My favorite thing to eat in Ecuador was raw dark chocolate, hands down, which you already know because I dedicated an entire post to its goodness. The key is to find dark chocolate from a café or chocolatier that only sells chocolate harvested and formed in Ecuador. It’d be silly to go to a country with top quality, award-winning chocolate and consume chocolate from somewhere else. Equally silly would be to douse it in sugar and milk (milk chocolate) or even more sugar (white chocolate) and pretend that’s good. Sure, it’ll probably taste better than Hershey’s, but when you’ve got the option to have the best chocolate in the world, you should choose it. If an actual bar of chocolate isn’t your thing, look no further than hot cocoa, cacao tea, or truffles to satisfy that sweet tooth and give you a taste of the country’s exports.
Every morning I drank my weight in anise tea.
This might say more about me than the quality of the tea, but it is what it is. It began with my having to choose between green tea and anise tea on the first morning and I truly dislike green tea (I know, I know; it’s so good for you). Moments later, I was an anise tea convert. We even made a trip to a local market just before we left to get the quality anise tea rather than the watered-down version in the States.
Because we spent more than half of our days wandering around neighborhoods, we made a habit of stopping into cafés midday. I refuse to quantify the time we actually spent eating in Quito because I know it was what many might consider excessive. Personally, excessive walking equals excessive food intake. It’s about balance, really, and I know that our favorite meals were in places we just happened upon from a hidden chocolate shop in an alley to a bread shop whose fig-centered rolls sent waves of must-eat-now smells down an entire block.
These cafés specialized in everything from local beer to Spanish Tortilla to, you guessed, chocolate confections. One of our top stops midday was at a bakery that excelled in both the gooey-centered pastries and empanadas as well as the flaky-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside bread rolls. While frequenting such cafés, do not forget to order traditional Ecuadorian coffee.
Between meals we also picked out food from nearby street stands, checking to make sure they were frequented by locals before diving into the delectable scents. These stands are where you get things such as crunchy plantains made over charcoal. When you’re that close to the equator it’s all about the tropical fruits, which made it easy to pick the diced fruit salads as our favorite street food. Papayas, mangoes, citrus, pineapple. These are the fruits to load up on while in Quito before you go back home and you have to give someone our arm in exchange for a fresh, meaty pineapple.
– M. Ray Hall
Note: This list is more bland than others we’ve put together due to reintroducing foods into our diets after Colombia’s havoc. There’s a number of spicier, more traditional dishes to savor in Quito. Hunt them down and have them for me.