Shopping in Quito can be a real pleasure, especially in La Mariscal, a neighborhood just northeast of the historic city center. Venues range from inexpensive craft markets to chic art galleries displaying museum-quality pieces. Here are my favorites:
For interesting but inexpensive gifts, this large outdoor craft market is an ideal destination. The quality of the items varies wildly, including everything from pretty handiwork to tourist kitsch. I like to purchase alpaca scarves and blankets here, which come in a profusion of colors and patterns.
Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal
Jorge Washington between Reina Victoria and Juan León Mera
This rambling boutique in a converted house contains an array of fascinating bric-a-brac that includes antique brass stirrups, naïve-style paintings of the countryside, expressive masks, reproduction Incan pottery and more. I loved the contemporary Peruvian wall hangings, with their intricate mosaiclike designs that incorporate ancient iconography.
Juan León Mera N22-24. Tel. (593) 2-222-5844
Fine Ecuadorian items for sale here include elaborately decorated black-and-white mucahua (pottery drinking bowls) made by the indigenous Canelos-Quichua people and expertly carved tagua (palm nut) sculptures resembling ivory. The gallery also carries high-quality items from all over Latin America, such as exquisite Wounaan baskets from Panama and Peruvian Shipibo textiles.
Juan León Mera N23-69. Tel. (593) 2-222-1098
You’ll find only Ecuadorian products in this small collection of shops, which is another excellent place to buy inexpensive gifts such as local chocolate and natural skin care products. Fashion-forward folk will enjoy the colorful handbags and shoes by Ecuadorian designers, while the alpaca sweaters will suit those with more conservative tastes.
Reina Victoria N24-263. Tel. (593) 2-223-9469
Textile artist Olga Fisch emigrated from Hungary to Ecuador in 1939, and there she became renowned for her gorgeous abstract tapestries and rugs. This gallery still carries some of her original pieces, and her wall hangings appear innovative even now. I also liked the range of less-expensive crafts on display, which included clothing, jewelry and home décor items.
Olga Fisch Folklore
Av. Christóbal Colon E10-53. Tel. (593) 2-254-1315