Lima is South America’s food city of the moment, but Quito has started to catch up. Its restaurants benefit from local produce and meats sourced in the surrounding highlands, as well as seafood from the nearby coast. On this visit, I discovered two restaurants worthy of note (outside of those in the hotels I recommend).
French-trained Ecuadorian chef David Picco helms this stylish establishment, which features a light gray interior that’s accented with bouquets of red roses. Those who make the effort to take a taxi here will be rewarded with sophisticated and beautifully presented interpretations of classic recipes. We opted for the $70 per-person eight-course tasting menu (a five-course menu and à la carte options are also available). My favorite dishes included a sweet tangerine-marinated stone crab claw accompanied by a crab-filled roll of avocado and cucumber topped with caviar; savory suckling pig served atop a crunchy spiced-corn cracker and a purée of tomate de árbol (tamarillo); and tender herb-crusted lamb chops with quinoa tabbouleh. The wine pairings, while ample and well-priced, did not always hit the mark (prawns in peanut sauce overwhelmed a Chilean Pinot Noir, for example). The English-speaking staff were highly accommodating and professional.
Mariano Aguilera 331. Tel. (593) 2-254-3559
Peruvian-born chef Alexander Lau served as executive chef at Zazu before opening his own restaurant in 2013. We had lunch on the shady patio behind this pretty converted house after browsing galleries in La Mariscal. I liked my slightly spicy appetizer of langoustine tiradito (something of a cross between crudo and ceviche) with scallion, sesame oil and mandarin orange zest. My substantial main course of lomo saltado was composed of sirloin tips and roasted tomatoes atop rich Parmesan risotto. The beef was tender and the risotto appropriately al dente, but still, I expected something with a little more flash for $32.
Pontevedra N24-422. Tel. (593) 2-511-2570