Cities, music, beaches, and stews. If there is any more parsimonious way to describe what Anthony Bourdain gets up to in Ecuador, I’d love to hear it. Often overlooked for other culinary destinations in the region, even Bourdain admits that his knowledge of Ecuador was limited to the Galapagos islands before his visit – and he never even sets foot on their biologically diverse soil.
During this episode of No Reservations, Tony explores the history, culture, and food of Ecuador, a South American country, which is still finding its footing on the global stage. Don’t worry though: the episode focuses heavily on the food and leaves you with a delicious hit list of places to visit and dine on your own trip to Ecuador. In this post, you’ll learn what and where Tony ate in Ecuador – and it was a lot!
Bourdain visits Ecuador in season 6, episode 6 of No Reservations; this is the only time he visits Ecuador during any of his shows. Bourdain spends his time in Ecuador traveling through the country; while some episodes have more balance between culture and food, this episode lets Ecuadorian food – both traditional and creative – take the center stage. By the end, viewers are convinced that Ecuador has as much to offer as Peru as a culinary destination, though it might appeal to those who prefer a laidback and relaxed approach to dining.
Tony starts in Quito, eating his way through the city’s street food and popular Ecuadorian dishes. Next, he heads to the Ruta del Sol (literal “sun route”) on the country’s Pacific Coast, to sample fresh seafood and local dishes. Finally, he ends in the port city of Guayanquil, enjoying dishes across the entire spectrum.
Honestly, if you’re looking for an episode that really displays a love for the food and uses the destination as a springboard to explore that food, the Ecuador episode of No Reservations is it.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Quechua-Kichwa and Kichwa peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
This post was originally published in June 2021, and was updated for accuracy in March 2023.
What & Where Anthony Bourdain Ate in Ecuador
Since Tony ate so much in Ecuador, there are several places to check out if you’re visiting.
Bourdain is shown around Quito by local musician Santiago Rosaro, who also has a keen sense of great street food.
- El Pobre Diablo (permanently closed) – Bourdain starts his tour of Ecuador here, meeting with Rosaro and his band to get oriented. We see the group enjoying a drink, though it’s not cerveza and I don’t know what it was. (If you know, please let me know in the comments!
- Food Vendors in La Floresta (address unknown) – Next, Tony and Rosaro head to La Floresta near Old Town Quito to enjoy local street food including roast pork with fava beans, plantain, potato, and tomato salad; grilled spicy chitlin with aji chili and peanut sauce; guatita (tripe in peanut sauce over rice with an egg and cabbage on top); and empanada de pimientos with cinnamon sugar.
- Esquina de la Rondo (address unknown) – Here, Bourdain tries some of the most unusual foods on the episode: caldo with penis meat and beef fetus soup. While these are more traditional dishes, they’re not as common as others in the show. Note: As of March 2023, this restaurant reports being “temporarily closed.”
- Picanteria de Hueco – Before leaving Quito, Tony tries grilled cuy (guinea pig) and discusses how to position this on a New York menu.
Puerto Lopez (on the Ruta Del Sol)
In Puerto Lopez, Tony is shown the best spots to eat and relax by chef and artist Andrés Crespo.
- Their first stop is a literal no-name spot on the beach to enjoy stewed Corvina and broth with rice and plantains, as well as ceviche.
- Restaurante Pelicano (Barrio Las Mercedes, Isla Salango) – Here, Tony tony has deep-fried fish, clam ceviche, and percebes (goose barnacles) – all with cerveza of course.
- Next, Bourdain and Crespo head to some local food vendors in Puerto Lopez where they enjoy conchas negras (black clam) ceviche with shrimp, onion, tomato, cilantro, and roasted corn, topped with fried banana chips.
- La Calderada – Here, Tony has his culinary socks knocked off by Andrés’ former mother-in-law’s cooking. She serves a non-traditional seafood stew with squid, octopus, conch, muscles, potatoes, shrimp, pangora (?) crab with a stock made from octopus cooking liquid with beer and bread, plus soy sauce and saffron. She also serves colonche, a hearty fish and shrimp stew with peanut sauce. Note: After gaining popularity on No Reservations, La Calderada closed its original location and opened a brand new space in Olon inside the Plaza del Valle.
In Guayanquil, Tony meets up with two local hosts: street food aficionado Diego Perez, and local musician Ricardo Vito.
- La Guatita (Calle Luque # 1039 Pedro Moncayo) – Perez takes Bourdain here for guatita (tripe stew), cazuela (fish soup with plantains), and naranjilla juice.
- El Pez Volador (Aguirre 1800 Entre Esmeraldas y Jose Mascote Frente) – Next they try a traditional Ecuadorian dish, encebollado (yellowfin tuna stew with ketchup, yucca, boiled shrimp, tomato, onions, and cilantro with lemon juice, aji chili sauce, oil, and fried banana chips)
- Finally, Vito hosts Tony for a local feast of cangrejo crab with ceviche made from boiled shrimp, tomatoes, onion, lemon and orange juice, cilantro, ketchup, along with platano and plenty cerveza. We don’t know where this occurred but it looks like someone’s back terrace – a very local experience!
Ecuador Food Tours You Might Enjoy
If you are sold on eating your way across Ecuador now, here are some ways to get started planning your trip even if you don’t have great local guides to show you the top spots:
Have other questions about what happened to Anthony Bourdain in Ecuador? Let me know in the comments below.