 1 tour.
When we visited Ecuador, only the first day’s dinner was not included because this was an arrival day, and part of the group didn’t arrive until after dinner. From then on, dinners were served at the hotel we were staying at. Remember that the hotels look out of a storybook, so the delicious food and setting provided a fantastic dining experience. We were also offered choices for dinner to accommodate all tastes and preferences. We found a variety of foods that included known dishes as well as local specialties.
During our trip to Ecuador, we also were provided many “technical stops” to allow people to use public restrooms and buy snacks at gas stations, local markets, and street stands. In addition, our tour guide provided a little treat most days for us to taste local specialties.
Tips for trying Ecuadorian food
- Be adventurous: Ecuadorian cuisine contains unique and flavorful dishes, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
- Ask for recommendations: If you need help with what to order, ask your waiter or waitress for recommendations. They’ll be happy to help you find something that you’ll enjoy.
- Visit local restaurants: The best way to experience Ecuadorian cuisine is to visit local restaurants. These restaurants will serve the most authentic dishes, giving you a better sense of the local culture.
- Try street food: Street food is a great way to experience the flavors of Ecuador on a budget. There are many delicious street food stalls all over the country, so be sure to try some.
I hope you enjoy your culinary journey through Ecuador!