City Travel South America

Must Eat: The Very Best Street Food in Quito | Ecuador

Best Street Food in Quito, Ecuador - Helado

As far as I’m concerned, the best way to experience the culinary scene of a country is by eating street food. I do love to eat, and after a rather bland encounter with Colombian fare two years ago, I was a bit worried for Ecuador. Was I doomed for two months of deep-fried, unseasoned, and completely unsatisfied dining?

Well, it turns out the street food in Quito is actually quite delicious. I never had trouble discovering a new favorite dish by standing in the longest line at the littlest stalls I could find. With herb salads, unconventional cheeses, and plenty of hot sauce to go around, Ecuador has everything delicious if you just know where to look.

Planning a visit to Quito? Getting into the street food in Quito is one of the best experiences in Ecuador! Here are some of our favorites.

15 Best Street Foods in Quito


Ecuador’s signature dish is what my ideal omelet would look like when deconstructed. The dish is tortillas (potato omelet) topped with fried egg, beet, avocado, salad, chorizo, and salsa on the side. For just $2.50, llapingacho is definitely one of the best street foods in Quito and an excellent way to get an introduction to local flavors.Llapingacho at Mercado Central in Quito

Find it: Mercado Central, Quito

Mote con chicarrón

Mote con chicarrón is a mix of corn and hominy topped with shredded chicarrón and salsa. While the idea of eating chicharrón from a wicker basket took a minute to get used to, Mote ended up being one of most filling and widely available street foods in Quito.

Find it: Mote con chicarrón is easiest to find in the plazas around Quito. Look for crowds clustered around, and you’ll get a styrofoam bowl filled to the brim!

Green Mango with Salt

Ecuador was the place where I officially traded in my sour candy habit in for green mangos with salt. As the mangos are served unripe, they are extremely sour. Along with a packet of wholly unnecessary salt and a splash of lime juice, this snack is super sour and super delicious.Best Street Food in Quito, Ecuador

Find it: El Ejido Park, Quito


Fritada is basic in all of its parts, but delicious when served together. The combo of Ecuadorian tortilla (mashed potato cakes) with spiced pork first boiled then fried in its own fat, makes for a killer takeaway lunch.

Find it: Mercado Central, Quito

Fruit or Fruit Juice

Fruit is probably the easiest transition into adventurous eating. Just take a trip to the market, and pick out whatever catches your eye! In Ecuador, don’t forget to taste maracuya (passion fruit juice), the very popular tomate del arbol, or one of the many freshly squeezed juices!

Sugar Cane Juice Stand

Sugar Cane Juice

Fruits at Mercado Central

Find it: Mercado Central, Quito


I’m not sure I’d ever eat fast food again if empanadas were so widely available at home. Each destination in South America has its own take on the snack, but in Ecuador, be sure to try empanadas de viento (a fluffy, fried cheese empanada dusted with sugar) or de verde (a green plantain empanada). Crunchy on the outside and squishy on the inside, empanadas are a predictably awesome option for street food in Quito.

Empenadas in Quito
Find it: Cafetería Modelo, Quito


A mash of cooked plantains, cheesy eggs, and sausage makes Tigrillo the next best thing for anyone missing a more traditional American breakfast.

Find it: La Hueca Guayaca, Quito

Merienda or Almuerzo

The soup, juice, and main course of merienda is everyday lunch for most Ecuadorians. For just a fraction of the cost ($2.50-$3) of the a la carte menu, you can fill up on a cheaper-than-you-can-cook-it lunch.

Best Street Food in Quito, Ecuador - Menu del Dia
Find it: Anywhere! Find the menu that appeals to you most on the signs posted outside before picking a place. Look for a crowd to find local favorites.


Love it or hate hotdogs, Salchipapas is a big part of the Ecuador snacking experience. French fries are just a base for the mayonnaise, ketchup, other salsas, and weirdly sliced hotdogs that go on top.

Find it: My favorite spot was on Calle Guyaquil, but you can find the dish just about anywhere. A bad order of salchipapas can be really bad! Trust the locals when looking for a spot.

Chochos, Chifles, y Tostados

Chochos (fried Andean beans), chifles (fried plantains), and tostados (toasted corn) renewed the enthusiasm I once had for salted popcorn. These are super-addictive Quito street food options, and available just about everywhere.

Street Food in Quito - Tostadas

Find it: Corner stores, street corners, and as an appetizer at many restaurants!


In Quito, vendors hawk cones of soft serve vanilla swirled with dulce de leche or blackberry by the roadside, handing them out as fast as the cars can pass. Of course, we had to try it out ourselves! Even the businessmen go for an afternoon ice cream in Quito, and that’s something we can get behind. Tip: You’re also sure to see a fluffy, ice-cream like dessert on the street called espumillas. It’s a room temperature merengue and quite disappointing, so don’t get ’em confused!

Best Street Food in Quito, Ecuador - Helado
Best Street Food in Quito, Ecuador - Helado

Find it: Helados Himalaya, Quito


Humitas is a corn-husk wrapped dish resembling a tamale, made with local corn, onion, egg, and occasionally a bit of cheese. Typically served as breakfast, we would happily replace our white bread toast with freshly made humitas.

Find it: Mercado Central, Quito

Colombian Food

While we had a dull culinary experience in Colombia, some of our very favorite street foods in Ecuador have origins in the neighboring country. What could be better than a fried plantain topped with stewed, spicy meat (patacones) or meat stuffed, fried potatoes (papas rellenas)?

Street Food in Quito - Papas Rellenas

Find it: Mercado Central, Quito

Locro de Papa

If you thought broccoli and cheese soup was decadent, just wait until you try Locro de Papa — a soup made with milk, cheese, and big chunks of potato.

Find it: Mercado Central, Quito

Canelazo + Beer

While locals rarely mix their meals with their drinks, that doesn’t mean it’s hard to find a drink. Join in on the fun and sip on a strong order of canelazo— a mix of aguardiente, naranjilla juice, and spices — or a good old fashioned lager (Brahma or Pilsener). If you just can’t take another lager, enjoy one of the cool craft beer bars scattered around the city.

Beer in Ecuador
Find it: Anywhere on La Ronda or Bandidos Brewery

Quito Food Tour

Check out the Sweets & Culinary Tour ($104) for a glimpse at some of Ecuador’s best street food. And when you book a food tour through our link, it will help support this blog at no cost to you.

Visiting Ecuador? Don't forget to try out the must eat street food in Quito! Empanadas and helado are just a start!

What is your favorite street food in Quito? Anything you think we missed? And if you’re traveling in Ecuador…


  • Reply
    The Very Best Cooking Class in Lima with Yummy Peru - Travel Outlandish
    December 21, 2016 at 4:41 am

    […] been one of the hardest parts of life on the road. South America has some seriously amazing food, but it also feels like we’ve eaten enough french fries for an entire […]

  • Reply
    January 15, 2017 at 9:59 pm


    • Reply
      Taylor Record
      January 17, 2017 at 12:19 am

      Both are so amazing, Lili! We saw some chorizo salchipapas, and I’m still regretting that we never tried them.

  • Reply
    Anthony Horovitz
    February 14, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Really mouthwatering and yummy foods.

    • Reply
      Taylor Record
      February 15, 2017 at 1:16 am

      Thanks, Anthony! It was a pretty delicious place to travel. Have you been?

  • Reply
    July 14, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Awesome tips guys! getting there next Sat. Ill make sure Ill try the salchipapas con Chorizo as well!

    • Reply
      Taylor Record
      July 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

      Hey Jonas. So jealous! I found an empanada for $5 a couple of months ago in San Francisco and it about did me in. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    In terms of fruit and fruit juices, were you worried at all about getting sick? I heard you aren’t supposed to drink the water and I assume the fruit is washed in water? Thank you for the tips!!

    • Reply
      Taylor Record
      December 21, 2017 at 9:24 pm

      It’s always good to consider, Heather! I’d recommend ordering fruits with a peel (ie mango, orange, papaya, etc.) and taking a look at how they clean/rinse out the blender from the person before. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    August 12, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Lovely article!!
    Just one thing. It’s called tostado, not tostada. And it’s toasted corn. Chochos are cooked beans, but not the not the popular kind of beans. They are the Andean version of the European lupini beans.

    • Reply
      August 16, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      Hey Salome. I heard it said a million times, but always thought it ended with an “a”. Thanks for the update! Are you living in Ecuador now?

Leave a Reply

Discover more from Travel Outlandish

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading