Having been abroad for the last three weeks means that I haven’t had a chance to eat out in Montréal since my departure. I did, however, eat out for basically all of my meals while I was in Ecuador. In this post, I will recount my top foodie experiences in Ecuador; some which were typical meals and others, well, that were not so typical.
One of the first meals I genuinely enjoyed was camarones al ajo; sautéed shrimp in a garlic sauce. Everything about the sauce, the shrimps and the flavors were so well balanced, that the garlic was never overwhelming as it can be sometimes.
The second meal was a Chinese meal. Surprisingly, there are a lot of Chinese restaurants (referred to as Chifa) in Ecuador, especially in the in-land cities (I was surprised to see that there were very few on the coast). We actually ate Chinese food a number of times, sampling a variety of dishes like: wonton soup, chaulafan (fried rice), tallarín (chow mein) and à la plancha (similar to a chow mein but it’s a sizzling dish without noodles). The dishes were comparable to the Chinese meals prepared in Montréal’s China Town restaurants and were delicious (hence why we ate a lot of Chinese food).
Once we hit the coast, the local dishes changed as well. Instead of being meat focused, they were now fish and seafood focused. In Guayaquil, we went to an all-you-can-eat cangrejo (crab) restaurant. For $20 USD I would not recommend it, as it takes a lot of work and effort to get to the crab meat, especially when the only tool you are given is a hammer. After about six cangrejos or so each, my boyfriend and I were both tired from the work we had to put in. As well, the crabs were small in comparison to crab we are used to consuming in Canada (Alaskan crab) and definitely was not as tasty. The waiter told us they had been experiencing issues with their crab supply, saying that they were normally quite larger. Nonetheless, it was a fun and fishy experience.
One of the most typical dishes from the coast has to be ceviche; raw fish or seafood that cooks in a “sauce” made of lemon juice, onions, tomatoes and others. Recipes vary from one place to another, which we can testify to. My favorite ceviche de camaron (shrimp ceviche) was Guayaquil’s, as I liked their “sauce” the most. There was just the right amount of everything in it. My boyfriend however preferred the ceviche from Salinas, as it is more tomatoey; that is how he prepares it at home. We also had some in Puerto López and both did not enjoy it much; I thought the “sauce” tasted like nothing and was missing some essential seasoning.
While in Salinas, we went to Cevicheria Lojanita, one of the most popular seafood restaurants in town. My boyfriend had the shrimp ceviche, while I ordered the tallarín mariscos (seafood noodles). For just $10 USD, it was a very generous portion; there was enough for at least two! The dish came with one crab, a scampi, large and small shrimp, slices of octopus and calamari, mussels, mini clams, pieces of fish, long slices of plantain (no clue why those were included) and an assortment of bits and pieces of other seafood. The sauce that covered the noodles was interesting, it reminded me of a pad thai a little.
We also ate at two excellent Italian restaurants (yes, Italian) while I was in Ecuador. As mentioned, Italian food is one of my favorites. Therefore, whenever I travel for any extended period of time, I always find myself craving the divine goodness of pasta and pizza.
Our first stop was at Pigro in Montañita, rated as the #1 restaurant in town. Although the pasta wasn’t as good as I had hoped it would be, the seafood marinara entrée was divine. They successfully balanced all of the flavors of the sauce: tomato, onion, garlic, olive oil, herbs, spices and salt. The seafood was cooked to perfection and went well with the sauce it was in. The whole was served nice and hot, with slices of bread for dipping.
Our second stop was at Bellitalia in Puerto López. We especially liked this spot, as it had a cozy, homey and rustic Italian vibe. The owners were an old couple: the woman being clearly Italian and in charge of the kitchen, whilst her husband was very well versed in a few languages and he served as the host and waiter. Although we both very much enjoyed the dishes we ordered, when we saw the spaghetti alle vongole go by to another table, we wish we had chosen that dish! As it was our last night in Puerto López, we will have to wait till the next time to try their other delicious pasta dishes (the shrimp and salmon pasta, along with the gnocchi plate also looked very tasty).
We both ended up choosing rather safe choices; Alex got the spaghetti bolognese and I chose the homemade tagliatelle with a tomato and fresh basil sauce. Both were delicious and definitely satisfied my pasta cravings. For dessert, we had the tiramisu, which was equally as delicious as the pastas.
Overall, I enjoyed the food variety in Ecuador. I was happy to eat typical and local dishes, but also to indulge in some of my favorite cuisines. However, I did find the in-land cuisine to be quite greasy. A lot of the dishes are fried in one way or another, like: fritada, chicharrón, empanadas, apanada and papi pollo. Also common to South American countries, vegetables aren’t super present in meals. I definitely missed eating those on a regular basis. Looking forward to a good salad now that I’m back in the 514 🙂
Wanna know more about Ecuador? Click here for the travel aspect of my trip!