The food in Ecuador varies with the region, as the cuisine has evolved to match locally sourced goods. Most meals begin with soup, followed by a protein and a starch-heavy main course, then dessert and coffee. In the highlands, pork, chicken, beef, and guinea pig are common and are typically served with rice, corn or potatoes. On the coast, seafood is more abundant, with ceviche - a shrimp dish made from lemon, onions and herbs – being the favorite served with a plantain. Churrasco, grilled meat with chimichurri sauce, avocado and fries, is also popular. Ecuador is a musical nation with a love of dancing and there are many places, particularly in the cities, to go out and have fun.

Bars and Pubbing in Ecuador

Friday and Saturday are the main party nights in Ecuador, with Quito and Guayaquil offering lots of nightlife options, from restaurants to bars, pubs and clubs. The Mariscal, particularly Plaza Foch, is the place to go in the capital, with bars like Huaina (Calama and Reina Victoria, La Marisacal, Quito) and clubs such as No Bar (Calama 380 y Juan Leon Mera, Quito) being favorite dance spots. Varadero (Reina Victoria 1751 and La Pinta, Quito) is known for its live Cuban music, but there are also Irish pubs such as Finn Mccool’s (Diego de Almagro and Pinto, Quito). Most venues are open from 10:00 p.m. until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.

In Guayaquil, the historic district of Las Penas has bars, lounges and restaurants, and is generally considered safe for tourists at night. Diva Nicotina (Steps of Cerro Santa Ana Escalon, General Vernaza, Las Penas, Guayaquil) is a jazz bar that sells Cuban cigars, while La Paleta (Numa Pompillo Llona Las Peñas, Guayaquil) is a cave-like lounge open Tuesday to Saturday.

Tourist areas such as Banos and Montanita have developed reputations as Ecuadorian backpacker party towns. Calle Eloy Alfaro is the bar street of Banos, with the two-story dance venue The Leprechaun (corner Eloy Alfaro and Oriente streets, Banos) its heart and center, known for back-yard bonfires. The action in Montanita is at Cana Grill (Ave de Cocteles, Montanita) on the waterfront, which gets particularly lively around the full moon.

Dining and Cuisine in Ecuador

Quito has some of Ecuador’s best dining. La Choza (12 de Octubre N24-551 y Cordero, Quito) is a family-run restaurant which has been serving traditional cuisine in a cozy, art-filled dining room for 40 years. Zazu (Mariano Aguilera 331 & La Pradera, Quito) is regarded as one of the country’s best restaurants, serving modern Ecuadorian-influenced dishes made from fresh, local ingredients. The sophisticated venue offers tasting menus that change nightly. Quito also has international dining options such as the high-end Dim Sum Bar (Isabel La Catolica n94-464 y Cordero, Quito), which has chic decor and serves Chinese yum cha style food and cocktails.

Guayaquil is known for churrasco, which is grilled beef, available at the highly rated La Parrillada del Nato (Victor Emilio Estrada 1217 y Laureles, Guayaquil). The town also has good seafood, with restaurants such as Caracol Azul (9 de Octubre 1918 y Los Rios, Guayaquil) serving swordfish, prawn, sea bass, and other dishes in a delightful Art Deco building.

The food tends to be more pedestrian outside the main areas, with most of the restaurants in beach towns like Montanita located along the waterfront or on the central square inland in places such as Banos. While fine dining isn’t necessarily common in these regions, empanadas (savory stuffed corn flour pastries) and other street food can be a healthy and delicious snack or cheap Ecuadorian meal.