Traditional Foods In Ecuador (You Have To Try!) - Updated 2021

traditional foods in ecuador

Ecuadorian food dates long back to the Incas, in fact, some of the traditional food of Ecuador might be even older than the Incas. For those of you who don’t know, the Inca empire was spread across most of the Pacific Coast. Hence, they cultivated and ate crops like maize, peppers, tomatoes, quinoa, cherimoya, grains, beans and more. At present, the food in Ecuador is pretty much along the lines of how the Inca people used to eat. However, the food of the locals does change with the location. For example, in the Eastern regions of Ecuador, soup is a speciality whereas, in the southern region, ceviche is very popular. So, if you’re planning to visit Ecuador, it is time to step out of your comfort zone and try these traditional foods in Ecuador.

1. Hornado - slow roasted pig

Rueda de Prensa Campeonato Mundial del Hornado 2016- 16-08-2016 013 (28954331021)
Source: Photo by user Ministerio de Tur... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hornado is basically a slow roasted pig which is usually had during celebrations and special events. Think of the turkey on Thanksgiving; similarly, in Ecuador, the locals choose to roast a whole pig. The pig is freshly carved and served with sides like a garden salad, vegetables, fried potato cakes or more. The meat is supposed to be super crispy on the outside and very tender inside. Hornado Pastuso El Viajero, as the name suggests, is one of the most famous restaurants in Ecuador to eat this speciality dish.

2. Patacones - fried plantain slices

Patacon de Maracaibo
Source: Photo by user Gabriel Miguel Gu... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Patacones, also known as tostones are double fried plantain slices. A plantain is basically a fruit which is usually found in the hot regions, and looks like a banana but is cooked before eating. It is basically a variant of a green banana which is cooked and eaten as a vegetable. Think of Patacones as french fries, but they’re made from bananas instead of potatoes. And just like french fries, they’re salted and eaten with sauce (in Ecuador, its a garlic sauce called mojo). Patacones are definitely one of the tastiest traditional foods in Ecuador!

3. Fanesca - soup

Fanesca 2
Source: Photo by user Marioaer used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Typically, Fanesca is served only once a year – one week before Easter. It is usually made from squash, gourd, 12 varieties of beans, grains, lentils, corn and various herbs – sounds like a recipe from the Inca’s book! Fanesca is basically a mix between a chunky stew and a soup. This is only made during the Holy Week celebrations in Ecuador, so it is a hard dish to come by. But, you can always try it at Barlovento Restaurant, it serves one of the best preparations of Fanesca in Ecuador.

4. Chugchucaras - a deep fried pork

Chugchucaras roughly translates to chest, feet and skin. This refers to the parts of the pig, which means deep-fried pork, pork rinds and pork feet. Old legends say that a pig which drank from the water of a local fountain was cooked and this was the reason for the spectacular taste. Maybe, there is something magical in the waters of Ecuador after all! Since Chugchucaras is the staple food of the Latacunga town people, you should try this dish at Chugchucaras Rosita.

5. Cuy - roast guinea pig

Roast Guinea Pig
Source: Photo by user Robert Ennals used under CC BY 2.0

Cuy, take a breath for this one, is also known as guinea pig. Yes, the guinea pig is a very common local delicacy in Ecuador. A whole cuy apparently costs a lot, so it is only eaten by the locals during special occasions and events. While many restaurants and open vendors in Ecuador will cook cuy; you should try this dish at Guajibamba to really get a taste of it as one of the traditional foods in Ecuador.

6. Quinoa - seed grain

Now, this is a dish that each and every one of us would have surely heard of! Going back to the eating habits of the Incas, quinoa is still one of the staple foods of Ecuador. Usually, ivory quinoa is the most common in Ecuador but some locals also eat red and black quinoa. While many people eat quinoa the way they would rice, quinoa soup is a favourite among the locals. If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, you should try the food at Mishqui Quinde – you’ll get lots of quinoa-based dishes there.

7. Ecuadorian ceviche - seafood dish

The Ecuadorian ceviche is basically a platter of marinated seafood, namely sea bass, shellfish, clams and squid. This raw platter of seafood is basically ‘cooked’ and marinated in citric juices. Think of it as a form of sushi – that is the best way to understand this concept of cooked ‘raw’ seafood. However, this is one of the most famous traditional foods in Ecuador so you must give it a try. You can easily find this dish at the beach. We recommend going to Don Henry.

8. Locro - potato and cheese soup

Locro is basically the comfort food of the Ecuadorian locals. Locro is a nice and hearty stew that is best enjoyed in the winters. It is usually made with corn, potatoes, cheese, avocado and beans, but sometimes it also has meats like beef or chorizo. However, if you’re a vegetarian then this will be one of your favourite dishes to eat in Ecuador. Without a doubt, Tipico Locro makes one of the best locro dishes in Ecuador.

9. Morocho - traditional drink

A corn pudding drink... Morocho is the classic Ecuadorian comfort drink sold on the steets and in markets. It's made...

Posted by Otavalo Arts & Crafts Ecuador on Thursday, 5 January 2017

Native to Ecuador and it’s locals, morocho is basically a combination of milk, sugar and white corn. This is sort of like a cold and thick beverage. Cinnamon and raisins can also be added to this beverage. Some local vendors even add vegetables to it and sell it as a soup. Basically, this local favourite will be made differently by every person - you should try morocho from various vendors and at different restaurants to find which one you like best!

10. Llapingachos - potato cakes

Source: Photo by Flickr user DFRod used under CC BY 2.0

Llapingachos are the most common side dishes in Ecuador, hence securing them a place on the list of traditional foods in Ecuador. Llapingachos are basically small bite-sized potato cakes made from potato, cheese and seasonings. Think of these as a fried version of the cheesy mashed potato. These delicious sides are usually served alongside pork, beef, chorizo or other such meats. When served as appetizers, this dish is commonly served with peanut sauce. Try this local favourite at Los llapingachos de la abuela Maria.

The traditional foods in Ecuador - every meat lovers delight

Can’t wait to try out all these interesting and traditional foods in Ecuador? Let us know which ones were your favourite in the comments section. Happy ordering!

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A freelance content writer by profession, Anaanya is an avid traveller whose main goal in life is to visit as many new places as possible. Anaanya enjoys travelling, not just because of her love...Read more

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