From around 5:30 p.m. every night, the sun in Quito begins its descent over the equatorial city, glazing everything in a golden glow. Amidst the historic center’s narrow, cobblestone streets and steep ascents, you’ll find a number of bars and restaurants opening their doors at this hour to offer exquisite meals, cocktails, and entertainment. Here’s a look at where to experience the best of Quito’s nightlife and restaurants in Old Town.
Vista Hermosa Cafe Mirador
Streets: Mejia and Garcia Moreno
Right in the heart of the Old Town, this rooftop terrace offers panoramic views of the surrounding historic buildings, domed churches, and soaring Andes Mountains. There is a choice of South American wines plus premium tequilas, vodkas, and whiskeys, along with snacks like nachos and empanadas to accompany your drink of choice. Live music typically begins after nightfall, and serves as the perfect complement to the twinkling lights of the Center at night.
Casa Gangotena Bar & Restaurant
Location: Simon Bolivar Street, beside San Francisco Plaza
The third-floor, panoramic terrace of Casa Gangotena makes for one of the most exclusive spots in the city to enjoy a sunset cocktail. In that much-hallowed golden hour, you can play at spotting each of Quito’s monuments, be it: the spiked towers of the Basilica del Voto Nacional, the domed La Compañia church, the Virgen del Panecillo, the striking architecture of the Yaku Water Museum, and plenty more. Accompany your one-stop sight-seeing tour with an Argentinian or Chilean wine from Casa Gangotena’s vast wine cellar, or one of the signature cocktails created by the hotel’s expert bartender that incorporates local ingredients, premium liquors, and unique techniques.
Not to mention, Casa Gangotena is ranked among one of the best restaurants in Quito to experience a wonderful medley of Ecuadorian cuisine with innovative twists.
Streets: Manuel Samaniego y Antepara
Perched high up in the La Tola neighborhood and bordering Itchimbia Park along the western flank of the city, Cafe Mosaico is one of the most romantic venues in Quito. From either of its two balconies, visitors are privileged to an intricate vista of the Old Town’s meandering streets and white plazas. Additionally, views of the south stretch out past the Virgin del Panecillo Monument while the north spans the length of the jagged mountains. When the sun goes down and the night gets chilly, head inside and snuggle up around the fireplace. Cafe Mosaico does have a food menu, as well as drinks like gin and tonic and pisco sour, though the bar’s charm lies more in its views than its bar and kitchen.
El Ventanal Restaurant
Streets: Carchi y Nicaragua
This restaurant combines classic international dishes, like sushi and pasta, with traditional Ecuadorian fare. The best part? The dining room is housed in an abandoned cable car station and juts out of the San Juan hillside, making it one of the best restaurants in Quito with a view that’s simply unforgettable. It is fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor terrace, providing visitors with an astonishing cityscape. Fantastic cocktails allow you to stretch your meal out a little longer as you drink in the views, ideal for romance or a special group dinner.
Streets: Eugenio Espejo and Venezuela
Tucked directly under the Metropolitan Cathedral that stands right next to the Main Plaza, Fabiolita welcomes hungry patrons with a mouthwatering selection of scrumptious sandwiches and burgers, along with gluten and dairy free options, too! This restaurant makes for a great spot to relax and enjoy some people watching at ground-level. If you’re looking for a quick bite, then this may very well be the best restaurant in Quito to get one!
Streets: Junin and Ortiz Bilbao
This cozy restaurant is the home of exemplary Ecuadorian cuisine and goes to great lengths to source local ingredients. With beautiful presentation and fantastic service, the restaurant manages to serve up unforgettable plates—that place among the best restaurants in Quito—such as seabass ceviche and grilled meats with added extras like maize tortillas.
Streets: Esmeraldas and Vicente Leon
Come here to try a range of Ecuador’s artisanal beers and traditional snacks, including empanadas, yucca fries, and deliciously fritada (fried pork). The hip Sereno Moreno Bar is adored by the city’s youth and is a popular venue for DJs that play reggae and dance music.
La Vid Restaurant
Streets: Chile and Venezuela
Regarded as another one of the best restaurants in Quito, La Vid offers exquisite cuisine paired with a romantic view that faces and overlooks the Main Plaza of Old Town. The restaurant offers numerous dining options, along with signature drinks that will help you relax in an atmosphere that is both beautiful and tastefully decorated.
Jose de Antepara y Los Ríos
La Oficina, a pub-style bar in Old Town’s traditional San Blas neighborhood, is worth the visit for the mural alone. Painted by muralist Erin Yoshi, the incredible artwork incorporates Ecuador’s ecosystems, nature, and culture in order to create a space that is representative of the local community. The space is frequented by craft beer enthusiasts and is also the spot for musical concerts and cinema screenings of independently- and locally-produced movies. Thursday night is salsa night, when a live DJ fills La Oficina with tropical music and enthusiastic dancers.
Streets: Olmedo and Fermin Cevallos
The self-described gastro-pub in the historic La Tola neighborhood is almost as famous for its chart-topping pizza as it is for its beers. Bandido Brewing is the original microbrewery in Quito’s Old Town, and its success has been meteoric. Serving several of its own blends, the bar is a full house nearly every night of the week, with a combination of locals, expats, and tourists. The bar is full of quirks, too: not only is it located in a former 19th century church that maintains many of the hallmarks of its previous incarnation, Bandidos treats its guests to live music and its “Most Wanted” board, where visitors can leave money behind the bar for friends who’ll pass through in the future.
Altamira Gastronomic Experience
Streets: Rocafuerte and Venezuela
This restaurant in Quito’s Old Town invites you to embark on a culinary experience like no other, offering you the chance to partake in an actual cooking class as part of your time here! Altamira offers a relatively large, open dining and cooking space where you’ll get the hands-on chance to learn about several traditional dishes from Ecuador, serving as an exquisite preamble to experiencing the Quito nightlife that resides in Old Town, right around Altamira.
Hervidos El Tropical
Streets: Maldonado and Quijano
Over 60 years ago, a man from Rio Bamba and a woman from Quito invented a hot, steaming, boozy thirst-quencher made with naranjilla fruit, known as “hervido.” Today, from their cozy spot just off La Ronda in the Old Town, the Quiteña’s daughter, Ruth Borja, and her husband, Carlos Idrovo, continue to serve up the drinks with the same secret recipe. According to Carlos—who dons his sportswear and shows off his thick beard while on duty every night—the beverage is not only delicious, but has health benefits too, helping with digestion and colds. The cavernous bar has a diner-like charm to it, with retro furniture and offers the chance to meet some of the city’s most idiosyncratic residents.
Location: Calle La Ronda
This emblematic street is the nightlife hotspot of Old Town Quito, where locals and tourists alike come to enjoy themselves at the end of the workweek. Before the Spanish conquest, this narrow path was used by the Incas. From the 17th century onward, the street became populated by artisans and artists, as well as bohemians and outcasts. As a result, bars and venues suitable for creatures of the night began to emerge along the street’s flanks. Today, it’s one of the most popular streets that Quiteños head to when they want to celebrate something, yet haven’t made any plans for. Scattered with street performers, you can find anything you could ask for from a night out, from light bites to elegant restaurants, karaoke, and cocktail bars, little nooks for salsa shows and intimate taverns with live music and enchanting courtyards.