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Traditional Dishes
Whole roast pig
Tostado, or toasted maize grains
Traditional dish of trout in Mindo in Ecuador
Chochos, a traditional snack in Ecuador
Traditional guaguas de pan, or bread babies, and purple drink colada morada
Traditional bizcochos biscuits for sale in Cayambe
Ecuadorian food is generally simple but tasty.  Look out for typical dishes in the different regions of Ecuador.




Traditional Dishes of Ecuador

Local dishes in the different regions of Ecuador are always worth a try.  The traditional recipes are handed down through families with subtle variations in different towns.  Don't miss these typical regional Ecuadorian specialities:
Typical dishes in Ecuador's highlands (sierra)
Traditional foods of the highland region of Ecuador are often based around potatoes, sweetcorn, cheese and avocadoes.  Typical dishes include llapingachos, delicious little fried patties of mashed potato and cheese, often served with a fried egg, avocado, and beetroot and sometimes sausage or pork as well.  Locro is a filling potato and cheese soup.
Whole spit roast or oven roast pigs (hornado) can often be seen at roadside restaurants and the crackling is fantastic.  Fritada, lumps of deep fried pork, are wonderful with a cold beer and are often served with mote (a type of boiled corn) and a salad of tomato and onion. 
Guinea pig, "cuy", is a famous and traditional dish in the highlands, often reserved for special occasions as they are not cheap.  The guinea pigs are bred for the table, they are not pets, and they taste delicious, though there is not actually a lot of meat on them.  You'll need to eat them with your fingers to get at all the crispy skin and tasty meat, so make sure there's somewhere to wash your hands before settling on the location for your cuy experience. 
Cayambe, a town northeast of Quito, is known for its regional speciality, bizcochos, a type of buttery biscuit which you can watch being baked in traditional wood-fired oven, and dairy products.
Traditional foods of Ecuador's costa or coastal region
Typical dishes in the costa makes use of local ingredients such as plantain (savoury banana), yuca (a type of yam), coconut and rice.  There are also a wide variety of subtropical and tropical fruits (papaya, pineapple, starfruit and many more) though these do not often appear on restaurant menus other than as fresh juices.
Plantain is a staple in the costa and appears in many forms, most of them very enjoyable.  Patacones are thick chunks of plantain, fried, bashed with a stone, fried again and served with salt (and a cold beer, if you can arrange it).  Chifles are thin deep-fried slices of plantain, rather like crisps.  Maduro con queso is a whole, barbequed ripe plantain split open and filled with cheese, at its delicious best from the stall on the corner at the Zapotal t-junction.  Unripe or green plantains are usually just referred to as verde (green), which can be confusing.  Bolones de verde are balls of unripe plantain mashed with cheese - perhaps the best that can be said is that they fill you up.
Typical seafood dishes in Ecuador
Ecuador's seafood is, of course, at its best and freshest on the coast.  Esmeraldas province, in the north, is rightly famous for its fantastic "encocados" - fish or prawns in a rich coconut sauce, usually served with rice and patacones.  Encocados are difficult to find outside of Esmeraldas, but are possibly Ecuador's finest traditional dish, so don't miss them if you are visiting the beach resorts of Atacames or Sua.  
Ceviche, raw seafood (or boiled, in the case of prawns) marinated in lime or lemon juice with chilli and onion, is perhaps the most famous traditional dish of Ecuador, usually served with popcorn.  Pick a clean restaurant with a high turnover for safe, fresh ceviche - get a local recommendation if at all possible.  
Encebollados (literally, "onionateds") are a wonderful local food, though not well known outside of Ecuador.  They consist of seafood in a tangy, tomatoey soup with mashed yuca, onion and coriander.  Add plenty of lemon juice and pepper, and popcorn, tostado (toasted maize) or chifles (fried slices of plantain).  Encebollados are said to cure a hangover and make a surprisingly good breakfast. 
Traditional holiday foods
Certain public holidays and festivals in Ecuador also have special foods associated with them.  For example on 2nd November, All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead, decorated bread babies (guaguas de pan) are eaten.  Colada morada is drunk at this time, a purple drink made from a huge list of ingredients including black raspberries, blueberries, dark maize flour, pineapple and a range of different herbs and spices.


Traditional Dishes of Ecuador
Traditional dishes of Ecuador, typical Ecuadorian foods, local specialities, regional Ecuadorian cuisine and tips on finding the best food in Ecuador.