Sometimes you return to a restaurant for convenience. Other times you come back for high quality food or attentive service. All three reasons factored into our decision to dine at Quino four times during our one week stay in Otavalo, Ecuador. We frequented a variety of spots in this renowned market town in the northern sierra mountains but our stomachs continually directed us back to Quino.
Proximity to our comfortable lodging, Hotel Riviera Sucre, was the draw on our first night in town. Quino is located around the corner on Calle Roca and we could smell their delectable dishes from our tiny second floor balcony. Upon entering the restaurant we chose a people-watching table near the window, but our eyes were glued to the action indoors. A mix of relaxing Ecuadorian and international tunes played as we admired photographs lining the walls.
Family Atmosphere and Great Seafood in Otavalo, Ecuador
Two adorable children played quietly near the register which bisects the front and rear dining rooms. Always traveling with stickers, I gave each curly-haired boy two colorful cars. They are the sons of an employee and nephews of several others; Quino is a family staffed restaurant, employing over half a dozen relatives from one Afro-Ecuadorian family, which relocated from the coast. Marcos Ramos was our waiter during each visit and explained how his family still maintains roots on the Ruta del Sol (Route of the Sun), which stretches along Ecuador’s western shoreline.
Quino has been serving succulent seafood courses far from the sea in Otavalo for over six years. Standout dishes include trucha a la plancha, grilled corvina, and an economic whole fried fish. These meals were served with a colorful salad, and steak fries. Quite the carnivore, I chose two chicken and two beef meals. On one occasion I had chicken in mushroom sauce accompanied by rice and steak fries. I enjoyed the creamy sauce and subsequently sampled it with beef on another visit. They also serve goulash a la marinera.
When we visited, the food always came quickly. This was especially convenient on one evening when we had to scarf down our food and I sent Melissa to the hotel to meet our new friend Lisa. Unfortunately, I sent her with all of our money. I discovered this when Marcos came to collect payment for the bill. He then waited patiently, as I jetted to the hotel to collect money. A few nights later, Lisa joined as at Quino for her final meal in Ecuador before boarding a bus to Colombia. She was definitely well nourished for the overnight journey.
A Server with Artistic Talents
Besides serving at Quino, Marcos is quick to dish information on activities in Otavalo and various parts of the coast. We even spotted him hanging with friends at a concert festival called Yamor Rock. We’ve seen him tableside at his family restaurant chatting with customers and working on multiple artistic projects. Talented with different mediums, Marcos studies plastics, sculpture, painting, and photography at San Antonia Instituto de Arte. He is responsible for photographs of locals and labor movements which decorate the walls of our favorite restaurant in northern Ecuador.
To enjoy filling meals and artwork at Quino, and converse with Marcos and his family, travel north from Quito about two and a half hours. The restaurant is on Calle Roca about two blocks from the main plaza.