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Almuerzo (Lunch)

Almuerzo is basically lunch, and the biggest meal of the day for many Ecuadoreans. Some go home to eat their lunch, but some also eat out at restaurants or markets depending on their circumstance (job, location, etc). In my neighborhood in Quito, some traditional Ecuadorean food serving restaurants open only to serve breakfast (desayuno) and almuerzo and close thereafter.

Almuerzo times at these places generally range from 12-3pm, or when the food runs out. So if the menu of the day consists of 3 types of meals, don’t be surprised if by 2:30 it’s down to only one.

This thread is for members to share some places they eat at, and so we are not comparing apples to oranges, it would be helpful to include:  city/town, name of restaurant/market, cost and description of the meal.

In Quito I’ve seen almuerzo prices range from $2-$6.50, and the $2 was only once. Unfortunately, people blog online only about the cheaper end prices and however unintentional it is misleading because it only reflects the lower end prices, at least in Quito. There is also this misconception that Ecuadorean restaurants that charge $4+ are mainly for expats or tourists, and that’s also misleading because some Ecuadoreans can afford a $4-$6 lunch.

Which brings me to my first review of Su Lunch on the corner of Suiza and Republica del Salvador in Quito. I had a nice lunch there today for $4.50.There wasn’t an expat in sight nor tourist and as a matter of fact a couple of Zona Azul people were having lunch there as well. Zona Azul people (blue zone) are street parking attendants that oversee street parking spaces and whom you have to pay.

Anyway, this place is popular with the office crowd and also nurses and staff from medical facilities down the block near Eloy Alfaro. It’s a clean restaurant and only open Monday –Friday and only for breakfast and lunch.

So what does one get for $4.50?

For today, their menu consisted of:

1.)    Locro de Zapallo (Squash Stew) or Cordon Blue (basically a panne) or Pastel de Carne
2.)    Beef or Chicken Soup
3.)    Rice and small side of cooked salad (carrots, peas, potatoes)
4.)    Apricot Juice
5.)    Slice of watermelon

I ordered the “Cordon Blue” which I liked, and the only complaint was that the portion was on the smaller side, and I’m not a big eater.

With the exception of the Zona Azul folk, this place mainly caters to middle class.

Bouquet Garni
6 de diciembre, up the block from Mega-Maxi on same side and towards the stadium.

This place is a gem and you won’t be disappointed. It’s actually a restaurant and bar so if you pass by it, you probably won’t notice it as an almuerzo place. But that’s exactly what it is for lunch, Monday thru Friday, as they serve delicious food, cafeteria style. They often have three main dishes consisting of meat, chicken, and seafood, but the seafood often runs out quick whether it’s a seafood main dish or soup. This is also true for Chivo (goat) when it’s on the menu. Because it’s cafeteria style you can mix up your meal so you can choose rice or potatoes for example, and ask them to put sauce on rice if you want. You also have the option of three types of fresh juices which you help yourself to at the counter via a juice dispenser, and usually they’ll have watermelon, coconut and tamarind juice. As for salad, and greens there’s a choice of regular lettuce and tomato, broccoli, carrots and beans, etc. You also have a couple of dessert choices usually something fruity like a dish of sliced pineapple, papaya, and thin slice of kiwi or small slice of pie or cake. After paying $3.50, go and take a seat, if you choose upstairs like I always do you’ll be welcomed by posters of rock legends like Johnny Cash, big screen TVs, and a pool table. It is a restaurant bar after all that transforms to almuerzo joint during lunch hours, as for other times they also have good deals on drinks.

Seco de Chivo (goat stew) at Mercado Iñaquito for $3.50

I don’t even think it’s goat (chivo), maybe it’s lamb (borrego), because it’s so tender, if it's goat how they get it so tender?

It’s a mercado so you’re going to share a table. It’s all good because all you’ll hear is “buen provecho” as others sit at your table, which basically translates to bon appetit (or enjoy your meal).

The courtesy is to say gracias when you hear it, and to say buen provecho after your meal and leaving the table.

The meat portions here are good, but there are many vendors, some better than others, the ones with higher price are justifiably better.

Oh Chivo when cooked as a second falls off the bone. Its the combo of spices and slow cooking that does it. Served with yellow rice and fried ripe plantain. One of my favorites. I had it first in Quito and order it often.

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