Spanish in Ecuador

Eating Out

A person sitting down to eat

Ecuadorian cuisine tends to be somewhat regional. In the mountains, potatoes and pork form a solid base to the cuisine, whereas seafood plays a larger role near the coast. White rice with olive oil is a staple, eaten with both lunch and dinner. Beans are popular, particularly lentils; a favorite Ecuadorian dinner would be rice, lentils and fish. Corn is one of the more popular vegetables, always served on the cob and particularly delicious when barbecued. Other vegetables, such as green beans, carrots and tomatoes, are widely used. Tropical fruits like papaya, mango, pineapple and many different type of bananas are abundant, eaten fresh or combined in juices.

Restaurants in Ecuador range from the very expensive to the very inexpensive. This does not include the many tempting stands on the street that serve delicious food but are not necessarily recommended for tourists because of food-safety concerns. One must always make a point, however, of eating at least once in one of the many restaurants that are attached to a roadside stand. Usually these restaurants are found outside of the cities, are very inexpensive and family-owned. The food is cooked outside and served inside by waiters.

Many local restaurants will have a daily "Menu of the Day." This special is ideal for students or anyone else on a budget. For a single price, a meal with soup, juice, main dish (usually meat, rice, and vegetables), and dessert will be served. One must always ask if the juice has been made with filtered water and decline if it has been made with regular tap water. Also uncooked vegetables can be a safety problem if they have been washed in regular tap water.
In general, one does not need to make reservations in a restaurant. It is courteous to leave a tip of approximately five to ten percent of the bill, with $2.00 as a minimum and $5.00 as a maximum. Often, in more expensive restaurants, a charge of between 18-20% of the total amount will be added to the bill as a gratuity. In this case, it is not necessary to leave another full tip; however, it is not unusual to leave an additional dollar or two on the table.

International restaurants include Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Italian and French. Not only are these restaurants available in the cities, but usually one can find a fine array of international food booths in the food court of most malls.