Skip to main content
// //

The Independence Monument stands at the centre of Quito's Piazza de la Independencia.

Handout

On the lunch menu that included options of nasi gareng and bihun tek-tek, both Indonesian fried rice-based dishes with beef tail or egg and vegetables, I ended up settling for Rice Surprise, or sopresa de arroz. The Indonesian-Ecuadorean fusion dish blended South-Asian fried rice with South American veg and seafood.

The restaurant in which I sat, Laboratorio, is a hub of gastronomic innovation in Quito, where traditionally the most famed dish has been roast pork. Appetites are changing, though.

For most visitors, Quito is a stopover, a necessary connection between home and the wildlife wonderland that is the Galapagos Islands. But Ecuador’s capital is increasingly a destination in its own right: Its airport is award-winning (the Global Airport Lounge of the Year Awards named Quito’s international lounge the best in the world citing its outdoor terrace and private wine cellar); multiple airlines, including Air Canada and Air France, are launching direct flights to the capital city this year; and with the opening of the first subway line due this summer, this skinny but booming city, wedged in a valley between mountains, will be a lot easier to get around.

Story continues below advertisement

Quito's first subway is expected to open this year, making it easier for visitors to get around the city.

Two neighbourhoods leading the charge in Quito’s creative growth are Mariscal Sucre and La Floresta – Laboratorio sits on the border of them both. Launched in 2015 by Camilo Kohn, the modern, industrial-designed restaurant, where beer is served in beakers, is what its name declares: a lab in which chefs from around the world come to cook for three or four months at a time.

Chef Dimas Putra Pratama, visiting from Indonesia, brought me my rice surprise. He’d won a competition through the Ecuadorian consulate in Indonesia and made the move without knowing a word of Spanish, he tells me. He was energized, not just by the work of finding local ingredients that he could incorporate into Indonesian dishes, but by the enthusiasm and hunger for something new.

A few blocks away on Valladolid, one of the area’s main streets, signs of change are literally painted on the storefronts and streets of La Floresta. Beautiful, quirky and colourful murals decorate shops and gates, while hipster record shops (La Venganza Del Analogo), cinemas (Ocho y Medio) and cafés (Botanica) draw the area’s creatives to its doors. The area even has its first concept shop, Artik Uio, in which several vendors of Ecuadorian goods have a space.

There’s no alpaca stuffed animals here (though awfully cute, they’re easy to find at all the traditional tourist spots). Instead, there’s modern homewares from local design studio Kuska, alpaca textiles from Shuar and hand-embroidered fashion brand Dominga.

From Edmonton to Ecuador, The Globe picks 10 places to visit in 2019

The narrow city is wedged in a valley between mountains.

It’s an exciting counterbalance to the city’s rich historic quarter, where more than 200 religious buildings (churches, monasteries, convents) can be found. It’s possible, if you’re okay with heights, to climb the tower of the Basilica del Voto Nacional to get a view of many of these structures and the changes that the city is undergoing.

Feet firmly on the ground in nearby Independence Square, I walk past construction for the metro line. New Quito is well under way.

The writer was a guest of Quito Tourism. The organization did not review or approve the story before publication.

Story continues below advertisement

Live your best. We have a daily Life & Arts newsletter, providing you with our latest stories on health, travel, food and culture. Sign up today.

Related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies