When you’re mid-roadtrip and plan on stopping at your favorite restaurant for breakfast and the wait time ends up being 2.5 hours before you can even sit at a table, what do you do?
You get on the road and keep driving until you find the next best place.
And that’s another way to get to know the REAL Ecuador.
Our favorite restaurant offers up a pretty standard breakfast with juice, eggs, bread, and sometimes a protein like sausage. (We shy away from breakfast bacon because it tastes nothing like our American counterpart and we are just always a little disappointed). But the average Ecuadorian doesn’t eat this for breakfast. They often eat dishes that we might have for lunch.
Case in point – Cuencano Sabor – a small roadside restaurant on the highway between Machachi and the exit for Cotopaxi National Park. From the grounds of the restaurant it’s possible to see a beautiful view of the twin mountain peaks, Las Ilinizas. But on this day, they weren’t the attraction. It was the sign that said DESAYUNO or BREAKFAST.
We arrived to find a welcoming host outside at the grill finishing of the latest batch of Asado de Borrego. Of course, at the time, we didn’t know it was grilled mutton. And it was one of two choices for breakfast!
Inside, we found a simple, if dark, restaurant. It was already half full with Ecuadorians, all chowing down on the two dishes on offer for the day. After ordering our meals, our waiter brought us a plate of habitas y queso, freshly cooked fava beans in the skin with a side of fresh cheese. You can eat the beans with skin or pop the beans out of the skin. Either way, they make a yummy appetizer with a small bite of salty fresh cheese. He also brought a basket full of utensils and napkins. We were ready to eat!
Two of us ordered the mutton special and the other two went with chancho, or pork:
We ate everything, well-seasoned with the housemade ají, standard on any Ecuadorian table. And, before you ask, no one got sick. Eating at small local restaurants means using some common sense. We do look for cleanliness and we hope for soap in the guest bathroom. And we do travel with medication for stomach problems, just in case.
Let me know which you think was the better meal!