Fernando Delgado, a long-time Galapagos connaisseur and food lover, takes us on tour of the top places to sate one’s hunger and thirst in Puerto Ayora
Along with Guayaquil, Galápagos is one of Ecuador’s melting pots. In both these places, people from every nook of the nation and every far-flung corner of the globe have come together, uprooted from their homelands in search of new lives, bringing their traditions and recipes with them, while adopting new ones, too.
The island of Santa Cruz, as the geographic and economic heart of the archipelago, has been the most powerful magnet for these immigrants and thus offers the widest variety of gastronomic goodness. In Puerto Ayora, in the space of just a few blocks, we can revel in a “maremoto” (“seaquake”) – a potent seafood soup perfected by the Guayaquil-Esmeraldas couple at El Pulpo – and then hop over to chow down on archetypally Andean empanada de viento turnovers. Culinarily, it’s like a miniature Ecuador, with sea lions.
Starting to the east along Avenida Charles Darwin, our first stop is at the ice-cream shop of Il Giardino, the baby of Gino, one of the international transplants who swopped the island of Sicily for Santa Cruz. Half a block down, head into the Sol y Mar hotel, where the second generation of the Pérez family, Julián and his wife Allison at the head, keep alive the spirit of Don Jimmy. Apart from the stupendous location, they serve up some mean dishes, including the best sushi in the archipelago for most people’s money – wash it down with an ice-cold beer and you’re in heaven. And if you’re seeking something more Ecuadorian, give the octopus ceviche a taste! You won’t be disappointed.
Continuing our walk, we’ll pass the three excellent pizzerias in the area. The newest is Pizza Eat: good al taglio portions of pizza for those in a hurry. Close to the Capitanía de Puerto, look out for one of the wooden houses whose history stretches back to the American base on Baltra Island amid more modern constructions. This is the Rincón del Alma, serving delicious lunches at “correct” prices every day of the week. Just beyond, you have to arrive early to grab a table at Frutos del Mar in order to delight in their legendary ceviches and magnificent chifles(plantain chips).
Lo&Lo probably serves the best cold lemonade, and a nice array of Ecuadorian coastal dishes, while, next door, you can grab some fish & chips at Galapagos Deli… as well as some ice-cream to crave your sweet-tooth.
Near the port, find Hernán. Most people consider it a pizzeria, which is it is, but the locals know that Hernán’s arroz con pulpo (octopus rice) dish is to-die-for. Opposite Hernán’s place, from about four in the afternoon onwards, Aracely sets up her little food cart of delights, selling the finest pork sandwiches this side of the Pacific, along with fritada pork, bolones and my favorites: the corviches.