Travel : Food and Dishes

Ecuador Food

Ecuador food tends to be simple but tasty. Most meals in the Andean region consist of meat of some sort, with rice and salad or lentils, or potatoes. On the coast, for obvious reasons, seafood is the most frequent Ecuador dish served up. Seafood and fish often come with patacones (described below), lentils and rice. Food is usually served with a small bowl of “aji”, which is a chili sauce that you can add to your food. In the bigger towns and cities you can find international cuisine, but in smaller towns, this is more challenging.

Vegetarians may find Ecuador food a bit difficult, as the concept of vegetarianism is not universally understood. Vegetarians can be seen as picky eaters. If you ask for something without meat (“sin carne”), Ecuadorians may understand this as “without beef”, so you may still end up with chicken or pork on your plate. You will need to explain that you do not eat chicken or pork either.

Here are just a few of the Ecuador dishes that you may come across while traveling around the country:

One of the best things about Ecuador food is the variety of soups that you will come across. The soups vary from consumes to thick broths, all of which are nutritious and healthy.

Locro is a potato and cheese soup. It can be quite filling, due to the amount of potatoes used to make it. Often, this soup will be served with avocado floating in it, making it even richer. If you see this soup listed as “con cuero” it means that there will be pieces of skin in the soup also.

Caldo de patas / Caldo de gallina
Caldo de patas is a beef soup, and caldo de gallina a chicken soup. The chicken soup often comes with a boiled potato floating in it. Patas translates as feet – therefore the patas variety is a beef foot soup.

Main meals

This Ecuador food is fairly common throughout the mountainous region of the country. Llapingachos are potato cakes that are fried, with cheese. When you find Llapingachos on a menu, it will often be served with chorizo, a fried egg or two and avocado and salad.

Churrasco is a common Ecuador food. The meal is made up of beef, usually served with fries, rice, a fried egg and salad.

Fritada is fried pork. This Ecuador dish is often served with llapingachos, as well as choclo (corn). The corn is white in color and is bigger than the corn more commonly served in the United States and Europe.

Popular in the Andean region of Ecuador (and also in Peru), the word cuy means guinea pig. The guinea pig is put onto a skewer and served whole, face and all. Some people love it, others say that there is not much meat and it takes a lot of effort to eat a guinea pig. Often, people describe cuy meat as tasting like chicken.

A couple of common Ecuador food side dishes are patacones and menestras:

Patacones are slices of plantain that have been fried. They are especially common on the coast, where they are often served with fish or seafood, rice and lentils.

This Ecuador side dish consists of lentils in a brown sauce. Sometimes menestras will be replaced by beans in a sauce rather than lentils.

Ecuador seafood dishes are probably best tasted at the coast, but are available all over the country.

Ceviche is a soup-like dish that consists of seafood or fish served up in a tomato-lemon sauce. Some Ecuadorians say that it is great for a hangover.

Encocado means to be served in a coconut sauce. This Ecuador food option is often found at the beach, where fish will be cooked in a coconut sauce.


This Ecuador food dish, common across much of the Andes, varies from country to country. An empanada is pastry filled either with beef, chicken or with cheese. The cheese version will frequently have sugared pastry. Empanadas are a good on-the-go snack.

Choclo con queso
Choclo con queso is warm corn with cheese. This can be found in many places in the Andean region.

Salchipapas is made up of fries served with sausage. It is usually served in a small plastic bag.


Helado de Paila
This sweet Ecuador dish originated in Ibarra and is a sort of sorbet that can be bought in many different varieties.