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Quito Eats

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The capitol of Ecuador is not one of the notable food capitols of the world, but we had some good meals there nonetheless. I'm afraid we didn't take pictures anywhere we ate, but we did take some photos of a place where we refused to eat: the internet-infamous Menestras del Negro.

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Despite all the gawking Westerners taking photos of its signage, Menestras del Negro lacks a significant web presence of its own -- its site just has pictures of its meals and numbers to call for local delivery -- so I have no idea what inspired the monkey-with-bone-fork "Negro" logo.

One place where we ate multiple times was a Middle Eastern restaurant called Alomani, on Av. 12 de Octubre y Baquerizo Moreno in the business district. We kept coming back because it was such an amazing deal: lots of good food at low prices. At one meal, for example, we got a Sharwa Falafel, a Sandwich Quipe and an Inca Kola -- altogether plus 12% tax, it came out to $5.65.

Le Petit Comptoir at Foch y 6 de Diciembre is a reasonably-priced establishment. Not in a heavily-trafficked tourist area nor apparently recommended by the guides, it served a perfectly good Nutella crepe and an all-too-accurate (anchovies included!) Caesar salad with chicken. These and a cup of tea set us back less than $7.

Cafe Mosaico is a Frommer's favorite, and the views really are great from the old house set high above the lights of the city. We got an especially lovely sight of the Virgen de Quito statue on Panecillo Hill. The food is good -- but not quite as good as one would expect from the prices -- and service was very slow. Next time, I'd go with the advice to be there just for a sunset drink.

Astrid y Gaston I reviewed here.

The big tourist district of Quito is the La Mariscal neighborhood, where the following are located and recommended by Lonely Planet's South America on a Shoestring guide:

- Backpackers frequent The Magic Bean, which is notable more for its wi-fi and non-Nescafe coffee than for its food.

- Mama Clorinda and Red Hot Chili Peppers were outright disappointments. The Mexican food at RCP didn't quite achieve mediocrity, the margaritas were only so-so, and at $26.81 after tax and servicio, it was over-priced for what we got. Although Tony thought his food at Mama Clorinda's to be acceptable, my roast chicken was nearly inedibly dry -- a far cry from the great chicken I remembered from the Galapagos cruise.

- A rather peculiar selection for a Shoestring Lonely Planet guide, La Boca del Lobo charged $29.87 for food, and with tax and a $2.99 servicio fee, cost $36.44 for one shared appetizer and two entrees. The restaurant is really only worth visiting for the insane decor, which somehow melds a pastel-striped dollhouse exterior with oversized images of French and English royalty (sometimes gilt-framed, sometimes drawn directly on the walls), faux-animal furred seats and brightly colored lights. I think it might achieve camp, as there's no indication that anyone working there finds any of this odd.

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