LLapingachos are the way to go: “an Ecuadorian dish of potato patties or thick potato pancakes stuffed with cheese and cooked on a hot griddle until crispy.”
Given the landlocked nature of Quito, the seafood — and I don’t just mean lake fish — is remarkably good. Try the fried corvina at Las Corvinas de Don Jimmy, in the Mercado Central, with a drink and ceviche only $6. Zazu is one of the best restaurants in South America, and many of the dishes are below $15. I recommend La Briciola for Italian food and chocolate ice cream, noting that in Latin America the most boring-sounding pastas, such as the ravioli, are the ones to order.
The 17th century heritage of Quito makes the colonial center feel like central Mexico. Think “built up early, backwater later on, for a long time.” The mix of mestizo and indigenous. The design of the inner city and its churches. The role of crafts. The persistence of particular foodstuffs, in this case potatoes and corn and avocado and palmitos. Popcorn was invented somewhere around here.
The weather is perfect every day.
There is an unusually high percentage of Indian-American tourists (do any of you know why?), that said the absolute number of tourists is quite small. Most people are passing through on their way to the Galapagos, described by one skeptical pro-Trump tourist we met as “$7,000 worth of lizards.”
Following dollarization, it seems that all the Kennedy half dollars and Sacagawea dollar coins have ended up here. .
Cops dress like superheroes to make themselves more approachable by children:
The quechua-speaking guide for Cotopaxi volcano loves YouTube and listens to “adventures, news, music, and much more.” He is still hoping to get a phone with an internet connection, and believes that lack of good education for indigenous children is the country’s biggest problem.
“In 2010, more than 2,600 people were killed in Ecuador, a homicide rate of about 18 per 100,000, almost twice the level the World Health Organization considers an epidemic. This year, the small Andean nation is expected to record 5.6 killed per 100,000, one of Latin America’s lowest rates.” (Excellent piece, WSJ link).
On the “is now the right time to visit Quito?” scale, I give 2019 a 9.5.