Almuerzo, the most important meal of the day
Almuerzos are everywhere! Around almost every corner in Ecuadorian cities and villages, you can find the most delicious almuerzos.
Restaurants open up just before noon and close in the afternoon, around 3. It is Ecuador’s most favourite dish.
Behind The Ecuadorian Gastronomy
Ecuadorian gastronomy has been enriched by multiculturalism, the diversity of climates as well as the variety of spices and products that exist in the country.
In addition, both indigenous and European heritage have cemented their own print by seasoning with their own spices, and constantly renewing through new generations of cooks.
This unique combination has been defined by the locals as Comida Criolla.
The Almuerzo Anatomy
Each plate is different in every region of the country, as the cooks mostly use local products, and their local specialties. Nonetheless, you will always have: soup as an entrance, a main dish, a fresh glass of juice, and sometimes even dessert.
The soup is usually hearty, with noodles, potatoes, onions or quinoa (they love quinoa, as do we), maybe a piece of corn, chicken or beef, it varies greatly.
The main dish mostly has options that go from beef, chicken, fish, liver or some vegetarian variation, cooked as a stew or goulash, grilled or fried.
It comes with rice or fries, plantains or boiled potatoes, very often with a mix of the before mentioned. Your carbohydrates intake for the day will definitely be sufficient, I can tell you that.
The plate is rounded up with some veggies, be it lettuce, sliced tomatoes or avocado (best avocados in the world btw).
The juice can be anything from a thick freshly squeezed orange juice to more of a lighter home-made lemonade style.
Ecuador is extremely rich in fruit variety, so the possibilities are pretty much endless.
Maracuja, naranjilla, lemon, papaya, blackberry, mango… You name it!
Almuerzos by Region
Ecuadorian gastronomy is enriched by the different natural regions that make up the country: The Coast, The Andes -or la Sierra, how the locals call it-, The Galapagos Islands, and The Amazon Region.
Each region provides its own flavours, with its own different colours, but as tasteful and delicious as the next one.
– Coast Region
The coastal gastronomy is very varied, it is based mainly on fish (both freshwater fish and from the sea), especially corvina and trout.
Filled with shrimps, shells, crabs, etc, the food from the coast is one of the favourites.
Plantains are also an important part of the typical cuisine (green, ripe or your typical bananas). The most important coastal dishes are: encebollado, muchines de yuca, patacón, sopa marinera, arroz guayaco, ceviche, corviche, bandera, enconchado, sancocho de bagre, among many other delicious dishes.
– Andes Region
In the Ecuadorian highlands, corn is one of the most widely used grains, the list of foods and drinks that are prepared with it is extensive, another essential element is the potato for the preparation of different mountain dishes such as molo, llapingachos, locro, yahuarlocro and tamales.
Other very appetizing dishes of mountain food are made from pork meat. Fried, baked, red meat, pork legs, drunk, pork leather, the latter, prepared in various ways. Scorched, burst and dried to be used in locros.
– Galapagos Region
Galápagos food is quite varied, delicious and fresh. It is made from the different types of fish, shrimp and lobsters that live in its waters.
These foods are mixed with fresh vegetables and fruits from the area, thus resulting in a delicious seafood dish.
– Amazon Region
The Ecuadorian Amazon is a fabulous reserve of animal and plant species. The traditional dishes of the jungle are made from piranhas and catfish. They abound in the rivers, parrots, tapir, green yucca, Chinese potatoes and fruits. The basic seasonings are reduced to chili pepper and salt.
The prices are more than reasonable, you will find options from $2.50 to $4 in the mainland, and it is served almost instantly after ordering.
Almuerzos (as everything else) in Galapagos are more expensive when you compare the prices to the mainland. Nonetheless, you have options between $4 and $6. That way you can still have delicious food for a very acceptable price.
The almuerzo is Ecuador’s most favourite dish. It is also a great option for travelers on a budget.
I never left one of those places hungry or unsatisfied.