In major cities such as Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil, you'll find tons of Ecuadorean restaurants, as well as an excellent selection of international cuisines. In Quito, there is everything from cutting-edge fusion cuisine to Thai food and sushi. Throughout the country, you'll also be able to find authentic pizza joints, as well as Chinese restaurants, known as chifas.
While you're in Ecuador, you should definitely try comida típica (typical food). Ceviche de camarones (shrimp marinated in a tangy lemon juice and served with onions and cilantro) is one of the most popular dishes in Ecuador -- you'll find it on almost every menu. Ceviche is often served with a side of salty popcorn, fried corn, and fried plantains. The salt complements the tart lemon flavor. Other local specialties include seco de chivo (goat stew in a wine sauce), empanadas de verde (turnovers made with fried green bananas and filled with cheese), tortillas de maíz (small round corn pastries, served with avocado), and humitas (a sweet corn mush mixed with eggs, served in a corn husk). In the Sierra, where it can get very cold, locals often have a soup called locro de papas (a creamy potato soup with cheese). In Cuenca, mote pillo con carne (huge potatolike pieces of corn, mixed with onions and eggs, served with a fried piece of meat and tortillas de papa -- the Ecuadorean version of potato pancakes) is one of the more popular local dishes.
Fixed-price lunches (almuerzos del día) are also common in smaller restaurants. For about $2.50 to $3 (£1.65-£2), you will get soup, a main course, dessert, and fresh juice.
I have separated restaurant listings throughout this guide into three price categories based on the average cost per person of a meal, including tax and service charge. The categories are Expensive, more than $25 (£17); Moderate, $12 to $25 (£8-£17); and Inexpensive, less than $12 (£8). Prices on menus don't include tax or tip. Expect to pay an extra 22% in tax and service charges above the prices listed throughout this book and on menus. Although a 10% tip is typically included in the bill, if the service is particularly good and attentive, you should probably leave a little extra.