We are exploring new culinary visions, fusions, and trends throughout Ecuador alongside Güitig, the mineral water of the Ecuadorians. All the restaurants we feature in this section combine gastronomic excellence, magical locations, and a comprehensive experience… in five words: the best of the best.
Elegant, comfortable, Ecuadorian, boutique… Casa Gangotena is a must-visit for those wandering around Quito’s Historic Center; an ideal place to enjoy a traditional ‘cafecito quiteño’ after visiting the city’s museums and heritage churches; a place for a luxurious lunch and, of course, a memorable dinner.
With its beautiful view over San Francisco Square from its terrace (the perfect spot to enjoy a sunny afternoon while admiring the beautiful domes of the colonial quarter), its inventive dishes, impeccable service, and excellent cocktail menu, there are several reasons to choose this top restaurant in the city for an unforgettable dinner or lunch.
Mestizo concept and flavor
But beneath all the elegance and sophistication, there is something that makes Casa Gangotena truly special: its essence, its culinary vision… And it is precisely because of this vision that we choose this incredible restaurant to kick off our gastronomic journey alongside Güitig.
In conversation with Executive Chef José Tamayo, the guiding principle of his proposal is a kind of motto: ‘mestizo cuisine.’ In the current gastronomic environment, the idea of a ‘mestizo’ concept is precisely what brings us back to the deepest Ecuadorian identity, without losing the potential for novelty and creation.
For José Tamayo, Casa Gangotena is ‘an impressive showcase that keeps us at the forefront, but connected with people. Foreigners, Quiteños, Ecuadorians from all over… but above all, individuals, diners who want to experience new things and seek unique experiences. So, in a way, we have to be in a position to propose something special. It’s a beautiful challenge. And a perfect canvas to incorporate the modern, the personal, the experiential into the food, always using what gives us our identity: the Ecuadorian… And it’s not just me, of course, on this boat. We are a large team that takes care of the creative aspect of each dish. We make them based on Ecuador, but also mindful of where we want to aim.’
Mestizo cuisine is, as the name suggests, a ‘blend’ of the Ecuadorian—beyond its traditional vision—focusing on flavors, products, and a surprisingly wide range of possible combinations—and the natural evolution of culinary techniques worldwide. ‘It’s a way to honor our products and, at the same time, elevate them with new formulas,’ José points out, ‘allowing us to create an experience for both local and foreign diners that they don’t expect.’
Let’s dig in…
Everything sounds so delicious and intriguing. And to truly understand it and go beyond words, we couldn’t leave without trying some of what this ‘mestizo cuisine’ has to offer. For this, José has put together an incredible three-course menu.
To start, we tasted the organic tomato salad. ‘It’s part of our 100% vegan offering. It’s a fresh dish, very interesting in flavors, incorporating cedrón, an herb that is widely used in Ecuador.’ The most striking aspect is the process of eating this simple, light salad full of discoveries: as you taste the tomatoes and their vinaigrette, your palate naturally craves a delicious hummus made from chochos or crispy leek strips.
The main course, the fish, is a delicate fish surrounded by various flavors. José explains it with a touch of poetry: ‘It’s a journey to the coast, a fascinating interpretation of the arrival of products from this unique Ecuadorian region… you have all the elements, the salprieta, the fried yuca, the manaba cheese, incorporated in a different way to make the experience unique.’
To finish, a dessert that is ‘rather playful’: the egg. Just like that, it looks like a white goose egg. Its central yolk with condensed citrus and fruity touches unfolds when broken, all covered with a tonka bean mousse that recreates a thick and creamy egg white inside a white chocolate shell.
Casa Gangotena is a former heritage residence, located in front of San Francisco Square, restored to become one of the most beautiful hotels in Quito. It opened its doors in 2011, forever changing the city’s luxury offering and raising the bar for service and excellence, not only through the beautiful stay it offers but also through its incredible restaurant—a blend of tradition, innovation, sophistication, and a profound ‘sense of place’ that fills every Quiteño with pride and showcases the city’s most beautiful face to the world.
Photographs: Carlos Puga / Ilan Greenfield