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19 November, 2018 Isabel Espinoza2
Reading Time: 6 minutes

When perusing the Casa Gangotena Restaurant menu, you may wonder what is implied by the phrase cocina mestiza. This is the name we use to describe our distinct style of cuisine—a reimagination of traditional Ecuadorian fare prepared with fresh, regionally-sourced ingredients. Modern culinary techniques inform our approach to creating memorable dishes that feature incredible colors, flavors, and textures in every bite.

In essence, cocina mestiza is a singular gastronomic experience that you can enjoy by sampling the various dishes on our menu. The sensational offerings are delivered with an attention to detail and presentation that have become synonymous with Casa Gangotena’s Restaurant.


New offerings from Casa Gangotena's Restaurant
Slow-cooked for 24 hours, the Pancetta is accompanied by a pea and mint glaze, and a variety of maize.

What does cocina mestiza mean in English?

Luckily, we can easily translate cocina to “cuisine;” however the word mestiza is a little more complicated. A direct translation would imply “of mixed origin”—probably not the best translation for food! Think of it like this: Mestiza is to Ecuador what Creole is to the Caribbean. Therefore, cocina mestiza is the combination of indigenous- and European-influenced cooking traditions, envisioned anew through modern techniques while celebrating fresh, native, and locally sourced ingredients.

The Red Tuna features a chulpi corn crust accompanied by a chili, plantain, and coconut purée

What is Ecuador’s gastronomic history?

Ecuador has four distinct geographical regions. Culture and food vary quite a bit between each of these. Historically, the journey from the highlands to the coast or from the highlands to the Amazon was long and arduous. The Galapagos were even more difficult to reach, as they were only accessible by plane or via a very long voyage by sea. Prior to the advent of engines, roads, and all the corresponding infrastructure, people settled in a specific region and rarely ventured far from it. This resulted in the evolution of specific traditions, distinct cooking styles, and varied diets suited to their particular environment, topography, resources, and climate.

A local favorite, the Locro Quiteño features potato, paico, fresh cheese, avocado, pork rinds, and chulpi corn.

Indigenous tribes made good use of root vegetables, like cassava, and grains, such as quinoa, readily available in their region. They primarily ate fish and the occasional animal successfully hunted. In the 16th century, the Spaniards arrived and conquered the Inca Empire and, by extension, several local indigenous tribes. Along the way, they introduced culinary dishes from Europe, which included a lot of meat and poultry: beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and duck. This influential event would forever change culinary styles, concepts, and food preparation throughout Ecuador.

Cocina Mestiza-style Duck
Our cocina mestiza-style duck comes cured and is served with an apple sauce, fennel, and vanilla glaze.

The world has become infinitely smaller thanks to the accessibility of air travel, and the vast sharing of information via the Internet. Many people from all over the world have relocated to Ecuador, bringing with them recipes for dishes and cooking techniques from places like Europe, North America, and Asia. Conversely, in today’s day and age, there is an endless amount of information and media available online, focusing on exciting new culinary ideas. The introduction of these new concepts has led to yet another new dynamic in Ecuadorian cuisine.

Grilled Salad - Cocina Mestiza
The Grilled Salad features lettuce heart, asparagus, mint, and fresh cheese.

Our cocina mestiza expertly combines the largely vegetarian diet and cooking styles of the country’s first indigenous tribes with the more diverse European cuisine and premium cuts that were introduced along with it, creating an unparalleled dining experience that meshes many cultures together with unique ingredients sourced from different parts of Ecuador.


What is Casa Gangotena’s Restaurant dress code?
At Casa Gangotena, we don’t have a dress code! We strongly recommend you dress as comfortable as possible in order to enjoy the wonders of Quito’s Historic Center before or after your visit to our restaurant.

What are some examples of cocina mestiza?

Casa Gangotena’s cocina mestiza is a unique culinary adventure.

Prawns Cocina Mestiza
Cocina mestiza-style Prawns, marinated in butter and served over a coconut sauce with shallots and notes of lemon verbena.

While sitting in the comfort of the magical Casa Gangotena Restaurant, you can enjoy a selection of delicious items such as Prawns from the Ecuadorian Coast, prepared in a traditionally inspired coconut, or encocado, sauce from Esmeraldas Province. This delicious dish, prepared with lemon verbena, shallots, and fresh butter, spotlights some of Ecuador’s most recognizable ingredients as they shine with every bite.

Cocina Mestiza-style Lamb
The Lamb loin features a pistachio coating and is served over fig sauce alongside grilled pumpkin and white oyster mushrooms.

Another sought-after dish on the cocina mestiza menu is the Lamb. This delicious Andean chop is wrapped in an unforgettable pistachio crust, and served alongside a tangy fig sauce, with white oyster mushrooms and grilled pumpkin. This incomparable treat will have your taste buds begging for more!

Andean Salad - Cocina Mestiza
The Andean Salad features regional ingredients like red and white quinoa, crispy chickpea, and grilled cebollitas, with dollops of naranjilla and red currant dressing, plus puréed lupini bean.

Some menu items may be a little hard to explain as the herbs and vegetables used are native to the area and aren’t commonly found outside Latin America. One example of this is the Andean Salad featuring red and white quinoa, crispy chickpeas, lupin hummus, grilled vegetables, and a naranjilla-infused dressing.

Ceviche Cocina Mestiza
The Citrusy Fish Ceviche bathes fresh catch-of-the-day in a mixture of lemon juice, cucumber, and basil.

At Casa Gangotena, regional flavors come alive in some of our more traditional dishes. Take, for example, our Citrusy Fish Ceviche. This Quiteño-style favorite offers the chance to try the catch-of-the-day (fish) in a refreshing citric lemon and lime base, with cucumber and basil. Homemade plantain chips, freshly popped corn, and toasted corn nuts provide the perfect complement to this popular offering.

Beet Tartare - Cocina Mestiza
The Beetroot Tartare is a quenelle prepared with taxo, amaranth, pickled radishes, and walnut.

The chefs at the Casa Gangotena Restaurant are constantly finding ways to celebrate typical ingredients found throughout much of the country. Take, for instance, the Beetroot Tartare appetizer, which features beetroot quenelle, taxo (fruit), amaranth, pickled radishes, and walnut. Or, if you want to enjoy something familiar in a whole new way, try the Red Tuna appetizer, covered in a delicate crust prepared from toasted corn nut, served alongside an exciting chili, plantain, and coconut purée.


What other aspects distinguish Casa Gangotena’s cocina mestiza from every other restaurant?

In addition to the perfect blend of local ingredients, traditional recipes, and cultural influences, cocina mestiza also employs incredibly unique plateware. Calling upon Ecuador’s volcanic origins, the dishes used at Casa Gangotena’s Restaurant are partially made with basalt and granite. Each one contains a graphic representation of the San Francisco church in homage to Casa Gangotena’s iconic neighbor. Incredibly enough, no two plates are the same, resulting in cocina mestiza’s stunning visuals.

Additionally, our servers are delighted to guide your palate through the optimal combination of components that make up each dish. Allow us to help you experience the greatest blend of complementary flavors in a single bite. Think of it as an extension of your journey through Ecuador—without having to leave your seat!

The Fish is a delicious sole served over a fried yucca, tangerine, and ginger purée.

Casa Gangotena’s cocina mestiza is an authentic gastro-sensorial experience of the best local and regional ingredients prepared with exquisite culinary expertise. Guests can experience Ecuador’s rich culinary traditions through a modern lens, in an elegant and comfortable atmosphere. Every flavor, every sauce, and every spice has been expertly chosen to represent the very best of Ecuadorian gastronomy. More than just a menu, cocina mestiza is an intricate blend of traditional flavors and the very essence of a truly mouthwatering dining experience.


How do I get to Casa Gangotena’s Restaurant?
Though it’s fairly easy to get to Casa Gangotena from any point in Quito, here you can find directions that will help you reach our restaurant:

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9 October, 2018 Christopher Klassen1
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Dining in Quito can be a marvelous experience, if you choose the right place. There are three options that, basically, encompass the dining options offered throughout the city:

  • The local lunch spot
  • Food court
  • Restaurants

In this blog, you’ll get to know more about each of these options: what they offer, how much they cost, and our personal recommendations. Each of these factors are things to keep in mind when seeking out the culinary experience you want to enjoy in a city like Quito.

The Local Almuerzo (or Lunch) Spot

Approximate cost: Ranges between $2.75 and $5.00 per person

Lunch comparisson

Pros

For those folks looking for a casual and quick meal, which they can even take with them as they go about their way, Quito has exactly what they need at an affordable price. Generally, Quiteño’s most standard option for casual dining is the local almuerzo (or lunch) spot.

These spaces offer a wholly pragmatic experience. The menu typically only includes two or three traditional meal options. Usually, what arrives at your table is a hot soup to whet your appetite, a chicken or beef stew with a heaping pile of rice, and a juice or beverage prepared in house.

Cons

However, it is worth noting: you get what you pay for, these places don’t offer much beyond a full stomach. Service tends to be rushed, thanks to the high volume of customers. Also, during peak lunch hours, these tiny dives tend to get pretty full and different parties are often obliged to share the same table.

It is also important to consider your palate and your tastes. Given the nature of these traditional recipes, some ingredients and condiments could be not so well received by your stomach. These plates are rarely customizable, too.

typical quiteno lunch plate
Generally, lunches offer a lot of rice, a fixed protein, and a side or garnish.

The Food Court

Approximate cost: Ranges between $7.00 and $15.00 per person

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Pros

When looking for a quick bite, another option is to visit the food court at one of the city’s many shopping centers. These places often feature a variety of fast food options. Also, they tend to be very similar to food courts located throughout the world, offering the usual fast food franchises. Also, the prices are relatively affordable.

Cons

These spaces tend towards having a crowded, chaotic, and noisy atmosphere, but they can be an easy option for those who work a hectic job and have a set lunch hour or for those with a full day of shopping ahead. For consumers who want to be environmentally conscious food courts are probably not the best alternative, given that utensils, plates, and cups tend to be single use, which can produce a large amount of waste.

Also, just as is the case in many public dining places, it’s possible you may need to tolerate settings that are disorganized and not at all intimate. Unfortunately, you’ll also have to deal with the lines, especially during peak mealtime hours. You’ll need to guard your personal items, as there are a lot of people milling about.

Food court at a local shopping center
Food courts are an excellent option for those looking for a quick meal; however, they have no atmosphere and tend to be crowded and noisy.

Restaurants

Approximate cost: Ranges between $7.00 and $15.00 per person

Smartdining comparisson

Pros

If you have time to enjoy something a little more elaborate. Quito offers a great selection of spectacular gastronomic options that invite diners to experience new flavors and sensations while enjoying a pleasant moment in the company of family or friends.

Diners will find lots of different cuisines; Italian, Asian, seafood, traditional Ecuadorian fare and various others throughout the city. Also, chefs from all over the world take advantage of locally-sourced fruits, vegetables, proteins, and spices with which to transform their creativity and passion into exquisite meals that are extraordinarily fresh.

Restauranteurs have selected a wide range of settings and locations that benefit from and highlight the beauty and historical importance of Quito. They have made it their mission to train their employees on how to provide customers with efficient and reliable service.

Cons

The average cost of the most elegant restaurants in Quito can reach around $60.00 per person.

Friends gather on Casa Gangotena's rooftop
Restaurants are perfect for pleasant gatherings with friends.
What should I keep in mind before deciding where to eat?
Speed and Affordability: the Local Almuerzo (or Lunch) Spot
Variety and Time Constraints: Food Court
Complete Culinary Experience (food, service, ambiance): Restaurant

Why is it worthwhile to choose a restaurant?

Often, we avoid expensive restaurants and think that fine food “isn’t worth it” when we can find something less expensive and close by. However, high-quality gastronomy is something that everyone can enjoy, be it on a special occasion or simply to break up the daily grind by enjoying a moment with friends and family.

Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the reasons why choosing a restaurant is the best option!

Quality of the Food

A really good meal requires a lot of patience and ingenuity, as well as passion for the art of cooking and a specific sense of creativity. Restaurant chefs focusing on haute cuisine are highly-trained professionals who have experience with a wide variety of ingredients, and they use this knowledge to create the best meals that are technically impeccable. They use special equipment and obtain the highest-quality products from carefully selected providers in order to offer you not just the best food, but also the best flavors.

These culinary artists know the which combinations work best, the precise temperature at which to cook the ingredients, how long they need to cook, and all of the particular techniques to use to coax the exact flavors they seek. This is as much an art as it is a science. Haute (or high end) cuisine truly is worthwhile. It is what transforms any necessary and common activity, like eating, into an extraordinary and intimate experience.

Cocina Mestiza-style Lamb
Casa Gangotena Restaurant’s Lamb Loin is coated in a pistachio crust and served with fig sauce, white oyster mushroom, and grilled pumpkin.

Service

High-end restaurants devote weeks to training their servers in order to transform them into professional waitpersons, capable of creating a personal and enjoyable experience for their clients. At these restaurants, if you don’t enjoy the experience, you have a right to some sort of compensation.

Waitstaff ensure that the food is to your liking and that you have everything you need. They know what beverages or drinks best complement certain dishes and they can help you choose the best option according to your preferences and mood; all of this in order to offer you exactly what you may or may not have known you were looking for.

The waitstaff are the folks who will guide your gastronomic experience with impeccable service, charm, and warm hospitality in order to give you a well-deserved vacation away from home, and more so, they will treat you like a distinguished diner.

No more getting up from the table to refill your drink or get more napkins. No more waiting in lines or discovering another party suddenly sitting at your table.

Atmosphere

No gastronomic experience is complete without the perfect ambiance. For some, this final element can even be the most important factor when considering where to dine.

Depending on your mood and interests, high-end restaurants in Quito offer a variety of settings, spaces, views, and sensations that will allow you to enjoy an intimate and relaxed experience that quickly vanquishes any distractions. This is when you can take a moment to appreciate the folks around you and their company.

There is a variety of factors that should be considered when seeking out the most appropriate setting: lighting, music, decor, and even the arrangement of seats and tables, which can vary drastically from one restaurant to another. It is important to keep these things in mind when selecting your culinary experience.

Casa Gangotena's Restaurant
A pleasant atmosphere is ideal for celebrating any occasion with a fine meal.

Why dine at a restaurant in Quito’s Old Town?

The answer is very simple: you can enjoy an immersive experience.

The Historic Center of Quito offers impressive views of churches, basilicas, colonial buildings, and surrounding mountains – which are things you can observe whenever you want at a number of dining spots located among the Old Town’s many rooftops.

Another factor is that these restaurants are an excellent place to take a break and relax in the middle of a day full of activities and excursions. Conversely, they can be an excellent spot from which to start off your night before heading off to explore the city’s famous nightlife.

Also, there are some gastronomic options available along the mountain slopes, with views of the city, where diners can appreciate the well-illuminated architectural gems that Quito has to offer.

Casa Gangotena’s Restaurant: Why is it the best dining option in Quito?

The Restaurant at Casa Gangotena is a prime example of fine dining in a fantastic location—the heart of Quito’s Old Town.

VIEW GALLERY     VIEW MENU     VIEW TASTING MENU

Casa Gangotena offers diners much more than a gourmet menu. Upon entering the building, you’ll find yourself immersed in a setting full of history, in the heart of Quito’s Historic Quarter, which is home to a modern take on the best of Ecuadorian cuisine.

The experience of dining at Casa Gangotena’s Restaurant doesn’t just involve food, per sé, it also focuses on satisfying clients through their:

Cocina Mestiza

Reimagining traditional Ecuadorian dishes by making use of internationally-inspired, modern techniques.

Multiple Spaces

Our formal restaurant’s classic style, our elegant bar, the bright open space of our interior patio or loggia, and the majestic views of our rooftop terrace.

Valet Parking

Enjoy your food with peace of mind that comes with not worrying about your vehicle; we’ll take care of it from the moment you arrive until the moment your experience with us is complete.

Extended Hours

It is never too late or too early to enjoy our gastronomic offerings. With breakfast served daily between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., lunch from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m., and dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., you’ll always be able to enjoy a pleasant time at our restaurant.

Daily Promos

Every day, we celebrate something different at Casa Gangotena! Be it a birthday or simply the joy of welcoming you to our establishment, you’ll always find a discount or special offer of which to take advantage.

Location

Located along one side of the iconic San Francisco Plaza in Quito’s Historic Center, Casa Gangotena’s Restaurant allows you to enjoy a complete experience without leaving the city’s picturesque essence.


How do I get to Casa Gangotena’s Restaurant?
Though it’s fairly easy to get to Casa Gangotena from any point in Quito, here you can find directions that will help you reach our restaurant:

Bonus: How can I enjoy a memorable gastronomic experience at home?

Take out food generally implies speed and comfort. We don’t have to leave the house to enjoy a quick and easy meal. However, this is usually not the way to create a memorable experience. For this reason, Casa Gangotena presents Mikuy.

With the characteristic flavors of our Cocina Mestiza cuisine, Mikuy arrives at your doorstep, ready to accompany you on any occasion and treat your senses to a delicious feast that you can enjoy as you’d like.

Order delicious dishes from our website, one day in advance. Feel the excitement as you assemble the meal of your choice with the final touches and creative instructions of our chef. Complement your experience with fresh infusions that will bring out even more of the flavors in your food.

Upon receiving your order from Mikuy, you’ll find easy step-by-step instructions and tips for decorating your table, lighting, and even setting the mood with our playlist, specially designed to accompany your meal.

If you’re unsure about wasteful packaging, fear not! Everything you order from Mikuy will arrive in environmentally friendly packaging that you can reuse or recycle with easy. You can read more about our new service, check out the menu, and place your first order here.

[Please note: Though the Mikuy ordering platform is currently provided in Spanish, it includes easy-to-understand images and intuitive buttons. Site support is provided in both English and Spanish.]

Enjoy!

Casa Gangotena-style Smoked Ceviche features marinated shrimp, smoked watermelon and strawberry, and tonka bean.

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21 September, 2018 Christopher Klassen0
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Casa Gangotena offers breakfast, buffet-style, 7 days a week! Beginning at 7 a.m., visitors and guests are treated to a spread like no other. Tables are piled high with a selection of juices, cereals, cold cuts, pastries, breads, and yogurt. Add to this numerous favorites like pancakes, granola, eggs, and coffee, and you have the makings of the finest breakfast in all of Quito!


The Perfect Breakfast Spot and Place to Start your Day

Casa Gangotena, in the heart of Quito’s old town, is surrounded by a charm that resonates throughout this fascinating heritage house with Art Deco- and French/Italian-inspired interiors. Its elegant dining room features high ceilings and comfortable seating in a beautiful setting. The space is filled with light, and mornings bring a buzz of activity, just beyond the dining room windows in the adjacent Plaza San Francisco. Meanwhile, waiters and waitresses greet wide-eyed guests, offering them coffee, hot chocolate, tea, juice, and cocktails, taking their order of eggs prepared as they wish, and inviting them to visit the buffet at their leisure.

Breakfast at Casa Gangotena
Breakfast at Casa Gangotena is a culinary delight.

What is Casa Gangotena’s Restaurant dress code?
At Casa Gangotena, we don’t have a dress code! We strongly recommend you dress comfortably, so that you’ll be ready to enjoy the wonders of Quito’s Historic Center before or after your visit to our restaurant.

Coffee, Eggs, and Pancakes!

For many folks, the day doesn’t begin until after their morning cup of coffee. Well, the good news is that here in Ecuador, the world’s most fertile volcanic soil gives way to some of the most delicious coffee you’ll ever taste! And refills are on the house.

Next up, choose some eggs pretty much any way you want them; scrambled, fried, poached, boiled, or as an omelet. Keep in mind that Casa Gangotena’s cuisine provides guests with the opportunity to experience modern takes on local and regional favorites. One of these is tigrillo (a hearty and delicious dish of mashed plantain and scrambled eggs, often combined with cheese and/or pork).

Casa Gangotena's breakfast tigrillo
Our cuisine tries to incorporate local popular dishes into our menu.

And don’t forget the pancakes! These fluffy favorites will make any breakfast feel extra special!

Breakfast Baked Goods, the Stuff of Dreams

Once your waitperson has taken your order, for things like eggs, juice, and special signature cocktails, guests are welcome to explore the buffet. Many immediately gravitate towards the exciting spread of baked goods including a variety of rolls, flaky pastries, and whole-grain bread prepared with ingredients, such as quinoa. Many of these treats are prepared with flour milled just up the road in the San Roque neighborhood. If jams and jellies are your thing, blackberry and goldenberry are just two of the distinct and exciting flavors available to round out your breakfast.

Breakfast buffet at Casa Gangotena
There’s plenty to enjoy at Casa Gangontena’s breakfast buffet.

Champagne Breakfast

Just beyond the bread selection is the continental section: a table shining with Canadian smoked salmon, Spanish serrano ham, quiche, potato tortilla, and cheeses from around the world. Adjacent to this you may find a freshly-popped bottle of champagne, you can mix it with juice for a Bellini, or leave the bubbles untainted for a purely “sparkling” morning. The best celebratory breakfast in Quito? Absolutely.


The Best Healthy Breakfast in Quito

Sure, vacation is often a time to indulge in any number of delectable meals without analyzing their nutritional content. However, Casa Gangotena does a great job with breakfast by offering plenty of delicious and nutritious options that include a rainbow of detox juices; deep purple with beetroot or vivid green with cucumber and celery. This, alongside an impressive array of yogurts with the toppings like fruit, nuts, oats, and granola in addition to fresh and exotic fruits from the region.

Fruit at Casa Gangotena's breakfast buffet
Fresh and exotic fruits are offered every day on our buffet.

Where to begin with such a feast?

Should you find yourself in beautiful Quito, just make your way to San Francisco Plaza, in the heart of the historic center and you’ll be happy you made the trek! This fascinating plaza is home to the imposing San Francisco Church, and the incredible cobblestone plaza that sees plenty of pedestrian (and pigeon) activity! It’s enough to put a smile on the face of any curious visitor.


In-room Breakfasts at Casa Gangotena

There’s another way to enjoy the best breakfast in Quito – without leaving your room! Casa Gangotena’s staff are delighted to set up a feast in your room, looking out over your spectacular view. Just inquire at Reception for more details.

Breakfast schedule: Daily 7 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.


How do I get to Casa Gangotena’s Restaurant?
Though it’s fairly easy to get to Casa Gangotena from any point in Quito, here you can find directions that will help you reach our restaurant:

dessert-casa-gangotena.jpg

23 April, 2018 Christopher Klassen0
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Desserts at Casa Gangotena
Our desserts are made from local exotic fruits!

There’s something about the desserts at Casa Gangotena that feels like a true indulgence, the most special of treats in all their childlike glory. It’s the setting: the elegantly restored townhouse full of gorgeous antiques, staffed by attentive and stylish waiters. It’s the sensory delight: pastel-colored or vibrant, scattered and steaming, smelling and tasting like something you can’t quite put your finger on from a long-forgotten memory, fizzing, crunching and crackling. And it’s the story: the carefully developed concept that is so very unique yet so entirely, authentically Ecuadorian. If you’re itching to try some of the best desserts in Quito, Casa Gangotena is the place to be.

Taste the flavors of Ecuador’s most traditional desserts!

Diners don’t come to restaurants for culinary philosophies, they come for good food. Yet the one in play at Casa Gangotena’s restaurant, in both the dessert and main menu, adds a deeper understanding, a deeper flavor even, to each of the delicious dishes. Developed by Metropolitan Touring’s Gastronomic Director, Byron Rivera, and Casa Gangotena’s Head Chef, Andres Robles, Mestizo Cuisine takes “a mixture of distinct cultures that gives rise to a new one” as its starting point.

The gastronomic approach embraces all periods of Ecuador’s history, from indigenous and Incan communities to Spanish colonizers and later European influences. It is inspired by Casa Gangotena’s location among the museums, plazas, churches, and markets of the Quito Historic Center and the mansion’s own illustrious history as the home of presidents and intellectuals. And finally, it puts faith, value, and pride in real Ecuadorian products, emphasizing local ingredients, and the stories from where they came.

“We are Ecuadorian cooks making Ecuadorian cuisine,” Rivera told one magazine.

Theorizing is all well and good, but it doesn’t exactly make the mouth water. So what does Mestizo Cuisine look like on a plate? The chocolate volcano with mandarin helado de paila with lemon verbena is a textbook example.

A visual feast as well as a culinary one, the helado de paila (“dish ice cream” would be its literal translation) is created on a cart before your eyes. In homage to the beloved helado de paila vendors who are such a part of the Quito Old Town landscape (and its soundscape with their echoing yells), the Casa Gangotena version is made in a shiny bronze bowl on a bed of straw. Mandarin juice is poured in and then – the magic – liquid nitrogen is poured on top, billowing with enchanting ‘smoke’ as it is whisked into the juice, freezing it into a solid form. It is pure, fabulous wizardry in a beloved Quito tradition, reloaded with jaw-dropping execution. And that’s only the half of it.

Watch the video of the helado de paila magic trick.

Figs with cheese
Figs with cheese is one of Ecuador’s most traditional desserts.

The helado de paila is the sideshow to a most deserving megastar: the chocolate volcano. Perhaps inspired by the most quiteño of geographic phenomena (or, perhaps not), the oh-so-rich dessert is made from a top-quality, socially, and environmentally responsible Ecuadorian chocolate. Pacari is multi-award-winning biodynamic chocolate that celebrates the finest Ecuadorian cacao and techniques, sourcing the beans from small-scale farmers in the Amazon region. It’s an incredible story in itself. And it’s just one ingredient.

Aside from the normal dessert menu, the restaurant also serves seasonal classics. Traditional to the Easter period, higos con queso is one of these, a seemingly innocuous combination, but one that makes Ecuadorians misty-eyed with nostalgia for their grandmother’s home cooking. The Mestizo Cuisine incarnation sources local figs uses a lovingly homemade syrup, and the lightest, fluffiest cheese from nearby markets. No smoke and mirrors here: Casa Gangotena knows that you don’t mess with the classics.

Desserts, sweets, puddings, and treats are two-a-penny in Quito. But at Casa Gangotena they’re given special status. Only here will you taste hundreds of years of culinary tradition in one mouthful, and have each one of your five senses delighted. Don’t leave dessert as an after-thought: at the Old Town’s finest hotel, it’s the main event.

Casa Gangotena restaurant table
Prepare yourself for Casa Gangotena’s most delicious and traditional desserts!

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26 January, 2018 Christopher Klassen
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cocktail bar in Quito

Elizabeth Arévalo is one of the newest members of Casa Gangotena’s polished cocktail team, serving the best of Ecuadorian cocktails. Born and raised in the coastal region of Esmeraldas, she moved to Quito nearly eight years ago when she was 17 years old, to study Gastronomy. Her ideal classic cocktail is a simple gin and tonic with a twist of lemon.

Elizabeth Arévalo, bartender
Elizabeth is one of our expert bartenders at Casa Gangotena.

What do you like about working behind the bar?

I love the service. I love chatting to people, giving them a different experience, so they enjoy themselves and go home happy. That’s why I’m really enjoying what I’m doing right now rather than cooking because when you’re working in the kitchen you are part of the experience but in a different way. I like human contact.

A good barman can make or break your experience of a bar…

Our bar is an experience from the moment you enter, from when you come in the door because once you’re inside it’s a different world. The comfort, the design, and then with the cocktails: people get involved with the signature cocktails we make.

Elizabeth Arévalo at Casa Gangotena's bar
Working as a team is one of the key factors of our bartenders!

Do you all work as a team?

We’ve worked hard and become a good team, each one with their own strengths, and helping the others when they’re not so good at something. Little by little we’ve become a solid bar. It’s been a process. We’ve become a family. Christian [Moscoso] and I started at more or less the same time, seven months ago, so we’ve been growing together.

Does your background in gastronomy help with your mixology?

I can try cocktails and separate all the flavours.  I think my studies helped me because it’s the same: it’s creating. It’s like a dish, but it’s not a dish – it’s a drink. It’s a mix of flavours.

Do clients ask you to explain these intricate cocktails?

Part of the service at this bar is to explain the menu to our clients. Clients come and sit down and we hand them the menu explain about our signature cocktails and why the menu is called Homenaje, all about the ingredients, the dedication, the work we put in. And we focus on the preferences of the client, we don’t recommend a drink but investigate, work out what they like, what type of flavours, and from there we can suggest a cocktail that might be for them.

Elizabeth Arévalo hard at work
All of our bartenders know our exclusive cocktails and are ready to prepare them for you at any time.

The menu has a very Ecuadorian focus…

Yeah it is rooted in our culture: the fruits and the Andean herbs that are in the Sangorache, for example. And sugar cane liquor from Manabi, we use it a lot. Guests come and they ask, “What liquor is traditional here?” And we tell them all about caña manabita. I think it’s beautiful because it’s part of the experience. They can go home and say, “I was in Quito and I tried a traditional liquor with local fruit…” And another thing is that all these products are really fresh. A lot of work, from all of us, goes into one cocktail in the bar.

Do you like using all the gadgets at the bar?

As well as making our job easier, it’s part of the experience. The smoke machine, the flame machine: when you put something on the bar, people say, “Wow!” And it’s not just the people who have ordered that drink, but everyone in the bar. It’s really eye-catching. It goes hand-in-hand with our fine-dining style.

Elizabeth preparing our signature cocktails
Our cocktails are made with local herbs and fruits.

What is your favourite drink on the menu?

From Homenaje, my favourite cocktail is Alchemia. I like citrus fruits and I love passion fruit. I love that combination of flavours, and that when you try it, the sensation in your mouth is different to that in your nose.

The menu is called Homenaje (which means “homage” in Spanish). If Casa Gangotena were to create a cocktail as a homage to you, what would it be like?

It would be quite refreshing. I would start with caña (cane liquor) – not just because we use it a lot here but because I’ve always really liked it. Something refreshing, something fruity, not sweet. Maybe some grenadine in there.


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8 November, 2017 Christopher Klassen
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Marco Ullauri is a master potter in Quito and the artisan behind the distinctive crockery of Casa Gangotena. More than 25 years ago, he and his wife began on a path that would see them making countless ceramic pieces.

It all started when he was studying economics while his wife was studying art, and she began to lean towards pottery. When he saw her working with clay, Marco decided that he too would like to make this art his way of life. Once the two had studied different techniques in Talavera de la Reina, a town in Spain known for its pottery, they came back to Ecuador to put into practice the knowledge they had acquired.

Ceramic plates from Quito
Different designs of ceramic plates made by Marco.

One of the greatest challenges they faced on their return was replacing the ceramics of the greatest domes in the whole of Latin America; those belonging to the La Compañía church located in Quito’s Old Town. They fitted a total of 10,470 tiles, each exactly uniform, in the colours of turquoise, ochre, white and black. For that, they used a technique that copied a traditional one, but with up-to-the-minute technology. From then on, Marco has applied this new concept of bringing traditional practices up to date, revitalising them with modern technology and quality.

His workshop is his pride and joy, and here he is entirely self-sufficient. All the supplies and resources that he uses are made within this very workshop.

The most important element in creating any ceramic piece, he explains, is fire.

“That makes you humble, because with fire there’s no discussion, it is relentless. I can manipulate the earth; I try to control fire but it is terrible,” he says.

Ceramic object from Quito, Ecuador
Marco incorporates details of Quito’s history and local elements into his work.

“Life is a sum of impressions; a picture is the sum of impressions. That is the beauty of life, capturing the marks that life has left on you. These marks give you the paintbrush, the colour, the canvas. This is what you can see in the crockery of Casa Gangotena. That is life, the impressions.”

Byron Rivera, the Gastronomic Director of Casa Gangotena, contacted Marco after seeing his plates displayed in Quito. The pieces of crockery of Casa Gangotena are each distinct, though work together as a harmonious collection. To make them, Marco used a technique called crystallisation, which entails the creation of very particular conditions, both thermic and atmospheric. The challenge, then, is to make the crystal grow.

“It is like creating a life, this magnetic thing, attracting crystal. And all of a sudden a crystal appears, it’s as if a life has formed. Just like that, one molecule joins with another, then they form cells, and so on. Just like creating a life, one plants a seed but doesn’t know how it is going to crystallise,” he says.

Casa Gangotena's cuisine on a ceramic plate
Casa Gangotena’s food is served on Marco’s ceramic plates which elevate our connection with Quito’s history.

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