First of all, the food:
For all of you thinking that we are on the traditional backpacker´s diet of spam, bread, and water..... think again. Throughout our travels so far, we´ve been blessed with copious amounts of grilled meats (in particular steaks and chicken), fresh fruit smoothies, cheap beer, and friendly service. A traditional meal in these parts (comida corriente) consists of: either grilled steak or chicken, rice, beans, salad, and a fried plantain, along with soup. All this runs for about $2-5 depending on the location. The meats are juicy and flavorful and the price is very much right. In my opinion, the best part of South American cuisine thus far*, however, has to be all the fresh fruit smoothies and juices, which can be had for about $1.
*SPECIAL NOTE, we have not yet reached the wine region of South America, so I don´t know if juice will hold its title as my favorite food here for long :)
Postre (dessert) can also be had here in abundance! There are panaderias (bakeries) and heladerias (ice cream parlors) on just about every block (each selling their treats for under $1).
The food here has always been good, but we were once encountered with an almost comically poor dining experience (related to service) in Quito at a bar named Brau Platz. Although we didn´t order food, we ordered a couple of margaritas, which turned out to be a very, very terrible decision. To put things into perspective, here´s a comparison of our favorite eatery thus far (Pacari Tambo in Otavalo), and Brau Platz (the worst bar EVER)!
Brau Platz (Sucks)
Brau Platz (Sucks)
+ Pacari Tambo serves a 5 star, 5 course meal, cooked by a gourmet chef, using only the finest local ingredients. This includes:
Freshly squeezed fruit juice
A bowl of popcorn with roasted nuts (to wet the appetite)
A bowl of freshly made soup. Pictured above is an organic cream of carrot with cilantro.
A creative, artistically designed appy. I can´t remember what that was, but it was gooooood! I think it was some sort of chicken in spices wrapped in cucumber.
A full entre of steak, salad, fried plantains, rice, etc. served with delicious sauces.
…And a dessert. (Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the dessert, because I was too excited to eat it. Rest assured that it was very, very good)!
- Brau Platz served us ´2 for 1` cocktails, and by 2 for 1, they of course mean that they advertise the drinks as two for one, but when it comes time to pay the bill, they come up with some reason to charge you for both drinks. In our case, it was because our 2 margaritas were two different flavours (even though they are technically the same drink and were listed at the same price!) :S
+ Pacari Tambo wouldn´t let us not have food in our mouths (because the service was so fast and plentiful). The nanosecond we finished one course, we were being spoon fed the next!
- Brau Platz took 30 minutes to bring us our over charged margaritas (which were melted by the time we got them), then another 30 minutes for the bill (which was incorrect and over-charged), then another 30 minutes to tell us that they weren´t going to adjust our bill = 1.5 hours for 2 drinks.
+ Pacari Tambo`s 5 course meal with drinks cost $4.50. Seriously! Half way through eating the meal, we started to think they said the meal cost $45.00, but the food was so good, we would have still been OK with it!
- Brau Platz margaritas cost $7.00 each. Yes, that`s $2.50 more than the entire 5 course meal at Pacari!
+ The owner of Pacari Tambo invited Lydia and I to dine with him and his friend, who was a local spiritual healer.
- The owner of Brau Platz sent me physical threats over Facebook after I added Brau Platz as a friend, only to post a rather discouraging review on their wall (he he he he, how dare he)
And the winner is......... drum roll.............. Pacari Tambo!
Anyone who is near Otavalo has to stop by Pacari Tambo for an incredible feast fit for the gods. Anyone who is near Quito should avoid Brau Platz like the plague!