One imagines that the Galapagos Islands are only nature and journeys to uninhabited sites teeming with the strangest of animals, that restaurants here are only designed to impress visitors, but the growth of Puerto Ayora’s human community has given life to an unexpected street-food scene.
Smoke emanates over the one-story buildings, filling the air of the tourist town of Puerto Ayora with flavor. From coconut to bean stews, lots of cilantro, and barbecued meats… in Galapagos? Yes. This has become one of the most idiosyncratic street experiences in Ecuador.
They call it Los Kioskos, a street closed to cars due to the abundance of tables and chairs that have been arranged directly on the asphalt. It is the source of the hustle and bustle of what has become a ‘night out’ in Darwin’s Galapagos Islands. Who would have thought! Restaurants one after another offer “island delicacies”, which have only appeared in the last 30 years. This is arroz con menestra (a Guayaquil classic), encocaos (an Esmeralda staple…
How can we call these Galapagos delicacies …? And what difference is there between these dishes and those served in continental Ecuador? For one, here in Galapagos, and particularly in Los Kioskos, everything is cooked with guava wood, in an effort to control the reproduction of this introduced species. And it makes all the difference, offering a memorable flavor, especially to the meat and fish. And then you have the seafood, unique fish and shellfish from this particular corner of the Pacific Ocean, namely the pez brujo (witch fish), camotillo and the Galapagos lobster, the most sought after and unique.
By following Avenida Baltra north, take the right at the bright yellow newspaper stand El Ídolo, onto a street everyone calls “Calle de los Kiosks” (Kiosk Street). This is Street Food Central in Galápagos. No-one knows the street’s proper name…
El Kiosco de Renato: Aracely’s son keeps his clients coming back for more with his fresher than fresh ingredients. Don’t miss the awesome arroz de langostino (slipper lobster rice), the seco de gallina criolla (free-range chicken stew) or, basically, anything he recommends on the day you visit.
El Kiosco de William: Faithful regulars and a gaggle of neophytes gather here to guzzle the finest fish, slipper lobster and churo (sea snail) encocaos (prepared in coconut). Keen to serve only the freshest dishes, William tells patrons who arrive late “there’s none left”, so as to keep them on their toes and looking forward to their next visit.
Photo: Jorge Vinueza