Ecuador is a country with many rich and wonderful culinary traditions. Every year, around the Catholic observance of Holy Week, the capital city of Quito comes alive with the most consistently delicious interpretations of fanesca, a creamy and robust soup that highlights an array of native ingredients like choclo (maize), achiote (annatto), habas (fava beans), and zambo (or sambo – pumpkin seeds). However, not all fanescas are prepared with the same attention to detail, passion, and flavor. So, just where can you find the best Fanesca in Quito?
5 Things to consider when seeking the best fanesca in Quito
Fresh local ingredients
A unique take on tradition
What makes Casa Gangotena’s fanesca so special?
There are so many things to consider when you go in search of a great fanesca. Ultimately, your enjoyment of this popular dish depends on a number of things like ingredients, traditional interpretation, flavors, presentation, and overall experience. These are just some of the factors that set Casa Gangotena’s fanesca apart from the rest.
A traditional fanesca celebrates 11 key ingredients, plus an optional 12th –cod fish. Each of these honors Ecuador’s abundant agricultural diversity while also symbolizing, altogether, Jesus’ 12 disciples (in some folks’ interpretation of the dish). Thanks to providers that work directly with farmers in the region, Casa Gangotena is able to use the freshest produce, sourced locally and responsibly. This is evident when you are able to pick out each ingredient as you marvel at the distinct combination resonating in this dish.
The mark of a standout chef is their ability to honor tradition while providing a fresh take on a solidly popular dish like fanesca. In many Quiteño homes, this favorite has undergone numerous little changes from generation to generation. For many, this is what makes it so exciting to taste and try different fanescas throughout this relatively brief season.
At Casa Gangotena, Chef Emilio Dalmau has created the perfect base upon which each restaurant-goer can complete their dish according to their particular tastes and preferences. A number of exquisitely prepared ingredients are elegantly served on the side; this way, guests can add the finishing touches to their fanesca and have it be exactly what they want.
Rosa Vintimilla, the grandmother of Casa Gangotena’s first manager, authored the original recipe later adapted by the chefs at Casa Gangotena. Over the years, each detail has been meticulously developed to establish the perfect balance of ingredients that makes this meal so intricate. To be able to combine and harness the many flavors without losing the identity of each ingredient is the true test of a successful fanesca.
Part of what makes Casa Gangotena’s fanesca so appealing is the presentation. A colorful and inviting soup loaded with fresh ingredients is accompanied by a side dish with several tasty fixings that you can add as you’d like.
Sometimes it is easy to take for granted two important factors that weigh on your enjoyment of a meal. These are setting and service.
Given that fanesca’s roots are steeped in the Catholic tradition, it is both fitting and serendipitous that Casa Gangotena is located in the heart of Quito’s old town, a place that is full of ornate churches and is the site of numerous religious events during this time of year. It is a true spectacle worth seeing. Simply tasting fanesca in a generic setting is not the same thing as enjoying it in a place surrounded by celebration, observance, activity, and excitement, which is what you get when you dine at Casa Gangotena.
Add to this, the highest quality service that has become synonymous with our restaurant, and you have an experience that is truly remarkable and wholly enjoyable. Having your waitperson guide you through fanesca’s individual components and presentation is a genuine treat for many guests. The attention to detail and selection of an accompanying dessert rounds out this lovely experience.
Repeatedly chosen as one of the best fanescas in Quito by local and regional tourism bureaus, Casa Gangotena’s reputation precedes it and makes the period between mid-March and Easter a very popular time of year. In 2019, Chef Emilio Damlau’s dish was recognized as one of the 20 best fanescas in Quito.
Other fine establishments recognized for their fanesca include: El Molino San Juan de Cayambe, Frutería Monserrate, Hasta la Vuelta Señor, Posada del Chagra, and Achiote, to name a few.