Amidst the historic center’s narrow, cobblestone streets and steep ascents you’ll find a number of bars and restaurants offering exquisite meals, cocktails and entertainment.Experience nightlife in Quito Old Town at some of the following spots:
From around 5.30 P.M. every night, Quito experiences a metamorphosis. As the sun begins its descent over the equatorial city, the new light transforms everything into gold with its alchemic powers.
The sky fades from vivid blue to pink, clouds swirl around the peaks of Pichincha, and moments before the sun disappears behind the mountains and it all goes black the street lights pop on, giving you a fleeting glance of the metropolis in high definition.
These are the most enchanting moments of the day here in the Andes, and a handful of rooftop and hillside bars provide the perfect setting for wine, beer or cocktails to the backdrop of the city at sunset.
From drinks, head to one of the Old Town’s restaurants serving up delicious traditional Ecuadorian dishes. But the night doesn’t end here. Quito has taken to the artisanal beer trend like a duck to water, and has a slew of craft beer pubs and microbreweries.
For those who still are not ready for bed, there’s a whole street dedicated to nightlife, as well as a nightclub in an unforgettable setting….
Read on for tips on how to plan your night, from pre-drinks to late-night dancing, in Quito’s Historic Centre.
Vista Hermosa Café Mirador
Mejía y García Moreno
Right at the heart of the Old Town, this roof terrace offers panoramic views of the historic buildings, domed churches, and soaring Andes, stunning in the pastel colours of the quintessential Quito sunset. There is a choice of South American wines plus premium tequilas, vodkas and whiskeys, and nibbles like nachos and empanadas to soak them up. Live music begins at 8:30 p.m. – a perfect accompaniment to the blinking lights of the Centre by night.
Manuel Samaniego y Antepara
Perched high up in the La Tola neighbourhood bordering with Parque Itchimbia on the western flank of the city, Café Mosaico is one of the most romantic venues in Quito. From its two balconies you are privilege to an intricate vista of the straight lines and white plazas of the Old Town, plus the south stretching out past the Virgin of the Panecillo and the chaotic, modern north edged by mountains. When the sun goes down and the night becomes chilly, head inside and snuggle up around the fireplace. Café Mosaico does have a menu of food as well as drinks like gin and tonic and pisco sour, though the bar’s charm lies more in its views than kitchen.
Simon Bolívar, Plaza San Francisco
The third-floor, panoramic terrace of Casa Gangotena is accessible only to hotel guests, making it one of the most exclusive spots in the city for a sunset cocktail. In that much-hallowed golden hour, play at spotting each of Quito’s monuments: the spiked towers of Basílica del Voto Nacional, the domed La Compañía church, the Virgen of the Panecillo and even the striking architecture of the Yaku Water Museum, plus many 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 mixologist using local ingredients, premium liquors, and alchemic techniques.
Mirador El Ventanal
Carchi y Nicaragua
This restaurant combines classic international dishes like sushi and pasta with traditional Ecuadorian fare. The best part? The cubic dining room juts out of the San Juan hillside, housed in an abandoned cable car station and is fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor terrace, providing another astonishing cityscape. Fabulous cocktails in technicolour allow you to drag the meal out longer as you drink in the views, ideal for romance or a special group dinner.
Theatrum Restaurante Ecuatoriano
Plaza del Teatro Nacional Sucre
With a history almost as illustrious as that of Casa Gangotena itself, Theatrum is the place to go for an elegant, indulgent dinner. Positioned on the grand Plaza del Teatro in the same building as the city’s most famous theatre, the restaurant offers charming views of the bustling square and is the ideal place to eat before or after a show. Within a sophisticated, if traditional, dining room, Theatrum celebrates classic Ecuadorian dishes from around the country, including the coast, the sierra, and Amazon rainforest.
This classy joint even provides guests with a complimentary taxi ride to and from their hotel if they make a reservation beforehand.
Guayaquil y Eugenio Espejo
This cosy restaurant is the home of exemplary Ecuadorian cuisine and goes to great lengths to source local ingredients. With beautiful presentation and perfect service, the seabass in ceviche and grilled forms is a huge hit, while added extras like maize tortillas are also crowd-pleasers. La Purísima is located on the pedestrianised street next to Teatro Bolivar, making it ideal for a pre- or post-show dinner, and can provide a solid base if want to dance into the small hours at the theatre’s Wonder 1933 nightclub!
One of the latest bars to ride on the back of Quito’s microbrewery wave is Sirka, a cosy, trendy bar serving up its own brand of craft beer. Frequented by the city’s bohemian types, Sirka blends its bar status with life music venue and art gallery, offering exhibition space to local artists and photographers. Sirka is located in San Marcos, a charming historic neighbourhood ideal for exploring before or after your beer. La Casa de la Danza (Dance House) is found a stone’s throw away for those who like to tie cultural activities into their nightlife!
Esmeraldas y Vicente Leon
This duck-egg green-washed space is adorned with industrial wooden panelling and dainty, flowery frescos. Come here to try a range of Ecuador’s artisanal beers and traditional snacks, including empanadas, yucca fries and deliciously indulgent fritada. Hip Sereno Moreno is loved by the city’s young and trendy, and is often entertained by DJs playing reggae and dance music.
Jose de Antepara y Los Ríos
La Oficina, a pub-style bar in Old Town’s traditional San Blas neighbourhood, is worth the visit for the mural alone. Painted by muralist Erin Yoshi, the incredible work incorporates Ecuador’s ecosystems, nature and culture in order to create a space representative of the community. The space is patronised by craft beer enthusiasts and is also used for musical concerts and cinema screenings of independent and locally produced movies. Thursday night is salsa night, when a live DJ fills La Oficina with tropical music and enthusiast, if unprofessional, dancers.
Olmedo y Fermin Cevallos
The self-described gastro-pub in the historic La Tola neighbourhood is almost as famous for its chart-topping pizza as it is for its beers. Bandidos is the original microbrewery in Quito’s Old Town, and its success has been meteoric. Serving six of its own blends (with something to please all types of beer enthusiast) it’s a full house every night of the week, popular with a healthy combination of locals, expats and tourists. The bar is full of quirks: not only is it located in a former 19th century church and 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.
Hervidos El Tropical
Avenidas Maldonado y Quijano esquina
Over 60 years ago, a man from Río Bamba and a woman from Quito invented a hot, steaming, boozy thirst-quencher made with naranjilla fruit, known as “hervido.” Today, from their cosy 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 in his sportswear and Father Christmas beard is 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 the possibility of meeting some of the city’s most idiosyncratic residents.
Calle La Ronda
This emblematic street is the nightlife soul of Quito, where locals and tourists alike come to enjoy themselves at the end of a working week. Before the Spanish conquest, the famous avenue was a path used by the Incas. From the 17th century onwards, the street was populated by artisans and artists, bohemians and outcasts, and for that reason bars and venues suitable for creatures of the night began to emerge. Today, it’s the street Quiteños head to when they want to celebrate and haven’t yet made a plan. Scattered with street performers, you can find anything you could need from a night out, from light bites to elegant restaurants, karaoke and cocktail bars, sweeping arenas for salsa shows and intimate taverns with live music and mysterious courtyards.
Espejo y Guayaquil
For the young (and young at heart) Wonder 1933 is a venue to revel in a fabulous night, dancing until the small hours. Located in Teatro Bolivar in an old, atmospheric ballroom, the bar is still marked by the fire that all but destroyed it almost two decades ago. Here, you can hear Ecuador’s trendiest DJs and bands play, take part in costume parties and even watch circus acts.