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

Best Street Food in Quito, Ecuador - Helado

As far as we’re concerned, the best way to experience a city is by eating street food. We do love to eat, and after a rather bland encounter with Colombian fare two years ago, Ecuador had us a bit worried. Were we doomed for two months of deep fried, unseasoned dining?

Well, it turns out the street food in Quito is actually quite delicious. We never had trouble discovering a new favorite dish by standing in the longest line at the littlest holes-in-the-wall we could find. With herby salads, unconventional cheeses, and plenty of hot sauce to go around, Ecuador has all things delicious on offer if you just know where to look.

Visiting Ecuador? Tasting the best street food in Quito is one of the most fun experiences in Ecuador! Here are some of our favorites.

15 best street foods in Quito

1. Llapingachos:

Ecuador’s signature dish is what our dream omelette would look like, deconstructed. The dish is tortillas (potato omelette) 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

2. 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!

3. Green Mango with Salt:

Daniel is not so into this one, but I’ve officially traded in my sour candy habit for green mangos with salt. As the mangos are served unripe, they are extremely sour. 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

4. Fritada:

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 perfect on-the-go lunch.

Find it: Mercado Central, Quito

5. Fruit or Fruit Juice:

Fruit offers 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!

Fruits at Mercado Central

Find it: Mercado Central, Quito

6. Empanadas:

I’m not sure we’d ever eat fast food again if empanadas were so widely available at home. Each South American country 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

7. Tigrillo:

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

8. Merienda or Almuerzo:

The soup, juice, and main course of merienda is everyday lunch for most Ecuadorians. For just a fraction of the price ($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.

9. Salchipapas:

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: Our 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.

10. Chochos, Chifles, y Tostadas:

Chochos (fried beans), chifles (fried plantains), and tostadas (fried corn) renewed the enthusiasm we 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!

11. Helado:

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!

Find it: Helados Himalaya, Quito

12. Humitas:

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

13. 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

14. 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

15. 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: Heading to Bandidos Brewery for a happy hour IPA is always worth it.

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

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7 Comments

  • Reply
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    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
    Lili
    January 15, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    VERY DELICIOUS THE ECUADORIAN FOOD. MY FAVORITE SALCHIPAPAS AND HELADO

    • 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
    Jonas
    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!

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